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Choosing a Graphic Card

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July 2, 2012 4:40:00 AM

Now, I'm not planning to purchase the card very soon, and likely not at all until September or October at the earliest. It's basically the last major item on my list to buy, since I believe I've now solidified my other choices for the major components of my build.

G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900)
GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 ATX Motherboard
COOLER MASTER HAF 912 Computer Case
XFX Core Edition PRO550W PSU
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W

I'd like to keep the middle HDD cage in the case installed, if at all possible, so it'd be good if I could find a graphics card that is shorter than 10.6 inches (270mm)

I was considering an XFX HD Radeon 6870, but the reviews I've read show that it's fairly loud, and I'd prefer something a bit quieter. I'm hoping to find one that runs relatively cool and is quiet as well, if possible. I'm not limited to AMD by any means, but I've heard the 6870 series is pretty good for the money. Any help at all for a graphics card would be appreciated. I'm hoping to find something in the $150-175 range.

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a c 91 U Graphics card
July 2, 2012 4:48:56 AM

given that you're not planning to purchase very soon, I would wait to ask this question later... Nvidia's gtx 660 is due to arrive around september and october, which may cause major price shifts around the mid-range (your range)

that aside, AMD seems to be planning on releasing their 8*** series chips around christmas, depending on how those perform, it'll determine the performance for the next generation.

for now, the 6870 is your best choice at that price range, but I can see that changing quickly by the time you get around to buying
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a c 106 U Graphics card
July 2, 2012 4:52:00 AM

the cards in that zone are the HD 6870, the GTX 560, occasionally when the GTX 560ti is on sale as well hit that price range to some extent. Though if you aren't buying it anytime soon, it would be a good idea to save a bit more money to break that 200$ barrier if possible. that's when you can start to comfortably play games at 1920x1080 to some extent. the gtx 480 sits at that price and the HD 6950 goes up and down at that price as well.
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July 2, 2012 4:55:59 AM

The $150-200 is just what I'd prefer to spend. By that time, I could potentially spend more, but I'd really prefer not to spend over $200 for a graphics card. The money before September is basically going to the PC build prior to buying the graphics card.

It is good to know about the GTX 660 coming out in those months though, I wasn't aware of that. That could definitely change the prices on the older cards, I'll have to keep an eye out for that.
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a c 106 U Graphics card
July 2, 2012 5:03:25 AM

I personally don't see prices changing a lot, as they already kinda have.

7950 370>340
7870 330>300
570 300>270
6950 a few models(XFX and Sapphire) go from 250>200 on sale
480 210>200
560ti hovers around 200, goes lower every once in awhile
HD 6850 150>135

the 6870 is placed right in the middle of 135$ 6850 and the 200$ occasional 6950

the gtx 660 will be places in the 300's and essentially you wont see a large price change in the 150-200 mark until the gtx 650, as the 640 is at 100$ and is slightly weaker than amds 7750 at the similar price point.
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a c 91 U Graphics card
July 2, 2012 5:12:58 AM

If the 660 hits or exceeds 7870 performance, I can see overall downward adjustment
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a c 91 U Graphics card
July 2, 2012 5:14:26 AM

650ti is also rumored to release in Q3
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July 3, 2012 1:28:12 AM

Hm. Well, since I don't want to plan on adjustments to the prices of currently selling cards (no need to assume something will happen, then have it blow up in my face when it doesn't), I think I'd prefer to find a card that fits my budget and Case requirements. If something comes out that forces the prices of other cards down, I'll look into that when it happens.

But for now, let's just stick with what is available right now.

I've been going over the various 6870s (and 6850s), and trying to compare them with Nvidia cards that fall near or in the same price range (under $200, preferably around $175). One thing I think I'll do (after discovering that my 720p TV's resolution is less than the screen on my laptop) is eventually purchase a new HD monitor, so I'll want a card that's 1080p ready. I'm not expecting to play, say, SWTOR on Extremely High settings or anything, but having it at medium would be fine (anything's better than the jaggies and issues that my laptop has when I attempt to play the game on it). As that's the only real 'current' game in my PC library (the others are quite old), that's the only one I have to consider when it comes to playing at the moment. I'm only a moderate PC gamer at best.

There's a number of different brands with essentially the same-ish generation of graphics cards. I'm really not sure which ones to be looking at. I'd like the card to be reliable, stay cool, and hopefully kinda quiet (not a big issue, I'd hope).

