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Best GPU(s) for i5-2500K + 850W PSU?

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May 2, 2011 3:50:05 PM

Hey guys,

What GPU(s) should I be considering for an i5-2500K CPU (possibly i7-2600K, but leaning strongly towards i5-2500K) + an 850W PSU?

It/they would mostly be for gaming. I eventually plan to purchase either a 27" or maybe even 30" monitor.

My current top choice (hoping to catch an awesome sale in the <=$200 range) is a 6950 2GB planning to unlock the shaders (not flash w/6970 bios because of memory issues)...then when I get the bigger monitor possibly adding a 2nd in crossfire. 2nd choice would be 560 Ti.

Are there any other cards I should be considering that have better value...meaning I guess->is my current plan going to be way over the top overkill (bottle necked)/could I get near identical performance for hundreds of dollars less while still remaining somewhat future-proof (for lack of a better word)? When/if I do crossfire...would it be better to match identical cards, or would a HIS work with a Sapphire for example as long as they are both 6950s?

Thanks,
-TG

More about : gpu 2500k 850w psu

a c 125 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 3:58:39 PM

Well, first off monitor size doesn't mean squat. What resolution? 2560x1600? 1080p?

Secondly, AMD cards don't even have shaders, let alone can you "only unlock them" without a BIOS flash. It's all or nothing where unlocking is concerned. Overclocking is a different story.

So if you're looking at 1080p, even a 6950 1gb is fine, I think it's something like 5% faster than a 560Ti on average but also a little more expensive. Either one is decent and will deliver mostly high settings, but not max all games.

To max out games at 1080p you'll need a little more horsepower. Sapphire just came out with the 5850 Xtreme at $150, so for $300 you get basically 5970 performance (my 5850s at 870/1200 on stock volts have higher FPS than a 5970). CF 6870 would be good too, slightly faster. CF6950 or SLI560 would not be overkill if you're looking to max games out with very solid FPS. My 5850s maxing out Metro 2033 play at 30-50 FPS or so (44 average on the benchmark). This is the most demanding game I've played to date.

If you're looking at 2560x1600 I wouldn't go less than CF6970 or SLI570 if you're looking for max settings.

As for CF/SLI branding doesn't matter.
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May 2, 2011 4:27:03 PM

wolfram23 said:
Well, first off monitor size doesn't mean squat. What resolution? 2560x1600? 1080p?


2560x1600 of course...why else would I want a 30" monitor?

wolfram23 said:
Secondly, AMD cards don't even have shaders, let alone can you "only unlock them" without a BIOS flash. It's all or nothing where unlocking is concerned. Overclocking is a different story.


I'm not sure how you haven't heard about this yet...or where you are getting that AMD cards don't have shaders, but I guess check out this article or google unlocking 6950 or something.

http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/overclocking/vidcar...

wolfram23 said:
If you're looking at 2560x1600 I wouldn't go less than CF6970 or SLI570 if you're looking for max settings.


I'm not sure if the new information I provided would change this answer.

wolfram23 said:
As for CF/SLI branding doesn't matter.


Cool, thanks!
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a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 4:32:39 PM

I think Wolfram means he doesn't understand how you plan to unlock the shaders without flashing, since you HAVE to flash in order to unlock them.
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May 2, 2011 4:40:25 PM

It didn't sound like that to me, my apologies if I misunderstood, but...you can flash a modified 6950 bios to just unlock the disabled shaders instead of flashing a 6970 bios which would also affect the memory timings.
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May 2, 2011 4:53:39 PM

I am currently running two 5850's as Wolfram23 but i definitely would advice you to stay away from ATI at least for the time being cause they are having lots of driver issues. Secondly, from personal experience i would say its better to run a single gpu rather than two. main reason would be space and heat. if your motherboard slots are too close then you'll run into some temp issues. other than that i think a 580 oc'ed should do the job.
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May 2, 2011 4:56:04 PM

TopGun said:
It didn't sound like that to me, my apologies if I misunderstood, but...you can flash a modified 6950 bios to just unlock the disabled shaders instead of flashing a 6970 bios which would also affect the memory timings.

