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Which Mid-range card for my purposes

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 11, 2011 6:44:39 PM

Hi all,

I am currently building a budget gaming machine around an intel i3-2100/ MSI p67 mobo. I have intentions to upgrade the cpu down the road as well as SLI/crossfire in a second card in about a year. The games I play at the moment aren't super graphics intensive (starcraft 2, WoW, and I plan on Diablo 3, Guild Wars 2).

I want to keep costs low, but be able to run my games at a 1920 x 1080 resolution minimum on high if not ultra settings. Which card should i be looking at?

On my radar so far: HD 6870, HD 6850, GTX 460 1 GB, GTX 465, GTX 560.

Remember I want to keep costs down preferably around $150, but I don't want to lose out on performance and I plan on putting in a second card down the line.

Thoughts?

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a c 141 U Graphics card
August 11, 2011 7:46:05 PM

Of the cards you listed the GTX 560 and HD 6870 offer the best performance and will definitely run your games on high at 1080p just fine. They are of course the most expensive. If you are looking for the cheapest possible option the GTX 460 1GB is on sale for less than $150 in many places clearing out all inventory. It is about 10% slower than the 560 or 6870, though in some games that favour nvidia, including Blizzard titles, it can match or sometimes beat a 6870's performance. The only problem is you may not be able to SLI down the road as the cards are likely to run out quickly at such rock bottom prices, and no new 460s are being manufactured.

I would avoid the GTX 465, it is a heavily cut down version of the GTX 470 that didn't perform much better than the 460 while generating a lot more heat and sucking down more power. The HD 6850 is about equivalent to a GTX 460 1GB and would also handle most 1080p games well. If you do want to SLI or Crossfire down the road your are probably better off looking at current generation cards HD 6000 series or GTX 500 series, as they will be much more available down the road than the previous generation cards that are disappearing off the market at this time.
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August 11, 2011 7:59:33 PM

thanks for your very informative response. It sounds like I should stay away from the 460 which is too bad because I had heard that blizzard preferes nvidia. So is my best bet a 560 or will a 6850/70 be able to get the job done at a lower price?
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a c 104 U Graphics card
August 11, 2011 8:12:48 PM

ecjohnson3 said:
thanks for your very informative response. It sounds like I should stay away from the 460 which is too bad because I had heard that blizzard preferes nvidia. So is my best bet a 560 or will a 6850/70 be able to get the job done at a lower price?


6870 is about 20 bucks cheaper, in one game the 6870 is faster, in the other the 560, the 560 Ti will definitly be better ; http://nl.hardware.info/reviews/2154/14/nvidia-geforce-....
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a c 141 U Graphics card
August 11, 2011 10:20:45 PM

560Ti is better than anything you listed but it is well above the $150 price range, I think the cheapest ones run for about $220 to $230, it's up to you if you want to spend that much. The 6850 or 6870 will handle the games you listed well at 1080p, even on Ultra settings cards in that price range will push out more than 60 FPS on most titles. Unless your monitor is capable of 120Hz refresh rate anything beyond 60 FPS is unnoticeable, getting 100 FPS on one card and 110 FPS on another isn't going to make a visible difference.

I personally would go for whatever is cheaper even though the Blizzard games tend to favour nvidia cards, the ATI cards still do perform well in the Blizzard titles, particularly the cards in the $150-200 price range like the 6850 or 6870.
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a b U Graphics card
August 11, 2011 10:40:37 PM

The recommendations above have been good.

You might also want to look at the THG guide for recommended cards at different budget levels (which agrees with the above but will let you see what more might get you)

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card,...

And look at the Mid-Range Shootout THG also recently did:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-radeon-grap...

I would prefer the GTX 560 - although the better brands of that card cost about $170. Here is a review on that card:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-560-amp...

Have you made sure your planned power supply is large enough to handle whatever card you might choose in SLI or crossfire? Also does the mobo you selected provide both SLI and crossfire? If it only supports crossfire then you are limited to the ATI cards.
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a c 192 U Graphics card
August 12, 2011 1:00:26 AM

If you have any interest in bitcoin mining, be aware that ATi cards outperform nVidia by around 5x. If your only interest is games, as has been pointed out, Blizzard prefers nVidia, so a GTX560 would be nice.
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a c 104 U Graphics card
August 12, 2011 2:26:39 PM

Good price / performance card i think.
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August 12, 2011 2:35:02 PM

GreenDutchAlien said:
Good price / performance card i think.


thanks for the confirmation :) 

any thoughts on the mobo/psu situation taht will accompany it?
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a c 104 U Graphics card
August 12, 2011 2:35:41 PM

Don't know about the psu though, the specs look oke but normally the cheaper ones aren't that stable. Specially if you ever whant to Crossfire ( i believe you said something about that ) it won't be enough i think. ( it's only 600 W ) get a bit more expensive one maybe 750W, single stable rail with about 60A i think.
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a c 104 U Graphics card
August 12, 2011 2:37:46 PM

I don't know much about motherboards i'm afraid. ( yet )
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August 12, 2011 3:10:37 PM

GreenDutchAlien said:
Don't know about the psu though, the specs look oke but normally the cheaper ones aren't that stable. Specially if you ever whant to Crossfire ( i believe you said something about that ) it won't be enough i think. ( it's only 600 W ) get a bit more expensive one maybe 750W, single stable rail with about 60A i think.


that is alright haha I really appreciate your advice.

