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First Build is 6870 Crossfire, how long will it offer good performance

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February 28, 2011 8:27:41 PM

I sincerely wish I had waited just a month more until my second semester of loans were through and I ended up being richer than I anticipated... When I created my first build in late December, I selected a 6870 over the 6950 because I had it in mind that my build was going to end up being a 'budget' build to be upgraded very gradually over time. I went with a 955 BE and the AMD track, so this was originally intended to be a cheap build; however, the new year brought me a bit of a reprise in that I had several hundred dollars of extra money (worked a LOT before winter break, and I was approved for bigger loans than I anticipated; I also scored a $10/hour job over summer).

ANNNYYYWAAAAYYS

What I'm getting at is that my 'budget' build rapidly ballooned to a $1200 low-end enthusiast's build.... and I'm annoyed at myself for leaping at the 6870 at the time rather than spending the extra 70 bucks (or whatever it was at release) for the 6950 because of illusions that I would be patient and have less money to spend than I did; a Sapphire 6870 with revised cooling went on sale on Amazon for 30 bucks off retail (plus another 10 rebated) after I balanced my budget over break, so that's why I now have a second 6870.

Does anyone who has years of experience with building computers (and, accordingly, with watching their technology become obsolete slowly but surely) have an idea of how long 6870s in Crossfire will stand up against the years? I'm glad that I've seen benchmarks indicating that 6870s are one of the most economic Crossfire solutions, so I'm hoping for the best...

I guess I should just consider myself lucky that I only entertained the idea of 5770 Crossfire (for its price/performance ratio), rather than going for it...
February 28, 2011 8:40:31 PM

well games are gonna require more than 1 gig graphic memory even in sli or crossfire, so ur good for now, but new games are gonna require videocards with 2 gigs of memory and up,

u should be fine for atleast a year, but who knows what the new games are gonna require,

but the 6870 is a good bang for the bucks videocard and in crossfire makes a good setup,

i wouldnt worry for now, but it wont be future proof for that long,

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February 28, 2011 8:52:17 PM

As long as you don't plan on eyefinity it'll run anything for a while I'm very sure. It should beat out my 5850s at stock (of course, mine aren't stock ;)  ) and so far they've been up to the task in every game I've played.

I don't agree that games are going to need 2gigs and up VRAM anytime soon, not at 1080p at least. I can only attribute insufficient VRAM to 2 issues ever, and I purposely play the most demanding games to see how my cards hold up. The first case is in Metro 2033 with DoF and 4xMSAA turned on. That's only my best guess for why the FPS drops to ~5, but I've yet to see a bench with both turned on so it might be an issue with the game or DX11. The second issue was in STALKER: CoP, after I installed both a high res texture pack and AtmosFear high res, the game would freeze up during loading. I had to use a lower res for AtmosFear and then it worked great.

So yeah, honestly, you'll probably be dissapointed around the time you realise you should just build a new PC because the 955 is so far behind from the new Intel and AMD CPUs lol.
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February 28, 2011 9:00:28 PM

i was speaking of games such as metro 2033 that kill 1 gig graphic cards when anti aliasing and everything is on high, , so if theres games to come that require more powerful cards, than 1 gig might not do the trick, it also depends on what games he playing, i remember when crysis came out and even the high end cards where struggling on ultra high details :p 
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February 28, 2011 9:17:11 PM

You're talking about less than 10% of performance difference in most games, and your probably running a 60hz screen and will never notice anyways. Just be happy you saved the 70 bucks and enjoy your system. No point fretting there will always be a better deal out there. Other than a wife a PC depreciates faster than anything else you can buy.

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February 28, 2011 9:18:48 PM

A video card generation is about 1 year, for minor optimizations and improvement. The 5870 was replaced by the 6870 in about one year. But a 6870 doesn't "kill" a 5870 its just better. When the "7870" comes out I expect a BIG change. That would obsolete your card after 2 years. This leap will be enabled by shrinking the chip withe new 32nm process.

