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Future proofing my Comp

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May 31, 2011 10:06:10 AM

Hi there everybody,

Im hoping anyone out there could spare some time to help a fellow gamer out:) 

I have a question about GPU configuration.
Which is better for gaming right now and in the future, Single or Dual GPU (crossfire)

I know a PIC E runs at 16x and if you want crossfire you need a motherboard that has 8x 8x. but if i had two of the same cards- say the ati 5850 the values dont double correct? so 5850 + 5850 dived by two because of the 8x factor? -sorry if this doesnt make any sense lol my apologies

Im not very experienced in this department.

I ask this question because my computer is starting to show its age right about now and i would love to have a beast of a computer to run future games like BF3 at Max 1900X1080

Also which cards are best right now and which dual card configurations are best too.

Price really isnt an issue right now cause i can gradually buy all the parts before Bf3 comes out. would also like motherboard recommendations also if thats not to much trouble.

Thanks in advance:) 
Rob

My specs are:
i5 750 @ 3.4ghz
Ati Hd 5850 1gb
Windows 7 untimate
4 gb ram @1333

More about : future proofing comp

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a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 10:21:31 AM

You are right in saying that Crossfire/SLI does not automatically double performance, there is some drop-off. This is not, however, because of the x8x8 connection. It is more to do with the software controlling the crossfire/SLI configuration. It's been shown there is only a 4% performance difference between x16x16 and x8x8 configurations, meaning that x8x8 still has the vast majority of bandwidth available that your GPU's need to use. So x8x8 dual GPU configurations are massively viable and actually recommended as buying a motherboard capable of x16x16 offers incredibly little over x8x8 but will have a huge price premium attached.

If you want to really improve your computer as it stands (and it's a nice one at that), then i advise either getting a second 5850 in crossfire OR selling your current 5850 and getting a more modern, powerful single card like the 6970. I also advise moving your memory up to 1600MHz so you can have more baseclock headroom to overclock your I5. Providing you have a decent cooler, 3.75 - 4GHz isn't out of your reach with 1600MHz memory.

As far as motherboards go, I know that there are many manufacturers out there with their own merits. But I never really stray away from Asus or Gigabyte as, to me, they are the two best makers out. You just need to make sure you have a crossfire/SLI capable motherboard that does x8x8, NOT x16x4 or x8x4 (sometimes motherboards have a x4 connection masquerading as something else, so be careful and read the fine print in the specs). The x4 connection on the second card will cripple the setup. The Asus Maximus III GENE may be one to look at if you're into overclocking for gaming etc and price not being an issue.
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May 31, 2011 10:40:55 AM

Griffolion said:

If you want to really improve your computer as it stands (and it's a nice one at that), then i advise either getting a second 5850 in crossfire OR selling your current 5850 and getting a more modern, powerful single card like the 6970. I also advise moving your memory up to 1600MHz so you can have more baseclock headroom to overclock your I5. Providing you have a decent cooler, 3.75 - 4GHz isn't out of your reach with 1600MHz memory.

As far as motherboards go, I know that there are many manufacturers out there with their own merits. But I never really stray away from Asus or Gigabyte as, to me, they are the two best makers out. You just need to make sure you have a crossfire/SLI capable motherboard that does x8x8, NOT x16x4 or x8x4 (sometimes motherboards have a x4 connection masquerading as something else, so be careful and read the fine print in the specs). The x4 connection on the second card will cripple the setup. The Asus Maximus III GENE may be one to look at if you're into overclocking for gaming etc and price not being an issue.



Thanks alot for replying back to me,

I was thinking about purchasing another 5850 but leaving me to buy a new motherboard due to the fact that i dont have a crossfire enabled board. So keeping this in mind should i move to a 6970 instead? I tend to play future games on 24 inch lcd monitor and i would love for it to play them at 60+ FPS. What cards can 5850's in crossfire surpass on the market as of late?

I have a basic mid gaming case with 5 fans for cooling (would i need a better one) and 750w coolmaster psu.

I want to also upgrade my CPU also but im just in love with how well it works with my 5850 ( match made in heaven) very underrated CPU i reckon haha Do you think i should upgrade my cpu as well? i was thinking Intel Core i7 960 Nehalem CPU @ 3.2 ghz

Sorry for all the questions im throwing at you xD

thanks Rob:) 
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a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 10:50:00 AM

A single 5850 is at the level of a 6870 according to Tom's very own hierarchy chart. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card-...

