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6870 Crossfire now or 6950 now with Crossfire later?

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August 7, 2011 3:49:09 AM

I'm really having a difficult time deciding between 2 Sapphire 6870s ($179.00 each Newegg) or 1 Sapphire 6950 2 GB ($265.00 on Newegg). I can't afford 2 6950s right now, but I probably can get one in a few months. I'm an admitted Elder Scrolls Oblivion junkie and I want a new system for Skyrim that can handle all the upgraded visual mods people come up with. I want to keep this rig for at least 4 years (unless a new Elder Scrolls game comes out before then). Do you think the extra 1 GB of VRAM in the 6950 will make a difference for future games and/or mods? Here's my current cart at Newegg:

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
Item #: N82E16827135204

$20.99

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Item #: N82E16811129066
-$10.00 Instant
$10.00 Mail-in Rebate11-129-066

$59.99

Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822148697
-$15.00 Instant

$49.99

Rosewill RNX-N180UBE USB 2.0 External 5dBi Antenna Wireless Adapter
Item #: N82E16833166056
-$10.00 Instant

$19.99

SAPPHIRE 100312-3SR Radeon HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video ...
Item #: N82E16814102945
Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy
$20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card14-102-945

$264.99

Antec High Current Gamer Series HCG-750 750W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V v2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE ...
Item #: N82E16817371049
-$40.00 Instant
$25.00 Mail-in Rebate17-371-049

$89.99

(2) G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBXL
Item #: N82E16820231427

$69.98
($34.99 each)

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
MSI P67A-G43 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard COMBO

*

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
Item #: N82E16819115072

MSI P67A-G43 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
-$5.00 Instant
-$20.00 Combo
$20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card13-130-583

$329.98

Subtotal: $905.90
Mail In Rebates: $75.00
Total after rebates: $830.90


I can get the 2 6870s for about $90 more or about $1000.

So do I go for the (2) 6870s now and get instant gratification or should I get the (1) 6950 now and (1) in a few months, maybe December or January. Thanks in advance for the help.
August 7, 2011 4:36:26 AM

Nice build. I'm looking at something extremely similar for BF3 and Skyrim... the 6870's are awesome, but the extra VRAM for future-proofing is nice, specially since Tom's benchmarks show only very minor extra increases in noise/heat for the Cross-fired 6950's. Also, you should consider that you can CF a higher end AMD 69xx with your 2gb 6950, so if you come into some money, you can CF in a 6990, something you can't do w/ the 6870, since it's the highest in the 68xx series. Also, I believe that the 2gb version of the 6950 is unlockable to a 6970, just need to tweak and keep it cool, until you can get your 2nd 69 series. As you can see, I'm leaning towards the 6950, but don't get me wrong, 2x 6870 is a pretty awesome, stable, quiet, cool combo and probably the best current (Aug 2011) GPU value.
August 7, 2011 4:59:15 AM

Thanks for the reply. I'm leaning toward the 6950 2GB. Nice point about possibly adding a 6990 to the crossfire config later if I can afford it.

For fun I looked up what my new build that costs about $800 after rebates would cost if I bought a similar setup with IBuyPower and Alienware.

IBuyPower: $1250
Alienware: $1600

$1600! For an i5 2500k, 8 GB 1333 RAM, 1TB 7200 RPM HDD, 6950 2 GB, and a DVD Burner. That's crazy. Twice as much as my home made model. Although that Alienware case is awesome, not $700 awesome though.
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August 7, 2011 5:09:43 AM

I would suggest the 6950, better scalability.

Alienware are a waste of money, they have pretty cases but are very expensive and have ridiculously bad airflow as stock. Tip: you can pick up damaged ones for less than half price (anything from a scratch to a failed Mobo, price would depend on failure type obviously).

Why 4x2GB? why not 2*4GB for less, see http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

other than that build looks good.
August 7, 2011 5:28:52 AM

Ninja Pants said:
I would suggest the 6950, better scalability.

Alienware are a waste of money, they have pretty cases but are very expensive and have ridiculously bad airflow as stock. Tip: you can pick up damaged ones for less than half price (anything from a scratch to a failed Mobo, price would depend on failure type obviously).

Why 4x2GB? why not 2*4GB for less, see http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

other than that build looks good.


Thanks for the suggestion about the RAM. I had read somewhere that 2x2gb was better than 1 single 2 GB. What I didn't know is that you don't want to use the third and fourth channel if you don't have to. So 2 sticks is optimal. Just saved me $10, thanks.
August 7, 2011 6:01:00 AM

I personally would go for the 6870 x2 instead of the 6950. In fact, I already made this decision. From the reviews I've read when i bought it, the scaling of the 6870 x2 is actually better than the 6950's for the games I play, which was what sold it for me. To be fair, this was also back when the 6870 was around 240$ and the 6950 just came out so drivers might have improved. If money is an issue, and you want to save a bit, then imo, 6870x2 is the way to go.

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1488/6/

starting from that page, you can compare for yourself how they perform vs each other, in some cases the 6870x2 came near to the 6970x2's performance level and virtually ever test came to exact or within 5% of the 6950x2 lvl (although there are some games that gave quite a boost to the 6950 for newer architecture). For me, such a close range in performance lvl justified saving near 100$ on each card compared to the 6950. However, if money isn't an issue for you, then I would go with the 6950 2gb so you can unlock it to the 6970. I went this route with the mindset of having my current build for 4-5 years as well, and I honestly don't think it's gonna matter too much in 4-5 years whether you have a 6870x2 or 6950x2, b/c any card by then will demolish them, so why not save some money now?
September 16, 2011 10:25:37 AM

gotta agree with this. I have a single 6870 and am stunned by its performance, overall quality (gigabyte windforce) and temps (idles at 35 C, load at 50C max with slight overclock, quiet fan too) however it has no voltage control, which is no biggie because when i get another one down the line i will get an overclockable one to run in xfire with it.

So yeah what aznguy said, if you really would like to save money, do not feel bad whatsoever getting 6870's, as they scale extremely well whilst outputting very comparable power to other duel setups of greater individual power as shown in benchmarks in that link, where in over 80% of listed games, the performance increase of higher end cards is negligable considering the framerates of the 6870 exceed 100 and 200 in many cases anyway.

also keep in mind, the graphical advancement has slowed down in times, as companies still need to cater for the lower denomators (consoles, blah), but anyway you will have power for at least a good 2 years.
September 16, 2011 10:40:02 AM

6950 2G, otherwise you will have problems with some future games who like more than 1 Vram.
September 16, 2011 4:29:57 PM

IMMA waiting on new cards coming out soon...:) 
!