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Graphics for new High End build

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March 14, 2012 1:21:54 PM

I'm almost complete with the specs of a new system I'm building. I'm going way overkill on most components and the only thing I'm stuck on in the Graphics card to put in this beast.

Right now I'm looking at the following
i7-3960k
Asus P9x79 motherboard
XFX Pro1000W Platinum power supply
AZZA Hurrican 2000 case

I have three new dell 24 inch monitors running 1920x1200 and therein lies my biggest problem. I need these three monitors at the same time and doing some three monitor gaming would be awesome. The games that typically draw me in are not normally too high-end (in terms of pushing the hardware). Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, Diablo 3 would all be on the list. I'd also like this machine to last a few years.

I get a better gut feel with Nvidia, but I know that I would have to pick up two boards to run my three monitors right out of the gate, plus from what I'm reading the multi-monitor solutions with Nvidia are still lagging. If I were to bite the Nvidia bullet, I'd probably want to wait for the new cards... And two new Kepler cards might break even my willingness to part with my money.

The direction I'm currently leaning is picking up one ATI 7970 with the build (since I'm not likely to stress the machine with what I'm doing) then adding in another if I find myself underpowered.

Anyone have any thoughts? How are the ATI drivers these days.... have most of the issues been ironed out?

Thanks in advance.

-Eldon
March 14, 2012 1:35:20 PM

Sorry Eldon to Add a question to your post but I'm in the same position thought it be better to have it all in the same place instead of having 2 posts for the same thing.The only differnce is i be using a i5 2550k I'm wanting to use 3 monitors to play the same plus wot,wow and planet side 2, when it comes out. I'm looking for the same advise for the same card (7970) or to go for Nvidia instead
a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
March 14, 2012 1:41:00 PM

Well 7970 is awesome, but if i were you would wait a little to check the new kepler cards from nvidia, you may be able to find a great solution there.

if you can't wait 7970 will be already awesome.
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
March 14, 2012 1:59:02 PM

Wait for Kepler.
a c 143 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
March 14, 2012 2:17:46 PM

@ OP and Scarletsboy
In order to play modern games on high quality settings on such a high resolution you need SLI/CF to play every game smoothly without feeling a lag.

Till now i haven't seen better than AMD HD 7000 in Eyefinity setups since they offer the highest amount of VRAM and scales pretty good in CF, so i recommend 2 HD 7970s.
March 14, 2012 2:22:34 PM

ilysaml said:
@ OP and Scarletsboy
In order to play modern games on high quality settings on such a high resolution you need SLI/CF to play every game smoothly without feeling a lag.

Till now i haven't seen better than AMD HD 7000 in Eyefinity setups since they offer the highest amount of VRAM and scales pretty good in CF, so i recommend 2 HD 7970s.


Agree with this. 3 monitors is going to require more than a single card to get acceptable framerates.
March 14, 2012 2:29:28 PM

7970 if you need something now. Eyefinity will work great on your 3 monitors.

The 680 GTX is rumored to launch around March 22nd/23rd. I assume if it does it will be a limited supply and sell out fast. May not get your hands on one for another month or so.

Saw a report today that the 7990 will release in April. If you want something truly overkill with your setup this will be your ticket.
a c 143 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
March 14, 2012 2:43:00 PM

7990 will be 2x7970s in CF mode, nothing will charm.
GTX 680 is still need to be SLIed to run 3 monitors, and it will be more expensive than the HD 7970.
March 14, 2012 2:59:36 PM

So if I'm reading this right, the general consensus is that my options are as such.

1. Buy a 7970 now. It will run all three monitors but will not be beefy enough for any real three monitor gaming without another. ($500(ish))

2. Wait a few weeks and hope to get my hands on a pair of gtx 680s. That should run nearly anything I can toss at it, although the final word is still up in the air ($1400-$1500 - guess)

3. Buy a pair of 7970's now. That should run multimonitor gaming for the games I enjoy well enough that it won't be a huge issue. ($1000-$1100).

So by waiting a few weeks (I don't NEED the machine right now... but good god am I ready to build it... limping along currently) I could pay several hundred dollars for for the bleeding edge... but I also get the piece of mind that comes with having NVIDIA drivers. Not to mention a overall "faster" solution.

The advantage of doing a ATI solution is saving a few hundred dollars, having a more module solution (so I can spread out the upgrades) and being able to build NOW!.

Am I missing anything?

Thanks again everyone that took the time to post.

-E
a b U Graphics card
March 14, 2012 3:15:12 PM

Okay here is the deal.

There seems to be some mystical rumor going around that you NEED Xfire to run 3 Monitors and get acceptable frames.

This is absolute rubbish. Tone down the AA and you get acceptable frames on a single 6970. OC the 6970 and you get excellent frames and a wonderful experience.

