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New GPU - 5850, 5870, 5970, other?

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March 30, 2010 5:29:26 PM

Hey all,

I had been waiting for Fermi's launch before deciding on a new GPU for my recently-built PC. My build is pretty decent (see below), but my video card right now is a 1GB Radeon HD 4670. It has been suitable for games like Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age, WoW, etc., but it strains pretty heavily if you try and enable any sort of shading, AA, etc. So, I would like to drop in a new GPU that will let me make use of the system that I've built.

In the long term, I plan to run some sort of crossfire configuration, but I don't want to buy multiple cards right now. I'd like a single card that will give me good performance on its own, but can be added to and deliver great performance once I decide to drop in a second card.

I've been considering a 5850x2, 5870x2, or 5970x1 configuration, but am having a bit of trouble deciding. Part of me wants to wait and see if an HD 5890 is coming down the pipes, but the rest of me is tired of the HD 4670. The HD 5870x2 option doesn't seem like great value, given that it would be close to a $900 in the end, while I could snag a 5970 for about the same price as 5850x2.

Anyone have opinions that might help me make a decision? Or help me get past the fear that as soon as I pull the trigger on a new card, ATI will announce a refresh, or new card? I'd love to upgrade soon, since the longer I wait, the more likely it becomes that I'll just hold off until ATI starts leaking specs for their Northern Islands cards, and I'll never upgrade again.

Here's what I'm working with:

Intel Core i7-920 @ 3.6GHz
6GB DDR3 1600 CL7
1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3
750W Corsair CMPSU-750TX PSU
24" 1920x1080 LCD
And, for the grand finale:
1GB ATI Radeon HD 4670 :bounce: 

Thanks guys.

More about : gpu 5850 5870 5970

a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 5:31:43 PM

46701gb...lawls

If your case can handle a 5970, get that. If not, I suggest two 5850s in Crossfire. It'll cost you around $560-$600.

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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 5:34:30 PM

I would go for the 5970. Its 2 5870 cores clocked at 5850 speeds. It overclocks pretty easily to 5870 speeds with a little bit of voltage tweaking to perform closer to 2x5870 and its about the cost of 2x 5850. It also gives you the advantage of having the option to add a second one, or even just an extra 5870 to it if you hit a point of needing more power.
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a c 195 U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 5:43:50 PM

Get a single HD5850. It is six tiers higher than your HD4670, which you say has been suitable without all the eye candy. Just one HD5850 will give that to you, and you still have the option of Crossfire later if/when it becomes insufficient. Unless the money is burning a hole in your pocket, the other cards are too expensive for the added performance you'd get from them.
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 5:52:41 PM

I have a feeling the OP is looking more for the best he can get, rather than going for a good, but less expensive option. the 4670 was a stand-in just to get through the wait for Fermi to release, and I imagine that the OP wants to be able to push the detail settings and everything else up to the maximum possible (especially since we knew that Fermi was going to only be releasing the high-end cards).
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a c 195 U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 5:58:56 PM

A valid point, but those cards are only another tier or two higher, and would be equaled by adding a second HD5850 in Crossfire if just one were not sufficient; i.e. the cost to find out wouldn't be wasted. Just a thought; I tend to go for the more frugal options first, as long as they aren't penny-wise and pound-foolish.
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March 30, 2010 6:08:48 PM

flyinfinni said:
I have a feeling the OP is looking more for the best he can get, rather than going for a good, but less expensive option. the 4670 was a stand-in just to get through the wait for Fermi to release, and I imagine that the OP wants to be able to push the detail settings and everything else up to the maximum possible (especially since we knew that Fermi was going to only be releasing the high-end cards).


That is pretty much the case. I built my rig in late January/early February, and the 4670 was available for about $45 shipped after discounts and rebates. I didn't buy a 5xxx card right away because I knew Fermi was going to launch within a couple of months, and was hoping it would either be a clear winner over ATI's cards, or that it would cause prices on the ATI cards to drop a bit. Sadly, I was wrong on both counts - it seems to be only marginally better than ATI's current high-end offerings (but who knows what it will do in the long run), and if anything, prices on ATI cards have increased as a result of people's lukewarm feelings about the GTX 470/480. I'm not impressed enough with the Fermi cards to try and get one, so ATI it is.

Value is important to me, but performance is my highest priority. I mentioned games like ME2, DA:o , and WoW because they are what the 4670 can handle. I'm also a die-hard FPS junkie, and want to be able to run Crysis, BFBC2, and all the rest without having to sacrifice my settings. I'd also like whatever I put in to last me a couple of years (including a second card for CF, if that's the ideal route) without needing to invest in a new generation's cards. Oh, technology, why must you advance so rapidly? (Just kidding - don't slow down, please).

