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Two 5970s vs Three 5870s vs Three 480s

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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Whitch video cards should I get?

Total: 45 votes (10 blank votes)

  • Two 5970s
  • 26 %
  • Three 5870s
  • 26 %
  • Three 480s
  • 49 %
July 14, 2010 6:19:54 PM

I customized this rig at Cyberpower, and I asked in the "New Build" forums if anything is wrong with it. The one major thing that seemed to keep coming up was the video cards. A lot of people told me that two 5970s would not scale well, and that I should get three 5870 or three 480s. Enzo Matrix referred me to this benchmark, but if you look at all the benchmarks in the article, they seem to all contradict each other. The two 5970s get the best scores in the synthetic benchmark, the three 480s get the best scores in some games, and the three 5870s get the best scores in some games. Can anyone tell me if there is a major advantage to any of these setups?
P.S. I heard somewhere that Eyefinity is disabled when you use three or more cards in CrossFireX. Is this true?

More about : 5970s 5870s 480s

a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 6:27:10 PM

I voted for three 480's because I want to see somebody buy a 1500W power supply for my enjoyment.
July 14, 2010 6:37:19 PM

Annisman said:
I voted for three 480's because I want to see somebody buy a 1500W power supply for my enjoyment.

Thank you for helping me with this decision. :sarcastic: 
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a c 125 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 6:44:41 PM

3 x GTX480's if you have the case and PSU for it.
July 14, 2010 6:49:00 PM

If you are going to spend that much money on a graphics setup, i see it as a waste to not get Nvidia cards for physX and 3d compatability. Obviously, if you have 1.5k to spend on graphics cards, you can spare a few more dollars for a beastly psu + cooling solution.

Not that 3d + physX are such groundbreaking achievements, in all reality, you won't notice a whole lot of difference between physX vs no physX. The 3d is cool for what it is, but not everyone is in to it. But it would be a waste to not have those two things available to you if you are going to spend that much money anyway.

To put things in perspective, my single GTX 480 does not fall below 30 fps in Crysis at 1920X1080 with AA at 16x and the highest possible graphics settings. Adding more and more to that is just going to add higher framerates that you won't notice unless you plan to stare at a framerate ui the entire time you are gaming.
July 14, 2010 6:57:15 PM

bertimus said:
If you are going to spend that much money on a graphics setup, i see it as a waste to not get Nvidia cards for physX and 3d compatability. Obviously, if you have 1.5k to spend on graphics cards, you can spare a few more dollars for a beastly psu + cooling solution.

Not that 3d + physX are such groundbreaking achievements, in all reality, you won't notice a whole lot of difference between physX vs no physX. The 3d is cool for what it is, but not everyone is in to it. But it would be a waste to not have those two things available to you if you are going to spend that much money anyway.

To put things in perspective, my single GTX 480 does not fall below 30 fps in Crysis at 1920X1080 with AA at 16x and the highest possible graphics settings. Adding more and more to that is just going to add higher framerates that you won't notice unless you plan to stare at a framerate ui the entire time you are gaming.

3D compatibility? Are the ATI cards not compatible with as many games? Personally, I would use CUDA more than PhysX, as I would like to try some of the new GPU renderers that can't use OpenCL.
July 14, 2010 7:00:21 PM

As far as i know, there is no 3d setup that works with ATI cards.
July 14, 2010 7:24:29 PM

bertimus said:
As far as i know, there is no 3d setup that works with ATI cards.

What do you mean? Are you talking about games, or 3D content-authoring application (Maya, 3DS Max, ect), or something else?
a c 125 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 7:27:38 PM

he's talking about 3D gaming.
July 14, 2010 7:36:54 PM

There is no stereoscopic 3d setup available to ATI users, meaning that you cannot put on a pair of 3d glasses and watch whatever you are doing in 3d with ati. At 1.5k on your graphics setup here, framerates are not going to be an issue since you will be talking differences between 120fps and 100fps (possible exxageration, but you get the point).

