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Advice on graphics cards upgrade

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 8, 2012 2:39:28 AM

I currently am using 5870 with all three outputs in Eyefinity.

I would like to add more monitors (up to six total, but for now, just one extra). I don't want all of them to be in eyefinity. But before I just buy a simple card, I was wondering -

Would it be possible to buy another 5870 so that I can selectively crossfire my main three monitor Eyefinity setup when gaming, but when not gaming, just have it be Eyefinity and the other card's three outputs separate? Or does disabling Crossfire require reboot and/or hardware changes (like the jumper cable being removed)?

Related questions:

Is it even worth doing this, or should I just upgrade my main card, and use my current 5870 as my second, extra three output card (with no crossfire)?

Is it possible to crossfire the 5870 with any other series (like 6870), or is it only possible with same exact chipset? (I think it uses the less of the two, or it's not possible at all, but just checking in case I am missing that as an option.)

Thank you...
a b U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 2:49:46 AM

well 7xxx cards are out.they are significantly faster than 5xxx cards.i don't think that single 5870 will handle eyefinity well(games are getting more demanding).xyour bet is to sell and collect some money to buy a more powerful card.a single 7970 may not do well with eyefinity.7870 is going to be around $300.it's slightly more pwoerful than gtx 570.put two of them in crossfire and you will have a killer eyefinity setup.
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March 8, 2012 4:03:27 AM

Ok, so it sounds like my best option would be to buy a 7870 (or better), use that as my primary eyefinity/gaming card, and then use my current 5870 as a secondary card in order to enable up to three extra monitors (beyond the eyefinity three)? (and not do crossfire, since that's not possible)

To be honest my 5870 isn't doing that bad with medium settings in eyefinity for MW3...

The whole thing rubs me the wrong way because my 5870 cost $450 when it was new! I realize tech gets old fast, but there was also a big drop six months after buying when ram got super cheap across the board. So I am not too eager to do any crossfire anymore overall (unless crossfiring another 5870 would have worked - but then I'd constantly have to enable/disable the crossfire in order to use my three montors on the second card, right...)

Forgot to mention - I guess my Antec 550 power supply isn't going to work for supporting a second card, right? It has enough cabling to attach another one, but I assume the total draw will be too much (even though it is a really good power supply).
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March 8, 2012 4:31:16 AM

I am not necessarily keen on doing crossfire though! My main concern is to have up to six monitors available for business use. Gaming is a minor concern - if the crossfire isn't an easy switch on/off, I don't need it. Furthermore, if I upgrade my main card, I don't see the need to sell my old card - just use that for the extra three outputs (and no crossfire).
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a b U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 5:04:06 AM

well if are not a gamer than you don't need such gpu horsepower.sell your 5870 and grap two 6770s for multi monitor setups.they are pretty cheap now.
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March 8, 2012 5:14:48 AM

I thought the 6770 would be inferior to my 5870 - or would it still be an upgrade? The 7870 sounded like a good idea overall (just don't like the idea of doing two of them - too much cost, too much lost when they too become worthless in a year ;)  ).
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a b U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 5:26:09 AM

6770 cfx is definitely better than a single 5870.you don't wanna do much of gaming.they will do fine with your multi-monitor setup.
BTW i can play MW3 on a potato lolllllll!!!!!!!!!
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March 8, 2012 7:03:39 AM

I think the gist of my original question is getting lost - can one switch into and out of crossfire instantly, or does it screw up desktop settings or or require reboot/hardware change? My purpose is not just to boost graphics power, but to also make up to three additional monitors available.
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a c 143 U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 7:42:34 AM

hellfire24 said:
6770 cfx is definitely better than a single 5870.

Really? Why?
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a c 143 U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 7:54:00 AM

@OP
You can't run 6 monitors via Crossfire, the outputs of the second GPU in crossfire are disabled by default. To run 6 monitors you need an eyefinity edition GPU like the HD 6990 or HD 5870 eyefinity edition.