Also, anyone have a clue why Newegg only has three HD 5970s listed? Last time I checked, there were considerably more manufacturers out there...
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March 30, 2010 6:12:01 PM

Onus said:
A valid point, but those cards are only another tier or two higher, and would be equaled by adding a second HD5850 in Crossfire if just one were not sufficient; i.e. the cost to find out wouldn't be wasted. Just a thought; I tend to go for the more frugal options first, as long as they aren't penny-wise and pound-foolish.


There's a lot of sense in that, and I absolutely appreciate it. I'm just trying to make sure that what I get will last me as long as possible. It is certainly appealing to spend $320 up front instead of $650-750, but I'm worried about going with 5850x2 only to find that it doesn't stack up to the 5970 in future games. Of course, the other possibility is that the 5970 doesn't outperform the 5850s by a wide enough margin to justify having spent so much up front. Predicting the future is fun!
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a c 195 U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 6:27:27 PM

Ah, well I did not know about the other games you want to play. Perhaps a single HD5870 is the way to go then. Your PSU could handle a pair of them, but I'm not sure it's quite enough for a pair of HD5970s.
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 6:33:24 PM

What games are you playing and at what resolutions? The only titles I caught were ME2, Dragon Age Origins, and WoW. A single 5850 should be good for that even at higher resolutions (certainly overkill for WoW).

Wait until retail release of 470/480, 5850 prices will dip, and you can pick one up at a bargain. Then, if you are hungry for more performance, crossfire them. 5850's overclock, too so they can get to 5870ish levels. Unless performance is far more important to you than value, 5850 is the way to go.

Edit: 5850's OC to 5870ish stock levels- typo.
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a c 195 U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 6:36:12 PM

I'm going to assume, Beltzy, that you started your reply, but then got called away for a while before submitting it. But yes, the HD5850 will overclock to 5850ish levels... :kaola: 
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 6:40:12 PM

Doh!
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 6:49:59 PM

With what you are looking at, a 5970 will last you longer the way it is (look at where people are still with their 4870x2's and GTX295s) More people seem to be upgrading from their crossfire setups to more powerful single cards, as opposed to people who are sticking with their previous generation single cards. Really, what I'm pointing at is the fact that a 5970 is pretty similar in cost to 2x5850's and equal/better in terms of performance and will last longer since its single slot.
My suggestion is that- if you are unsure of whether you will need more than a single 5850, then get one. However, if you are sure that at some point down the line you will want the second one for more power, just get the 5970 now and have it and enjoy it without having to worry about finding another one down the line.
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March 30, 2010 9:27:36 PM

flyinfinni said:
With what you are looking at, a 5970 will last you longer the way it is (look at where people are still with their 4870x2's and GTX295s) More people seem to be upgrading from their crossfire setups to more powerful single cards, as opposed to people who are sticking with their previous generation single cards. Really, what I'm pointing at is the fact that a 5970 is pretty similar in cost to 2x5850's and equal/better in terms of performance and will last longer since its single slot.
My suggestion is that- if you are unsure of whether you will need more than a single 5850, then get one. However, if you are sure that at some point down the line you will want the second one for more power, just get the 5970 now and have it and enjoy it without having to worry about finding another one down the line.


That's pretty much where I'm at right now. Leaning towards the 5970, but I'm still baffled as to why Newegg only has three options, and I am not happy that prices have jumped back up to the $800 range. I may end up holding off until Fermi actually starts selling, and see if that drives down prices on the HD 5xxx cards at all. I've always put a fair amount of value on Newegg reviews regarding which manufacturers to buy from - hope those product listings come back soon.

Thanks for the info so far guys - any other opinions are certainly welcome!
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 9:34:44 PM

I'm not sure what the deal is with that. Only 3 options on newegg, and all out of stock (that part isn't that surprising), but they are still listing at ~$700. However- zipzoomfly.com has many more options, with one actually in stock, but its ~$800. If you can't get one less than $800, I'd go with either the 5870 or 5850 is crossfire since they're both gonna be cheaper since you can get 2 5870's for $800 now and they'll be a decent bit faster than a 5970.
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March 30, 2010 10:06:34 PM

flyinfinni said:
I'm not sure what the deal is with that. Only 3 options on newegg, and all out of stock (that part isn't that surprising), but they are still listing at ~$700. However- zipzoomfly.com has many more options, with one actually in stock, but its ~$800. If you can't get one less than $800, I'd go with either the 5870 or 5850 is crossfire since they're both gonna be cheaper since you can get 2 5870's for $800 now and they'll be a decent bit faster than a 5970.