When framerate is no longer an issue, you look at extras. Nvidia's extras are stereoscopic 3d, physX, cuda, etc. The only real extra that you get with ATI is eyefinity. That is why, in my opinion, you would be wasting money getting ATI cards
a c 271 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 7:40:20 PM

Reubend said:
I customized this rig at Cyberpower, and I asked in the "New Build" forums if anything is wrong with it. The one major thing that seemed to keep coming up was the video cards. A lot of people told me that two 5970s would not scale well, and that I should get three 5870 or three 480s. Enzo Matrix referred me to this benchmark, but if you look at all the benchmarks in the article, they seem to all contradict each other. The two 5970s get the best scores in the synthetic benchmark, the three 480s get the best scores in some games, and the three 5870s get the best scores in some games. Can anyone tell me if there is a major advantage to any of these setups?
P.S. I heard somewhere that Eyefinity is disabled when you use three or more cards in CrossFireX. Is this true?

The numbers don't quite seem to match with Guru3d's, even considering the different CPU's and the speeds that they are running at they should be closer I would have thought.
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 7:47:33 PM

Personally, i find it an utter waste to have more than 2 video card setup.. It anyway does not gives a cent percent scale return on performance.. However, economically, electrically and thermally, its a cent percent return as in, a three video card setup would increase all of the above by 3 times but keep the performance increase just around 2X.. The situation gets worse with hot (in temps) video cards like the GTX 480's are used just for CUDA cores.. This is seriouslly lame..
a c 271 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 7:49:23 PM

Quote:
No one needs 3 480's as i don't even need 4 470's.

I was playing Freecell the other day and thought it could do with pepping up a bit, do you not think that would be the best way to do that then? :whistle: 
a c 125 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 7:50:43 PM

Thats not really a point Psycho, like you said, you don't need 4 x GTX470's (BTW where are those pic's man? :p  ) and I don't need 2 x HD5850's

Its a case of want, rather than need, so it doesn't really matter if the OP doesn't need 3 x GTX480's.
July 14, 2010 7:53:49 PM

I actually built a system for my roomate, who also happens to be the son of the owner of the company that i work for, a rig with 3x GTX 480s on custom water, OC'd a little (I don't remember the exact numbers, but it was a very modest OC), and he gets better framerates than i do with a single GTX 480, but you honestly can't tell the difference in gameplay when we have the two rigs sitting next to each other.

Why? There is a limit to how many FPS that you can actually detect. Unless you put a speed benchmark on the rig and compare it to something not as good, you won't know the difference.

That being said, if you have the money to do it, and that is what gets your rocks off. More power to you, but I still stand firm on the 3d/physx/cuda point at this price range.
a c 271 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 7:54:04 PM

Quote:
Douche :lol: 

What! It's a (sort of) fair question. :lol: 
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 7:54:18 PM

I agree with psycho, TRI-480's would be massive overkill unless the op is going to actually buy 3 30" monitors to effectively use all that raw power.

@ OP buy dual 480's and put them under water since you are going to shell out that amount of money anyways. The money for that third 480 can be put towards a nice custom loop. No heat a low temps is what you want, not a massive space heater under your desk..
a c 153 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 7:55:21 PM

Quote:
Douche :lol: 


Ha.


LIke Bertimus said, if I was going to spend that much money on a setup, I'd want all the extra goodies, and 3D gaming is way up there on my list.
July 14, 2010 8:06:12 PM

I'll let the OP do this homework for himself, but I know that the fermi cards scale way better in SLI than the 5xxx cards are scaling in CF.

I.E. 2 5870s are something like 160% of the performance of a single 5870 where 2 gtx 480s are something like 185% of the performance of a single 480. (not exact numbers, just a ballpark of what I remember seeing in a benchmark somewhere)
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 8:15:06 PM

bertimus said:
I'll let the OP do this homework for himself, but I know that the fermi cards scale way better in SLI than the 5xxx cards are scaling in CF.

I.E. 2 5870s are something like 160% of the performance of a single 5870 where 2 gtx 480s are something like 185% of the performance of a single 480. (not exact numbers, just a ballpark of what I remember seeing in a benchmark somewhere)


Did you know that you are actually bottle-necking your 480 by having your 750 at stock clocks?

just a heads up ;) 


July 14, 2010 8:22:26 PM

Yeah, i'm aware. I just haven't really had the time to start messing with it yet. I just built it last week and have honestly played with it for less than 2 hours since I put it together. Also still waiting on the last ram stick that TD is supposed to be sending me. (they sent me a 6gb pack instead of the 8gb pack I ordered)


