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Lifespan of a Video Card

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April 11, 2012 5:40:52 AM

Just curious as to how long will a top of the line Video card be strong for gaming?

I intend to spend about 6k out of my pocket for school next year till i graduate. If I build a new computer cheap with a great card, will I be able to sli/crossfire with it in 1-2 years when I am out of school and build a hardcore system? Will it most likely be able to play games at pretty high/ultra qualities still?

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April 11, 2012 7:48:05 AM

Its almost never a good idea to build a xfire rig unless you do it right away. This is because technologies change and you might need to upgrade to it (directx for example) or simply the tech moves so fast it would make more sense to get a better single card down the road than try and find one the same as yours to do xfire.

But generally, a mainstream (gtx 560 for example) would last a good 3 years from when they were introduced. This is going to vary on what games you play and at what detail settings obviously, but for example you can still play a lot of games on a gtx 9800 and that card is getting super old now.
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a c 127 U Graphics card
April 11, 2012 2:30:26 PM

I'd say 3 years would be a good estimation for a flagship card's lifespan.

I do think you can plan for SLI with a 680 and an SLI-capable motherboard and pick up another card at a reduced cost in a year or two.

DX demands will drive a need for a change, but the software is usually a year or more behind the hardware. If you consider what was once the Nvidia flagship 480 release in early 2010, it is DX11 compatible and most games released in the last year and a half are running on this version. No real talk of DX12 as of yet, but you know it's coming. This is kind of why the 3-year estimate works for the flagship cards whether single of some SLI configuration. There are still people out there happily running with 2 480s, but you know they're getting close to an upgrade.
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a c 259 U Graphics card
April 11, 2012 2:50:42 PM

bignick18 said:
Just curious as to how long will a top of the line Video card be strong for gaming?

I intend to spend about 6k out of my pocket for school next year till i graduate. If I build a new computer cheap with a great card, will I be able to sli/crossfire with it in 1-2 years when I am out of school and build a hardcore system? Will it most likely be able to play games at pretty high/ultra qualities still?


Decent gaming on a budget requires a balance between the cpu and the graphics configuration.

Three years out, today's cpu's and graphics cards will have been replaced by more cost effective offerings.

Also, I do not much favor cf/sli as an option when a single great card can do the job.
Unless you are planning on triple monitor gaming, a single card will be able to do the job.

a) How good do you really need to be?
A single GTX560 or 6870 can give you great performance at 1920 x 1200 in most games.

A single GTX560ti or 6950 will give you excellent performance at 1920 x 1200 in most games.
Even 2560 x 1600 will be good with lowered detail.
A single 7970 or GTX680 is about as good as it gets.

Only if you are looking at triple monitor gaming, then sli/cf will be needed.
Even that is now changing with triple monitor support on top end cards.

b) The costs for a single card are lower.
You require a less expensive motherboard; no need for sli/cf or multiple pci-e slots.
Even a ITX motherboard will do.

Your psu costs are less.
A GTX560ti needs a 450w psu, even a GTX580 only needs a 600w psu.
When you add another card to the mix, plan on adding 150-200w to your psu requirements.
A single more modern 28nm card like a 7970 or GTX680 needs only 550W.

Case cooling becomes more of an issue with dual cards.
That means a more expensive case with more and stronger fans.
You will also look at more noise.

c) Dual cards do not always render their half of the display in sync, causing microstuttering. It is an annoying effect.
The benefit of higher benchmark fps can be offset, particularly with lower tier cards.
Read this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

d) dual card support is dependent on the driver. Not all games can benefit from dual cards.

e) cf/sli up front reduces your option to get another card for an upgrade. Not that I suggest you plan for that.
It will often be the case that replacing your current card with a newer gen card will offer a better upgrade path.

I suggest you build today, a balanced system, using your budget, and see what the future brings.
Today, it might be something like a ii3-2120 and a 7750
You can expect 14nm haswell, and 20nm graphics in that time frame. At that time, if you want to build a hard core system, just sell your old parts and buy what you want.
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April 11, 2012 3:09:42 PM

Generally it works out better to spend half the money now then half the money along the way.

A GTX560 will last very nearly as long as a GTX580, for example. When it becomes obselete, you can spend the change on a card much, much faster than either.
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a b U Graphics card
April 11, 2012 3:15:32 PM

Its best to look at the past to answer the question. ie if you got a Radeon 4870 shortly after release I think in June 2008 for around $300 then got a second for around half the price after the 5000 series released you would have today a PC that plays all games on high many on ultra but not maxed on AA etc (assuming res. 1920 x 1080 or lower) but lacking DX11. If you built it in 2008 you would most likely have a core 2 duo which would need upgrading if you upgraded the graphics card very much. So judging by the past the PC could last 3-5+ years depending on how high settings you want to run games.
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April 18, 2012 5:18:21 AM

Wow getting some good answers here guys thanks for all the info. Its hard to really give out a best answer here. Not being knowledgeable in this I guess I didnt give the lower end cards their due. Just joining the game now you hear everyone gawk over the new 680s and didnt really look at the low end ones. if they get respectable performance at a budget I probably will go with one. Hell im used to gaming on a cheap laptop right now im sure anything is better :p 
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April 25, 2012 8:39:06 AM

Best answer selected by bignick18.
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