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Graphics update for the girlfriend...

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 16, 2012 6:53:08 PM

Hey folks - looking to update the graphics on my girlfriend's system, since I just built one for myself

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: The next 3 weeks

BUDGET RANGE: $250

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: She plays a lot of MMORPG's, (i.e. WoW, GW, waiting on GW2, some free ones, and BF3 with me). So mostly video gaming.

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 , Antec High Current Gamer Series HCG-620 620W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V v2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE.

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS:ASUS M5A97 AM3+ AMD 970, AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz. Case has 3 120mm intake fans, 1 120mm rear exhaust, and a 220mm upper exhaust, excellent airflow and cable management.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Amazon, Newegg, Tiger Direct

PARTS PREFERENCES: ATI/AMD

OVERCLOCKING: No ; SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680 x 1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:I'm looking to get her something that'll keep up with current games (GW2) on fairly high settings and run smoothly. She's not too picky. As you can see, she currently has a 1GB HD 6870. I don't know if it's best to replace it, or run it in Crossfire, because it seems like single GPU's tend to be the most stable.

Thank you in advance.
a c 362 U Graphics card
April 16, 2012 7:00:06 PM

I would actually keep the HD 6870 for 1680x1050. However, if you really want to upgrade then I would get a Radeon HD 7850 for $250. Getting another HD 6870 for Crossfire is the best bang for the buck, but I'm not really into using dual video cards.
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April 16, 2012 7:08:33 PM

completely agree, although i'd suggest a 7870 if you could squeeze that in your budget ( Gf's love presents ;)  ) as it would bring a MUCH better performance and would be more "future-proof" in a way it would take longer to get as outdated...

Just my 2 cents!


PS: yeah and 6870 would be the best bang for buck but Xfire can be quite unstable so i don't know if you should mess around with that...
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April 16, 2012 7:09:39 PM

Thanks Jag,

Did some looking on that card, that seems like it's probably going to be my best choice unless I fork a couple extra dollars out. Like you, I'm not a big fan of dual video cars. It seems like more work/$$$ than benefit to be honest. I'd rather OC the 7850 a bit and see how that goes, I think that's a pretty good deal.
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a b U Graphics card
April 16, 2012 7:09:52 PM

would be nice upgrading it to a 7850 if you can't go over 250, going for Crossfire, is a good option, but if you are thinkin in that first of all make sure:

that your PSU will handle it, looks like your girlfriend psu can. You will need to check how to activate the SLI after installing it with the crossfire bridge.

second the Motherboard must support it i see that the motherboard supports crossfire, but be aware that the second slot is at 4x speed, meaning that there will be some bottleneck in the performance it is not much (maximum 6% loss) but it is some performance loss.

Also be aware that running video cards in Crossfire requires some time invested in downloading best drivers, and checking for game updates, because crossfire sometimes may be disabled or with too much microstuttering that will require some searching over the web to find the problem solution. what will not happen on a single card, any game will be fully functional.

like jaguarskx said, if you really need to upgrade it, i think that 6870 is ok too for that resolution, go with the 7850 it is a good option for the system unless you find a really good offer on a 6870...
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April 16, 2012 7:14:40 PM

Captain and Ricardo,

Thanks for the input as well. You guys are damned quick. This is true, they do love their gifts. That 7870/7850 does look pretty sexy for an extra $100 or so. I guess I'll have to do a little looking.

It sounds like I'll mostly avoid Crossfire, and instead toss the current card in storage in case of a GPU failure.

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a b U Graphics card
April 16, 2012 7:41:27 PM

6870 upgrade ? doesn't sound worth it for the games you are playing......
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a b U Graphics card
April 16, 2012 8:14:37 PM

For that resolution + cpu, anything better than 6870 is an overkill. Why dont get an mobo+cpu? Getting an Ivy Bridge and a good mobo, you would get better performance in MMOs! Those games love faster processors and strong cores. Also with at that resolution, you are not letting your GPU to stretch it legs, if it were 1080 it would be ideal a new monitor would be a quite good gift!

I play WoW ultra @1680x1050 and Im having 60fps or more everywhere but Ogrimmar, when the server is full (its very very populated) im getting 30ish to 40ish FPS @Ogri. Even in Ultraxion 25 (LFR) my fps doesnt to above of 30... So if my system is half of powerful as yours is, Why getting even more power, that you wont use with that resolution?

Its my own opinion, hope it doesnt bothered you.
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a b U Graphics card
April 17, 2012 11:07:05 PM

horaciopz said:
For that resolution + cpu, anything better than 6870 is an overkill. Why dont get an mobo+cpu? Getting an Ivy Bridge and a good mobo, you would get better performance in MMOs! Those games love faster processors and strong cores. Also with at that resolution, you are not letting your GPU to stretch it legs, if it were 1080 it would be ideal a new monitor would be a quite good gift!

I play WoW ultra @1680x1050 and Im having 60fps or more everywhere but Ogrimmar, when the server is full (its very very populated) im getting 30ish to 40ish FPS @Ogri. Even in Ultraxion 25 (LFR) my fps doesnt to above of 30... So if my system is half of powerful as yours is, Why getting even more power, that you wont use with that resolution?