While we're on the topic, however, the time I did put into playing crysis with it, I was seeing good enough framerates that I might not even mess with OC'ing it for a while.
a c 106 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 8:41:26 PM

You would need to switch motherboards to use 3-way SLI

Anyway how two 5970s will scale just depends on the title you are trying to play. Besides, I don't think you're concerned about efficiency here :D . I'd say that with the T1090, all three video setups would seem about the same for you, excluding eyefinity 3d stereo and physX, since I think generally you would be limited by your CPU. It's just up to you, but I say go with the two 5970s
July 14, 2010 8:44:27 PM

bertimus said:
I'll let the OP do this homework for himself, but I know that the fermi cards scale way better in SLI than the 5xxx cards are scaling in CF.

I.E. 2 5870s are something like 160% of the performance of a single 5870 where 2 gtx 480s are something like 185% of the performance of a single 480. (not exact numbers, just a ballpark of what I remember seeing in a benchmark somewhere)

But I'm not interested in how well the cards scale, I'm interested in the performance of the cards as a whole. If two 5970s scale worse than two 480s, then fine, but if the two 5970s perform better than the three 480s, then that's what I care about. And because all of the benchmarks I found contradict each other, I wanted you ask you guys. Afterall, three 5870s cost about $1200, whereas three 480s cost about $1500, so if like this benchmark shows, the three 5870s will get 17 more FPS, then are the extras really worth $300?
July 14, 2010 8:48:17 PM

megamanx00 said:
You would need to switch motherboards to use 3-way SLI

Anyway how two 5970s will scale just depends on the title you are trying to play. Besides, I don't think you're concerned about efficiency here :D . I'd say that with the T1090, all three video setups would seem about the same for you, excluding eyefinity 3d stereo and physX, since I think generally you would be limited by your CPU. It's just up to you, but I say go with the two 5970s

Do you think the 1090T would bottleneck the GPUs? I heard that it can be overclocked to match the performance of a 980X if you have good cooling...
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 8:50:23 PM

Quote:
No one needs 3 480's as i don't even need 4 470's.


+1 LOL Cause it's funny and true, and what I was thinking.

When you get too warm, send me a 470. ;) 

To the OP:
Generally SLI scales better than Crossfire in my experience. The GTX 470/480's apparently scale very well (as does the new GTX 460). But going with 3 GTX 480's is beyond useful to be quite honest. Unless you've got an extremely high resolution monitor.
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 8:51:00 PM

Would be nice to know what screen is going to be used with all this GPU power =)

I'm just curious because not too long ago we had a user wanting a 5970 and his monitor was a 14" CRT ...
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 8:53:03 PM

bertimus said:
Why? There is a limit to how many FPS that you can actually detect. Unless you put a speed benchmark on the rig and compare it to something not as good, you won't know the difference.


Not to mention many monitors are capped at a refresh rate of 60hz (75-80hz on high end ones). So even if the human eye is capable of seeing it, the monitor can't display it. :)  So it's all synthetic anyways. :) 
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 8:56:12 PM

if you overclock the 1090t from what i have read you will get close to stock 980x.... but then rememebr you can also overclock the 980x to places the 1090t just can't go :D 

I'd like to see dual 5970 just to see ya post some benchmarks,
a c 125 U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 8:56:44 PM

Well, first, yeah 5970s have had some issues in some games. They benefit from being only 2 cards tho, so they can both be on full 16x lanes. And they're technicall quadfire GPUs. This should, in theory, be the fastest if you don't mind having to sometimes disable 1 GPU in some games. Although if you leave Catalyst A.I. on Standard it seems to have less issues than on Advanced.

Anyway...

If you are going to spend all this money for a really sweet rig, you have to ask yourself - are you going to want 3D or maybe 3 monitors? 3 monitors for surround vision is really awesome. In that case go for ATI cards. If you really want 3D, and for that matter PhysX in all 11 games that support it then go with NV. Of course, you can still get the ATI cards and buy a really cheap GT 240 like I did for PhysX :D 

Personally, if I had the money I would probably have to get 2 5970s. If you can throw in a water cooling loop, then maybe I'd take the 480s but IMO at this time I think having 3 monitors with EyeInfinity is better than 3D. PhysX is a bit 'meh' - cool but barely worth considering (again, you can get it cheap with a dedicated card).

