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I've got an itch: Topic 4 - Video/Graphics

Got the itch, but not ready to scratch!

I got the “time to build a new system” itch again. Keep in mind; this will be my 6th or 7th build, so I’m no noob.

Before I go into detail, see my signature of my current rig.

I use this mainly for Office applications (Word, Excel, and Finance/Budget programs), surfing the web, and movie watching. I usually have several applications running at once (i.e. Excel, Quicken, Outlook, IE, and downloading something), but I have not monitored my usages thru Task Manager, but I will. I don’t notice much bottlenecking, but I do demand a responsive system.

It’s also set up in a home network with my wife’s PC, my TV, Blu-Ray player, and Wi-Fi printer through a router. I’m not a gamer, but would like a powerful enough machine if I do play. In the future I would like to copy/convert my DVD collection to my PC.

Since I have several topics, I’ll break down it down into threads for the appropriate categories: CPU, Motherboard, RAM, Graphics, and Storage (SSD). I’ll use the PSU and case I have, as well as all the other components (monitor, printer, etc.).

After weighing the options to upgrade to the upcoming Ivy Bridge CPU and Z77 chipset motherboards, I think I’ll wait a while (until the bugs are fixed, if any. Remembering the Sandy Bridge motherboard chipset bug, requiring a total recall).

I don’t want to go the LGA 2011 route, as everything is way more expensive. Although I do like the latest SBM $2600 rig!

But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do some “upgrades” within my current system.

So here I go (finally)…

Topic 4: Video/Graphics

Since my current video card does not require PCI-e 3.0, I’ve seen no need to get an upgraded motherboard (i.e. Asus P8Z68-V Pro / Gen 3).

I’ve read that the new graphics cards (i.e. Radeon HD 7770) already support the PCI-e 3.0, but don’t require it.

I also know that if I crossfire my current video card with an identical card, that the motherboard will scale down the PCI-e slots form 1 @ x16, to 2 @ x8. This is fine?

But given my typical usage, will I benefit from crossfire?

Are two slightly lesser cards in crossfire better than a single higher rated card? Even with the 7xxx series (i.e. 2x6850 > 1x7770)?
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  1. Best answer
    *reads topic*

    *looks at sig*

    *looks back at topic*

    What? Your PC is awesome... especially if you aren't gaming. I don't think you'll see any more performance in the tasks you listed, even video encoding (so long as you can use Quick Sync)

    Anyway about graphics, 6850 CF is really powerful. It should be around 7870/GTX 580 or a little faster speed wise. However, the 6800 series is also known for suffering from micro stutter. I think a safe option would be to just upgrade to a 7850 or 7870.
  2. I've known nothing about stutter until recently. I don't have, I've just read about it here.

    Thanks for the praise and suggestion.

    The 7850 are PCI-e 3.0 ready, but will they suffer if only in a PCI-e 2.1 mobo?

    And you're saying nix the xfire, and (maybe) go with a single 7850?
  3. No they will not suffer on a PCI-e x16 (2.0) or even a PCI-e x8 (2.0)

    there is still no card that will completly saturate a PCI-e x16 (2.x) bandwidth
    and it takes a dual gpu card in a PCI-e x8 (2.x) to have even the smallest of limitation (ur talking 1-2% performance decrease in a x8 vs a x16)

    ur 6850's will suffer from microstuttering in CF but it will not come close to hitting a limit on PCI-e x8 (2.x)

    if ur really itching for an upgrade about the only thing i could pick out is the graphics solution.

    i would wait a month (for the 79xx price drop) and look at getting a 7950 or 7970 as it will be a huge leap in performance.
  4. Thanks. Both /\ & \/
  5. There is no value in spending more than $100 for a graphics card unless you are gaming, or have an app that can use the computational capabilities of a graphics card.
    Some editing apps can use the CUDA capability of nvidia cards to greatly speed up such things as editing. Do some research there if it applies.
    pcie 2.0/3.0 is a non issue today. On only the top end cards does it make more than a couple of fps difference.
    Same with x16 vs X8/X8. If you ever want more graphics power, just get a stronger single card anyway.

    If you have the itch, scratch it. Buy a 2560 x 1440 monitor, or at least a second monitor if you don't already have one.
  6. 1: This whole topic is ridiculous. A faster more responsive office computer? With the computer set up you have right now you would be looking at something on the level of a 0.000000000000001% perceptible change unless your looking to lay down a couple grand and make your new system with a couple revodrives.(keep the current system, just change the motherboard out for one that can hold a couple revodrives)

    2: If you are not gaming your current 6850 graphics card is a COMPLETE waste as the stock i5 2500k has integrated graphics MORE than capable of playing HD video. In fact the integrated solution on the i5 2500k is powerful enough to run Starcraft 2 on medium/high settings with good frame rates.

    3: You are thinking about getting MULTIPLE expensive graphics cards when you do not even play games?! These things don't generate pure happiness, in fact besides helping in games there is not much else a graphics card does do. Unless you are in to folding(and then you would want nvidia graphics) then dropping money on a graphics card at all is just money down the drain.(even long term, high end graphics cards have high power consumption)

    Your system is SO up to date as it is now, that even if you were a hard core gamer a completely new build would be totally unnecessary. There is not a single part on there that you could change and notice a difference using office applications(even multitasking)

    If you do lots of rendering(3D design) or extensive photoshop work or tons of media encoding then you MIGHT see a benefit from an i7, and faster hard drive access. If you love to play the newest games you MIGHT notice a difference upgrading assuming you are playing these games at a high enough resolution, as your 6850 should basically max out even the most modern games at resolutions 1680x1050 and lower.

