Hi folks, I'm building a new rig on a modest budget with some hand-me down parts from my stepdad. I have a solid PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610W powering an ASUS M4A788T-E Mobo (AMD 790GX Chipset) and an AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition 3.2GHz (yep, quad), 8GB Crucial DDR3 1333 RAM, --> Onboard Radeon HD3300 <--, Windows 7 Home Premium x64, and other things that aren't pertinent to this question.
I also have a 24" 1920 x 1200 res monitor and some other monitors I use not for gaming but to hold palettes and music playlists and stuff. One is actually a 30" Apple HD Cinema Display, but I don't think it's realistic for me to try to game at 2560 x 1600 with my budget.
BESIDES the onboard Radeon chip, I have an ATI X1600 XT and a pair of GeForce 8800GT's. I can also possibly afford a new graphics card up to $300 at most. It's important to me to game at my native res of 1920 x 1200 with decent settings and framerates, maybe not in the very newest games but in most games released in recent years, and DX10, 10.1, or 11 support would be great, in increasing order, but is not necessarily as gamebreaker since few if any games actually require it.
One last note: I also lack a TV and watch a lot of movies on my computer, besides using it for gaming. Both are important to me. I don't expect the BEST quality with my budget, but I'm looking to maximize what I have and can afford.
Basically, looking for advice on my VIDEO CARD... are any of the ones I've got capable of doing anything decent nowadays? Can I SLI my two 8800GT cards on an this particular motherboard (which advertises support for Quad CrossFireX, probably not a good sign)? Is the X1600 XT worthless? Can I get a card that would dominates all these for less that $300 and not toast my PSU? Thanks for help!
The HD5850 is the card to get at $300 and possibly the best buy on the market right now overall. It should be great for 1920x1200 and fantastic if you OC it. The card allows for the voltage to be upped which can let you OC the core up to and past 1ghz. It's DX11 and very power efficient for its performance. It will run easily on your PSU. It also supports "eyefinity" which means you can use 3 monitors at once.
I don't believe your motherboard can use SLI. The HD5850, when OCed, is probably over twice as powerful as 8800GTs in SLI anyway. And yes, your x1600 xt is basically useless at this point. For gaming at least.
Actually the 5850 should be good for your apple cinema 30" monitor getting you your "decent settings and frames" the 24" monitor will easily be maxed out with the 5850, try it out on both screens to see if its to your liking.
See if you can ebay any of those cards for some extra cash as well.
Yeah, the HD5850 will be pretty good for 2560x1600 but if you want to max out settings/AA then the 1920x1200 is the way to go. Ebaying the other cards is a good idea. Might be able to pay for almost half the HD5850 with what you can get for the 8800GTs.