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Need advice on a GPU + PSU for ~ $300

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week

BUDGET RANGE: ~ AU$200 for GPU, $100 for PSU (see above)

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (e.g. Skyrim, Total War:Shogun 2), browsing the net, youtube

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: GPU: GeForce 210, Power Supply: TBD (see above)

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: CPU: Core2Quad Q6700, Motherboard: NVIDIA MCP73, 4GB DDR2 RAM

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: pccasegear.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Australia

PARTS PREFERENCES: Preferably GeForce, but I don't really mind

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680 x 1050


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
I'm looking to update my old graphics card, as it's fairly shoddy in regards to gaming. However, I am considering building a computer in about a year's time, so the graphics card just has to tide me over until then, although I would like to use the same card in the computer I build. I'm considering two options at the moment:

1. Buy a mid-range graphics card (around $200, e.g. GeForce GTX 560), then double it via SLI in the new computer
2. Splurge on a better graphics card now ( ~ $300-350) and just use that for the new computer. I could then potentially double that after 1-2 years use of the new computer.

I would prefer the first option for financial reasons, but I'm not really sure as to the pros and cons, and how resolution and things affect doubling the card. Which is why I'm asking you guys :) .

My second question is about a power supply. My current power supply is only 300W, which I'm fairly certain is too little for most modern graphics cards. As with the graphics card, I would like to be able to use this if I decide to build myself a computer down the track. So how much power would I need, and is there any PSU for about $100 you would recommend?

If there's any extra info you need to work anything out, just let me know and I'll add it in.
13 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. I'd advise you to buy a nice PSU first, like the Corsair HX-650 for 140$. As for the GPU, if you don't want to spend more money than 300AU for both the PSU and GPU, get the ASUS Radeon HD 6850 DirectCU V2, and later Crossfire it with another one.

    Or you can wait for the new HD 7000/GTX6xx series from ATI/Nvidia, and wait for price drops, then grab 2 of those ASUS 6850's immidiately or buy a single beefier card, maybe from the new series that will come out.

    Also before attempting to Crossfire/SLI anything, make sure that you've changed you platform as you said, otherwise that Q6700 for ex. for 2x HD 6850's is going to be a big bottleneck.
  2. Option 1 seems like a good choice to me. GTX560 will be plenty good, particularly at a 1680 x 1050 resolution.
    That card needs 450w with 24a on the 12v rails plus two 6-pin PCI-E power leads.
    You should be able to get both for your budget.


    As to future upgrades, you may not need one at a smaller resolution. If you do, then you will have some choices.
    A graphics card will become obsolete faster than a psu. I suggest you get a quality psu of more power than you initially need.

    Here is what you would need for different upgrades:

    GTX560Ti needs 500w with 30a on the 12v rails plus two 6-pin PCI-E power leads.
    GTX570 needs 550w with 38a on the 12v rails plus two 6-pin PCI-E power leads.
    GTX580 needs 600w with 42a on the 12v rails plus one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI-E power lead.
    GTX590 needs 700w with 50a on the 12v rails plus two 8-pin PCI-E power leads or 4 6-pin power leads.

    SLI is a bit more complex, and I don't like it unless a good single card will not do the job.

    The end of the year should see the launch of the next generation of 28nm cards. At that time adding an older card for sli will be unattractive compared to replacing with the next best thing.

    In the mean time, getting a quality psu in the 600-650w range should last you a long time.
    My short list of quality PSU's would include Seasonic, Corsair, PC P&C, Antec and XFX.
    You should be able to find one <$100.
  3. Thanks for the detailed replies guys. I'd just like to ask a couple more of you:

    1. Am I right in assuming that the Antec EarthWatts 650W's and the Corsair HX-650's only difference is the amperage? In relation to this, if I were to double the graphics card would this just double the power needed, and not the amperage? Last thing, geofelt, you mentioned some power requirements for various cards - is that for the cards themselves, or the whole system?

    2. I noticed that several graphics cards, including unkown_13's Radeon HD 6850 DirectCU V2, have a factory overclocked version, that tends to be overclocked by about 10-50%, and are usually a bit cheaper. I'm a bit nervous about the idea of overclocking, but would such a small increase (70Mhz, ~ 10%) make a significant difference to heat output/lifespan/reliability/whatever of, say, this card? I'm a bit stingy (you may have noticed :) ), but I don't want to sacrifice reliability for cost.

    Thanks for the help so far, it's much appreciated.
  4. Best answer
    1) There is not enough difference in amperage to matter. The antec has 54(not 38 +38), and the corsair 52.
    Another good alternative is the 650W XFX which sells for $60 after rebate. Same 53 amps:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817207014

    2) The EVGA requirements are really a rule of thumb which includes allowance for a cpu, several hard drives etc.
    If a graphics card has two pcie connectors, the maximum draw is 75w each. That plus the pci-e slot which can deliver totals 225w of 12v power. That translates to only 18.75amps. You don't want a psu to operate at 100% of max, it will be very inefficient. The best efficiency range will be in the middle 1/3 of the capacity.
    There are other factors.

    Some cheaper psu's advertise watts, but have less than normal wattage on the 12v rails where it is important.

    Better psu's will advertise wattage as continuous, not peak which will be higher.

    Some cheap psu's will advertise their wattage at 25c. Room temperature which is unrealistic in a case.
    Better units will test at 40c. or 50c.