    Bottom line is this: if you don't have a kid who loves gaming on the PC, and you don't currently game competitively(or plan to) then upgrading from this system is a complete waste. It would be like upgrading from a Toyota Corolla to a Honda Civic and hoping for a lot more performance, in that they are just too similar for one to be a realistic upgrade over the other.
  7. Now that's kinda funny. I drive a Honda Civic, and was thinking of "soupping" it up with an exhaust system and sport suspension. And I'm no kid.

    Thanks for your "to the point, no holds bared" reply.

    Buy a 2560 x 1440 monitor, or at least a second monitor if you don't already have one.

    Yeh, I've been think of dual monitors, but they don't make mine anymore. Maybe a Samsung 27" LED Backlit. Or 2 Samsuing 23" LCD. I guess I really don't need LED, but my TV is really cool with it.
  8. I'm not a kid either that's why I have a Hyundai Accent for my regular driving and a Trans Am for "supping" up.

    Thinking that exhaust and suspension could be considered "supping" up a Honda Civic does seem in line with your current PC upgrade reasoning. I mean an i7 and Crossfire certainly do "sound" better than your current setup.

    The "upgrading something that is not at this point holding you back" mentality
    - Applications you use are not taxing enough to notice a speed difference day to day = Honda Civic with stock engine is not going to be going fast enough to notice a performance benefit from suspension upgrades

    Then there's the "upgrading something for a cosmetic change"
    - You don't currently use your graphics card so getting better ones will be purely an acoustic change = Aftermarket exhaust on an unmodified Honda Civic is going to be basically another "acoustic only" change

    With you current system the only thing "holding you back" in terms of the applications you use would be your hard drive read speed.

    In terms of aesthetics I think a better display(big monitor/mult monitors/hd projector) would be much more rewarding than "x% faster performance in games"

    Even if you plan to play games you are not going to experience performance issues with your current graphics card unless you insist on pushing every single option to the "maximum" setting. In MANY gaming titles increasing every option to maximum will give you an un-playably slow experience even with 3x 7970s.(GTA4 is a good example)

    I'm not trying to say spending money on better stuff is in any way a bad idea, if you have the extra money and want to spend it on something new and cool by all means do. I just want you to be aware that for your applications the machine you have is already much faster than you need.(even for very snappy performance) Hence money spent on upgrades will likely yield little benefit to you.

    If you have plans to use your current PC in a project(carputer/HTPC/gift/spy satellite etc) then replacing all those slightly outdated parts begins to make a lot more sense.
  9. A Civic Si is quite a bit faster than a Corolla =P

    But yeah, I don't think there's much upgrading for that PC.

    You could go with watercooling for fun.

    I also think a big ass monitor is a great idea. Can't wait to get one myself.
  10. Yeah now if he wanted to go from a Civic to a Civic Si I would support him 100%. I mean that's at least arguable when it comes to cost/benefit.

    The Si model is no doubt faster than a stock Civic, and paying for all of the modifications necessary to meet or exceed it's performance with his stock Civic might cost more in the end. At the very least it would leave him without a car for however long the modifications took, which if your going from stock to Si performance it's probably going to be in the shop for a while......

    Not to mention that when you are modifying a car for performance there are a lot of subtleties that go into keeping it driver friendly. The faster Civic engineered by Honda (the Si model) is likely to last much longer than a heavily modified regular Civic, and probably drive better because every part of the car was originally designed with higher performance in mind.

    Thankfully this is not the case with PCs, and only just barely the case when it comes to graphics cards(for example the MSI lightning model was designed with higher clock speeds in mind, and due to this design planning they can typically achieve higher speeds with a better VRM design etc)

    In any case now I've gotten off topic.

    To the OP: Water cooling is a fun project that involves money and your PC and even aesthetics. Not to mention it shows you have a "badass" PC even if you never really push it to it's limits, and it will allow you to overclock your hardware that you have long term with a higher degree of safety. You can use the same cooling equipment for your future PCs, and it gives you another thing to spend time on. It can be fun to try to get the lowest temperatures and power consumption on the hardware you have once you water cool it and overclock. If you really wanted to utilize what you have you could use that Antec 620 you already have, and just add 1 GPU waterblock and one additional 120mm radiator.

    Or build yourself a really nice water cooling setup with that money and put your Antec 620 in your wife's PC.

    A really sweet monitor setup, and a blazing fast PC(like what you have now...) plus water cooling, overclocked, and I assume you have some sweet surround sound or something?(another thing to add to the list if not) Does this not sound like basically the ideal PC even for someone who loves technology? This is my vote for upgrade money, rather than trying to make another PC.
  11. Best answer selected by foscooter.
  12. Thank to all who replied.

    The sale at Microcenter was just too good to pass, so I picked up a i7 2600K for $199.99. Probably gonna sell the i5 2500K on craigslist for $100.00.

    I now have no intentions of getting another GPU.

    After monitoring my usage, I noticed that most of the time I am using just the onboard graphics, through Lucid Virtu, but displayed thru my video card.
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