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Did I buy the wrong everything?

Last response: in Systems
January 25, 2012 12:39:38 PM

I recently purchased a Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 motherboard, i5 2500K, and a GeForce 550ti. I am obviously new to building and did not realize the motherboard supports crossfire, not SLI. After reading I now understand crossfire is for ATI. I got the 550ti for about $120.00 (after mail in rebate). Should I have gone for an ATI 6850 for about $20.00 more? My goal was to keep my build around $500.00, which is what drove picking a slightly older/lower performing video card model. Also, is this motherboard not very good? I have read mixed reviews..



I feel like the 'experts' at MicroCenter really let me down on this one. I went to a 'store' that had 'experts' because I am not an expert - obviously they are not either.. he was telling me how crossfire is a hybrid of SLI and one of the cards only runs at '8x.' He seemed unsure - now I know why..

Some help from a community of people who know what they are talking about would be a big help here. I like the cost of the motherboard and processor as I got them for $230.00 out the door combined - although unsure on the motherboard after doing a little reading. Just need help figuring out if I should box half this crap back up and take it back.. I was 'in the mood to buy' and went in unarmed..

Thanks in advance community! :hello: 

More about : buy wrong

a b V Motherboard
January 25, 2012 1:11:07 PM

That board only has one high speed PCIe slot (16x) so if you were to add a second GPU (AMD in CF in this case), it would be running at 4X in the second PCIe slot. This isn't ideal, but isn't horrible... Most boards will run multiple GPUS in an 8x / 8x configuration and running 16x / 4x will show only a single % slowdown between these setups. IMHO, return the GTX 550ti and pickup a HD 6950 / 6970 and call it a day running a single GPU setup. That system with an overclocked 2500k and overclocked HD 69x0 would game nicely.
January 25, 2012 1:17:26 PM

Thank you for the feedback. Is the 6850 a worthy upgrade from the 550ti? I ask because I am trying to keep this rig on a pretty low budget. There is a $100.00 price difference between the 6850 and 6950.
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January 25, 2012 1:20:52 PM

Yeah the 6850 is worth it, and the 6870 is again worth ten to twenty dollars more :p  As sadams noted your board isn't great for crossfiring either though.
January 25, 2012 1:26:22 PM

ok, couple of things here:
1. no where does it say Sli isnt supported. AFAIK any current board will support either as long as the physical support is there.
B. with the above said, your gfx card will do just fine if you dont want to return anything.
3. your monitor resolution is the ultimate factor in deciding what card to buy. my wife uses a 6870 on a 22" 1680x1050 screen, and runs bf3 with zero issues. now, i havent looked at the benchmarks for your card, but im pretty sure your preformance on a simular set up would be about the same. if your screen is 1920x1080, you may concider an upgrade, but i would look at performance benches to check.

last: seeing as you are new to building, i DO NOT recommend multi gpu set ups. (unless you enjoy headaches, unsupported games, driver issues, and a feeling of wasted money that accompanies those)
January 25, 2012 1:31:14 PM

Do you plan on using two graphics cards? You mentioned that you only purchased one GeForce, but then you were concerned about SLI/Crossfire?

If you don't plan on purchasing a second card, the board will work just find with the GeForce. You did get a pretty good price on it.

I would have recommended a board that supports both cards and has at least 2 x16 slots, but with a 500 dollar budget, you may not find one.


If you don't want to use two graphics cards, keep your current system build.
If you may want to use two in the future, return your GeForce for a 6850 or 69xx.
January 25, 2012 1:44:25 PM

I am running a 28" monitor at 1900x1200. My concern with the card and mobo are this: it seems to me that motherboards are designed with a 'type' of card in mind. This one was designed for an ATI-based card it would seem. Hence my reservations about the 550ti... I do not plan to xfire or SLI. I went down that path a long time ago and it was a PITA to get working. I'm sure things are better now...
January 25, 2012 1:47:13 PM

TBH a 550 Ti is underpowered for your resolution. I would recommend a 6950, that's what I have on a 1200p panel.
January 25, 2012 1:53:52 PM

stafa2266 said:
I am running a 28" monitor at 1900x1200. My concern with the card and mobo are this: it seems to me that motherboards are designed with a 'type' of card in mind. This one was designed for an ATI-based card it would seem. Hence my reservations about the 550ti... I do not plan to xfire or SLI. I went down that path a long time ago and it was a PITA to get working. I'm sure things are better now...

sli or cf are going to be coming off the northbridge anyway, which is an intel chipset. in the old days, mobo were designed with certain set ups in mind. but, IMO, that all just marketing now. looking at your screen size, (i have the same) your are going to need more than what you have, and more than a 6870. i use cf 5870's ( when the game allows it) or even one at times for BF3 and i can put it on high with out issues. so, if you got 6950 2g youll be set. (or the nvidia equivalent)
January 25, 2012 1:57:33 PM

What is the nvidia equiv to the 6950?
January 25, 2012 2:06:39 PM

It sounds to me like 2GB of vram is critical for gaming performance due to my resolution, is this a true statement? If so could you look at the following list of cards and tell me what would fit the bill without busting my bank?