    3) I am not much in favor of overclocking graphics cards. Manufacturers will already have selected the best bin examples to use in their factory overclocked versions which command a higher price. There is not much difference in percieved performance among cards in the same price bracket. Get what power you want/need and be happy.
  5. 1) Just curious, where did you get the 54A figure from? Looking at the 12V rail, the Antec has 38A whilst the Corsair has 54A. Also, as I'm in Australia I can't order from newegg, as they don't ship internationally. I'm sticking with pccasegear.com at the moment, and the cheapest XFX model there is $120.

    2) Hmm, I hadn't considered the temperature aspect. Considering the Antec EarthWatt doesn't mention the testing temperature, I'm considering the Corsair TX-650 V2. It's only $15 more, has 2 more years on the warranty, and is more upfront about the testing conditions. It also appears to have a good amperage, and from what I gather Corsair is a fairly reputable PSU brand. What do you think?

    3) Normally I wouldn't want to overclock, but I'm just wondering whether a 10%/70Mhz increase in speed would significantly affect reliability and life of the product, as the overclocked version is $20 cheaper. If it's less reliable then I'll just fork out the extra cash, but if there's no real difference and the overclocked version is cheaper, I'd prefer to get that (I don't really care about the performance boost that overclocking gives - it's the price and reliability I'm considering).
  6. 1) When you look at the specs for the antec, it says that the maximum 12v-1 + 12v-2 wattage is 650w. Since it is 12v, you get amps by dividing. 650w/12v =54.16a. A very good number.

    2) Exactly. Sometimes you have to dig for the details. The Antec spec says operating range 10-50c of continuous power. That's good.
    For more detail, try to find a review at jonnyguru http://www.jonnyguru.com/index.php

    3) Go ahead and get the OC'ed version. Many vendors offer lifetime warranties on their premium cards.
    The card should be long obsolete before it fails. I am surprised that the OC'ed version is cheaper.
  7. @geofelt: arent pc power and cooling psus basically an ocz rebranding?, if so I would definatley not go with that, the other brands mentioned above were good like antec, corsair, seasonic, xfx, personally I try to stick with those brands for reliability.

    The 6850 will run perfectly fine on the antec earthwatts 380w psu which is like 40 bucks but of course if the op wants to crossfire that will not be enough so the choice is up to the op, have fun and good luck, also in my opinion id avoid crossfire, buy a single powerful card that suits your needs, i speak from personal expirience
  8. jjb8675309 said:
    @geofelt: arent pc power and cooling psus basically an ocz rebranding?, if so I would definatley not go with that, the other brands mentioned above were good like antec, corsair, seasonic, xfx, personally I try to stick with those brands for reliability.

    The 6850 will run perfectly fine on the antec earthwatts 380w psu which is like 40 bucks but of course if the op wants to crossfire that will not be enough so the choice is up to the op, have fun and good luck, also in my opinion id avoid crossfire, buy a single powerful card that suits your needs, i speak from personal expirience


    PC P&C was acquired by OCZ. I do not know who actually makes their products today. I think many brand names are actually manufactured by others. In the past, I have had good customer service from PC P&C, and I hope they still have the same people. You call their office, a real person answers the phone, and gets the right person on the line to answer your issue. Good stuff.

    I agree, it makes sense to use a single good card, and dual cards only when a single card will not do the job.
  9. @jjb8675309 (tricky name!), I'm only really considering Corsair and Antec for the PSU at the moment, as I've heard good things about both brands and they have the widest range on pccasegear.com. I'm hoping that I can use the same PSU if I decide to build a new PC down the track, which is why I want one somewhat better than what is really needed at the moment. At the moment I'm thinking the Corsair TX-650 V2, as it has good power and amperage, plus a 5 year warranty.

    The reason I'm considering SLI/Crossfire is that it allows me to get a mid-range, mid-cost GPU now to use for the next year or so, whilst still leaving room to improve the graphics later if I build a new computer and its not powerful enough. I figure if I were to double it like this the price for the second card would have come down somewhat, allowing me to significantly increase the graphics for a relatively low cost. If I were to get an expensive card now, it still probably wouldn't give the performance of two cheaper cards, and I'd be hesitant to double it due to the large amount of money spent on it initially, as well as the fact it would still be more expensive than a less-powerful card now, even a year down the track. I hope I'm making sense :) .

    As to the GPU, I'm tossing up three options currently - the GeForce GTX 560 ($200) and two variants on the Radeon HD6850 - an HIS one for $170 and an ASUS one for $180. They're all factory overclocked, and I was just wondering what the practical difference between them is in terms of performance, power usage and reliability (ironically, the most overclocked of the bunch has a one year longer warranty).

    Incidentally, are these hyperlinks working all right for you guys?
  10. that psu sounds great I'd go for a gtx 560 personally over a 6850 although either would be a fine choice, the 560 is more on par with the 6870
  11. Alright guys, just one last question (I promise!) - if I wanted to SLI/Crossfire the GPU, would I need the exact same brand/model? And how would the factory overclocking affect this?
  12. unknown_13 said:
    I'd advise you to buy a nice PSU first, like the Corsair HX-650 for 140$. As for the GPU, if you don't want to spend more money than 300AU for both the PSU and GPU, get the ASUS Radeon HD 6850 DirectCU V2, and later Crossfire it with another one.

    Or you can wait for the new HD 7000/GTX6xx series from ATI/Nvidia, and wait for price drops, then grab 2 of those ASUS 6850's immidiately or buy a single beefier card, maybe from the new series that will come out.

    Also before attempting to Crossfire/SLI anything, make sure that you've changed you platform as you said, otherwise that Q6700 for ex. for 2x HD 6850's is going to be a big bottleneck.

    +1
  13. Best answer selected by Fain.
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