So picture those same 3 monitors, with a 7970 OCed. Remember most of the bloody things go from 925 to 1250 with a voltage bump, and the memory gets to 6400. Oh and another thing, the higher the resolution, the more prominent the performance increase from an OC becomes. (Bear in mind this also applies for Xfire though, you get a pretty much guaranteed 100% increase when playing eyefinity resolutions)

EDIT - This is from EXPERIENCE - Playing on 3x 27inch 1080p ASUS monitors with a single ASUS DCUII 6950 2GB (unlocked) - BF3 on ultra/high was PERFECT (no AA but I didnt care one bit...3 monitors are awesome) - Metro 2033 No AA no DOF, VERY playable, also looks awesome - Skyrim was playable with the texture mod, full AA and Ultra settings. This should put it all into perspective.
a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
March 14, 2012 3:22:03 PM

eldonv said:
So if I'm reading this right, the general consensus is that my options are as such.

1. Buy a 7970 now. It will run all three monitors but will not be beefy enough for any real three monitor gaming without another. ($500(ish))

2. Wait a few weeks and hope to get my hands on a pair of gtx 680s. That should run nearly anything I can toss at it, although the final word is still up in the air ($1400-$1500 - guess)

3. Buy a pair of 7970's now. That should run multimonitor gaming for the games I enjoy well enough that it won't be a huge issue. ($1000-$1100).

So by waiting a few weeks (I don't NEED the machine right now... but good god am I ready to build it... limping along currently) I could pay several hundred dollars for for the bleeding edge... but I also get the piece of mind that comes with having NVIDIA drivers. Not to mention a overall "faster" solution.

The advantage of doing a ATI solution is saving a few hundred dollars, having a more module solution (so I can spread out the upgrades) and being able to build NOW!.

Am I missing anything?

Thanks again everyone that took the time to post.

-E


i would certainly go with 680s if you got the money and time, the performance will be probably higher, and you will have all nvidia advantages Physx/3D Vision/CUDA etc.

the cheapest one would be the first, buy one and check your performances, i'm sure that on most of games you will get good frames, but on very demanding games with high texture resolutions you may run into trouble just with one graphics card in 3 screens.

but yes that are the solutions.

you are going to have a monster machine in any choice you get, but maybe the 680 comes in other price /lower or higher that is why would worth waiting.
a c 276 U Graphics card
a c 76 C Monitor
March 14, 2012 3:26:21 PM

I think you have assessed the situation well.
It is not known if the GTX680 will, by itself support triple monitor gaming. I would be surprised if it did not.
Regardless, it would be prudent to wait a week or two to find out. Rumors are, that it will be priced competitively with the 7970 and perform better.
If so, we might get a price war until higher end cards show up.

The problem is your impatience to get the build started.
I might suggest you buy a cheap $30 nvidia graphics card now and get started on your build.
March 14, 2012 3:31:04 PM

geofelt said:

The problem is your impatience to get the build started.
I might suggest you buy a cheap $30 nvidia graphics card now and get started on your build.


You know, that may just be the best idea I've heard. Plus it wouldn't be a horrible idea to have a backup "known good" card to be able to plop in in a pinch.

I think I'll go that route, and make my final decision when some of the smoke clears.

Thanks again everyone!
a c 643 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
March 14, 2012 3:34:52 PM

The GTX 680 is rumored to be coming out in just over a week, will cost $550, and will outperform the 7970 while using less power. It will also come with the ability to run 3 monitors off just one card. It is worth it to wait to see the performance, price, and what it does to the price of other cards available.
March 14, 2012 4:21:25 PM

deadjon said:
Okay here is the deal.

There seems to be some mystical rumor going around that you NEED Xfire to run 3 Monitors and get acceptable frames.

This is absolute rubbish. Tone down the AA and you get acceptable frames on a single 6970. OC the 6970 and you get excellent frames and a wonderful experience.

So picture those same 3 monitors, with a 7970 OCed. Remember most of the bloody things go from 925 to 1250 with a voltage bump, and the memory gets to 6400. Oh and another thing, the higher the resolution, the more prominent the performance increase from an OC becomes. (Bear in mind this also applies for Xfire though, you get a pretty much guaranteed 100% increase when playing eyefinity resolutions)

EDIT - This is from EXPERIENCE - Playing on 3x 27inch 1080p ASUS monitors with a single ASUS DCUII 6950 2GB (unlocked) - BF3 on ultra/high was PERFECT (no AA but I didnt care one bit...3 monitors are awesome) - Metro 2033 No AA no DOF, VERY playable, also looks awesome - Skyrim was playable with the texture mod, full AA and Ultra settings. This should put it all into perspective.


Awesome!, thanks for the first person report. It's great to know that even if I go with my "lower" option I'm likely not going to be hurting. I think that sometimes on a enthusiast forum like this we tend to get into a competition for the race for the top... I don't build machines too often, but I always go big when I do. It's easy to forget that the component a wee bit below the best in class is still far better then what 99% of the people are playing the game using... and those people are having fun playing as well!
March 14, 2012 7:05:29 PM

eldonv said:
You know, that may just be the best idea I've heard. Plus it wouldn't be a horrible idea to have a backup "known good" card to be able to plop in in a pinch.

I think I'll go that route, and make my final decision when some of the smoke clears.

Thanks again everyone!



