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Any point in getting 2GB card over 1GB

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 14, 2011 5:22:15 AM

I'm picking the parts for my build and have finally settled on my GPU. I'm going to go with 2x HD 6950s. It out performs the 560ti in SLI which is the other card I was looking at and is about even with 570s in SLI but way cheaper. So anyway, I was wondering if I should spend the extra 50-60 bucks to get two 2GB cards or not. My monitor is 1920x1080. I want to future proof this build quite a bit so I'm considering getting the 2GB cards but I want to know if it's even worth it.

Oh and is 750 Watts enough to power 2 6950s?

More about : point 2gb card 1gb

a c 117 U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 5:38:57 AM

To answer your first question as to whether or not you should get the 2GB cards, the answer is yes.

When you put two cards in SLI/Crossfire the contents of the video memory on each one will be more or less identical. If the cards are rendering alternate frames, it stands to reason that the content in the frames will be more or less identical and subsequently the geometry and texture information needed to render it will also be the same.

The outcome of this axiom is that putting two cards in SLI/CrossfireX does not double your video memory and consequently a performance hit caused by limited video memory will not be alleviated by adding a second card. Many games are starting to push past the 1 GB barrier, Crysis2 actually requires a card with 1GB when running the HD texture pack and even then it can be a slug.

Extra video memory is also necessary to serve the primary purposes of using two cards, displaying at a higher resolution, at greater detail and with better picture quality. I haven't measured it myself but I play BF3 at 2560x1600 and I imagine that I'm pushing well over 1GB on my HD6970.

So yes, I would say that it is a good idea to invest the extra money in buying the 2GB cards. Were I you I would actually buy 2 HD6970s (or one, and add a second later if you so desire), the performance difference between the HD 6950 and the HD 6970 is pretty noticeable.

To answer your second question: 750 watts is cutting it close but it should suffice. As long as you're not running 4 Velociraptors and overclocking your CPU it should be okay.
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December 14, 2011 5:47:13 AM

So how would the performance compare between 2 6950s and 1 6970. I'm guessing the 6950s are going to be better simply because it's 2 cards but will it be extremely noticeable. I mean if I get say 70fps in BF3 with 2x 6950s and 50fps with a single 6970 it won't be a big deal, and then later I could add a second one like you said.

As far as the PSU I'm not running much in my system: the GPU(s) and i5 2500k, Seagate Barracuda 7200 6.0GB/s, 8GB Corsair Vengeance and a Samsung Bluray drive. I could probably step it up to 800 or 850 if need be.
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a c 109 U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 5:49:20 AM

Depends on what psu it is. But more vram helps in antialising and in higher resolutions. Its kind of pointless since you are only running at 1080p, however if you run higher resolution then extra vram is needed.
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December 14, 2011 5:56:39 AM

Just checked those Anandtech comparisons I was talking about and noticed the lowest resolution they use for their benchmark tests is 1920x1200 which is a bit higher than I will be running. The lowest fps reported for the 6950 is in the Metro2033 benchmark test running 1920x1200 at very high settings and it was still getting a good 39 fps so I'm pretty sure I'm just going to get a single 5970 and add one later on. I'm guessing now that a 750Watt psu will be more than enough, but should I up it now because I plan to add a second 6970 later on?

The PSU I have picked out currently is a Corsair Enthusiast series TX750.
As far as 2GB vs 1GB it looks like all the 6970s are 2GB so that's settled lol. I guess I just need to know if that PSU will power what I've got or if I should step it up to prepare for my second 6970 that will come later.

Edit: I guess there is one other thing I could use some help with. Could you recommend me a 6970? I'm still kind of new to system building and this will be my first AMD GPU so I don't know what brands to look for and what not. I'd really appreciate it.
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a c 88 U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 6:07:57 AM

If you are using multi monitor set up the extra vram is also needed
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December 14, 2011 6:12:19 AM

Single monitor
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a b U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 7:09:10 AM

6950 2GB CF+1
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a c 117 U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 9:26:58 AM

Good choice on the HD 6970, mine has served me very well. It has the advantage over NVidia on Performance/Dollar and Performance/Watt big time.

