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Help Choosing 5xx or 69xx GPU

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  • Graphics Cards
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Last response: in Graphics Cards
March 19, 2011 11:18:49 PM

Here's the build I'm planning:

i5-2500(K or non-K)
Asus P8P67 (probably won't get Pro, just regular)
Spinpoint F3 1TB
G.SKILL 2x2GB 1600 6-8-6-24 1.5v
Windows 7 64-bit

I'm not sure about the Case or PSU. My budget is about $1000 to well, $1200 max maybe? I can push the budget of course, but there's limiting returns and having money for other things.

I've been thinking a GTX 570 would be good, but I know there's the 6970 (I'd rather not try to unlock a 6950). I could always say forget it and get a GTX 560 or something in the 200-300 range.

What kind of benefits would I see with: a) A higher priced card, b) Nvidia or AMD. I know there's PhysX, MLAA, etc., but I'm having trouble deciding and there's whether or not a higher priced card is worth it. I'm coming from having poor/cheap/old computers and having a mega-loud 360 be the highest-end thing I've played on, so I don't have any direct experience with how things change in PC gaming (longevity and all that).

Also, I'd get an XFX or EVGA as I want a lifetime warranty. Noise is something I'm wondering about, too.

If I get an EVGA GTX 570, I'm thinking the reference one would be better than the new HD version. Sure the newer one has Display Port and full size HDMI, but are either of those that big of deal? I can't find much on whether the HD version is quieter or louder and I've read things both ways (including that it's only quieter in theory, but louder in practice). With reference I could always add an Accelero Xtreme Plus, heheh. :) 

This last thing might be a little subjective, but who really has better IQ? Or better drivers? And do the 6950 and 6970 have the texture shimmering issue that 68xx had? I can't find anything on this anywhere. If they do, I'm probably going to rule them out altogether.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Edit: Forgot to say I'll be getting a 1920x1080 or 1200 monitor later on, so assume I'll be using one of those.

More about : choosing 5xx 69xx gpu

March 19, 2011 11:45:48 PM

Well, I know I'd never use Eyefinity, but I doubt I'd use 3D vision either.

Does Nvidia still have major issues with Bethesda games? Other than that, it seems like a lot of games are sponsored by or favor Nvidia. Unless I just hear about those more often?

I see in Crysis the 6970 does better, but I can't many others. I should probably make a table of the pros and cons.
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a b U Graphics card
March 19, 2011 11:48:56 PM

a) When you get past $100ish, you see pretty linear returns for price for performance (excluding the very high-end cards like the 580 and 6990, etc.). If I were you, I'd pick a price point and check out what cards are there.

b) The differences are very minimal. There really is not a significant disadvantage with either company. Nvidia has physx, which some games utilize to provide improved physics, but the percentage of games that use this is very small and it is almost always minimal eyecandy. They both have 3d (Nvidia 3d vision, AMD HD3D).

Drivers are not significantly better either way, but know that for recently released cards, the drivers may be slightly less mature and that they will improve performance over time. For recently released games as well, the drivers may provide sub-optimal performance (some games improve performance up to 30% with better drivers).

Usually, the better the card, the louder it is (because they produce more heat and need better cooling), but most are not loud enough to care about. If you don't want a lot of noise, and I mean a really loud card, steer clear of the 480 and most importantly 6990. Most reviews, at least on toms, have the noise levels for the cards.

A lifetime warranty is nice, but to be honest, after the regular warranty is up (3-5 years), you might be looking for an upgrade anyway, and the chances of it dying later are slim. If you want the security, though, go for it. It doesn't cost too much more. XFX tends to be more expensive than budget brands because of its warranty, but it uniquely allows you to sell it and the buyer to also have a lifetime warranty.

Adding an accelero xtreme plus cooler might seem like a cool idea for overclocking, but it really is not worth the money. It will allow a modest overclock past what the factory card is capable of, but spending that ~$50 on a better card in the first place, which you can then overclock, would give a much better return on the money.
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Related resources
a b U Graphics card
March 19, 2011 11:56:45 PM

helpme3948 said:
Well, I know I'd never use Eyefinity, but I doubt I'd use 3D vision either.

Does Nvidia still have major issues with Bethesda games? Other than that, it seems like a lot of games are sponsored by or favor Nvidia. Unless I just hear about those more often?

I see in Crysis the 6970 does better, but I can't many others. I should probably make a table of the pros and cons.