You have integrated graphics on your K chip already, no need for a super cheap graphics card... use the integrated graphics.
a c 276 U Graphics card
a c 76 C Monitor
March 14, 2012 7:52:57 PM

Cryosis00 said:
You have integrated graphics on your K chip already, no need for a super cheap graphics card... use the integrated graphics.

But the X79 chipset soes not support integrated graphics; discrete only.
a c 232 U Graphics card
a c 78 C Monitor
March 14, 2012 8:06:04 PM

If ya wanna turn on all the settings, 3 monitors will stress anything. Right now the 79xx cards still have CF issues, being unable to complete a significant number of games in Gru3D's game test suite.

http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-7970-crossfire-...

Quote:
The past year if you have read up in our forums, AMD's Radeon team has been a step too slow with driver support. While there are monthly updates and hotfixes titles like Rage and Skyrim have been plagued by driver bugs, especially in Crossfire modes. It took AMD weeks to fix. When you drop 60 EUR on game you want to be able to play it on release day, period.

When we relate that to our test suite with CrossfireX in mind AMD did not return with a homerun either. We had some issues, COD MW2 had a negative scaling issue, Anno 1404 refused to scale properly below 1920x1200 (though that one might have been the one title severely CPU limited) and Dirt 2 showed massive graphics corruption. ...... But well, this somewhat sore topic remains open and we'll follow it closely. It is however the risk you take with multi-GPU gaming, that goes for GeForce cards versus drivers as well albeit it seems to be better managed in camp NVIDIA.


The 78xx series has issues in single card configuration also:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-7870-revi...

Quote:
Unfortunately, our in-depth evaluations in two different labs at opposite ends of the world turned up a handful of unexpected issues, too. Igor Wallsosek in our German office reports back with a lot of Radeon HD 7850-related issues: NewTek’s LightWave crashes with 4x AA or higher, Autodesk’s 3ds Max crashes in DirectX mode, and the card is incapable of running StarCraft II at its stock clocks. It would be tempting to chalk all of that up to a bad sample, but we had problems with our 7850 as well. World of Warcraft was particularly unstable, requiring a restart after every crash. And sometimes our test bed simply wouldn’t boot with the 7850 installed. Then there’s the whole issue of texture quality issues on both of the new 7800s. Oof.


Please don't take this as a knock on the hardware .... these are driver issues and I expect they will be worked out in the next month or two. My point however is, buying two of these today may lead to some disappointment as you may not be able to play some of your favorite games for a while. My bet is on the 78xx series being the best chance for a winner for AMD in this round.....once May rolls around anyway.

However, I'm not a fan of Revision A Hardware and that was even before the P67 "damn I gotta replace my MoBo w/ a B3 board to solve the SATA problem" debacle. The "rush to market" cards out now are Revision A.....I'm more inclined to wait for revision C in June when we have tweaked PCB board, beefier VRM's, over sized coolers ..... we have factory OC'd 560 Ti's for example with up to 10 phase VRM's, that do far more OC wise, noise wise, and temp wise than their 4 phase "reference cards" can do.

And ..... most importantly the market shakes out and we get to see what which card provided the best cost per frame. Again, for the single monitor guys and gals, I'm betting on two 7850's in CF being the best bang for the buck from the red team and either the 650 or 660 Ti's taking that title for green. Two of these in SLI or CF will trounce the top end cards in single card configs for less money. The top end cards in SLI / CF will do only marginally (10-15%) better than two of the mid range cards that cost half their price.

For your3 screens however, again, I'd be waiting till June when I expect we'll see beefed up, factory OC'd versions from both camps w/ 3 GB of on board memory.
March 15, 2012 6:54:45 PM

Wow thanks for your input guys, I think I will be waiting to see what the 680 is going to be like I don't want to crossfire or SLI with out seeing as I have been reading there is a chance of micro Stuttering and if im spending all this money I dont want it to be looking rubbish or is micro stuttering really just a small thing ?
a c 276 U Graphics card
a c 76 C Monitor
March 15, 2012 8:23:39 PM

Scarletsboy said:
Wow thanks for your input guys, I think I will be waiting to see what the 680 is going to be like I don't want to crossfire or SLI with out seeing as I have been reading there is a chance of micro Stuttering and if im spending all this money I dont want it to be looking rubbish or is micro stuttering really just a small thing ?


Here is a good article on the subject. It does not much address the subjective problem or lack therof of stuttering.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

With a single monitor, I see no need for dual gpu's.
Triple monitor gaming, is another thing.
a b U Graphics card
March 16, 2012 1:31:15 PM

geofelt said:

With a single monitor, I see no need for dual gpu's.
Triple monitor gaming, is another thing.


That really depends on the monitors resolution. If it is just the standard low 1080 resolution then I agree with you. At higher resolutions SLI/CF can be a must though if you want to stay above 60fps at max settings.
March 19, 2012 1:19:53 PM

Thanks for the info I did-read it which is what got me thinking about the effects of it (micro stuttering) I think I have to read up about it and post on the forums to get a better Idea, but these new cards do sound good
!