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Upgrading 6870: GTX 680 or XFire 6870s?

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April 15, 2012 1:21:38 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: The last week in April

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (playing Civilization V, Minecraft, Borderlands, but will be playing BioShock Infinite, Borderlands 2 and Rainbow Six Patriots come this fall), watching/editing HD video content

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: AMD Radeon HD 6870, Corsair TX 650 650 Watt PSU

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: AMD Phenom II X6 1100t OC'd @3.8ghz (vcore between 1.475 and 1.52)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg and amazon, whichever has the product cheaper (usually amazon)

PARTS PREFERENCES: None. but i do want high performance and low power consumption

OVERCLOCKING: No.

CROSSFIRE/SLI: If i get dual 6870s, then YES to crossfire; if i get the 680, then SLI in 1-2 years.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

due to tax returns, my budget for a GPU is going to be up to $500 but no more, as i also am keeping room for a 256 GB SSD and a $100 new case. Therefore, i wanted to buy a GTX 680, because i honestly don't know if i'll have the money for a brand new GPU and i'd rather spend the money now while i have two jobs, am living at home, etc.

however, someone else on the forums here suggested its better to just Xfire my 6870 and save some money; if that's the case i would love to, but i don't know if dual 6870s offer the same FPS performance as a 680.

I've google searched, but haven't been able to find a direct comparison between 6870 Crossfire and the 680. Do any of you guys know how powerful one is compared to the other? I currently play games like Civilization V, Minecraft, Borderlands; i will be using my PC for almost all my gaming needs come the fall (buying Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2 and the new Rainbow Six Game for the PC) so i want to be able to play these games at ultra settings. I want to be as future-proof as possible too, meaning i want the ability to play new games in 2013 and 2014 at decent settings, obviously not ultra.

Thanks for your help!
a b U Graphics card
April 15, 2012 1:43:55 PM

The 680 is very recent thus the lack of comparison charts. However it is the fastest GPU at the moment so you can compare dual 6870 to the second fastest (7970 I think) to get some idea.
Personally I prefer using a single card due to all the small inconveniences of SLI/Crossfire setups.
I think you could get a second 6870 and in the future when the 680 gets cheaper you could get 2 of them
a b U Graphics card
April 15, 2012 1:57:52 PM

Grab another 6870. Xfire is a great, economical upgrade. I don't have a benchmark between the two setups specifically, but this review will give you the 6870s next to various cards that we can compare to the 680. Basically, they're really quite strong. They're almost as good as the 680 based on their performance relative to the 400 series and the 5970 in that review.
Related resources
April 15, 2012 6:08:19 PM

kajabla said:
Grab another 6870. Xfire is a great, economical upgrade. I don't have a benchmark between the two setups specifically, but this review will give you the 6870s next to various cards that we can compare to the 680. Basically, they're really quite strong. They're almost as good as the 680 based on their performance relative to the 400 series and the 5970 in that review.


the thing is, most of the benchmarks for the 6870 xfire and the GTX 480 are for games that i'm not using the GPU to play. i want to know how 6870 xfire would perform in a game like battlefield 3 on direct x 11 at 1080p with preset ultra settings, for example, because that is one of the if not THE most stressful game on a GPU out right now, and in a year games will be graphically stressful more closer to that than to a game like Crysis or Just Cause 2.

i can see that the 680 gets 65 FPS at those BF3 1080p ultra settings with 4x MSAA and 97 FPS with those settings plus FXAA. the games most people have benchmarked the 6870 and 480 at are games like Alien vs Predator, Just Cause 2, etc. i will never play these games and the reason i want to spend the extra money is to have a card that will play future games the best of any card out there right now, within my budget.

the only two games that were benchmarked for the 6870 xfire on directx 11 on anandtech's benchmark that i play are Metro 2033 and Civilization 5. at 1080p in Metro, the 680 gets 12 more FPS than the 6870xfire using AAA instead of AA. In civilization V, it gets almost 30 more FPS on the same settings. i'm leaning toward the 680 because if it were only performing 10 FPS or less than the 6870xfire, then i wouldn't worry, but it seems it might be worth the $500 in this case.

not to mention that idk how well my mobo would handle xfire, and i might not have 2 x16 slots available or might not have space because i have a PCI and PCIe slot already taken up in addition to my GPU.

what do you think?
a b U Graphics card
April 15, 2012 6:13:24 PM

I'm not going to bother copypasting the first few links that come up for "6870 crossfire <insert game here>". Do the Googling yourself. Google is your friend.

You don't need x16 slots for 6870s. They won't come close to maxing x8.
Plan out the PCI placement now. What are your current cards? You should be able to tell if everything will fit.
April 15, 2012 6:31:48 PM

Quote:
not using the GPU to play. i want to know how 6870 xfire would perform in a game like battlefield 3


Really? and AVP isnt gpu hungry? BF3 is all gpu? Don't listen to this guy.

I've done lots of sli/xfire setups since 7600gt's sli, I highly reccomend just getting a 680. I've got a 580 right now I'm about to list on ebay as soon as a 680 comes up for purchase. SLI is terrible, looks great on paper, but the problems you run into are no joke, and they will happen, and they will frustrate you. I hate having a computer that looks good on paper but frustrates me 10% of the time I'm on it. When I turn my machine on to play games I want to play games, not work around stuff or hope and pray for updates.

Not to mention the random fps plummet you get from sli/xfire. toms did a good article on that which confirmed suspicions I've had for years.
a b U Graphics card
April 15, 2012 9:02:15 PM

Quote:
Not to mention the random fps plummet you get from sli/xfire. toms did a good article on that which confirmed suspicions I've had for years.

