Please help me chose the best gfx card for ~100$ for my needs

Hi everyone!

A little bit about my system:

Mainboard: M3N78-EMH HDMI
CPU: AMD Phenom X4 9750 (4x2.4Ghz)
RAM: 2GB DDR3 (I think 800 or 1066MHz)
PSU: be quiet straight power dual rail 500W
Soundcard: M-Audio Audiophile 192
OS: Windows XP professional
Monitor: max res.: 1280x1024 (old monitor that will probably be replaced by a 16:9 monitor of moderate size in the near future meaning I also pay attention to the performance on 1680x1050)

I finally decided to buy a dedicated gfx-card to play Diablo 3, Dota 2, the upcomming GTA V and maybe Assasins Creed 3, Starcraft II and Max Payne 3. While I like AA 4xAA is not a necessity for me.

what I'm looking for:

As I use my computer mainly for music-producing I really want a quiet gfx. card especially in idle-mode. As I heard that the new Nvidia 6xx cards and AMD 7xxxx cards are designed to take some load off the CPU for non-graphical applications I think I can profit from this technologies in the future when some VSts or MIDI-host-programmes use this technology (although I'm not really sure that this will be the case).

As I don't really like to spend much more than 100$ on my gfx card (and I want to spend as little as possible on it) I am a little bit unsure what to buy after the recent release of AMD 77xx series. (I think Nvidia doesn't really have good cards in this price segement which is why I didn't include them in my price-search as of now, but feel free to suggest Nvidia-cards as well).

cards I consider:

AMD 6670 1GB DDR3 for 62-65$
As of now I was leaning towards the AMD 6670 1GB DDR3 which is at around 60$ (for Gigabyte or Sapphire cards) the cheapest card that somehow performs well enough at 1280x1024 although it seems to struggle on higher res. (1680x1050)
Another big problem is that these cards seem to be louder than one might think which concerns me.

AMD 6670 1GB DDR5 for 77-85$
These cards perform better on higher resolutions than the DDR3 version while still having a somewhat loud fan and are imo overpriced at 80$ considering the other options. While the ASUS card is priced reasonable (at 77) I’m turned off by some claims that the ASUS fan is quite loud. The Sapphire card for 85$ is the other option. I don’t know if this card is much more quiet than the ASUS card, but for 85$ it’s a bad value imo nevertheless.

AMD 6770 1 GB DDR5 for 89-90$
For just 5$ more I can get the 6770 (MSI or Sapphire). The downside of this card is its high power-demand that leads to the loudest fans of all the considerd cards I would guess, but I don’t know (maybe someone can clarify this). Moreover I guess due to the cards big heat production it increases the CPU fan speed as well, leading to perhaps the loudest graphic solution.

AMD 7750 1GB DDR5 for 95-104$
This card seems like the best choice for me so far (95 for the normal sapphire card, 104 for the OC card with 850/1200MHz). I read that this card outperforms the 6770 (I’m not sure that this is correct though), has an extremely low power consumption meaning very low fan usage resulting in a silent overall operation. Additionally it utilizes the new GCN architecture that could be used by non-garphical applications as well in the future, which means it perhaps won’t only enhance my gaming-expiriences.
My question would be if it really is better for me than 6770 because its one tier below 6770 in the gfx-card test for may 2012. Again I’m not concerned much about resolutions above 1680x1050 and 4xAA isn’t that important for me either.

AMD 7770 1GB DDR5 for 125$ (Sapphire 7770 Ghz edition)
This is the top amount of money I would spend on a gfx. Card if it’s really worth it compared to the 7750. To be clear, I really only consider this card because I’m concerned with the performance of 7750 and the loudness of the 6770. Then again I don’t know if there really is a difference at resolutions at max. 1680x1050.

Things I hope you could clarify for me:

As I said I want to spend the least amount of money on a gfx card possible that can run Diablo 3 and GTA V on max 1068x1050 (every other game I would play is less taxing I think), while having a somewhat silent gfx card.
-) What I’m not sure about is the amount of noise the ASUS 6670 GDDR5 makes and if it will be able to run GTA V with acceptable fps on 1068x1050 (it is the cheapest GDDR5 card for 77$ after all)
-) The other thing I want to know is the noise and performance difference for 6770 and 7750 as well as if the new GCN architecture is likley more worth than marketing talk. Moreover I’m interested if the OC 7750 that runs on 850/1200 MHz instead of 800/1125 makes a difference one should care about that justifies it’s higher price.
-) Finally I’m interested if there is a noticable performance difference for 7770 (compared to 7750) at resolutions –1068x1050 if I don’t really need high AA and if you would consider that worth the extra 30$.
-) In the end I’m not sure if my system really can use the 7750/7770 to such a potential that it makes sense to buy them.