Two 5850's would easily surpass a 6970 and maybe rival a 6990 in performance. However, i would advise sticking to a single card setup unless you're really serious about crossfiring for massive performance. The 6950/6970 will easily handle anything you throw at it.

I think you should MAYBE change your PSU, Coolermaster are known to not be the best brand out there. Perhaps change over to an 850W Corsair HX or Antec TruePower.

Segwaying from that PSU comment, that would give you the confidence to not have to bother upgrading your CPU, but just get a decent heatsink for it and over-clock it some more to maybe 3.5GHz. The I5 nehalem is still very very potent, especially at those clock speeds, so save yourself the money!

Your case looks good, 5 fans (so long as they are blowing in a consistent direction, front to back usually) is enough to keep stuff ventilated.
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May 31, 2011 12:39:11 PM

Future Proofing is impossible. With that out of the way, you haven't mentioned a price limit. It's clear you have one, because you aren't running the latest and most expensive technology, so I know there is a limit and value.

Looking at the option described by Griff:

An Asus Mobo capable of crossfire, a second 5850, and a new Corsair PSU : ~$500

If you keep all of your same components and upgrade to a single 6970 you'll spend ~$390

If you want to keep all of your components and change your future upgrade path while getting more performance you can buy and install a single GTX 580 for around $500. The 580 can use any single PCI lane, but SLI would require a qualified motherboard later. All motherboards with 2 PCI-E 2.0 lanes support crossfire. The GTX 580 will be more powerful than the 6970, but will also be bumping the ceiling of your power supply.

Depending on what you decide, the motherboard will become an issue. With your current processor, finding PCI-E 2.0 motherboards that run Dual x16 isn't that difficult or particularly expensive, but if you change to a sandy bridge (1155) motherboard, it's quite difficult to locate a reasonable motherboard you can SLI or Crossfire at x16x2.

Edit: My current computer can no longer max out new games, Metro 2033 and Witcher 2 have already shown that. I thought I had a powerful rig until those and now I'll looking at SLI options before BF3 and Skyrim arrive. Something to think about while you're contemplating the meaning of "future proof".
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May 31, 2011 1:20:55 PM

Griffolion said:
A single 5850 is at the level of a 6870 according to Tom's very own hierarchy chart. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card-...

Two 5850's would easily surpass a 6970 and maybe rival a 6990 in performance. However, i would advise sticking to a single card setup unless you're really serious about crossfiring for massive performance. The 6950/6970 will easily handle anything you throw at it.

I think you should MAYBE change your PSU, Coolermaster are known to not be the best brand out there. Perhaps change over to an 850W Corsair HX or Antec TruePower.

Segwaying from that PSU comment, that would give you the confidence to not have to bother upgrading your CPU, but just get a decent heatsink for it and over-clock it some more to maybe 3.5GHz. The I5 nehalem is still very very potent, especially at those clock speeds, so save yourself the money!

Your case looks good, 5 fans (so long as they are blowing in a consistent direction, front to back usually) is enough to keep stuff ventilated.



thanks for the imput, could i even go further and get 3 x 5850's and run them in tri crossfire? can u run ati cards in SLI?

i really swaying towards getting another 5850 and running them in crossfire. can u reccomend some psu to run it?
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a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 1:30:06 PM

Joshyboy makes a good point, it makes more financial sense to get a single powerful card rather than crossfire a second card in there. I didn't consider it from that point of view.

Anyway, I will always recommend PSU's from Corsair's HX Professional line and Antec's TruePower line. There are other good ones like Seasonic, XFX etc but i tend to stick to one or two truly good makes. For Crossfire, i suggest at least 850W, perhaps 900. And you run ATI cards in crossfire, not SLI. SLI is Nvidia, same concept, different name/execution.

Also, triple crossfire? No thanks, the more you put in, the more performance drop off you get, because if the game isn't optimised for dual GPU configs, then the extra muscle is all for naught. The drivers also get massively unstable at that level.

