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Video Card Upgrade

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  • Graphics Cards
  • Graphics
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 1, 2012 7:18:03 PM

Hello everyone,

I am a Game Design student as well as an avid gamer, and I currently run this setup.

Custom Built PC from Buyxg.com

OS: Windows 7 64bit
RAM: 16GB (4x4GB)
Video Cards: 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 250 [x2]
CPU: Intel i7 2.80Ghz
Power Supply: 1000watts

Although I have two video cards that were said to be SLI ready, they do not have an SLI connection on the card itself... which I found odd once the PC was delivered. So I have one card connected to a 26" monitor with 1 HDMI cable, and the other card is just sitting in the PCI slot. I bought The Elder Scrolls skyrim and I am unable to run it on Ultra graphics, so I was kind of bummed (As I was when I found out I could not SLI bridge my cards). I also use the following programs: Autodesk Maya, Zbrush, and Photoshop.

So now that all of the explanation is out of the way, I can get into my question! I work IT at a warehouse part-time and I understand most concepts about computers, however I always wanted to learn more about video cards. I was wondering what card(s) I should upgrade to if I want to run my PC games on their best quality?

Could anyone offer me any tips or cards I should look for, because I was looking into upgrading soon. I would ideally like to SLI bridge two NVIDA GeForce cards, but I am not sure if that is the best way to go.... Please help! I am confused.

More about : video card upgrade

March 1, 2012 8:07:02 PM

Hi nctech. First thing, are you certain your motherboard is SLI-certified? If not, that's your first upgrade.

Next, I would recommend SLI on the GTX 560 Ti. It's a very cost-effective single GPU that when put in SLI competes with the highest-end cards available.

Any reason why you wouldn't consider a single card solution now? Mid to high-end single GPU cards can handle most games out there on highest settings at 1080. If you were to get one of those, you could always grab another for crossfire/SLI later on once more demanding games come out that would actually utilize the SLI performance.
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March 1, 2012 9:10:17 PM

Thanks for the replies! First time on these forums, and they prove to be great.

Thank you for the article, I have to read it more in depth when I get out of work.

I would tell you the specs of my mother board, but I am not at home right now. I do know that it is an ASUS and it is SLI capable. The problem is that when I ordered my custom computer from Buyxg.com they stated they were selling NVIDIA GeForce GTX 250 cards SLI capable, but I was unaware that there were different cards within the model. They even sent me a SLI bridge to connect them, but I looked at the physical cards, and there is no SLI section.

I would definitely go for a one card solution right now, and purchase another to bridge down the line. I was not sure what to look into, because I have seen that they have 2GB cards now.
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March 1, 2012 9:19:35 PM

SLI with nVidia cards is a little trickier than crossfire with AMD cards. With nVidia, you really should get the exact same card from the exact same manufacturer, ie two EVGA cards or two Gigabyte cards. They are much less forgiving than AMD cards are.

Have you tried contacting buyxg? They really should support that question and even replace cards if that's what they advertised.

As for a single card, you've got lots of options. AMD just introduced their new line of cards with the 7970 as the crown-jewel. It's pricey but easily the best single-card solution currently available. For a little less, you can get a Radeon 6970 that should crossfire pretty nicely later on. nVidia is due to introduce their next-gen lineup within the next month or two. Otherwise, you can go with a GTX 570 or 580.

The newer cards have up to 3 and 4GB memory. I don't really see how in the world anyone needs that much currently. From what I understand, you only really need 2Gb+ if you're gaming above 1080 resolution.
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March 1, 2012 9:25:08 PM

Yea I was reading online about the higher resolution. One thread mentioned that it helps when gaming at resolutions 1920x1080 +

I have only ever used NVIDIA cards, so I am a bit worried to switch to anything else heh. I mean I would, I just do not know much about video cards besides the general info. I want to eventually build gaming rigs on a regular basis. I was contemplating calling Buyxg, but I bought the computer about two years ago, so not sure if my argument would still be relevant.

Actually... I used to have a Radeon card and it worked really well. Maybe I will have to jump over to Radeon.
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March 1, 2012 9:33:41 PM

Yeah, I think it's really strange that they would give you two different GTX 250s and tell you that you can SLI them. I mean, I've never gone SLI (so I don't know about the physical location of ports/jumpers), but you definitely should always stick with the same aftermarket brand. Crossfire with AMD you can mix up the card manufacturers (Sapphire+Gigabyte, for example). In some cases you can even mix up models (6870+6850). There's a matrix on their website that shows you which cards are compatible.

nVidia and AMD are both good when it comes to GPUs. You really can't go wrong either way. But their price points can be wildly different depending on what tier card you go with. For example, mid-grade tier, nVidia is vastly overpriced. Mid-to-high-grade tier, nVidia can actually be cheaper.

But even though I don't have personal experience, I think that the consensus is that crossfire is a little bit easier to implement than SLI.
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March 1, 2012 9:43:19 PM

Well they are both the EXACT same cards. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 250. I even scanned them on NVIDIAs site and it says they are SLI capable, but when I check the physical cards... there is no connection point for the bridge. Then when I looked online for NVIDIA GeForce GTX 250, there were the ones I have as well as a couple others that are made by what seems to be different manufacturers.

I think it is crazy that they would even say SLI capable and not have a physical connection point! Also that they have different manufacturing methods that have a connector on one card, and not the other.

But yes, both of my cards are the exact same and since they are I cant even take one out in hopes that I could connect another. I would have to purchase a new card or set.
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March 1, 2012 10:04:28 PM

Best answer selected by nctech.
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March 1, 2012 10:05:26 PM

Thanks for everything! I will surely post a lot more questions in the future :pt1cable: 
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March 1, 2012 10:06:06 PM

You probably know perfectly well what to look for, but just in case, here's a Youtube video that shows where to connect the bridge. By the way, these are GTS 250s, right? Don't think they made GTX 250.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPsGAXwqsDM

FYI, the bridge part is around 5:30.

That said, I don't think GTS 250 SLI is a particularly powerful setup anymore, so you might want to keep looking into a single card solution.
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March 1, 2012 10:48:40 PM

Here is a link to E-bay... not sure how to post pictures here. But as you can see from the first image through the fan grate... I dont believe there is any SLI connector area. These are the cards I have in my computer... and you can see in the description it says 3 way SLI Capable and I did not purchase the cards from Ebay.

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