As for power supplies this one seems more on par specs wise but is it still to far on the cheap end?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 6:45:42 AM

550w is way too small if you want to leave open the option to crossfire.

PSUs are one place you DON'T want to go cheap. Remember all the components in your system are dependent on it. Moreover, it goes beyond power as we normally think of it for equipment. In a PC, the power, broken down into very fine, minute amounts, is the lifeblood and neurons of the system, carrying millions of bits of data and driving hundreds of thousands of almost simultaneous calculations. You need good, clean power to make it all work. And a PSU that delivers it constantly, hour after hour, day after day, .... year after year. Billions and billions of calculations dependent on clean power.

If you want to be able to crossfire, get a good Corsair TX 750w PSU for $95 after rebate:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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a c 104 U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 10:50:19 AM

rockyjohn said:
550w is way too small if you want to leave open the option to crossfire.

PSUs are one place you DON'T want to go cheap. Remeber all the components in your system are dependent on it. Moreover, it goes beyond power as we normally think of it for equipment. In a PC, the power, broken down into very fine, minute amounts, is the lifeblood and neurons of the system, carrying millions of bits of data and driving hundreds of thousands of almost simultaneous calculations. You need good, clean power to make it all work. And a PSU that delivers it constantly, hour after hour, day after day, .... year after year. Billions and billions of calculations dependent on clean power.

If you want to be able to crossfire, get a good Corsair TX 750w PSU for $95 after rebate:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Almost poetry . . . Couldn't have said it any better. +1
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a b U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 4:45:34 PM

For a good motherboard that supports both SLI and Crossfire, I recommend chosing from this list of Gigabyte boards - just compare the features and price and see what you can afford:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...

GA-Z68MA-D3H-B3 has the later Z68 chipset which provides more internal communications channels

GA-P67X-UD3-B3 has the older P67 chipset, but has the Gigabyte Ultra Durable (UD) construction that I think is very good.

GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 has both, including an even better UD (UD4 vs. UD3) enhancement than the previous board – see pictures – note that the UD enhancements (differences) are not addressed in the comparative spec sheets, particularly the added heat spreaders

Pics of the two:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ImageGallery.aspx?CurImag...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ImageGallery.aspx?CurImag...


Here is a desciption of the UD3 technology:

http://ca.gigabyte.com/MicroSite/48/data/tech_080924_ud...

Note that the link is to the overview page and you can click on the items in the top menu to see more details.


Here is the Gigabyte page on the Z68X- UD4-B3 for even more information:

http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=...

Note that is has both SATA 6b/s and USB 3.0 technology.


Also note that a Gigabyte Z68 UD3 board won the THG recommended buy award in a shootout with similar boards:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z68xp-ud3-dz68db,29...

I did not recommend that board because right now newegg is selling the better UD4 board at a steep discount - and the same price as the UD3. The review also presents valuable information on other boards you might consider, based on price and feature sets. Note the drop down link at the bottom (after an ad listing) that lets you link to other pages in the review for more information on each board listed and the benchmarks.

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August 15, 2011 1:11:59 AM

I appreciate your advice on the PSU, but is there anything noticeably lost in the http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817371049 instead of the: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817139021

In that same regard can I keep the mobo in the 100-125 range and still acomplish what I need for my goals of gaming with a dual graphics set up and not much more. Maybe one of these mobo's

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...|13-128-502^13-128-502-TS%2C13-128-495^13-128-495-TS%2C13-130-583^13-130-583-TS%2C13-138-317^13-138-317-TS%2C13-130-582^13-130-582-TS
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a b U Graphics card
August 15, 2011 5:39:39 AM

That Antec 750w PSU is an excellent choice - grab it while it is on sale.

I could not get you link to work for the mobo you want, so I don't know what it is. But the first mobo included in the ones I linked higer up - the Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D34-B3 is only $119 with free shipping.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a c 104 U Graphics card
August 15, 2011 8:17:55 AM

2412667,22,125538 said:
That Antec 750w PSU is an excellent choice - grab it while it is on sale.

That's why i adviced it, very good one with a very good sale offer, be quick though, don't know hoe long it will be for that price.
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August 22, 2011 12:39:40 PM

Best answer selected by ecjohnson3.
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