EDIT: As for CF scaling, I personally tested the increase of a single 5850 vs CF 5850s in Dirt 2, STALKER, AVP, Crysis, RE5 and FurMark. The results were anywhere from around 25% increase (RE5 didn't scale well might be CPU bottleneck at 127 FPS) to 90% in FurMark. Most were still from 60% to 80% increase. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/289809-33-single-5850...
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 9:08:52 PM

Quote:
:lol: 

I think someone did a test where it took a 4.8Ghz X6 to match a 3.3Ghz Gulftown.


I thought Gulftown is basically the same CPU as the 975EE with 2 extra cores + a bit more L3 @ 32nm. Am I wrong?
July 14, 2010 9:17:08 PM

Reubend said:
But I'm not interested in how well the cards scale, I'm interested in the performance of the cards as a whole. If two 5970s scale worse than two 480s, then fine, but if the two 5970s perform better than the three 480s, then that's what I care about. And because all of the benchmarks I found contradict each other, I wanted you ask you guys. Afterall, three 5870s cost about $1200, whereas three 480s cost about $1500, so if like this benchmark shows, the three 5870s will get 17 more FPS, then are the extras really worth $300?

Performance wise, as in FPS, you are going to get the best framerates with the gtx 480s, but you won't be able to tell much difference if you were to put one next to the other two setups.

Thats why you have to decide for yourself if the extras are worth the extra money. If you are concerned about the 300$ difference between the 480s and the 5870's, back down to 2 480s and spend the extra money you have left over on a 3d capable monitor and some 3d glasses. You won't take enough of a performance hit going from 3 cards to 2 cards for you to have a legitimate problem running anything available at this time. I would really reccommend that you take a look at some benchmarks showing some numbers about SLI/CF scaling.

Some of the numbers out there show that going from 1 card to 2 yields 50-80% performance increase, but going from those 2 cards to a 3rd or fourth will only yield ~10% performance increase (more ballpark figures)
July 14, 2010 9:37:16 PM

For those who ask what monitor I am going to use with these cards, I am thinking about getting two 1680x1050 monitors to go with the one I already have an using Eyefinity/Soround, or getting one stereoscopic monitor and glasses.
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2010 10:03:40 PM

what monitor do you have right now?
July 14, 2010 10:12:36 PM

OvrClkr said:
what monitor do you have right now?

A single 1680x1050 22 inch LCD.
July 14, 2010 11:11:01 PM

Just go for the nvidia setup, because first nvidia's 400 series scales way better than ati's 5000 series and second because it seems to me, but ati just refuses to improve performance on their gpu's with drivers updates, whereas nvidia keeps improving their gpu's performance, both in single and multi gpu setups, as new drivers are released, just take for example their latest ones: Forceware 258.96 WHQL. And i'm not praising nvidia or bashing ati, i'm just saying this because is the truth.
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 12:12:01 AM

Reubend said:
A single 1680x1050 22 inch LCD.


Dual 480's is actually more than enough GPU power for 5040x 1050 resolution regardless if it's Metro2033/Crysis/Warhead/Stalker you name it.

Here is a Dirt2 video with a single 5750 @ 5040x 1050 :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYdPGv4m5ow

Crysis w/ single 5870 :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X3Bprkwzl4


it looks like he was lagging a bit, dual 480's won't lag..don't overspend if you don't have to, use that extra $$ towards other things like a nice sound card or 5.1 speakers, etc.. ;) 




July 15, 2010 1:34:35 AM

OvrClkr said:
Dual 480's is actually more than enough GPU power for 5040x 1050 resolution regardless if it's Metro2033/Crysis/Warhead/Stalker you name it.
Here is a Dirt2 video with a single 5750 @ 5040x 1050 :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYdPGv4m5ow
Crysis w/ single 5870 :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X3Bprkwzl4
it looks like he was lagging a bit, dual 480's won't lag..don't overspend if you don't have to, use that extra $$ towards other things like a nice sound card or 5.1 speakers, etc.. ;) 

Really? I mean, I'm looking at some benchmarks, and if I divide the FPS by three (I know, it's not accurate, but it's my best estimate), they come out pretty low.
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 2:30:23 AM

You cannot divide the FPS by 3 because its running at one single resolution and you are only multiplying the length vertically. If we were talking 5040x 3150 then it would be another story.

