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Grab a second 6950 or start over with a 580

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December 5, 2011 11:20:13 PM

Hey guys,

First time poster, long time reader here. In a week or so I will be upgrading from an AMD 1090t to a 2700k and the upgrade process has made me squint at my video card, an unlocked Sapphire Toxic 6950. I'm toying with the idea of picking up a 6970 (I'm assuming I won't lose anything making the jump from the 6950 to the 6970 there as the Toxic card I have is running at 6970 settings) to crossfire. My questions for you are:

1) Can i indeed add a 6970 to my unlocked 6950

2) Would it be more advantageous to simply sell the 6950 and pick up some variant of the 580 (a recommendation would be great on that)

3) Would my 2700k play nicer with either of the above mentioned options than with others?

Thanks for your time and assistance!

More about : grab 6950 start 580

a b U Graphics card
December 5, 2011 11:30:16 PM

Yes, you can CF both an unlocked hd6950 and an hd6970. You can actually CF a hd6950 and hd6970, just the hd6970 will run like a hd6950. But your card is a real hd6970 now. Don't grab a GTX 580, you would be better of just CFing your cards now. For number 3, I am not sure what you mean. Could you explain?
December 5, 2011 11:39:41 PM

If you are going to be going crossfire, adding a 6970 would give you a very minimal performance increase over adding a second 6950, even unlocked. The great thing about the AMD cards is you don't have to match the exact same card to crossfire, you just have to match the first two numbers.

All dirt3 and toxic edition cards can be unlocked, so if you were to purchase another one and leave it with the stock settings to mate with your existing card, if your old card starting having issues with some of its shaders you could drop it back down and unlock the second card, or just unlock them both from the get go.

I have two 6950 dirt3 cards unlocked, I see no reason to purchase a 6970.
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December 5, 2011 11:43:07 PM

So just to be clear then if I were to add a 6970 it would be like Xfiring two 6970s, not one 6970 and one 6950? Also, would it matter if I mixed brands or am I asking for trouble there?

To be more clear about my third item, I was wondering aloud if, for example, the 580 would run better with the intel chip than my current AMD chip. Or, vice versa, the AMD cards won't run as well with the intel chip as they did with the AMD chip. My spidey sense tells me it shouldn't matter, but hey, while I'm asking... :) 

The only thing holding me back from ordering that 6970 is that I don't feel overly confident about AMD's drivers when it comes to crossfire. I feel like I just need some reassuring before I make a purchase.

I'm currently playing Dead Island and Skyrim if that helps

Thanks again!
December 5, 2011 11:47:44 PM

To dale,

I was originally going to get a second toxic 6950 but for whatever reason those are discontinued so I was just going to cough up the extra $50-60 for a 6970 as I doubt I'll miss the money in the long run but would be heartbroken if I got a 6950 I couldn't unlock

Was looking at http://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-DL-DVI-I-SL-DVI-D-PCI-Ex...
a c 251 U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 12:01:44 AM

As far as vidoe cards go the 580 is the fastest single gpu currently and it usually comes out on top in most benchmarks. the way the video cards are in performance they are very close and to tell the truth you really can't notice the difference because they are only seperated by single digit fps. The thing that does seperate the two brands is the drivers and I've always thought that Nvidia drivers were just a little bit better and more frequent updates.
One more thing to consider is that AMD recently announced that it is no longer competing with Intel in the cpu head to head competition like they have been and I don't know what that is going to mean for thier graphics dept. if they are going to focus more or less there or if they are going to move into portable devices (smartphones , tablets , netbooks) which seem to becoming very popular.
December 6, 2011 12:07:09 AM

I have been having my own video card conundrums, and a new family of cards for both NVIDIA and ATI/AMD are right around the corner - January for the HD 7000 series and Q1/Q2 for NVIDIA supposedly. Not to mention new CPUs and more. I was going to update my 5870 to the 6000 series but I know I would hate myself for not waiting for the next family to release since it is so close.
a b U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 12:14:22 AM

Erk1209 said:
So just to be clear then if I were to add a 6970 it would be like Xfiring two 6970s, not one 6970 and one 6950? Also, would it matter if I mixed brands or am I asking for trouble there?

To be more clear about my third item, I was wondering aloud if, for example, the 580 would run better with the intel chip than my current AMD chip. Or, vice versa, the AMD cards won't run as well with the intel chip as they did with the AMD chip. My spidey sense tells me it shouldn't matter, but hey, while I'm asking... :) 

The only thing holding me back from ordering that 6970 is that I don't feel overly confident about AMD's drivers when it comes to crossfire. I feel like I just need some reassuring before I make a purchase.

I'm currently playing Dead Island and Skyrim if that helps

Thanks again!

Different brands is A-okay. It would be like CFing two hd6970's, yes. No, it will not run bad with an Intel chip. AMD would lose a lot of business if they did that. AMD's CF drivers are pretty good now. I believe that they beat the Nvidia drivers for a while. Don't quote me on that though.
December 6, 2011 12:18:11 AM

Erk1209 said:
To dale,

I was originally going to get a second toxic 6950 but for whatever reason those are discontinued so I was just going to cough up the extra $50-60 for a 6970 as I doubt I'll miss the money in the long run but would be heartbroken if I got a 6950 I couldn't unlock

Was looking at http://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-DL-DVI-I-SL-DVI-D-PCI-Ex...



