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Budget Video Card for Starcraft 2?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 6, 2011 6:48:46 AM

Hey everyone, I had my question answered in a previous thread (thanks everyone!), but the sale of the video card (HD 5670) fell through :(  The thread was closed, but it contains some useful background info:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/318825-15-budget-vi...

Recap: I am interested in playing Starcraft 2 at high settings with no lag (4v4).

Here are the options I currently have available to me... I'd love to hear your opinions! Please keep in mind that SC2 is my only concern... I must not get hooked on any other games! :) 

$40 - EVGA 9800 GTX+ 512mb DDR3 256bit [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]
$80 - BFG GTX 260 (216-core revision) 896mb DDR3 448bit [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]
$100 Gigabyte GTX 460 1gb DDR5 256bit [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]

Clearly the GTX 460 is the best card, but it seems like overkill, right?
Between the 9800 GTX+ & the GTX 260, which card will give me the best value? I value smoothness/FPS. Ultra settings would be nice, but I'll probably not crank it up that high anyway to minimize the load/heat in my case. So really, I'll be happy with smooth play at high settings.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find FPS data for the 9800 GTX+. The GTX 260 seems very strong but I hear that it sucks a lot of power and gets craaaazy hot; I only have 2 rear 120mm fans and 1 side 120mm fan in my case. I'm worried about the extra heat having a negative effect on the rest of my components. Anyone have bad experiences with this? How many fans are recommended?
Anyone make the upgrade from 9800 GTX+ to GTX 260 by any chance?

Here's my current rig:
CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 450 3.20 [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]
Video: EVGA GeForce 7800GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]
RAM: GSkill 4GB DDR3 1333 [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]
Mobo: [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]
PSU: Earthwatts 500W [http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]

I really appreciate your input. The last thread helped me decide which card to get, but I can't find an affordable used one at the moment!
a b U Graphics card
July 6, 2011 7:01:50 AM

The difference between the 9800 GTX + and the gtx 260 is pretty high.Probably better than the difference between the gtx 260 and gtx 460.Before I answer your question,what is your monitor resolution?
a c 172 U Graphics card
July 6, 2011 7:06:59 AM

the gtx260 will give similar fps to a 460, but it does not have dx11 capabilities. the 260 uses maybe a little more power than the 460. i think its worth the extra $$ for the 460. you get newer tech and dx11. forget the 9800, 512mb ram is not enough now for many games running high detail settings. i dont know where your getting the $100 figure from though....says $159 after rebate when i look.
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July 6, 2011 7:08:27 AM

I currently use 1680x1050, but that will probably improve when I switch to a new card (probably 19zz x 12zz, seems pretty standard).
July 6, 2011 7:49:25 AM

iam2thecrowe said:
the gtx260 will give similar fps to a 460, but it does not have dx11 capabilities. the 260 uses maybe a little more power than the 460. i think its worth the extra $$ for the 460. you get newer tech and dx11. forget the 9800, 512mb ram is not enough now for many games running high detail settings. i dont know where your getting the $100 figure from though....says $159 after rebate when i look.


The prices quoted are all for used cards, from friends/etc.

Re: 460 vs. 260... I don't think the newer tech & DX11 really matter to me. DX11 will only be important for other/newer games right? Ehhh... I should just stick to SC2 as my guilty pleasure :) 

I just tested my FPS with my current card in-game... in 1v1, I start around 100, then drops to 60 mid-game. I'll take another look tomorrow, doing 4v4, paying closer attention to FPS in battles (I was concentrating too much on winning, haha)... but the point I wanted to make is that every now and then, the screen just hangs for a moment, and I see the FPS drop really low and shoot back up again once the computer recovers. This will happen randomly (i.e. does not happen more often in big battles or anything). And this is what I mean by lag/low FPS. Just wanted to clear it up... I assumed it was the video card, but there might be another issue here?
a c 172 U Graphics card
July 6, 2011 10:26:20 AM

i would still take the newer 460 for $20 extra any day. it uses less power too and would be more suitable for your power supply.
a b U Graphics card
July 6, 2011 10:41:34 AM

If you are planning to play only starcraft 2,the gtx 260 is more than enough for you
http://www.geforce.com/#/Optimize/OPS/Starcraft-2-GeFor...

As you can see it maxes out starcraft 2 easily even at 1920X1080.Besides,you can also overclock the 260 greatly because even my gtx 275 is a GREAT overclocker.I can even increase my core clock to 780mhz quite easily from stock 620 mhz.

I even maxed out witcher 2 (no ubersampling) with 30-40 fps
July 6, 2011 5:26:21 PM

I used to use a 260 factory OC'd card for SC2. It would a pretty smooth 55+ framerate all the time on almost max settings at 1920x1080. The only thing it wouldn't be able to do is SSAO (indirect shadows) and you probably can't squeeze in more than 2x MSAA (if even that, idk how low you're ok w/ framerate) and your CPU probably won't handle reflections (it's a CPU effect that on maps that have water, will cause an i7-760 to drop to around 44fps). A 260 @ 1920x1080 on ultra settings minus SSAO and reflections will should get you good framerates for what you want.
July 6, 2011 5:45:27 PM

i use the 9800gtx. it gives good framerate at high. slight reduction on ultra.
the cpu i use is a 3ghz intel core duo
a b U Graphics card
July 6, 2011 6:20:06 PM

I have a 460 in my backup rig, with everything maxed out my frame rates are in the mid 50s in 4v4 maps. "High" settings aren't very high, my old 3870 was very playable in high settings in that game. The 460 is worth the extra 20 bucks over the 260 though, the 460 isn't just a 260 with DX11, it has 336 cores vs 216 for the 260, and is 50% faster in most benchmarks. Get the 9800 if you're ok with high setttings, get the 460 if you want to max the game out, don't get the 260 at all.
a c 172 U Graphics card
July 6, 2011 9:49:40 PM

the 260 is more on par with a 5770 or an oc'd gts 450.
!