I am in the market for a new GPU setup for my desktop. Here is my existing config:
Asus M4A88T EVO pcb 16 blue 4 gray
Sapphire radeon HD 5850
AMD phenom x4 Debeb
Corsair 750w PS
All stock speeds. I tried OCing but the system was less than stable.
It is mainly used for gaming. Right now I'm playing SWTOR, Deus Ex, and Skyrim. I will be playing Mass Effect 3 and Guild Wars 2 this year for sure.
The 5850 is a little underwhelming even compared against my laptop (Asus G74SX), so I am looking to pep up my system. I am currently running one monitor at 1650x1080 but might get a second at 1920x1080 because Newegg has a few steals.
I would like to keep my budget under $400.
My options that I've looked at:
The HIS IceQ 2gb 6950
Dual 6850s (but I am unsure if micro stuttering would be an issue)
Ebaying a cheap 5850 to run CrossfireX and using the savings to get the new monitor, while saving for a 7900 series card later in the year.
I don't care about being able to run games at ultra, but would like at least high with good frame rates.
I had two 5850s and then three; not a good crossfire experience whatsoever due to stutter (while SLI works without fail on the same MB!). As a result, I don't trust any multi-card AMD setup. Based on my personal experience, I wouldn't recommend crossfire anything.
You could really get away with a single GTX 570 or 6970 in the $400 price range which would be sufficient for high details on a standard 60Hz 1080p monitor.
I'm against getting the 6950 and flashing the bios, you're running in unsupported territory and can get unexpected results. Better to just get the 6970. For 2 monitors, I would get the 2 GB ram version.
What about a dual-monitor setup with my 1680 and the new 1920? Still sufficient with a single GPU?
You can run your basic desktop environment (browser, productivity apps, config tools, etc...) over multiple monitors with no problem using on-board, processor integrated or low-end graphics cards.
You won't be gaming across both of your monitors unless you have two or three at the same resolution. As a general (nearly universal) rule, games only run on multiple monitors with equal resolutions.
Gaming across two is not ideal and will put the crosshairs split between bezels. Multiple monitor gaming is best across three monitors with equal resolutions. This way the action in the center will be on the center monitor rather than split across monitors.
You can find a GTX 570 or HD 6970 in the $300 range. You could do what I did- went from 5850 Crossfire to 560 ti SLi. They are available for $185 per after MIR on newegg ATM (Galaxy cards). This setup is quite a bit faster than either a 570 or a 6970.
Ok I picked up a Gigabyte GA-990fxa on eBay, so now I can do either Xfire or SLI.
It's doable for me to get two 560ti or possibly two 6950s now. Or I can stretch my budget a little and get a single 580 (with the option to add another later). I've seen reviews that say the 6950s scream in Xfire, but I think the 560s would be better because they have a 320-bit memory interface versus the 6950's 256-bit.