Micro-stuttering? The article said that it's usually a problem from the 6850/460 down, and that it doesn't really get in the way with higher-end setups. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...
EDIT LOLNOPE I went back and read it again, and you're right. Their problems were below the 6950, not the 6850.

I hereby change my recommendation to a single high-end card! The 680 isn't available anywhere, though.
April 15, 2012 9:14:22 PM

go to anandtech.com and click on their benchmark. Put two of those cards together and see the difference theyll give you. Cant remember if you can put the 680 and two 6870 but you can try.
April 15, 2012 9:46:51 PM

paradoxeternal said:
the thing is, most of the benchmarks for the 6870 xfire and the GTX 480 are for games that i'm not using the GPU to play. i want to know how 6870 xfire would perform in a game like battlefield 3 on direct x 11 at 1080p with preset ultra settings


You're in luck. I have the 6870's in xfire on a i5 2500k at 4.0ghz at 1080p. Mines are slightly OC-ed at 940mhz and 1150 on memory. On the ultra preset in bf3, I get average 65-75fps. The lowest dips (a brief 1-3 seconds of my total hour of playtime) was at 49fps. Highest fps is ~85. All fps was through fraps. I also have never experienced the microstuttering on my setup since the time I have had them so it's a non-issue from my experience.
April 15, 2012 10:13:15 PM

Hey all, I recently got myself a GTX680 and I have to say it's a truly excellent card. Performance is amazing and with surprisingly low power consumption. I would suggest a 680 over two 6870s in crossfire for a few reasons:

1) You can always add another 680 in like a year whereas having two 6870s in a year will mean you're abit stuck.
2) A single 680 is far lower power consumption thus saving you a little money in the long-run, granted now all that much.
3) Drivers. Crossfire drivers are released pretty quickly these days but you know that the 680 will always run a brand new game on release, you definitely can't say the same about the 6870s in crossfire.
4) No worries about micro stuttering etc. Again, you might not even get this or get it but not notice but a single card cures the worry.
5) One last thing I can think of atm, 2GB of graphics memory for all the lovely big textures that new games will hopefully have! The 6870s will have 1GB each but it's not shared so it's not the same as a single card with 2GB.

On the subject of BF3, it runs superbly on ultra with my 680, I should know I spent like 5 hours trying to learn to fly the choppers yesterday :-P
I suppose for reference: i5-2500k@5.0GHz, 1200p with the 680 pretty much on stock settings (+50MHz to core) using EVGAs precisionX software.

Can you tell I like my new card much? I'm trying my best not to be biased here though!
April 15, 2012 11:55:22 PM

gtx 680
April 16, 2012 12:27:11 AM

Monitoring bf3 at 1080p on my setup with a gtx 680 it uses around 1000-1100mb of ram, on medium/high without aa or af. I'm sure it's more with AA/AF. Your 6870s with 1gb aren't going to cut it.

6870 xfire are also known to have worse microsttutering than other xfire configs, and I even recently read a review on hardocp where they stated that nvidia sli was subjectively much smoother than xfire, and that they would always prefer the sli setup over xfire.

just get the single 680, or a single 7970/7950/7870.

I have a 120hz monitor and I can get about 90-100fps minimum on a 64 player server outdoor map with my 680 at my settings (all medium no aa/af).

I might get another 680 to see if I can get 120fps minimum.
April 16, 2012 12:31:23 AM

since the 680s are out of stock now...
if you only run a 60hz monitor at 1080p, you could even consider gtx 580. I saw one for $330 after rebate, or to be honest a gtx 480 is $210 on newegg at the moment and isn't too far behind the 580.

the 680 might be overkill for 60hz compared to a 580... not entirely sure. I do know that any game I played was always over 60fps even on my gtx570 (same fps as a 480).
April 16, 2012 3:53:02 AM

lmulder said:
Monitoring bf3 at 1080p on my setup with a gtx 680 it uses around 1000-1100mb of ram, on medium/high without aa or af. I'm sure it's more with AA/AF. Your 6870s with 1gb aren't going to cut it.

I have a 120hz monitor and I can get about 90-100fps minimum on a 64 player server outdoor map with my 680 at my settings (all medium no aa/af).

I normally run BF3 at all high settings, 2x AA and outdoor maps, I also get your range of fps. Even on ultra they come to 50-70 fps so xfire 6870 definitely can handle BF3.

OP, if you are bent on absolutely getting a card now, I also would recommend selling your 6870 and get the gtx 680. Xfire can get hot if your case is not neatly wired and/or you don't have a side fan blowing onto the gpu's. Although I never experienced any microstuttering, other people have so it is a risk you have to take into consideration.

If you're not bent on getting a card that you need for a long time now, I would save money and get another 6870, they will hold out easily for 1-1.5 years and you can upgrade later on to the gtx 7xx or ati 8xxx series. That is exactly what I'm doing. Midrange cards in the newest gen tend to be around the same performance level or better as the best card from the previous gen. ex. 3870x2 < 4850. 4890 < 5850. 6970 ~< 7870. I plan to sell off the xfire's when 8xxx hits and get myself a single 8870 or 8950.
a c 88 U Graphics card
April 16, 2012 4:41:59 AM

Definately grab a 680 while you can afford it , it will last you for quite awhile as it performs very well in all games. The 6870 xfire does perform good too , but you are better of going with the latest hardware.
Like the other guys are saying , sell the 6870 and put the money towards a new 680, its worth it and you will be gaming without any problems.
!