Yeah, the pricing right now is awful. Ordinarily I like ZipZoomFly quite a bit, but I think it's a load of garbage that they've just jacked the price of every 5970 up to $800. Other sites seem to still have certain manufacturers' cards in the $630-650 range, but without NewEgg's customer reviews, I'm hesitant to buy from certain companies. Oh well, I guess I'll just wait a bit longer and see what the market does. If these prices don't change, perhaps I'll just go with an HD 5870 and see what the Northern Islands cards can do.
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 10:19:00 PM

You know, you can ask us here and probably get better answers on those particular cards than you will get on Newegg's reviews ;-)
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March 30, 2010 10:27:44 PM

I'm in the exact same position as you. I'm building an i7 920 PC right now, with a 750w psu. I'm just going to use my old 8800GTS 640 until the prices drop. Then I'll buy either a 5870 or a 5970, depending on price. I'm done with Nvidia ever since they released that fermi garbage. I've only used Nvidia before, but there's no way I'm buying a fermi card. I think it will be worthwhile to wait a bit. Things are out of control right now as far as price and availability.
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 10:30:27 PM

I'll throw my 2ยข and say a 5850 would be a wise choice. I've played all of your games in EyeFinity (three 24" 1080P monitors) and they all played quite nicely though Crysis couldn't have all the details turned up without dropping below 30fps occasionally - thus the upgrade to a 5870 (overclocked) which solved that. Playing those games on ONE 1080P monitor, the 5850 is more than enough and, like others have said, if it suddenly doesn't cut it a year or two down the road, adding another 5850 will be cheaper in the long run and net you pretty close to 5970 speeds for $100 (currently) to $200 (with a nice price drop a year from now) savings than what the 5970 is going for right now. I doubt you're going to see prices drop on either the 5970 or 5870 anytime soon now that we all know Fermi isn't going to force AMD's hand.

Of course, if money is no object, I'd LOVE to have a 5970 and be done with it, but for a single 1080P monitor I think it's overkill unless you just want bragging rights to benchmark scores. I could certainly use it with my EyeFinity setup in Crysis.
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March 30, 2010 10:43:40 PM

flyinfinni said:
You know, you can ask us here and probably get better answers on those particular cards than you will get on Newegg's reviews ;-)


Hah, fair point! I've heard pretty good things about the Sapphire and HIS 5970s, but the current prices on those cards are a bit more than I'm willing to drop right now. The ASUS 5970s seem to be staying reasonably priced (as long as you stay away from ZipZoomFly...), but I don't know much about them as a GPU manufacturer. I've got an ASUS MoBo and LCD and have been quite pleased with both, but am not finding much in the way of reviews for 58xx or 5970 cards.
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 10:54:30 PM

I've used Asus (4870 with a great cooler) which was nice and OCed better than most of the other 4870s (I got it up to 850 MHz core and never pushed the memory as far as it could go). Sapphire has a very good reputation for their cards- especially the Vapor-X versions. XFX is awesome as they have the double lifetime warranty. Powercolor seems OK, but not on the same level, while Diamond seems to be the one to avoid unless its so much cheaper its worth the risk of having to RMA it.
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March 30, 2010 11:00:42 PM

I had an XFX nvidia card some time ago. I loved it, never had any problems. I'll probably be buying the XFX 5870. Plus, the XFX just looks cooler lol.
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 11:01:27 PM

lol- plus you don't have to worry if it dies EVER :-)
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March 30, 2010 11:03:42 PM

Yeah, they aren't even any more expensive than the other cards so it's a win win situation imo.
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March 30, 2010 11:16:47 PM

You guys rock, I really appreciate all of the input. I think I'm getting pretty close to pulling the trigger on a 5970! :bounce: 
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a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 11:23:34 PM

No problem:-) Let us know if we can help you with anything else :-)
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 30, 2010 11:28:10 PM

I'd say just grab an HD5850 and OC the snot out of it. With a voltage bump some people have it up near 1100ghz which is almost a 50% OC. Give it a go and if you decide that still isn't good enough get another one for crossfire.
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March 31, 2010 12:28:16 AM

Unless the price gets jacked up when a new shipment arrives (tomorrow, hopefully!), a new 5970 is coming down the pipes!

Thanks again, guys.
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