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Need Advice on HD 6970 vs HD 6990 vs NVIDIA alternative

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 14, 2011 3:39:58 PM

Hello all, I'm looking to purchase a graphics card as the final piece of my new build. Any help or discussion would be greatly appreciated! I've followed the "How to ask" guide below:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Between now and the release of the HD 6990

BUDGET RANGE: The cost of one 6970 or one 6990.

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (Crysis/2, Metro 2033, Fear 2/3, less intensive indie games), Movies, General Use

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: Galaxy 512MB 9500GT (placeholder until I finish my build with a good card) - Corsair HX1000w

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: Corsair Dominator (6GB), ASUS P6X58D-E, Intel i7 950, Xion Predator 970 (enough space for longer Radeon cards), Corsair H50 Cooler.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: N/A

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'm not biased, nor am I a fanboy of either graphics manufacturer. I'm relatively new to this, and know that the 5970 has remained the best/fastest single card for quite some time. I'm looking to start with "the best/fastest" that will also last a while, thus my consideration of waiting for the 6990. If a single NVIDIA card can do all that I require and is a better deal, with excessive heat issues, etc, I'd be happy to go that route. If not, my question is: buy now, or wait until 6990?

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe, I currently don't feel comfortable with it.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, but only down the road, and only if I get the less expensive 6970 as opposed to waiting for the 6990.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 (single 24" monitor).

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'd like to run games on my single monitor at max settings for at least a while. I'm hoping that my graphics card purchase will be able to do this for at least a year. I'd prefer if I didn't have to CrossFire/SLI until after a year later, but I also want to achieve max settings.

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a b U Graphics card
January 14, 2011 4:08:14 PM

I have a 6970 that can run all of my games maxed out at 1920x1200. For your resolution, I would expect slightly higher FPS than I have. A 6990 would be overkill right now unless you plan on using eyefinity (multiple monitors) anytime soon. I would suggest getting a single 6970 or GTX570 which is enough for now, and buying a second 6970 for crossfire in the future if you ever need it.

The 6950 can be flashed to become a 6970 most of the time. I don't know if you want to do this since you're not comfortable with overclocking. A 6950 would be a fine card for your rig in any case.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
January 14, 2011 4:13:32 PM

As someone with a 6970 (flashed) playing at 1920x1200. I can play "most" games at max settings. Metro 2033 is one that I cannot. Of course that's expected.
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January 14, 2011 4:57:59 PM

Thanks to you both!

So if I do go with the 6970 for now, what would happen when I decide down the road that I want to add a second one, and the manufacturer who makes the card no longer produces the exact model? Is that something that could potentially happen? Currently on newegg, the Sapphire 6970 seems to be the one with the overwhelmingly positive reviews. I'd probably go with that one. Is there a risk that, come November or shortly after, they would no longer produce it?

And for clarification, is the 6990 basically dual 6970s, or 6950s?
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January 14, 2011 5:31:59 PM

The 6990 dosent yet exist. We dont know what it will be. However a 6970 is a 6970 and basically any 6970 will work with any 6970. Even a hacked 6950 flashed to 6970 will crossfire with a 6970. Ati cards are not all that finicky when it comes to putting them together.
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January 14, 2011 5:33:23 PM

Good to know, thanks!
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January 14, 2011 5:34:42 PM

Best answer selected by cky880.
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February 5, 2011 12:06:54 AM

I'm no PC genius but I have built up a few systems over the years and think you're doing the right thing by asking these questions and hope I can help out here.

The 6990 is (as far as I've seen) 2 6970 GPU's with 4GB ram and will be a Q1 release (probably the end of March), from past history the "Dual" GPU cards are easier to manage, slightly cheaper (but will run slightly slower) than two seperate single GPU cards linked in crossfire will be able to run.

It seems the reason for this has been that the dual card just uses the normal single card drivers whereas the crossfire drivers are different and (in the past) have had some issues with stability when released requiring a later patch or update.

I'm looking to upgrade GFX myself and my advice would be wait, (if you can) wait another two or three months, as there is likely to be a rash of new cards coming in this time. Things like uprated and watercooled versions of the 6970 will probably appear (XFX just released a 2GB version of the 6850), the 6990 soon and Nvidias response to the 6990 later on (which they appear to have held back to see how the 6990 performs.)

The most informative thing you can do is look for performance reviews & lists after a card is released (they appear pretty quickly!) you can often find ones close to your whole setup, the reason I mention this is that I've seen reviews where Intel/ATI rigs perform worse than their Intel/Nvidia equivalents do and the same thing with AMD/Nvidia compared to AMD/ATI, after all AMD now own ATI.

Then there's the argument for SLI or Crossfire.... which I don't know much about myself personally and I'm looking into.

This is and always had been the peril of upgrading " when to buy, what and from whom??????",, AAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!

Personally I'm still using my 2 year old 4870X2 (two 4870's bolted on one card with 2GB ram) on this setup:-
AMD 965 @ 3.9GHz
Asus crosshair III formula MB
4GB Geil DDR3
Corsair H50 liquid CPU cooler (seriously worth investing in! Sealed system real easy to install and performs like a dream!)
Corsair 650W PSU
HAF 932 Case (GIIIHUGE! but the dogs gunners for cooling)
Acer 24" 1900 X 1200

So far this setup runs crysis at high settings 4X AA and gives a fair frame rate, AVP looks a dream in DX10 (compaired to DX9!), F1 2010 maxxed out all settings @ 39fps in DX10 benchmarks.

So realistically, best thing to do is troll round the websites, see what reviews, performance comparisons and benchmarks are out there and do a lot of research before you do buy.

Lastly try not to be too disappointed if a month after you finally do spend your hard earned moolah and some behemoth card appears out of nowhere,,,,, GGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! and bear in mind it'll be better than ANY of the consoles and the games'll cost you less too ;) 
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a c 271 U Graphics card
February 5, 2011 10:43:08 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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