Here is a thread from a dude that is running dual 470's in SLI Surround :

http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/forum/viewtopic.ph...

If a 5870 can run Crysis at around 35FPS you should get a hell of a lot more frames with dual 480's. And if that is not enough you can overclock them a bit for some extra frames. I just don't see the point of TRI-SLI because that third card is not going to give you much in terms of price/performance.. look at psycho asking himself why he has QUAD 470's :na: 
July 15, 2010 3:24:21 AM

OvrClkr said:
You cannot divide the FPS by 3 because its running at one single resolution and you are only multiplying the length vertically. If we were talking 5040x 3150 then it would be another story.

Oh, that makes sense! I was totally wrong, then. How much do you think performance would go down by?
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 4:54:47 AM

Don't even worry about that, you will have more frames than you can deal with.. here is an old video of a user that has dual 8600GT's on 3 screens running Crysis @ 5120x 1200

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oY_zxeTEsA&feature=rela...

now imagine that same PC with an overclocked quad and dual 480's =)

July 15, 2010 8:27:52 AM

tri is way overkill. A single 480 is enough for any game with a single monitor at any res. If u want a tri-monitor setup then get an extra 480 to make it a 2x 480 SLI solution. Then spend the other 500 on a beastly case and a 2 loop watercooler.

If you're the son of an millionaire then by all means burn some cash and get the 3'rd 480, along with a hex-core i7, a 1500 Watt PSU, dual loop WC, 3 120Hz 3D capable 30" LCDs and a nuclear powerplant to go along with it all.

Otherwise, 2x 480s will be plenty enough.
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 1:43:01 PM

Pfuu..a try gtx480 system would destroy every game at full HD resolution over 12 fps..i think.

Just made a system on newegg to see what price would i reach and it stays below 6k with 256gb SSD, 2 TB HDD(300$), corsair water cpu cooling system, 12gb of RAM, 3 zotac gtx480 overclocked cards witch also have custom fan, but take 3 slots in the case each, a lian li case with 10 expansion slots(300$), blu ray RW, 2 noctua fans to replace the corsair fan witch would give more air with less noise, core I7980x six core, gigabyte UD9 motherboard, silverstone 1500w power supply, and got a few hundred dollars of deals also. If you ad an operating system then it is 6k.

Good luck to the one that can buy this power plant, send us pictures with it.

Forgot to mention i added a 3D kit in there.
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 1:57:44 PM

ionut19 said:
Pfuu..a try gtx480 system would destroy every game at full HD resolution over 12 fps..i think.

Just made a system on newegg to see what price would i reach and it stays below 6k with 256gb SSD, 2 TB HDD(300$), corsair water cpu cooling system, 12gb of RAM, 3 zotac gtx480 overclocked cards witch also have custom fan, but take 3 slots in the case each, a lian li case with 10 expansion slots(300$), blu ray RW, 2 noctua fans to replace the corsair fan witch would give more air with less noise, core I7980x six core, gigabyte UD9 motherboard, silverstone 1500w power supply, and got a few hundred dollars of deals also. If you ad an operating system then it is 6k.

Good luck to the one that can buy this power plant, send us pictures with it.

Forgot to mention i added a 3D kit in there.



At 1.5K W, Enermax are better PSU's to go for.
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 3:27:02 PM

It was the only one at 1.5kw on new egg.
July 15, 2010 5:34:44 PM

So the general consensus seems to be "Buy two 480s, not three".
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 8:06:49 PM

I do not know if for 3d games you need a minimum of 120fps to match the 120hz of the monitor but with 2 of them i don't think you will get in every game 120fps at full hd resolution. -that's another story.

Those two cards are very powerful and should suffice in any game at full HD resolutions and above.
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 8:58:25 PM

Quote:
At 1680X1250 all you need is a single 480 but do 460's in SLI if you can.


He wants to run 3 screens @ 5040x 1050 and not have ANY lag at all regardless of the game :D 
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2010 9:09:30 PM

There is actually a user that has dual 470's SLI surround @ 5040x 1050 and he claims that Warhead does 45FPS with 4xAA (Enthusiast) , I guess the OP wants more horsepower than that..
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 16, 2010 3:39:47 AM

if he can afford 2 x 480's i say do it. At least you will be futureproofed. then, if he REALLY needs it he can get another 2 down the track...
!