Thanks for your answers and time-investement
7 answers Last reply
More about please chose card needs
  1. I'm not too familiar with that PSU, but from what I've just read it seems to be a nice unit.
    My German ist nicht sehr gut.

    The old Ph X4 9750 is going to be a bit of a bottleneck for any mid-range card or larger. As will the 2GB memory for modern games. Try to upgrade to 4GB. But any of those card choices will be great for 1280x1024. At 1680x1050, I would look at a card that is a bit more powerful; one that uses an external PCIe power cable. The HD 7770 is the fastest of the choices you present and should be quite sufficient for fast frame rates at 16x10 rez. That would definetly be my choice. As far as quiet... quiet is in the ear of the beholder, to paraphrase. The more powerful the card = the more cooling required = the more fan noise present. But larger fans are usually quieter than smaller fans because they can move more air at lower RPM. And throttle down to low speed and still move lots of air even quieter.
  2. So I looked into more powerfull cards at around 130$ and found that I can get the Sapphire HD 6870 lite retail version at around the same price as the HD 7770.

    Is the HD 6870 the better choice for future games or is the 7770 likely to perform better in upcoming games?

    What does lite retail mean? Is such a version likely to have a cheap and loud fan?
  3. as I couldn't edit anymore I add this as a new reply:

    The Sapphire I was looking at (
  4. You'll have to link me to where you saw the term 'lite retail'. I've never heard that phrase used. As far as power, the HD 6870 is a tier above the HD 7770 and HD 6850 (and lots more expensive). Graphic cards are usually rated as to their gaming capabilities. Here is Tom's Graphic Card Hierarchy Chart based on their testing.,3107-7.html

    You may also be interested in an 'on paper' comparison of the cards. Here is a good site for that:

    If noise level is of great importance to you, I would suggest a search of card reviews. Personally, I have never been bothered by the fan noise from my graphic cards; and I have 2 GTX570s in my machine. The fans throttle down to very low RPM when they are idle or lightly used. It's only when running intensely graphical games that the cards begin to generate enough heat to cause the fans to speed up. And then I'm usually too engrossed in the game to hear the card's fan(s).

    Getting back to your original query, if you don't plan on using a monitor with a higher resolution than 1680x1050, the HD 6850 or HD 7770 or GTX 460 will play any of the games you listed with good frame rates and max/near max settings... as long as the old Phenom X4 9750 can keep up, that is. If your motherboard permits, it may be time to upgrade the processor too.
  5. Quote:
    as I couldn't edit anymore I add this as a new reply:

    The Sapphire I was looking at (

    That's an excellent card, but much more expensive than your original parameters suggested. It happens to be the same one I have in my 2nd machine. Sapphire is a good name.
  6. Today I found out I can get this Sapphire 6870 for only 3$ more (total 129$) than the HD 7770. This "lite retail" means apperently I don't get any fancy stuff inside the package but it's the same card.

    If you own this card can you tell me if its noise is noticable in idle mode?

    The other HD 6870 option that I found, which is even cheaper (total 119$) is the XFX Radeon HD 6870 900M Dual Fan. (

    Are there any (good/bad) expiriences with XFX I should know of?

    So I think in the end I have to decide between computing (HD7770) and performance (HD6870), although I'm leaning more towards 6870 as I am not sure this computing advantage of the 7770 is more than just marketing talk.
  7. No matter which card you get, it won't make any difference in 'computing' if you mean helping the CPU in everyday tasks.

    My HD 6870 is in a budget gamer I put together with a PHII X4 965 in a case with several other fans running; an Arctic Cooling 7 Heat Sync/Fan, 2 low Db case fans, and a PSU w/135mm cooling fan. The 'low noise' case fans are all I can hear running. So, I'm not much help there. Although, when I stress the card out with something like Furmark, I can hear the GPU fan increase speed. But it's still 'quiet' by my standards.

    Some folks are more sensitive to sound than others.
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