Upgrade Advice Needed

Hello community,

This will be my first post in this forum and I am looking forward to getting to know you all. The thing that brings me here before you today is a request for advice and opinions about a choice of graphics card.

I built my rig (in a light hearted sense the word) well before I went back to education, when I had a full time job. At the time the components were fairly ok. That was over 6 years ago!!!

Ok, so now that I’m out the other side, with a wife, a kid and a great software engineering job I am going to start to upgrade things a piece at a time.

This is my current set up:
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4600+ OC@3GHz
PSU: 850W Unbranded (piece of garbage, jimmied in in an emergency when the last exploded)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon X1550 512MB
MB: Asus M2N-E
RAM: 4GB OCZ DDRII
HDD: 6 1TB SATAs (not raided)
Monitors: x4 LCD 19” @ 1280x1024 (2 connected, guess why I have the others)
Case: It’s not notably branded, but its BIG, great airflow, lots of fans & bays

Yes, the rig is a pile of garbage, I am fully aware of that fact. The first step I intend to take is (I have to do it in steps because of cash flow) to swap out:
PSU: 650W Antec TruePower New Modular
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 Black Ed (the mobo supports this with a bios patch)
GPU: This is where I want some opinions *

Yeah, stage three will be to scrap the MB for something capable of supporting the Bulldozer or I may go Intel skt 2011 (haven’t decided that yet).

*I am after a card to run eyefinity with 3 monitors (ideally for productivity sakes I’d like 4 but I’m ok with 3). I will be using it for gaming and productivity – yes all the latest games and also some intensive programming. <- I also intend to be using C++ amp etc… so I’ll be taking advantage of all those wonderful parallel processors on the card. That said I am not overly keen on an NVIDEA solution.

I have looked at a lot of reviews and benchmarks and my choices are down to three, possibly four cards, I will link from Scan:

Sapphire HD6770 Vapor-X 1GB
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1gb-sapphire-hd-6770-vapor-x-pci-e-21-(x16)-4800mhz-gddr5-gpu-860mhz-800-cores-dp-dvi-hdmi

XFX HD 6790 DD
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1gb-xfx-hd-6790-dd-cooled-4200mhz-gddr5-gpu-840mhz-800-stream-processors-dl-dvi-i-dvi-hdmi-2x-mini-d

MSI HD 6850 OC
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1gb-msi-hd-6850-oc-4400mhz-gddr5-gpu-820mhz-960-stream-processors-2x-dvi-hdmi-dp

MSI HD 6870 OC
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1gb-msi-hd-6870-oc-4200mhz-gddr5-gpu-920mhz-1120-stream-processors-hdmi-2x-mini-displayport-2x-dvi

My primary choice based on the reviews and gut feeling was the XFX DD 6790, I also like the cost (I get VAT of all components as well so I’m looking at the little number :D ). The stock cooler seems to be really good and the card seems able to OC well (even with the stock cooler). Plus for that price I can drive 4 monitors.

But, for the sake of future proofing I liked the look of the MSI and there OC potential – I understand the 6850 series can actually OC to near 6870 series levels… But I also understand that the 6850 series are riddled with issues, notably a VRAM power spike problem that causes black screen/artefacts. The last thing I need is to shell out on something unstable.

I know that the rig will have a serious bottleneck, worsened by the low resolutions for the time that the duel core remains but please remember its getting addressed. Also my wife has an almost identical setup – only hers is even older (socket 939 roflol). I’ll give her my MB with the quad core once I hit stage three. Yeah, she plays games, likes hardware and is not a geek.

So, that’s my situation, I’d like to have this squared away by the end of the weekend so I can get this kit ordered on Monday. Your advice, opinions and help are very welcomed and I greatly appreciate anything you have to say.
4 answers Last reply
More about upgrade advice needed
  1. Forgot to say, eventually when the MB is upgraded I will probably xfire & OC the card.
  2. 6870 > 6850 > 6790 > 6770

    I would go with either the 6850 or the 6870.

    If you plan on going CF later and OC, I would go with a 750w PSU for a little more headroom.
  3. Yeah, I agree about the PSU. Antec have another TruePower New for like £10 more... Ill go with that.

    Also would you recommend a specific manufacturer? The MSI 6850 looked great, but I was a little concerned over the stock cooler...
  4. Yeah the MSI one is fine. Stock cooling should be fine. The non-stock cooling 6850 cards are a lot more expensive on that site so I wouldn't worry.
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