Okay so I am getting a larger case to accomadate upgrades first of all. I like to upgrade something every few years or when it is worth it for the diffrence in what kind of games I play, as in a new MMO. So now its SWTOR of course. First I have the game running max specs and I have the Catalyst 12.1 with the games pre defined profile, and besides using the games High setting for Anti-Aliasing I use the card for its Anisotrophic Filtering all the way maxed, mini map detail, and of course Adaptive AA. I also have the Catalyst A.I. set to advanced though not sure about all what that does bottom line when I put those settings into the game it looks amazing there is a noticable diffrence when I use my profile and do not so I like that. Well my friend has a 5850 and after me showing him he installed new catalyst and obviously i did not think he is not running crossfire so he doesnt get all those settings. Well the reason I thinking of replacing is my card isnt efficient. Its loud, puts out alot of heat (my case stays cool, my room hell no), and takes alot of power. So quick run down of computer as of now...
AMD Phenom II X4 Deneb 945 overclocked to 3.5 Ghz
Mobo: Asus M4A78T-E
8 Gigs G. Skill ddr3 ram 7-7-7-21 1333mhz
PSU 850 watts
So instead of posting a bunch of cards to get opinions here is what I am looking for some peformance increase maybe 20-30 percent, but deffinetly efficency increase. 6000 or 7000 series AMD only please (I might switch to Intel at xmas for cpu, but will always stick with amd gpus) I would love to have a crossfire set up out of the box but I know that isnt a guarantee with what I am asking, just hate loosing some of those options. I have no Idea how that makes any diffrence but whatever. I am in computer science which even though I can program doesnt mean I know hardware I am the first to admit. On the side I build alot of computers and do lots of overclocking which honestly I am pretty good at because of Toms site and its user so figure you guys can help me price range single card I would like to stay under 200 if its crossfire out of the box under 275 so doubt thats happening, but my case is to small for my card now so that is first getting a Cooler Master HAF 912 (love that case great cable room and tons of card room with great air flow were it sits). I will say I am really liking the 6870 and 6850 cards and looks like the diffrence from 70 to 50 is minimal so thats were I am at.
btw if you think I am crazy and should keep waiting its okay to tell me to I have seen the latest toms hierarchy. Also somebody already asked and besides what I do to the games looks with the catalyst and with everything maxed I still run anywere from 60 to 100 fps, and space combat sometimes hits 174 fps and freezes, so when I see people on forums with peformance problems I have no idea what the hell there problem is.
the catalyst AI is just special profiles for crossfire to make it work better. you won't get that "option" with a single card but you dont need it, it doesn't affect the actual quality. all the real settings will be there with a single card, so the absolute best thing you can do is get a single card, then a few years down the road you can crossfire it for more fps at less cost
that being said your card is better than a 5850, 6850, and 6870. so the cards you are looking at are out. I would keep it. the only thing that's going to get you a bump is a 6950 or 6970. the 7950 is outside your budget.
I had crossfired 4850s and when I researched it the performance improvement to a 6950 was supposed to be 20-30%. I paid arround 300 for a sapphire toxic that unlocked to a 6970 and I am very happy with the change. HOWEVER my first 4850 was a 512MB card before I went to 1080p. so I think the additional memory also helped with some of the problems I was having.
If I were you I would get the case, check your card temps, and adjust their fan.profiles to address the "loud" part. It sounds like your getting good performance in the games you play so I would Dec keep it until you need directx11 or it can't keep up anymore.
Ya since i posted I have been noticing when looking at it from a pure spech stand point none of the cards line up well maybe better in one thing worse in another etc...Ya like I said bigger case is just to clean up to many cables and stuff I build these nice computers, and wonder full I7 overclocked to 3.8ghz with 2 degree temp raise with a 30 dollar cooler master and while computer runs great just doesnt have a clean look and like I said my 4850x2 is mamoth so when I crank it I turn fans up to keep the temp below 62c, I know thats in reason I just like everything to be efficient and at peak peformance. I had a friend no money so I fixed his emachine when wow cataclysm came out he couldnt run it, and really it was just shutting down tons of worthless services and doing a couple tweaks and it runs fine on medium, I always says its not what you spend its what you put together, building a computer and setting it up is really a art form anymore, a damn fun one lol./ Unless anyone has a good case why to upgrade I might wait and at xmas time go ahead and get my Intel I5 3.2ghz and a nice motherboard for it and get a graphics card after that. The catalyst thing I was speaking of I know he will not have the crossfire pre defined profiles I dont really care about that but he didnt have the adaptive anti aliasing he said or one other thing under the applicaiion settings when I was on phone and its not the end of the world or anything I was just suprised the diffence of the games looks when that stuff was on and off so would like to keep
the 7850 and 7870 are supposed to be out this month as well which sounds like they may be a valid option. 7850 is rumored to be $199, 28nm process, and 90 watts TDP with similar performance to a 6950. should overclock well I'd think. not that I trust this is 100% right, but I'd def wait and see. and you can crossfire it down the road.
Also case I am trying to stay around 50 to 60 bucks including shipping I know its not much but amazon has cooler master haf 912 right in my budget. If you know of anything better let me know ordering today. I love the power supply mount and were the video card sits is completetly open with fans on either side if you look at fully loaded pics of it. Ya I was wondering were the 50 cards were I like to wait for those always great and were I do lots of ram and cpu overclocking cause really its all about getting the ram dialed in in my opinion to get that perfect running maching with optimal peformance and stability that video card I do strictly overclocking within the catalyst just for peformance increase but nothin crazy now a days its not worth it really that I see. I have a 800 dollar computer I build for people the most and its great a friend went against my judgment and built on his own spent right at 1200 and has lots of problems and his fps isnt as good as my 800 for other people in the guild that were all playing same game lol