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HD 6850 vs. HD 4850 x2 for Skyrim

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December 23, 2011 8:53:39 AM

I know my son's getting me Skyrim for Christmas, and I'm concerned about the reports that it can be a beast to run and doesn't do very well in Crossfire - even the patches released by Bethesda only address Crossfire in the 5000 and 6000 series.

I currently have two HD 4850s, and can't really spring for an HD 6950 right now - spent too much on the kids already. I can get an HD 6850 for about $150, but will that be better than my current HD 4850s? I know Tom's chart ranks 2 HD 4850s above an HD 6850, but I'm not sure whether that reflects real-world Crossfire performance or an optimized benchmark ranking.

Any thoughts or recommendations?

More about : 6850 4850 skyrim

a c 141 U Graphics card
December 23, 2011 8:59:04 AM

2 4850s provides more raw performance than 1 6850, but only if Crossfire works properly with the game in question, and Skyrim has apparently been having a lot of problems with dual GPU setups. If Crossfire doesn't work, you are stuck with 1 4850 which is considerably weaker than the 6850. I would say wait until you get the game and see how it works with your Crossfire setup. If it performs well, keep your Crossfire setup, if not, look at a better single card. I would say if you can wait, save up some more money to at least get a 6950, so at least the new single card will match your 4850 Crossfire's potential.
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December 23, 2011 9:08:20 AM

I would say wait, 7xxx series is coming out.

4850x2 is a pretty potent solution, the only thing you got going for an upgrade are two things:

1. DX11 hardware support
2. XFire scaling issues

Personally those two things are not worth upgrading to a 6950 at this time. ESPECIALLY not at this time since new things are coming out!

Thirdly, if you don't have the money to upgrade past a 6950, I'd say you're in danger of doing a sidegrade or not seeing much performance gain as you could for your money.

I say save! Q2, Q3 next year, like after march or february, start considering your options then :) 
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a b U Graphics card
December 23, 2011 9:10:44 AM

src1425 said:
I know my son's getting me Skyrim for Christmas, and I'm concerned about the reports that it can be a beast to run and doesn't do very well in Crossfire - even the patches released by Bethesda only address Crossfire in the 5000 and 6000 series.

I currently have two HD 4850s, and can't really spring for an HD 6950 right now - spent too much on the kids already. I can get an HD 6850 for about $150, but will that be better than my current HD 4850s? I know Tom's chart ranks 2 HD 4850s above an HD 6850, but I'm not sure whether that reflects real-world Crossfire performance or an optimized benchmark ranking.

Any thoughts or recommendations?

Doesn't matter the games CPU bound.
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December 23, 2011 9:46:44 AM

Hold on for now. With the release of the 7000 series the price of the 6850s will be dropping soon.
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a b U Graphics card
December 23, 2011 9:53:43 AM

dfusco said:
Hold on for now. With the release of the 7000 series the price of the 6850s will be dropping soon.

Me smells $135 Radeon HD 6850 coming down the pipe.
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December 24, 2011 1:17:44 AM

So if the 7970 is coming out at $549(!!!), what can we expect the 7950 to be priced at? If that ends up being too rich for my blood, I've had my eye on the following:

SAPPHIRE 100312-3L Radeon HD 6950 2GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Looks pretty easy to unlock to a 6970, and if the price drops after the 7000s come out, it should suit my needs.
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a b U Graphics card
December 24, 2011 1:23:25 AM

src1425 said:
So if the 7970 is coming out at $549(!!!), what can we expect the 7950 to be priced at? If that ends up being too rich for my blood, I've had my eye on the following:

SAPPHIRE 100312-3L Radeon HD 6950 2GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Looks pretty easy to unlock to a 6970, and if the price drops after the 7000s come out, it should suit my needs.

69xx were never really that great over the 6870 ad they cost allot more for a small return in performance my recommendation for 1080p and lower is 6870 OCed if you don't want to spring for a 7xxx card however there will be sub $200 cards that outperform the 6950.
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December 24, 2011 10:27:34 AM

I'll be running at 1920 x 1080 - just one screen. This certainly gives me a lot to think about. Will keep my fingers crossed and hope Skyrim runs okay with the 4850s so I can wait for the price drop.
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a b U Graphics card
December 24, 2011 10:57:44 AM

src1425 said:
I'll be running at 1920 x 1080 - just one screen. This certainly gives me a lot to think about. Will keep my fingers crossed and hope Skyrim runs okay with the 4850s so I can wait for the price drop.

Skyrim is completely CPU bound.
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December 24, 2011 2:10:59 PM

Headspin_69 said:
Skyrim is completely CPU bound.


Sure, but if I can effectively only run one 4850 with Skyrim, surely that will hold be back more than my i5 2500k?
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a b U Graphics card
December 24, 2011 2:25:03 PM

src1425 said:
Sure, but if I can effectively only run one 4850 with Skyrim, surely that will hold be back more than my i5 2500k?

No matter what with an i5 you will see a min framerate of 42fps in Skyrim and that is with any graphic card config.
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a c 84 U Graphics card
December 24, 2011 2:28:35 PM

src1425 said:
Sure, but if I can effectively only run one 4850 with Skyrim, surely that will hold be back more than my i5 2500k?

well yes and no....
skyrim is a bit of a mess, in some places (mainly cities) the game can be cpu bound no matter the cpu. the gamebryo engine fails at scaling with raw cpu power...

other than that, it's graphically very adjustable to make it run on slower gpus 'smoothly'...

better just test how it runs, and monitor the load levels on both cpu and gpus before making any purchases. So if the gpu isn't maxxed out when fps get low, faster gpu isn't going to speed it up.... and the game effectively uses only 2 cpu cores, 1 main thread and couple of smaller ones, so cpu usage isn't going to hit 100% on a quadcore
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December 24, 2011 6:36:19 PM

Thanks all - will keep my fingers crossed. There's also a TESV Acceleration Layer mod that's supposed to help with CPU-dependent situations, particularly cities. I'm off next week so I'll have a few days to experiment.
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December 31, 2011 12:44:38 AM

In case anyone was curious, Skyrim runs great on default high settings with my i5 2500k and 2 x HD 4850s, although I subsequently turned off anti-aliasing and turned on FXAA. With v-sync on, I'm usually up at 60 FPS and don't drop below 40, which is more than good enough for me. In one week I've only had 1 CTD, and that was after a multi-hour session. Thanks for all the suggestions - looks like I can wait for the 7000s.
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December 31, 2011 12:45:24 AM

Best answer selected by src1425.
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