You can only crossfire 2 GPUs from the same series & family, like HD 6970 with HD 6950, HD 5870 with HD 5850. But you can't Crossfire HD 6970 with HD 6790.
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a b U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 7:56:17 AM

^in gaming i agree a single powerful is better than two weak cards but in his case adding 5870 CFX is going to be a very expensive solution.they are discontinued so they are hard to find and are very expensive.a 6770 roughly costs $100.here's one-
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
6770 is cheaper and will support more monitors.that's whhy it's better IMO.
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a c 143 U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 8:09:10 AM

How will the HD 6770 support more monitors? and why the OP should have the HD 6770s while they will give him the same performance of HD 5870 or maybe less?
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March 8, 2012 8:09:34 AM

ilysaml said:
@OP
You can't run 6 monitors via Crossfire, the outputs of the second GPU in crossfire are disabled by default. To run 6 monitors you need an eyefinity edition GPU like the HD 6990 or HD 5870 eyefinity edition.

You can only crossfire 2 GPUs from the same series & family, like HD 6970 with HD 6950, HD 5870 with HD 5850. But you can't Crossfire HD 6970 with HD 6790.


Right, I understand that with crossfire enabled, there's only three active outputs.

Is it feasible to expect to be able to disalbe/re-enable crossfire ON COMMAND when I want to game (and leave it off with all six outputs enabled when not gaming)? If not, then I simply will probably upgrade my master card to the most powerful I feel is worthwhile, and use my existing 5870 as my secondary card (to drive up to three extra non-eyefinity/non-crossfire monitors).

So should I even consider crossfire (regardless of card)?

Then, if no crossfire, would I be better off selling the 5870 or using it as the second card - I ask this because would it use much power if it's only being used to power three monitors, not for gaming? Or better to get a simpler card with no extra power needs (direct from power supply)? Again I have an Antech 550 watter in there now.

Thanks guys, really appreciate the help in evaluating the best course of action here...
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a c 143 U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 12:51:14 PM

Crossfire will boost up your performance, scaling could reach 100% in some games. Regardless you'll find another HD 5870 or not...HD 5K series run hotter and noisy than HD 6K series also they consume much more power, the scaling of the HD 7/6K series are much better, they have a great implementation of DX11 and tessellation.

You can only run the 6 monitors in non crossfire setup but it won't be eyefinity, and yea the card will just sit there and produce heat and consume power. And your 500W PSU will need to be replaced.
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March 8, 2012 8:34:34 PM

Hmm, I am confused - right now, Eyefinity will let me create a two-monitor eyefinity group and leave the third alone, if I want. This is why I assumed I could have two cards (non-crossfire) and do a group of three monitors in eyefinity, and leave the other three standalone.

Are you saying this is not possible? That kind of kills the mission I guess... because I wouldn't want to use all six in eyefinity for gaming, just for my charts and other business tools.
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a b U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 9:20:46 PM

ilysaml said:
...the scaling of the HD 7/6K series are much better...


Wrong! The 5 series and the 6 series are the same thing... There weren't really a lot of improvements and It has the same GPU Architecture.
Proof : You can crossfire a HD 5770 and a 6770.

However the 7k series are much better in terms of power consumption and noise...
See my specs at the bottom and you won't believe that I currently have a 300W FSP PSU! (Thanks to my HD 7770 that consumes only 80W)

Edit : You can also take note that I have 2 HDD's in RAID Mode, and all of my computer only uses 315W at peak. (Thanks to my HD 7770 again) :) 
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a b U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 9:51:05 PM

At the price of another HD 5870 to crossfire, you would be better off spending the extra money and purchase a new HD 7950, such as this one... XFX FX-795A-TNFC Radeon HD 7950 Core Edition 3GB

It will out perform your HD 5870, while offering support for four displays in a single card (url=http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-7950-over...]AMD Radeon HD 7950 Review: Up Against GeForce GTX 580[/url]). This gives you the option to upgrade to a second 7950 later this year. Your other option, is to wait for the 7800 series to hit the market and possibly pickup two new cards at once to meet your needs. With the power of these newer cards, a single card setup is more than enough power for most games.
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a c 143 U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 10:31:00 PM

bloc97 said:
Quote:
Wrong! The 5 series and the 6 series are the same thing... There weren't really a lot of improvements and It has the same GPU Architecture.