I haven't heard about Nvidia issues with Bethesda games, but I only play Oblivion. The nvidia sponsored thing ("The Way Its Meant To Be Played"), involves nvidia paying developers to make their games work well with nvidia hardware, but to be honest I think its a load of trash. AMD works awesome even though it has no such program
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March 20, 2011 12:03:23 AM

Speaking of noise and testing, how come a test on Anandtech can show 57 dBA for load and 42 idle, while Techpowerup will show 40 and 30 dBA instead? That's a huge a difference in noise (around 4 times and 2 times as loud for load and idle respectively) and I'm not sure which level I'd actually be hearing. I know how TPU tests, but I can't find how Anand does. 40 dBA I wouldn't mind, but 57 is a bit worrisome.
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March 20, 2011 1:54:56 AM

Quote:
if your not bothered about 3d and such get the 6950. Nvidia got the advantage with the specific game profiles where you can use it to sort out any games having issues with the driver. But the 6950 are the best bang for buck at the moment. Get the 2gb version then flash it to a 6970. One card setups there ain't much cons. Both sides got very good gpus but Amd just edge it related to the price vs performance

Since flashing voids the XFX warranty (they specifically said so about the 6950 trick) and I don't like that kind of risk taking (e.g. fails while flashed and you can't set it back), I'm not considering a flashed 6950 as much of an option. I've read some about people having artifacts and other problems, so it's not quite guaranteed success, even if it didn't or doesn't void the warranty. I'm just going to assume what I buy is what I get.
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March 20, 2011 2:23:36 AM

Quote:
the card got two bios setups. How they know you flashed it?

I don't know if they're bluffing on whether they can tell (assuming you couldn't flash it back), but since there's still risk involved besides the warranty of whether it actually works (I know it's likely to work, but still), I'm just not going try. If I got a 6950, it'd be just as a 6950. Besides, it seems like more of a toss up than a slight overclock and I'm not really into that idea either. I don't think there's any way to convince me to buy one and flash it.

I'm just a careful person I guess. So, in that case, any more advice about 6970 vs 570?

Also, about the noise, I saw another noise test and they're 40-30 dBA, too for just the GPU itself at 75cm. I'm guessing Anand tested right next to the card or something since all their noise tests are higher. Not really an issue then.
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a c 1170 U Graphics card
March 20, 2011 6:09:36 AM

The GTX 570 is coming down in price and will be cheaper, faster, and quieter than a HD6970. It's pretty clear when browsing these forums that AMD drivers have more complaints, as well.

These are good reviews that explain their noise testing methodology. Each review site approaches it in different ways, so noise levels will give different scores, but the relative noise remains the same. It also shows the GTX 570 being quieter than the 6950 and 6970. You can also compare performance in specific games between the two.
http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-6950-6970-review/1...
http://www.guru3d.com/article/geforce-gtx-570-review/9
"The noise levels are perfectly under control, in fact the card is silent even under full stress. In Idle we measured 37 dBA which is under the PC noise level itself. When we stress the card until it nearly panics, we measure 40 dBA, and that's just perfect. And that is silent indeed."

Here is a great review of the XFX 6950 and 6970 that includes actual noise samples:
http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1084/pg21/xfx-rad...
"Where we were a little disappointed was the cooler design. In single card mode the cooler works well, even if the 6970 does get a little hot and runs louder than the GTX 570. And so to value which is an important factor for these two cards considering the GTX 570 was more often than not faster than the 6970"

A good reveiw comparing the 6950, 6970 and GTX 570 when overclocked:
http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1085/pg1/gtx-570-...
"When we looked at the 6900 series on launch day we saw that generally the GTX 570 was faster than the 6970 with the 6950 a little further behind. When we overclock the cards and run them through a selection of games the Gigabyte GTX 570 still managed to come out on top for most of the tests however the 6970 did close the gap a little under these enhanced configurations. In terms of overall experience from the cards the reference model findings still apply. The Radeons use less power, the GTX 570 runs quieter. NVIDIA offer better stereoscopic 3D gaming and PhysX with AMD matching them on Blu-Ray 3D playback."
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March 20, 2011 6:23:54 AM

Thanks, I'll read through all those reviews tomorrow.
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a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2011 6:46:08 PM

Quote:
yes they do lol
Remember dx 11?


What? Are you saying that bethesda does have nvidia issues, or that twimtbp is not trash?
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March 20, 2011 7:26:19 PM

helpme3948 said:
I don't know if they're bluffing on whether they can tell (assuming you couldn't flash it back), but since there's still risk involved besides the warranty of whether it actually works (I know it's likely to work, but still), I'm just not going try. If I got a 6950, it'd be just as a 6950. Besides, it seems like more of a toss up than a slight overclock and I'm not really into that idea either. I don't think there's any way to convince me to buy one and flash it.

I'm just a careful person I guess. So, in that case, any more advice about 6970 vs 570?

Also, about the noise, I saw another noise test and they're 40-30 dBA, too for just the GPU itself at 75cm. I'm guessing Anand tested right next to the card or something since all their noise tests are higher. Not really an issue then.