As per my post above, any name brand PSU over 650 watts can handle a single HD 6970 without an issues. Just keep in mind that it requires both a 6 pin and an 8 pin power connector, you should try to avoid any PSUs that split the 6 pin into an 8 pin or have both coming off the same cable.
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a c 175 U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 9:36:45 AM

6970+1

BTW what is the psu? TX750?
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December 14, 2011 3:51:43 PM

No the PSU I'm going with is a Corsair HX1050 I went for a higher wattage for when I eventually put a second 6970 in there.

Just realized though that psu has the 6pin and 8pin connectors together. Guess I'm gonna have to look for a different one now.
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December 14, 2011 4:15:30 PM

Well the HX1050 has 6x 6+2 pin connectors so I should have enough to connect 2 6970s. As far as the card itself, is that a good card that I linked? The XFX? Should I step it up to one of the more expensive ones that are OCed?
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December 14, 2011 5:35:55 PM

I don't buy into a higher clocked GPU since CCC has some unlocking options you can tinker with to get some better performance out of the GPU. An incremental upgrade is usually some type of rebrand, OC'd version of the previous card anyways. ie the 5850 and 5870. Same unit but different stock clock settings.
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December 14, 2011 5:50:27 PM

I will second personal experience with bottlenecks on recent games running 1080p with high aa/textures. Even though my FPS is great, it causes stutters which I'm deducing it is not an issue with a driver, but the engine not handling textures effeciently enough to run on 1gb cards that have the GPU power, but lacking sufficient vram. I'm regretting getting another 5850 for crossfire since these cards only have 1gb. Plenty of power to run bf3 on ultra, but these settings take up too much vram for my cfx
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December 14, 2011 6:08:05 PM

Shavako said:
I'm picking the parts for my build and have finally settled on my GPU. I'm going to go with 2x HD 6950s. It out performs the 560ti in SLI which is the other card I was looking at and is about even with 570s in SLI but way cheaper. So anyway, I was wondering if I should spend the extra 50-60 bucks to get two 2GB cards or not. My monitor is 1920x1080. I want to future proof this build quite a bit so I'm considering getting the 2GB cards but I want to know if it's even worth it.

Oh and is 750 Watts enough to power 2 6950s?



First of all, the term "future proof" is an oxymoron when applied to computers. Everything for sale is already obsolete. Having said that, an extra GB of video RAM is an insurance policy and one of the few things you can actually do to keep ahead of the obsolete curve. If you can afford it then do it. Just be sure you can feed your kids first. The 750 watt PSU is probably sufficient, however I advise buying the biggest PSU you can afford. Another insurance policy.
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a b U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 6:21:46 PM

The price/performance for the 2GB 6950 vs the 6970 is not very favorable to the 6970. This is especially true if you overclock/unlock the 6950. They just aren't very different cards, but the 6970 is priced like it's a whole new can of whoop-ass. Even without doing much BIOS tweaking, you should be able to get a slightly OCed 6950 to compete with a stock 6970. Just make sure you find a card that people have had good success with for OCing.

If you're going crossfire, you might not want the extra heat from OCing since the cards will probably be very close together, unless your motherboard has a big gap between PCIe slots or you have a side fan or other good airflow. But I'd still recommend getting one 2GB 6950, waiting a year, and getting a second one when it's cheap. That's about as "future-proof" as you'd want to get.

If you insist on going 6970: IMO getting two 6970s now for a 1920x1080 display is totally overkill. Even a single 6970 will destroy almost any game at 1920x1080, and you're just burning money by buying the second 6970 now rather than waiting a year.
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a b U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 6:26:43 PM

2 X 6950s or 6970s 2gb is certainly a lot more future proof then 1gb. 1-2 yrs ago 512mb was the norm with most games and now its increasing. In fact, since most medium range cards now come with 1gb ram so you can expect that to be the norm very soon with newer PC games.So if you want to stay ahead then get 2gb cards. This is the reason almost all the current Nvidia cards are not competitive if you plan to keep your card for 3-4yrs. doesn't mean they are bad...they are still same or better currently...but once more vram starts getting used with newer games they will lag behind.
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a b U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 6:37:29 PM

Shavako said:
As far as the card itself, is that a good card that I linked? The XFX? Should I step it up to one of the more expensive ones that are OCed?