Basically dude, my conclusive suggestion to you is to sell your current 5850 and get a 6950/6970. If you fancy over-clocking your I5 some more, get a new PSU too, as mentioned above so as to provide a more reliable power delivery to the components. But most of all, 6970/6950.
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May 31, 2011 1:42:04 PM

Thanks Griff guess you have changed my mind

Ill be getting a 6970, a new psu, new motherboard and a new gaming case

and ill get a mother board that supports crossfire so i can upgrade to, 2x 6970 in the future :) 

thanks for the help guys:) 
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a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 1:45:04 PM

You've made a seriously good choice with the 6970 there.

For cases, i suggest Antec or Coolermaster as they tend to make excellent cases.

Motherboard is entirely your choice, but heed my warnings about a x4 slot masquerading as a x8 or x16 one. The problem only tends to appear in the lower end of a motherboard manufacturers range of products.

You know my suggestions about PSU's and good luck with your upgrades :) .
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May 31, 2011 1:51:04 PM

Dont worry Griff i only purchase gigabyte motherboards and i do alot of homework on the motherboards specs before i purchase them::) 

should i keep my cpu? if i choose to upgrade, what are some good ones to consider?
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a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 1:52:30 PM

In my opinion, keep, the Nehalem I5 is still incredibly capable by today's standards. I wouldn't really think about upgrading until Ivy-Bridge comes out later this year. If you REALLY want to upgrade, go for a socket 1155 Sandy Bridge motherboard and go for an I5-2600K.
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a c 271 U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 2:08:59 PM

Griffolion said:
In my opinion, keep, the Nehalem I5 is still incredibly capable by today's standards. I wouldn't really think about upgrading until Ivy-Bridge comes out later this year. If you REALLY want to upgrade, go for a socket 1155 Sandy Bridge motherboard and go for an I5-2600K.

*cough* Errr what?
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May 31, 2011 2:13:13 PM

Mousemonkey said:
*cough* Errr what?



what CPU did u have in mind then?
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a c 271 U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 2:16:40 PM

rivo101 said:
what CPU did u have in mind then?

Either of the CPU's that Griff is trying to mention are good 'uns. Note that I said either as there is no i5-2600K, there is however an i5-2500K and an i7-2600K.
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a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 2:34:28 PM

Sorry for that MM, slip of the mind! :D 
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a c 271 U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 2:38:55 PM

Griffolion said:
Sorry for that MM, slip of the mind! :D 

No biggie, I just like the way you had both bases covered with one CPU! :lol: 
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a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 2:45:57 PM

Haha, i wish, this IS Intel we're on about here :p .
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June 1, 2011 12:45:53 PM

What mother board are you thinking of getting OP? I personally like Gigabyte's GA-Z68X-UD4-B3.
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June 1, 2011 1:12:25 PM

joshyboy82 said:
What mother board are you thinking of getting OP? I personally like Gigabyte's GA-Z68X-UD4-B3.


Thats the exact motherboard i will be getting for this, also with Intel Core i7 2600K LGA1155:) 

So my final build will be:

Intel Core i7 2600K LGA1155
Gigabyte's GA-Z68X-UD4-B3
2x Gigabyte ATI AMD HD6970 OC 2Gb in crossfire
Corsair 850W TX-850 ATX (will this be enough)
8Gb G.Skill Ripjaws 2000Mhz
AeroCool BX-500 Ultimate Gaming Case- which holds 10 fans which i will fully use.

What do you guys think? Oh and if anyone has any good cases that has heaps of fans for under $150 please let me know:) 

Thanks:) 
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a b U Graphics card
June 1, 2011 1:26:41 PM

Save yourself the money with those 2Ghz ripjaws and bring it down to something like 1600MHz ones. The price/performance trade off after 1600MHz becomes very high. Use the money saved to up the budget for a case. I personally suggest an Antec Nine Hundred Two.
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June 1, 2011 1:43:41 PM

what RAM do u suggest? and any other cases?
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a b U Graphics card
June 1, 2011 1:48:47 PM

I'm personally a fan of Corsair RAM for their stability, but that's just a personal preference. Ripjaws are also very good, so look for their 1600MHz iterations. As for cases, the Coolermaster HAF series cases, Corsair 600T, Silverstone Fotress/Raven Series. Also, pretty much anything by Lian Li, but they're usually quite expensive.
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June 1, 2011 2:04:25 PM

8Gb DDR3 1600Mhz G.Skill is my best bet? As for the case im looking for best air flow with lots of fans. The case i got now cost me $79 back in the day (2 years ago) and holds up to 5 fans.

