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Upgrading a GTX 295, need advice

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April 17, 2011 11:15:39 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Within a month.
Usage: World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Red Alert 3, and I'll say Crysis 1 and 2 to get the point across, I want a card capable of more than what I plan to use it for. I will also use it for my home theater and number crunching when necessary.
Current GPU: EVGA GTX 295 Co-Op Edition
Current Power Supply: Enermax Galaxy Evo 1250w
Current Motherboard: EVGA x58 3x SLI Classified
Current CPU: i7-920 D0 @ 4GHz (Water-cooled with Corsair H50)
Current Memory: 8GB (2x G.Skill 4GB DDR3 1600 7-8-7-24 1.65v)
Current Case: NZXT Phantom (with additional fans)
Preferred Website: I really like Newegg, but it doesn't matter to me where I buy the card.
Preferred Chipset Manufacturer: I'm conflicted.. I like ATI for their cooler running cards and lower energy requirements, but I like Nvidia for CUDA.
Preferred Manufacturer: XFX for ATI and EVGA for Nvidia, but I'm open to any manufacturer.
Overclocking: Most likely not. I'd like to buy a card that can handle anything I throw at it, without having to overclock it.
SLI/Crossfire: Most likely not. I'm not going to SLI my GTX 295 unless someone can really convince me, and chances are I won't want to SLI/Crossfire my next card, either. I am open to buying two/three/four cards now if the performance/price ratio is competitive with current high-end cards on the market.
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080
Budget: I'll say $600.. I want a great card, but I don't want the newest card from ATI or Nvidia, it's just too much.. Basically, any card except the 6990 or the GTX 590.

I am really looking for a graphics card that supports DirectX 11, and I am looking for a significant upgrade from my GTX 295. Manufacturer isn't as important to me as the card. I can always choose a manufacturer myself, but I'm open to discussion on which to choose for a specific card. Please, if you have some input, some reasoning would be helpful. :) 

The reason I'm looking to upgrade is mainly problems with my current card and the need for DirectX11 support, and I've had this card for too long. ;) 

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a c 376 U Graphics card
April 17, 2011 11:50:03 PM
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Basically there are no single GPU cards on the market that I would say are a "significant" upgrade over your GTX 295. There are a few cards that are faster on average(GTX 580/HD6970) but only by about 10-15% at 1080p. So really you will need to SLI or crossfire to get a worthwhile upgrade.
Two HD6950 2gb cards in crossfire should be a bit over 50% faster than your GTX 295 at 1080p. They are within your budget and likely your best choice as the Nvidia cards you might consider for SLI(GTX 560/570) are a bit lacking in video memory to really take advantage of the processing power of 2 cards of this caliber IMO. Also if you are interested the HD6950 can easily be unlocked into an HD6970 for even more performance.
http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/overclocking/vidcar...
April 18, 2011 3:16:37 PM

jyjjy said:
Basically there are no single GPU cards on the market that I would say are a "significant" upgrade over your GTX 295. There are a few cards that are faster on average(GTX 580/HD6970) but only by about 10-15% at 1080p. So really you will need to SLI or crossfire to get a worthwhile upgrade.
Two HD6950 2gb cards in crossfire should be a bit over 50% faster than your GTX 295 at 1080p. They are within your budget and likely your best choice as the Nvidia cards you might consider for SLI(GTX 560/570) are a bit lacking in video memory to really take advantage of the processing power of 2 cards of this caliber IMO. Also if you are interested the HD6950 can easily be unlocked into an HD6970 for even more performance.
http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/overclocking/vidcar...


How much improvement is a 6970 (6950 unlocked) over a GTX 295? I've looked at some benchmarks between the two and it's pretty impressive, definitely a significant upgrade for me. I'd like to just get one 6950 and unlock it for the time being.. How would Crossfire work later? Could I reflash the 6950 BIOS and Crossfire it with another 6950 assuming my new 6950 wasn't unlockable? Or could I buy a 6970 and Crossfire it with my unlocked 6950, again assuming that the current 6950's being sold are no longer unlockable? If, within a month or two, the 6950's are still unlockable, could I simply buy one and unlock it to effectively have two 6970's in Crossfire?

My main goal is DirectX 11. A 6970 (6950 unlocked) will get me DirectX 11, while also giving me a significant performance increase. And, I can finally get rid of my GTX 295 that is currently being used to heat my house. :|

I was looking at this card, I like the casing and it's already overclocked, which makes me feel better about raising the clocks to that of a stock 6970. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121416 It has to be a reference design card, right? I was looking at some other non-reference design cards and people are claiming that the card is *not* unlockable.. Is it just the BIOS switch that is needed? Or is there something else that is changed in non-reference designs?