Inaccurate post for a few reasons.

1. There is a dual bios switch that if you render errors while flashing, you can just flip the switch to switch back to the original bios.

2. The above ^ most likely won't happen. Techpowerup has a chart on those that flashed the 6950 and whether it was successful or rendering errors. Over 95% of the people were successful with the flash. I was successful 3 times with a HIS, XFX, and Powercolor. Just search "6950 flash to 6970" and you'll see the Techpowerup article somewhere in the top 10 results.

3. The 6950 works exactly like a 6970. I saw vast improvements in Unigine Heaven Benchmark and Metro 2033 (5-7 fps increase). To me that's more important in a graphic intensive game than a 10-15 fps increase when you are already getting 90+fps
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March 20, 2011 7:50:09 PM

Carc369 said:
Inaccurate post for a few reasons.

1. There is a dual bios switch that if you render errors while flashing, you can just flip the switch to switch back to the original bios.

2. The above (#2) ^ most likely won't happen. Techpowerup has a chart on those that flashed the 6950 and whether it was successful or rendering errors. Over 95% of the people were successful with the flash. I was successful 3 times with a HIS, XFX, and Powercolor. Just search "6950 flash to 6970" and you'll see the Techpowerup article somewhere in the top 10 results.

3. The 6950 works exactly like a 6970. I saw vast improvements in Unigine Heaven Benchmark and Metro 2033 (5-7 fps increase). To me that's more important in a graphic intensive game than a 10-15 fps increase when you are already getting 90+fps

Seems like it's tough (via Google) to find out why some people were having problems with flashing. I've come to the conclusion that though there is a little risk involved, the key is doing it right. Since 6970 and 6950 are different in some ways, you can unlock the 6950 shaders, but you can't, say, run the memory the same as a 6970 and you shouldn't use the 6970 bios itself, just the modified 6950 bios. If you damage the memory by pushing it too hard, that would be why switching the bios back wouldn't help certain people. Sounds like not respecting the memory difference was the main problem for people.

Would this be more correct then?
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March 20, 2011 8:31:03 PM

BTW, anyone know where I can find IQ tests for 69xx and 5xx? Would the 470 and 570 have the same results in this article: http://alienbabeltech.com/main/?p=23098&all=1

470 seems to have blocky (not circular) AF while 68xx (assuming 69xx is the same?) has texture shimmering. There's also AA quality and "AMD is sharper Nvidia is blurry"-type statements. Tis confusing me which one is actually better. :sweat: 
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a c 1170 U Graphics card
March 20, 2011 8:39:52 PM

I think the conclusion to that article says it all:
"Image quality aficionados will recognize that nVidia’s AF still produces the smoothest and most uniform images overall. With that said, if you’re someone who never changes the driver control panel from its defaults, you probably won’t notice a difference between the two vendors. And to be perfectly fair, occurrences of practical differences tend to be rare anyway."
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March 21, 2011 12:18:40 AM

I think I'm going to get an EVGA GTX 570. The only thing now is to choose reference or HD version...

Sadly, I can't find any reviews of the HD.
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March 21, 2011 4:39:11 AM

helpme3948 said:
Seems like it's tough (via Google) to find out why some people were having problems with flashing. I've come to the conclusion that though there is a little risk involved, the key is doing it right. Since 6970 and 6950 are different in some ways, you can unlock the 6950 shaders, but you can't, say, run the memory the same as a 6970 and you shouldn't use the 6970 bios itself, just the modified 6950 bios. If you damage the memory by pushing it too hard, that would be why switching the bios back wouldn't help certain people. Sounds like not respecting the memory difference was the main problem for people.

Would this be more correct then?


I'm sure people overclocked the card after the flash which caused them to have problems I overclocked mine to 915/1450 which was as high as I could go before it became unstable. I also set the power to +20%. Ultimately, I decided to leave it at stocked because I felt the extra 25/75 mhz wasn't worth it. There's no reason to be greedy after you just turned a $300 to a $370 card (bought mine for $260 with a $30 mail in rebate)

Btw I used the Asus 6970 bios which was stocked at 890/1375 (slightly overclocked... stock = 880/1375).
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March 21, 2011 4:50:39 AM

Quote:
so was I right or wrong?

You are 100% right. The 6950 is definitely the best bang for the buck atm simply because you can flash it into a card that is worth more. People are afraid to take risks. $300 is a lot for an average Joe to play around it so it's completely understandable to be skeptical. I was looking at the 570 because I hated the 5xxx drivers so I was done with the headaches. Found out about the 6950 being unlockable, read up on it, and ultimately decided the 6950 was the best route even though I was doubtful about the drivers.

Thankfully, I made the right choice. 11.1a/11.2 has worked very well in my single card setup.
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