Get a dirt3 edition 6950, they have slightly lower stock clocks, but still unlock just fine.

If you crossfired one unlocked and one locked they would default to the lower setting of the cards, but you see less micro stuttering if the primary card is not worked as hard as the secondary.

December 6, 2011 12:50:48 AM

Truth be told, the price range and performance of the cards play a lot more on emotional gratification rather than actual performance gains, so if you are just concerned about getting a second card, dont be. The technology has been matured long enough to get good performance gains and run stable.

That being said; My boss has two 570s in his machine and as of now Skyrim does not support SLi. I run just one 6850 @ 1920 x 1200 and my roommate runs two 6950s in Eyefinity on three monitors at 2560 x 1440. Neither of those two games seem to push our 2500k or x4 955 past their breaking point so unless you are trying to futureproof with the current gen hardware, I would just wait until the 7950/7970 with xdr2 (or an nvidia a little later but I have no details on their 600 series cards)

Either brand will really be ok, both have monthly driver updates, and both obstruficate the instruction sets disallowing game developers direct access to the hardware so neither have ideal drivers so really go with what you think will make you happy but I would implore you just to wait another 30 days to see if the new 7xxx series will be worth your while.
December 6, 2011 1:14:53 AM

Just to let you know the 6950's in CF have micro-stuttering
December 6, 2011 2:54:50 AM

Dasper mentions waiting another 30 days which I'm happy to do. Is there any kind of release date for those 7000 series cards? I usually figure that one has to jump in the pool sometime, but if it's right around the corner...

And this microstuttering, could someone explain that more to me? I've never heard of it until this forum. I assume that problem would be shared with the 6970s?

You guys are great, thanks
a c 139 U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 4:14:56 AM

Microstuttering is caused by the 2 cards in Crossfire not rendering the frames at the exact time they should, causing a stuttering effect. Not everyone seems to notice it, and it isn't always consistently there. Both AMD and nvidia dual GPU setups have this problem, though it tends to be somewhat less pronounced on the nvidia cards. The poster above is confused a bit though, Crossfired 6850s and 6870s seem to be suffering from microstuttering a lot unless they are used in a triple Crossfire configuration. The 6900 series cards don't suffer from this nearly as severely or as frequently.

As far as upgrading goes, getting a second card is definitely the cheapest option for you. The GTX 580 is overpriced for what performance it gives, and the new high end 7000 series cards are supposedly going to be quite pricy due to the XDR2 RAM they use, supposedly they're going to be around 500 dollars at launch. Whether or not they're worth that much money is going to be unknown until we see some benchmarks though. The mainstream 7870 will be more reasonably priced, but looking at its specs, it will probably be only slightly faster than a 6970 at best. For now, if you aren't willing to drop around 500 bucks on a GPU upgrade, I would say go the Crossfire route.
a b U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 4:30:24 AM

What is the primary purpose of this build/upgrade?
What resolution is your monitor?
What is your current PSU?

These are the questions that must be answered to fully answer the question in the best way.

December 6, 2011 5:30:33 AM

Thanks Nova, great info

I primarily use my machine for gaming with the occasional hobbiest video editing.

My monitor is 1920x1080

Power supply is soon to be a corsair ax 1200. Currently an OCZ 700 watt

If the 7000 series cards are worth it I have no problem investing the money. My goal here really is to game without compromising on visuals. My 6950 rocks, just trying to map out my next step
a b U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 7:09:57 PM

Erk1209 said:
Thanks Nova, great info

I primarily use my machine for gaming with the occasional hobbiest video editing.

My monitor is 1920x1080

Power supply is soon to be a corsair ax 1200. Currently an OCZ 700 watt

If the 7000 series cards are worth it I have no problem investing the money. My goal here really is to game without compromising on visuals. My 6950 rocks, just trying to map out my next step

Going the CF way would most likely be the cheapest and most efficient route. If I were you, I would crossfire. Especially because you can unlock to a h697- most likely and grab some extra performance for no extra money out of your wallet.
a b U Graphics card
December 6, 2011 8:31:18 PM

inzone said:
As far as vidoe cards go the 580 is the fastest single gpu currently and it usually comes out on top in most benchmarks. the way the video cards are in performance they are very close and to tell the truth you really can't notice the difference because they are only seperated by single digit fps. The thing that does seperate the two brands is the drivers and I've always thought that Nvidia drivers were just a little bit better and more frequent updates.
One more thing to consider is that AMD recently announced that it is no longer competing with Intel in the cpu head to head competition like they have been and I don't know what that is going to mean for thier graphics dept. if they are going to focus more or less there or if they are going to move into portable devices (smartphones , tablets , netbooks) which seem to becoming very popular.


6950's in crossfire outperform a 580 by a significant margin. I'd link you a benchmark but you can pull up any available.

The TH article about microstuttering was great, but it was very limited in scope (compared 2x 6870 vs 3x6870 on the AMD side). Haven't seen any detailed studies done on other setups, but many 6950 crossfire users can probably let you know what their take is.

Bottom line is you would be paying over twice as much for less performance if you went with the 580. If you were starting from scratch the 580 would have a more compelling argument for driver/performance simplicity. You're already halfway to 6950 cf and it's really a no brainer unless you're considering waiting for the new cards in Q1 '12.
!