Best case Ive had to date, not sure what its called but.
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June 1, 2011 2:08:57 PM

Here are the cases i have my eye on

CoolerMaster CM 690 II Advance

AeroCool BX-500

CoolerMaster HAF RC-922M Case

AeroCool XPredator Evil


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a b U Graphics card
June 1, 2011 2:10:36 PM

Yeah what you listed sounds good. Make sure the 8GB set are 2 x 4GB sticks and not 4 x 2GB sticks.

Anyway, the majority of those cases listed have amazing airflow characteristics, i can personally vouch for the nine hundred two. It isn't always about the number of fans, it's how cleverly it utilises the fans. The Nine Hundred Two holds 4 120mm fans and one 220mm fan on the top, but i'm willing to bet it will still play with 10 fan holding cases, because they are used cleverly in the right ways. So basically, it's not always about the fans. Look to see if a prospective case has good cable routing facilities, like pre-cut holes in the back panels for routing cables through so the airflow isn't disrupted by cables in the way.
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June 1, 2011 2:17:14 PM

OOO i like the Antec Nine Hundred TWO, you recommended:) 

Very nice

Does your case have pre hole cut outs and such?

Oh and will this case be able to fit a amd 6970?
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June 2, 2011 10:19:37 AM

I personally like the HAF-922. That's because I have a HAF case, so I'm biased. High Air Flow is what they mean. Support for 3 200mm fans! Quiet and powerful.

http://www.coolermaster.com/product.php?product_id=6606...

Curious if you did any research into what the difference between a Z68 and a P67 (both will seat a 2600K processor) is? If you know, I was wondering if you are planning to add one.
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June 2, 2011 4:01:59 PM

joshyboy82 said:
I personally like the HAF-922. That's because I have a HAF case, so I'm biased. High Air Flow is what they mean. Support for 3 200mm fans! Quiet and powerful.

http://www.coolermaster.com/product.php?product_id=6606...

Curious if you did any research into what the difference between a Z68 and a P67 (both will seat a 2600K processor) is? If you know, I was wondering if you are planning to add one.




The only research ive done is the compatibilit the 26000k and the Z68. This is becuase i get my computer parts from a local store which has the best prices. Some times better than online.

Do you know the differences?
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a b U Graphics card
June 2, 2011 7:38:45 PM

Cooler Master Storm Scout or HAF 922/932 gets my vote
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June 3, 2011 12:29:01 PM

The P67 is the same as any other motherboard, you use it, but it doesn't directly provide services to you. The Z68 motherboards are different. They have a chipset that you plug a SSD of 20Gb or more into and it speeds your standard HDD up by 60% (according to Intel). You don't install anything on this SSD, like some users might have you believe, it becomes a storage file, secondary to your processor's cache file. When your processor wants data, it asks the HDD for it. It tries to predict what you'll need, but sometimes it predicts wrong and then has to wipe it's entire cache. That slows your whole computer down. What Z68 does is allows for much bigger guesses and in turn feeds your processor's cache with little to no effect if your CPU guesses wrong. It also stores files onto the SSD for program run files, so those start up almost instantly, as well as windows start up files. Because the SSD that's connected can be read almost as fast as RAM, but doesn't clear when you power down, it provides a much quicker way for your processor to pull data without depending on the Hard Drive. Your HDD still exists to be a large storage unit, much larger and cheaper than a SSD, but it is no longer the bottleneck it is in old systems. Point being, while you are planning all of these parts out, if you are getting a Z68 motherboard, maybe invest in at least a 20Gb SSD. They aren't too expensive at that size, around $60, but it will be night and day compared to running with a standard hard drive and much cheaper than buying a SSD to install all of your programs on (>80Gb).

Here's some references if you want to get your knowledge on:
http://www.anandtech.com/print/4329 (skip to page 2 if you want)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei7kkOHa0iw
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June 10, 2011 7:09:18 AM

Best answer selected by rivo101.
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a c 271 U Graphics card
June 10, 2011 5:48:24 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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