Perhaps they don't have the right selection there and I need to order from the egg. I just went locally because of their great deal on the core i5 and motherboard... oh and there is that 'I am impatient and want to play now' factor... but lets not split hairs, eh? :) 
January 25, 2012 2:10:01 PM

Well from that list obviously the most expensive one is the best, and the second expensive one is second best (6970 > 560 Ti). I wouldn't go lower than the 560 Ti.
January 25, 2012 2:24:36 PM

Let me summarize my budget and decision making, I feel maybe I am leaving out details that are wasting your time. My budget was 500-600 for the new rig. I spent 580 out the door with about $80.00 in M.I.R's to claim. So my total spend was exactly $500.00. Out of that $500.00, $115 was the video card. So my total available cash to work with is really around $215.00 if we hit the upper threshold of my budget (115+100). Yes, I can spend more if I want to, but I wanted to keep this thing reasonable because I like sleeping in the same bed as my wife.

So lets do this. I am returning the video card and I am giving myself a slightly inflated budget of $250.00 for this card. What card do I get? :)  BTW - THANK YOU for taking your time to read and respond. I realize responding to people like me can be like herding cats sometimes.. so call it your good samaritan deed for the day to help the hopeless. ;) 
a c 138 V Motherboard
January 25, 2012 2:26:51 PM

If you are willing to turn a few settings down (mostly "high," not "ultra," a GTX560 or HD6870 should do pretty well for you. The recent reviews I've read show a lot of new games (e.g. Skyrim and BF3) looking pretty good even on "medium" settings.
Having 2GB of RAM instead of 1GB may make a difference if you turn up AA. Turned down or off, it shouldn't matter. AA becomes less important as resolution increases. I don't think my eyes are all that great, but I don't see much difference at 1920x1080 (although there is some).
Make sure your PSU is able to run whatever you ultimately get. Although near its limit, you can run a HD6870 on a 430W Earthwatts (like Tom's did in the September $600 SBM build). More reasonably, I think a 500W PSU of similar quality would be a good choice, and could handle the stronger cards as well.

Edit: Based on your last post, if your PSU is up to it, you will be able to find a GTX560Ti or HD6950 for that price. As previously stated by another poster, the HD6950 is a little stronger, but check benchmarks for the games you want to play in case any of them strongly favor one architecture over the other.
January 25, 2012 2:30:57 PM

I did have the foresight to sneak a CoolerMaster GX 750 single rail power supply in there.. I figured I'd need some more juice for the new hardware.
January 25, 2012 2:30:58 PM

For $250 I would recommend a 6950. Others will recommend a 560 Ti. Both are awesome, though I will refer to the link I posted earlier showing the 6950 having a slight lead on the 560 Ti.
a c 138 V Motherboard
January 25, 2012 2:34:35 PM

Hmmm, the Crappermaster GX line is not great, but not bad, although it does not live up to its claims (the smaller GX-650 failed over at HardOCP). Still, it will be enough for either of those GPUs as they will let it operate in a comfortable part of its range.
a c 138 V Motherboard
January 25, 2012 2:37:16 PM

Unless you count rebates, fitting 2GB into your budget will mean dropping back to a HD6870 or GTX560. With rebates, there are some HD6950 cards that fit.
January 25, 2012 3:00:53 PM

Yeah, sleeping in the same bed as your wife "could" be a bit overrated. Just a thought.
January 25, 2012 3:14:13 PM

Onus said:
Get the 650W Antec Earthwatts: which is easily enough for your rig, even if you were to splurge on a HD6970 or GTX580.

Ironically I own that exact power supply. I purchased it when I upgraded my cases a year ago. So that is part 2 of my scenario. My 'old' rig is becoming a Windows Home Server/NAS. I do have a couple of old power supplies laying around.. but that home server will be running a Core 2 Duo e8500 and 6 7200 RPM drives (2 for OS in a RAID 1 and 4 for data storage in a RAID 5 with a spare). The 2 power supplies I have are the Antec NEO 480 and a RAIDMAX 420.

You guys think the old 650w earthwatts will run 2 drives (1 SSD for OS, 1 7200 RPM for storage) and a 6970?

If I don't need a power supply I just freed up cash for the 6970...
January 25, 2012 3:36:46 PM

from the spec sheet, the 6970 requires roughly 19amps from the 6 and 8 pin cables. your power supply has 2 12v rails, each with 38 amps, so yes, you will be just just fine (full system with fans and drives).

your home server will also be just fine on either of the 4xx watt psu's.
January 25, 2012 4:05:32 PM

That is an awesome deal!
January 25, 2012 4:20:18 PM

Ordered.. wish MicroCenter had something comparable. Thanks for the heads up on that!
a c 138 V Motherboard
January 25, 2012 4:53:03 PM

I wouldn't trust the Chokemax PSU-shaped object, but the old Antec should still be good; and the 650W Earthwatts can handle a HD6970.
a b V Motherboard
January 25, 2012 4:55:04 PM

Can not add to the excellent advice. Will just provide some wisdom.
Definition of expert - Ex drip under pressure
At the pay offered at most stores, you are not going to find real experts, if they are they leave for better paying jobs. On rare occassions you will find one that is a computer hobbist and has taught themself. Most are just sales persons and the few "tech" are just "black-box" assemblers, (outside the exception that I mentioned). Often amazed at what bust buy people tell their customers.
January 25, 2012 6:20:22 PM

Well - I ended up over my budget some, but I think I have a very nice system that should last quite some time. i5 2500k, z68 mobo, 8GB RAM, ATI 6950 (hopefully 6970 with some mild work), 64GB SSD for boot, random 7200 for storage (this is just a game rig, I have 'real' storage on another box), OCZ fatality PSU, and I added a new antec 300 case for grins because I'm already in the dog house. ;)