First build! I need GPU advice please

Here are my system specs:
CPU: i5 2500k not overclocked at this time ($150)
Mobo: Gigabyte GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 ($90)
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 1600 4GBX4 ($60)
HDD: Intel 320 80GB SATA II SSD ($80)
Case: Rosewill Challenger 2X120mm, 1X140mm fans ($40)
PSU: CORSAIR Builder Series CMPSU-430CXV2 430W ($20) Yes I skimped on the PSU but the deal was too good to pass :-)
DVD: SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner 22X DVD+R ($20)

Another $40 for wireless USB adapter and mouse and keyboard, making the total price of the build $500.
I have provided prices to give you an idea that I have picked and chose good values and cost is a concern.

I would like to get a good value GPU as well. I am not an avid gamer, but rather a very occasional one who is being convinced by my brother to get a decent enough video card to be able to join him in online gaming. I rather not spend the amount of money it would cost to get what he is recommending as his recent build was for over $1800.

After doing considerable research in trying to figure out all of these GPUs from AMD and Nvidia, I have come to the conclusion that anything including and above 6900 and 560 ti is beyond my price point of $150.
A few options I am considering are AMD 6870 GPU base from HIS and Sapphire. I would appreciate any feedback you all may have on my build or choice of GPU.

Thanks in advance.
18 answers Last reply
More about first build advice please
  1. The 6870 is a good card and so is the 6850.

    They aren't on the level of a GTX 590 or anything, but for $150 they are generally considered the best cards in the mid to high 100s range. A GTX 560 is also good if you can get it for $150 and provides power in the same general range of the 6850/6870.

    The next step down from there is going to be 6790 and 6770. The x8xx cards from ATI are build for performance capabilities where as the x7xx cards are built for more main stream usage so the power on these two cards is quite a bit less than the 68x0 cards, but the cost is quite a bit less as well.

    These x7xx cards will probably play the online games pretty well if you are talking standard MMO like WOW or something. If you are talking about a multiplayer mode for a game like Metro 2033 or something then you will want to stick with the x8xx cards.

    If the games are pretty old you may be able to get away with the two lesser cards I mentioned, but I wouldn't go with any card less than the x7xx cards that I mentioned regardless what the games are.
  2. Thanks for your feedback. The games would be more than likely Dirt3, Portal 2, etc. I am willing to go with the 6870 card but was wondering if they are worth twice the price of a 6770 card like the one available here:
  3. Well, I will tell you this.

    I have a little handy chart I look at to see relative power levels of all the cards that exist, a passmark score for each one, and a quoted price (potentially old price).

    I had a HD 4870 prior to my 6850 and the passmark scores listed for these things are 1742 and 2724.

    When I use Furmark with these cards, I get 23 FPS and 33 FPS, which is about 50% difference between the listed passmark scores and about 50% difference in furmark scores as well.

    In any event, I trust that the relative passmark scores are mostly representative of the difference between the relative power level of the cards.

    Anyway, I will list out the passmark scores of the 4 cards in question and you can compare that to the prices you can get each one for and you can determine which provides the best deal for your situation.

    6870 = 2819
    6850 = 2724
    6790 = 2197
    6770 = 1749
  4. Thanks again for the additional info. Looks like 6870 is the way to go. Should a 560 be considered since this is an Intel build or should I stick with AMD as I feel that is where the best value is.
  5. The 6870 at $160 is the best value for a card IMO or the 6850. The 560 is good, but not really justified for the cost since the 560 Ti is pretty close in cost (if you consider the performance gain you get for only $30 more).

    As for the card, it also depends on your resolution, what exactly is your monitor resolution. If you don't know how to find it, here:
  6. NVIDIA isn't necessarily better with an Intel processor than a given AMD card is.

    AMD targets the value market primarily with their cards priced low compared to their power. NVIDIA targets the high end market asking people to pay more for the same power level, but giving people power levels that generally can't be reached by ATI cards.

    For people on restrictive budgets I generally always suggest ATI cards for that reason.

    If you like the 6870 given those passmark scores I listed and the prices you are able to find on the cards then that is perfectly fine, just go with that one.

    If you want to add the 560 to the list, insert it at the 2727 score point.

    If you want to add the 560 TI to the list, insert it at 2971.

    You can even make a somewhat scientific analysis by just dividing the passmark scores by whatever prices you can get for them to come up with a "Bang for your buck index" and just compare the numbers directly (larger is better).

    In any event, I think you would be happy if you go with the 6870, it is a good card at a good price.
  7. ^ Passmark isn't actually a very good way of rating cards IMO. The GTX 560 is proven in many benchmarks to be better than the 6870 by a bit, and have a little more overclocking room.