You could try the Radeon Bios Editor. Download it at Techpowerup. it has worked for me before in different scenarios.
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a c 125 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 4:58:54 PM

Ahhh I see what you mean. See, AMD uses Stream Processors whereas Nvidia has CUDA cores. With AMD, you don't have a shader clock, only a core clock. But Nvidia has Core and Shader clocks - usually linked but you can unlock them and overclock separately. That's what I was confused about... wasn't sure if that's what you were thinking.

But yeah, they're referring to the Stream Processors as Shaders so... yeah. But you can only unlock it with the BIOS flash, and it becomes a 6970. If by memory issues you mean due to the different speeds (ie: 6950 memory can't be run as fast) then the simple option is to underclock the memory. Actually if I, personally, were going to do the flash I would first and formost figure out the 6950's overclocking potential then use RBE (Radeon Bios Editor) on the 6970 BIOS to edit the clocks to whatever you achieved overclocking. This is similar to what I did with my 5850s. Stock they are 700/1000 but mine run 870/1200 daily. The nice part about the BIOS edit is that unlike using Overdrive or Afterburner or w/e, they downclock properly. In fact the cards run like stock... just with much higher 3D clocks and also I increased their OC limits to 1050/1300 or so (compared to 775/1100 defaults)

So, if you are going to flash 6950 into 6970 (more or less) then yeah two of them should be pretty decent for 2560x1600.
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May 2, 2011 5:03:53 PM

@Wolfram23 what are your voltages right now.
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a c 125 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 5:07:50 PM

warlord1609 said:
@Wolfram23 what are your voltages right now.


Stock volts... 1.085 or something.

Last night I bumped it to 1.225 and 975mhz for Metro 2033 :) 
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May 2, 2011 5:11:53 PM

wolfram23 said:
Stock volts... 1.085 or something.

Last night I bumped it to 1.225 and 975mhz for Metro 2033 :) 

Nice. with stock ican run them only at 825/1050mhz completely stable :cry:  . but i couldn't hit the 1ghz mark yet. :( 
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a c 125 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 5:18:47 PM

Well 825mhz is still pretty good at stock. 1050mhz memory though? Are you sure that's the max? If you can get that up to 1100 or 1150 you'll see pretty significant improvements.
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May 2, 2011 5:22:15 PM

wolfram23 said:
If by memory issues you mean due to the different speeds (ie: 6950 memory can't be run as fast) then the simple option is to underclock the memory. Actually if I, personally, were going to do the flash I would first and formost figure out the 6950's overclocking potential then use RBE (Radeon Bios Editor) on the 6970 BIOS to edit the clocks to whatever you achieved overclocking. This is similar to what I did with my 5850s. Stock they are 700/1000 but mine run 870/1200 daily. The nice part about the BIOS edit is that unlike using Overdrive or Afterburner or w/e, they downclock properly. In fact the cards run like stock... just with much higher 3D clocks and also I increased their OC limits to 1050/1300 or so (compared to 775/1100 defaults)

So, if you are going to flash 6950 into 6970 (more or less) then yeah two of them should be pretty decent for 2560x1600.


I think I read that the memory issues had to do with the timings somehow as opposed to the speed. I'll have to check out that RBE. Sounds pretty cool.
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May 2, 2011 5:26:55 PM

wolfram23 said:
Well 825mhz is still pretty good at stock. 1050mhz memory though? Are you sure that's the max? If you can get that up to 1100 or 1150 you'll see pretty significant improvements.

Well Kombustor artefacts if I don't increase the voltage. At 1.2 I was able to run 950/1200 but it wasn't stable in all games. It required 1.26 volts which I didnt wanna risk. Will try again as soon as exams get over.
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a c 125 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 5:31:28 PM

AFAIK voltage is really just for core, and the memory voltage is locked. Well mostly locked, I seem to recall you can adjust it in RBE. But anyway, try running the core at maybe 750 for now and see if you can get the memory clocked higher. Memory bandwidth is a big bottleneck on GPUs from the tests I ran - particularily when running AA and AF.
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a c 125 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 5:32:51 PM

TopGun said:
I think I read that the memory issues had to do with the timings somehow as opposed to the speed. I'll have to check out that RBE. Sounds pretty cool.


Hmm... possibly, but I've honestly never ever heard mention of GPU memory timings. In all I've seen, unstable memory is strictly speed related (unless it's faulty from the get go of course).
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May 11, 2011 11:50:35 AM

Best answer selected by TopGun.
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