One of these cards will play anything at low to mid setting. But if you have two...

With two you can run Maxed out at 1920x1080 on almost any game with very playable frame rates. Metro 2033 being one of the exceptions. To play it I just back off a setting or two on the eye candy. BTW, I have a pair of 5870s running...

Game generations (not just new maps) when the sequel comes out, is more typically 2 to 3 years on major titles. When DiRT 3 and Crysis 2 come out you'll likely still have solid frame rate. Ok, you might have to back off a touch.

That said I'll bet you get close to 3 years out of a Crossfire pair of 6870s. The first year being the rest of this year till all the new games are out and then maybe 2 more years till they put out their next generation for a new game you want to play.

Basically your GPU won't be obsolete because a new GPU comes out (that just makes more performance available for less money...). It will only be obsolete when a new game comes out that you want to play that your cards won't play at the eye candy level you require.

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February 28, 2011 9:22:56 PM

iceclock: Well, yeah, I suppose so. But I don't think that's a big issue if you can still run max setting but with, say, 2xAA instead of 4xAA.

jb6684: There's truth to that. Yes they get replaced. The 5870 wasn't replaced by the 6870 though, the 5870 is still faster on it's own. And while yes pretty much every year a new GPU comes out offering equal or better performance at a given price point, that doesn't make the old stuff obsolete. My 5850s were $300 each. I could get 6950s for that now, and have much better performance. It sucks for me, sure, but I've yet to play a game that my cards can't handle at 1080p with Highest settings (the one exception I already stated being Metro 2033 with DoF and 4xMSAA. DoF and AAA, or no DoF and 4xMSAA, worked fine).

But I do agree 3 years or so for the CF 6870s at high settings. One issue with games these days is that so many are console ports that you don't need great hardware to run them. Just look at MW2/Black Ops (among many others). This trend will not cease until the next gen of consoles are out - but, of course, there are still very demanding games getting released every so often.
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February 28, 2011 9:39:07 PM

benski said:
You're talking about less than 10% of performance difference in most games, and your probably running a 60hz screen and will never notice anyways. Just be happy you saved the 70 bucks and enjoy your system. No point fretting there will always be a better deal out there. Other than a wife a PC depreciates faster than anything else you can buy.


Don't worry, I understand that buyer's "remorse" is part of being a computer builder (it was what kept me from building for like 3 months, which gave the 6000-series time to debut and dropped prices on Phenom IIs); and as you said, I don't notice much difference unless AA is on (although to be fair, I went up from about 30 FPS to 45 FPS average on Crysis with a higher AA setting than with my single 6870, and I can run Metro 2033 on Very High settings where I couldn't before). I was mainly concerned with non-AA settings being lost in future games (post-processing effects, volumetric, etc.)
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February 28, 2011 10:11:39 PM

6870 crossfire should be plenty for the next couple of years don't worry most people will use one to game 1920x1080 and get a great experience.
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March 1, 2011 12:46:27 AM

wannaturnuptheheat said:
Don't worry, I understand that buyer's "remorse" is part of being a computer builder (it was what kept me from building for like 3 months, which gave the 6000-series time to debut and dropped prices on Phenom IIs); and as you said, I don't notice much difference unless AA is on (although to be fair, I went up from about 30 FPS to 45 FPS average on Crysis with a higher AA setting than with my single 6870, and I can run Metro 2033 on Very High settings where I couldn't before). I was mainly concerned with non-AA settings being lost in future games (post-processing effects, volumetric, etc.)


Does it make a difference what the AA setting is in how much you enjoy the game? If not you're probably fine for at least 3 years, you look at the top cards that came out 3 years ago and they are still capable of maxing out most games at playable frame rates if you don't have AA on or cranked up high. There are no new consoles on the horizon yet and there aren't many PC exclusive games anymore, so IMO crossfire 6870s are going to be good for a long time. Remember you will have to pay back those student loans eventually ;) 
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