    But yes, Nvidia + Intel is a myth. AMD + ATI/AMD is also a myth. Nvidia sucks at the low end but makes up at high-mids and upper. However with the release of the 7970 upcoming AMD would then dominate the highend until Kepler releases.
  8. Instead of hating on Passmark you could feel free to provide a list of every kind of hardware tested with some other program to help the OP decide.

    Until you do, Passmark stands. I already pointed out how closely my Passmark results match my Furmark results in a relative sense so you aren't just hating on Passmark, but Furmark too which has had a really long run as one of the benchmarking programs of choice the world over.

    Haters should provide a very good way of rating cards IMO.
  9. Tom's rates cards so screw artificial testing programs, just use their reviews (6870, 560) + best card for November article.
  10. The best card for november article provides no way of comparing cards at different price points which is the whole point of this discussion.

    I already know what the best cards are at any given price point. All the cards I listed are in that article as best in class.

    The whole point, though, is that there needs to be some way of figuring out if its worth it to pay more in order to get more and none of the links even begin to provide an easy comparison of that nature.

    I do use TH articles with preference if they make sense, but in this case they don't really address what we are talking about whereas the "artificial testing programs" do.

    The only upgrades from a benchmark is either multiple aggregated benchmarks or a single better benchmark.
  11. Lol I wasn't even hating. Leaving it up to 1 single benchmark to determine everything isn't a smart way to decide cards at all. In fact, Furmark isn't even a bencher, it's just a program to test stability unless it's changed last time I've used it.

    I find that not even 3DMark can make a benchmark which adequately tells a card by its performance. You need multiple benchmarks to do that. Why do you see GPU reviewers test on real world scenarios in games instead of lots of synthetic like Passmark.
  12. Below $200, the 6870 is the way to go.....just over $200, there's the factory OC'd 56o Ti's

    However......the deal that ya couldn't pass up is a problem

    500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express® power connectors recommended (600 Watt and four 6-pin connectors for AMD CrossFireX™ technology in dual mode)

    Not only is it undersized but it doesn't have the necessary cables / connectors. That unit only comes with one (1) 6 + 2pin PCI-Express Connector ..... you need two (2) 6 pin connectors s
  13. Personally I have got the 6870 and I love it. It is a very good card for the price. I would recommend it.
  14. The 6850 has only one PCIE power port, that card is still on the table, I guess.
  15. Just a general observation---PC gaming is about the graphics. If you're going to run games at low res and shaders, you might as well play a console. The graphics card is where the power lies. Get the best one you can afford. If you get hooked on PC gaming, you will kick yourself where it hurts the most if you skimp now. My two cents.
  16. PC gaming... used to be... all about graphics cards.

    Games made in the last few years are hugely more CPU dependent than they were many years ago.

    Here is a link to the $1200 build from the most recent System Builder Marathon.

    - Edit - The link -,3098-10.html

    Here is a quote from the entry for the Crysis benchmark test

    "The FX-6100 causes a major bottleneck, and we can’t help but wonder why this old (but demanding) game runs so poorly on AMD’s FX chip. The dual-Radeon HD 6950 configuration can only manage a meaningless 1.1 frame per second win at 2560x1600 when it's overclocked using very high settings, suggesting that this test isn't as constrained by graphics performance as most enthusiasts assume. "

    2x 6950s is very solid in terms of video card power. Only a few potential setups can even compete with it, and yet the current OCd system can only make 57 FPS on Crysis whereas the one from a few months ago with a better processor and worse video cards got 115 FPS.

    Better processor and worse video cards = 2x the FPS, you do the math.

    That is for Crysis 1 too. Not like that game is brand new.

    Just Cause 2 failed with the worse processor just as miserably as Crysis 1 did. F1 2010 failed just as miserably. Metro 2033 failed but not quite so miserably as the others.

    That is every benchmark they ran.

    The comparison test was with 2x GTX 460s, those are worse than 6850s much less 6950s. It did have a 2500k, though, which allowed it to surge ahead in every game.
  17. Interesting. There are several variables, among which are the drivers. I went from a Phenom 9950 to an i5 2500 and saw zip point poop improvement in Crysis and Warhead, not to mention FC2, with the GTX 295. Of course, nVidia never did write a fully functional driver for that card. I wonder whether they have or will for their new dual-chipper. In the past, I went from 8800 to 280 to 295, and saw quantum leaps at each stage, so I'm left somewhat puzzled by Tom's results. Suffice it to say that the CPU is quite important nowadays, too.

    The OP was already at an i5 2500k, so I merely wanted to encourage him not to neglect the graphics card. There are games that want one, and there will be more, and there are plenty of benchmarks that support the conventional wisdom.
  18. The point is just that both CPU and GPU are bottlenecks today, its not just the GPUs anymore.

    Whichever is the worse component will be the one that bottlenecks the system with today's games.
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