Since you want to Xfire later on, I would try to get a card that exhausts air out the back of the case rather than exhausting air within the case. I haven't spent any time looking for that type of blower on a 6970 though so i have no specific recommendations. It will make a huge difference in your cooling capacity and how noisy your future Xfire setup will be. It won't make much difference in a single-card setup with a decent case. So rather than paying attention to the factory-OC on cards, research their cooling since you can OC them yourself and will want good cooling with Xfire. Maybe even consider going water. Easy to install closed systems are pretty cheap and do a decent job.
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a b U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 6:44:58 PM

dharmenparikh said:
This is the reason almost all the current Nvidia cards are not competitive if you plan to keep your card for 3-4yrs. doesn't mean they are bad...they are still same or better currently...but once more vram starts getting used with newer games they will lag behind.


NVIDIA cards have wider memory buses. They could design their solutions with 100gb of vram on each card if necessary, but that is the point, it's not necessary when the typical user plays @1080p or lower and upgrades their video card every 3 years. A 580Gtx isn't competitive? What AMD chip competes with it? Do tell!
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a c 624 U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 7:39:07 PM

There is absolutely no difference between 1gb and 2gb at 1080 resolution.





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December 14, 2011 8:03:19 PM




The issue isn't resolution on 'high'. It's when AA is cranked up. This eats vram like no other. If the OP doesn't care about AA and future games, don't worry about it. If I were buying new high end card, there would be no way I would ever consider anything less than 2gb, I'd even consider a 3gb card. Think about 2-3 years ago. Cards had 512 ram which was great.

Also with BF3 being such a blockbuster and pushing vram limits on mid/mid-high range cards that have 1gb, it's only going to be opening the door for future titles to start utilizing huge amounts of vram. How many people have upgraded their system around BF3? I know quite a few personally, not just people I see posting here.
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December 14, 2011 9:02:57 PM

Thanks for the responses guys. I'm sticking with the 6970 2GB because I do care about future games and would like to play them. I'm not getting 2 of them for right now just because it's not necessary.

I'm going to go with one that isn't factory OCed. I was only curious because I don't plan to OC one once I get it so having it OCed prior to installing it would have been cool but it probably would get too hot once I put a second one in. I'm not sure if I saw any that dispel air out of the back of the case though, I'll have to check again. The case I'm getting does have pretty good airflow though (Antec DF-85).

As far as a power supply, I stepped it up to the Corsair HX1050 so I don't think I'll run into any problems there. And ram1009 I always did think it was weird using the term future proof, from now on I'm calling it an "insurance policy" lol. I'll post back if I can find a 6970 that dispels air out of the case.
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December 14, 2011 9:45:02 PM

None of the 6970s have stock coolers that dispel air out of the case as far as I can tell. I'm just going to stick with the XFX card because you can't beat the price. Also I can buy some after market coolers to put on it and the second 6970 I get later (if I have enough room) Plus, like I said it's going to be in a good case with great airflow and in a cold room. I don't like getting hot so my bedroom is kept at about 60-65F lol.

If anyone is interested here is the final build I have laid out:

Case: Antec DF-85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo: ASRock Z68 Extreme3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU: Core i5 2500k Sandybridge
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: XFX HD 6970
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HD: Samsung Spinpoint 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical Drive: Samsung Blu-ray Combo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Plus some Creative 2.1 speakers a couple LED case lights and a wireless adapter.

Grand total: ~1,350 after shipping and rebates. Since my budget was 1,500 looks like I'll be adding some games to my cart since I don't have any of the newer ones on the PC (my current system couldn't touch them)
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a c 117 U Graphics card
December 14, 2011 10:53:40 PM

My sapphire one shoots air out the back
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December 14, 2011 11:12:01 PM

By the looks of it the XFX one does too. It has a small vent on the output panel with an XFX logo grille. I'm not sure why larkspur says it exhausts into the case but I don't know how to tell other than the vent on it.
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