Its my own opinion, hope it doesnt bothered you.


this is really relative, 60 fps may not be enough, since there are a lot of panels that handle 120hz already...

she plays BF3 so i'm sure a 6870 is not even close of overkill at bf3...

performance is really relative to each user personally anything under 60fps already bothers, speacially when you are used to play at locked 60fps or more. frame stability is something that worth upgrading video cards.

i am using 2x 560 ti SLI and there are a lot of games that still very unplayable in 3D... only at 1080p...

i still with the 7850 option, it will be a nice and stable upgrade.
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April 17, 2012 11:17:45 PM

i am using a gigabyte factory oc 6850 and have had every game to date running on ultra and have not had a problem. its running two monitors at 1680x1050 and it hasnt missed a beat. I would upgrade my card and just give her my old one :p 
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a b U Graphics card
April 18, 2012 12:45:41 AM

ricardois said:
this is really relative, 60 fps may not be enough, since there are a lot of panels that handle 120hz already...

she plays BF3 so i'm sure a 6870 is not even close of overkill at bf3...

performance is really relative to each user personally anything under 60fps already bothers, speacially when you are used to play at locked 60fps or more. frame stability is something that worth upgrading video cards.

i am using 2x 560 ti SLI and there are a lot of games that still very unplayable in 3D... only at 1080p...

i still with the 7850 option, it will be a nice and stable upgrade.



Ok, you are right. But It doesnt matter what GPU he will chose, or if he is going to CrossfireX. There will not be *Huge or worthy* improvements untill he change his processor. Everyone knows that for a bigger card, you will need a better processor. Gaming rigs *should be* balanced. So whats the point of getting 400$ in GPU (2 6870 Xfire) if the processor dont let 1 card to run at 100% of it performance?

The a really low budget processor that wont bottleneck Cards as high HD6870 is the I3 2100(everything higher than that will be bottlenecked), and the intels dual core is a little faster than many phenoms II, the only way is those phenoms are overclocked as high of 4Ghz or more.

So well if for his Phenom II the limit is a 6870. If he gets a 7850, which is 40-50% upgrade, the performance will be severely impacted by the processor, thats my point!!

Getting a better processor and mobo will show a better improvement and it will be helpful for future upgrades, as theres not many games that would make squish a HD6870. EVEN AT THE RESOLUTION THAT HIS GIRLFRIEND IS PLAYING! let me reread, its 1680x1050. Yep, a GPU upgrade wont be as good as Monitor upgrade which will make the actual GPU to perform at its total capacity. Or a better option, getting a CPU + Mobo.

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a b U Graphics card
April 18, 2012 3:19:46 AM

horaciopz said:
Ok, you are right. But It doesnt matter what GPU he will chose, or if he is going to CrossfireX. There will not be *Huge or worthy* improvements untill he change his processor. Everyone knows that for a bigger card, you will need a better processor. Gaming rigs *should be* balanced. So whats the point of getting 400$ in GPU (2 6870 Xfire) if the processor dont let 1 card to run at 100% of it performance?

The a really low budget processor that wont bottleneck Cards as high HD6870 is the I3 2100(everything higher than that will be bottlenecked), and the intels dual core is a little faster than many phenoms II, the only way is those phenoms are overclocked as high of 4Ghz or more.

So well if for his Phenom II the limit is a 6870. If he gets a 7850, which is 40-50% upgrade, the performance will be severely impacted by the processor, thats my point!!

Getting a better processor and mobo will show a better improvement and it will be helpful for future upgrades, as theres not many games that would make squish a HD6870. EVEN AT THE RESOLUTION THAT HIS GIRLFRIEND IS PLAYING! let me reread, its 1680x1050. Yep, a GPU upgrade wont be as good as Monitor upgrade which will make the actual GPU to perform at its total capacity. Or a better option, getting a CPU + Mobo.



I'm not sure it would be 40-40% upgrade maybe 30% at most but I feel the bottleneck would not be so bad as you say if overclocked to 3.6 or better which seems pretty easy otherwise I fear you are on the money with that assumption.
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a b U Graphics card
April 18, 2012 11:53:58 AM

yes i also this that Phenom II X4 955 is not going to be a major bottleneck with the 7850, maybe on some games that requires too much cpu it can suffer a little, but it is not a bad cpu... i think he will be ok with the 7850 and this upgrade will worth the money if @OP can sell its 6870.

A monitor upgrade will only decrase performance, if he is already experiencing some lag, it will only increase with higher resolutions. so a monitor upgrade is a nice tip also, but i would say go first with the gpu later you buy a new monitor.
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April 18, 2012 12:33:34 PM

^+1 If she plays bf3 then the 6870 is certainly using all its power... I still think a 7870 is better, but it is indeed a bit off of your budget so... As for the bottleneck, even if you don't OC i agree with ricardo and say it won't bottleneck that much, but if you OC which is fairly easy with that it shouldn't be a bottleneck ( if i can do it on a mbp you can certainly do it on a desktop).

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