Thanks for all your help. :) 
Related resources
a c 376 U Graphics card
April 18, 2011 8:59:59 PM

I can't seem to spot a review that includes all of the things you want to look at but here's a review that includes some benchmark of the GTX 295, the HD6970(or unlocked HD6950), and the HD6950 in both single card and crossfire;
http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-6950-crossfirex...
And this review has both the HD 6950 and HD6970 in crossfire for comparison;
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1488/1/
As for the different models of the HD6950 most of the non-reference cards do indeed remove the dual BIOS switch so a reference card would be best. As for the one you linked Asus is a good brand but that factory OC is microscopic so I wouldn't say it means anything. If you want to be extra safe I'd likely go for the XFX reference model(fan at the end of the card, not the middle.) They have a double lifetime warranty that I believe covers everything. Also for the flashing I would probably flash the BIOS that only unlocks the extra shaders(almost always works fine) and then raise the speeds myself(it's easy) in a program like Afterburner to find the limits of your individual card.
http://downloads.guru3d.com/Afterburner-2.0.0-Final-dow...
a c 172 U Graphics card
April 18, 2011 9:39:36 PM

I suggest that you just hang on to what you have despite the itch to upgrade as there are few worth while cards to upgrade to unless you are dealing with many issues with what you have now.
a b U Graphics card
April 18, 2011 9:56:20 PM

nforce4max said:
I suggest that you just hang on to what you have despite the itch to upgrade as there are few worth while cards to upgrade to unless you are dealing with many issues with what you have now.


+1 i'd wait for the new HD7000/GTX600 series since the only setup from which you'll notice differences is 2x HD 6950 2GB in Crossfire (of course you can SLI 2 GTX570's but they'd cost >$700, and your budget is $600)

I think that it's worth the wait for the new series, if not for the new cards then for the lower prices of current ones.
April 19, 2011 4:27:52 PM

Best answer selected by Steffwiz.
April 19, 2011 4:29:38 PM

jyjjy said:
I can't seem to spot a review that includes all of the things you want to look at but here's a review that includes some benchmark of the GTX 295, the HD6970(or unlocked HD6950), and the HD6950 in both single card and crossfire;
http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-6950-crossfirex...
And this review has both the HD 6950 and HD6970 in crossfire for comparison;
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1488/1/
As for the different models of the HD6950 most of the non-reference cards do indeed remove the dual BIOS switch so a reference card would be best. As for the one you linked Asus is a good brand but that factory OC is microscopic so I wouldn't say it means anything. If you want to be extra safe I'd likely go for the XFX reference model(fan at the end of the card, not the middle.) They have a double lifetime warranty that I believe covers everything. Also for the flashing I would probably flash the BIOS that only unlocks the extra shaders(almost always works fine) and then raise the speeds myself(it's easy) in a program like Afterburner to find the limits of your individual card.
http://downloads.guru3d.com/Afterburner-2.0.0-Final-dow...


Thanks a lot. I'm just going to try to wait a little longer and see what else ATI and Nvidia have coming. I was really tempted to buy this card, but I should probably wait.
April 19, 2011 4:30:01 PM

nforce4max said:
I suggest that you just hang on to what you have despite the itch to upgrade as there are few worth while cards to upgrade to unless you are dealing with many issues with what you have now.


Thanks. :) 
April 19, 2011 4:40:33 PM

unknown_13 said:
+1 i'd wait for the new HD7000/GTX600 series since the only setup from which you'll notice differences is 2x HD 6950 2GB in Crossfire (of course you can SLI 2 GTX570's but they'd cost >$700, and your budget is $600)

I think that it's worth the wait for the new series, if not for the new cards then for the lower prices of current ones.


Thanks, I'll wait a little longer. :) 
a c 376 U Graphics card
April 19, 2011 11:37:50 PM

Steffwiz said:
Thanks a lot. I'm just going to try to wait a little longer and see what else ATI and Nvidia have coming. I was really tempted to buy this card, but I should probably wait.

Yeah, your GTX 295 should still give good performance for now. The next AMD series should be out sometime this year so that may be a good time to upgrade for you.
September 19, 2011 12:48:30 AM

jyjjy said:
Yeah, your GTX 295 should still give good performance for now. The next AMD series should be out sometime this year so that may be a good time to upgrade for you.


Thanks! I just opened a new thread. Care to take a look? http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/326789-33-looking-upg...
!