Before calling somebody wrong show your proof and knowledge not your personal opinion, as HD 6850 is almost as powerful as a HD 5850 look at the benches from Anadtech & guru3d regarding crossfire scaling;
From Anandtech
Quote:
HD 6800 series sees an average 82.1% gain in performance by adding a second card.
HD 5000 series sees an average 67% gain in performance by adding a second card.
GTX 400 series sees an average 75.1% gain in performance by adding a second card
.

Benches
HD 5850 vs HD 6850 vs GTX 460 scaling at 1920x1200

Crysis Warhead: 67% vs 82% vs 81%
Battleforge:::::: 83% vs 96% vs 91%
Metro 2033::::: 55% vs 66% vs 67%
HAWX::::::::::: 73% vs 92% vs 82%
Bad Company 2: 80% vs 97% vs 71%
Stalker CoP::::: 74% vs 98% vs 75%
Dirt 2:::::::::::: 66% vs 85% vs 83%
Mass Effect 2::: 87% vs 89% vs 95%
Wolfenstein::::: 35% vs 46% vs 58%
Average: 69% (HD5850) vs 83% (HD6850) vs 78% (GTX460)
Proof : You can crossfire a HD 5770 and a 6770.
From Guru3d
HD 5850 vs HD 6850 vs GTX 470 scaling at 1920x1200

Bad Company 2:::: 72% vs 97% vs 82%
Modern Warefare2: 38% vs 33% vs 69%
Dirt 2::::::::::::::: 59% vs 84% vs 82%
Far Cry 2::::::::::: 76% vs 95% vs 75%
Anno 1404:::::::::: N/A vs 63% vs 86%
Crysis Warhead:::: 63% vs 84% vs 62%
Metro 2033:::::::: 84% vs 100% vs 95%
Average: 65% (HD5850) vs 79% (HD6850) vs 79% (GTX 470)
However the 7k series are much better in terms of power consumption and noise...
See my specs at the bottom and you won't believe that I currently have a 300W FSP PSU! (Thanks to my HD 7770 that consumes only 80W)
Quote:
Proof : You can crossfire a HD 5770 and a 6770.

The 6770 is a rebadged 5770, the performance will be identical between those two cards. And Crossfiring them is a unique case, not the standard...see charts below, for eg he can't CF 5870 with 6870 or any 6 series card

Quote:
See my specs at the bottom and you won't believe that I currently have a 300W FSP PSU! (Thanks to my HD 7770 that consumes only 80W)

Edit : You can also take note that I have 2 HDD's in RAID Mode, and all of my computer only uses 315W at peak. (Thanks to my HD 7770 again) :) 

What you don't know is that even a 6850 can run with a quality branded 300W PSU depending on the rest specs of the system, 2 HDs 5870s in CF draw alone 380W in full GPUs load leaving 170W for the rest of the system, i don't know the OP's rig but 170W is not sufficient for MOBO, CPU, Rams, HDDs, Fans or any attached PCI/E cards...OCing is not an option too.
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a c 143 U Graphics card
March 8, 2012 10:52:53 PM

rockafella said:
Hmm, I am confused - right now, Eyefinity will let me create a two-monitor eyefinity group and leave the third alone, if I want. This is why I assumed I could have two cards (non-crossfire) and do a group of three monitors in eyefinity, and leave the other three standalone.

Are you saying this is not possible? That kind of kills the mission I guess... because I wouldn't want to use all six in eyefinity for gaming, just for my charts and other business tools.

Listen, i don't know too much about that 6 monitors setup...it's very rare to see someone with such configuration, only reviewers tested that on Eyefinity based cards, but it's possible to have the 6 monitors running on 2 or 3 cards with only 1 GPU is active and the other 2 are used to extend the output of the first GPU (i'm not sure of this but i'm sure you can't run 2 GPUs interdependently, even CF/SLI mode share the work load between the GPUs).
this means you can extend your workspace area or duplicate monitors but you won't be able to use Eyefinity with each card alone.
See the video and the thread below for more info
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjARe9ZaLfU
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/326347-33-connect-mon...
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March 9, 2012 7:51:52 AM

Thanks tecmo for weighing in, and thanks for the links ilysaml. That definitely helps. I will research more in that direction to see what is possible (either getting one more powerful card for four monitors, because four total is probably enough, and selling mine; or using two, if I find that it will work as I want). I'll report back on what I ultimately go with, in case it helps anyone else who reads this.
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!