If anyone has a suggestion as to any particular card that fits most of these points (and is in or near the budgetary restraints I have), I'd appreciate a chance to learn of it.
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a c 106 U Graphics card
July 3, 2012 1:34:05 AM

in that price range, its hard to find a both

A) heat efficient

and

B) quiet

while keeping the resolution at 1920x1080

part of the reason is that neither company as of yet has a current generation card in that price range Nvidias gtx 640 is 100$ 650/660 as of yet does not exist, 670 being 400, and AMD has 7770 at 130 and the 7850 at 240/250 for efficiency. so you are stuck using a last gen or lower card. both the 560 and the 6870 are 2 6 pin cards which already says that its going to consume a decent amount of power compared to the models that are weaker than it.
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July 3, 2012 1:49:43 AM

Hm... Well, seeing as how I'll be adding several additional fans to my case around the same time as installing the card, I think that would help at least somewhat with the heat that comes from a graphic card. Probably not to a great degree, but better than nothing.

I'm now leaning toward the GTX 560. I don't plan to overclock until I can discover what kinda temperatures the graphic card reaches while playing SWTOR (I'd hate to fry the poor thing), and maybe tweak a little afterward if possible. What would a safe maximum be for a graphic card's temperature before starting to really worry? I 'll take heat efficiency over noise anyday.
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a c 106 U Graphics card
July 3, 2012 1:50:16 AM

usually 60 is the average temperature. 80 is when you may want to be worried.
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July 3, 2012 2:03:10 AM

The Galaxy, huh? Never heard of that brand before (then again, I'd never heard of HIS before, either, until recently).

If I can find a GTX 560 TI close to $200, I might spring for that (especially if I wait until October to get it). From what I can tell, it's closer to $240-250-ish.

If I were to go for a $250 card, what would be the preferred choices? Considering that my last graphics card in a PC was the MSI R4350-D512H Radeon HD 4350, I'm sure I'll be happy with whatever newer, better card I get. I just don't want to spend (slightly less than) half a paycheck on the card if I can help it
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a c 91 U Graphics card
July 3, 2012 2:43:26 AM

macgreen said:
The Galaxy, huh? Never heard of that brand before (then again, I'd never heard of HIS before, either, until recently).

If I can find a GTX 560 TI close to $200, I might spring for that (especially if I wait until October to get it). From what I can tell, it's closer to $240-250-ish.

If I were to go for a $250 card, what would be the preferred choices? Considering that my last graphics card in a PC was the MSI R4350-D512H Radeon HD 4350, I'm sure I'll be happy with whatever newer, better card I get. I just don't want to spend (slightly less than) half a paycheck on the card if I can help it


for $250, it would either be a 570 from Nvidia or a 7850 from AMD. AMD's 7870 occasually dips that low on a sale, so you can alway slook for that as well. the 7*** series are newer tech with the higher efficiency, but the 570 is a real performer and can trade blows with the 78** cards well
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July 3, 2012 2:53:50 AM

Are any of the 7850s PCI-Express 2.0 compatible? I'm seeing a bunch that are PCI-E 3.0 x16, but the motherboard I've decided on only has the PCI-E 2.0 x16. Otherwise, I have to say that I like both of those that you mentioned- Still looking for the benchmarks on them that include heat and such listed as well, though.
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July 3, 2012 2:59:50 AM

Never mind. I just did a quick google search and found the answer to that question. Gotta remember to google-fu before asking questions I can find the answers to myself without much effort.
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a c 91 U Graphics card
July 3, 2012 3:00:42 AM

macgreen said:
Never mind. I just did a quick google search and found the answer to that question. Gotta remember to google-fu before asking questions I can find the answers to myself without much effort.


haha. glad to hear you found it. and yes, that's a great philosophy to live by in general
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July 3, 2012 3:14:27 AM

I think I've managed to narrow things down a bit. Either one of the GTX 560s (standard or TI), or one of the Radeons (6870 or the 7850). I'm edging toward the 7850s because I seem to prefer the full-size HDMI ports and the 2GB memory over the 1GB in the GTX cards

Alright... I suppose I have a few more questions now.

It's been a long time since I've looked into the brands. Power Cooler, ASUS, and HIS appear to be the favorites on Newegg for the 7850s. Are there any side-by-side comparisons of these three involving their heat efficiency and noise generated? I'm looking on Google, but so far, I haven't found anything quite yet.
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a c 106 U Graphics card
July 3, 2012 3:23:51 AM

macgreen said:
I think I've managed to narrow things down a bit. Either one of the GTX 560s (standard or TI), or one of the Radeons (6870 or the 7850). I'm edging toward the 7850s because I seem to prefer the full-size HDMI ports and the 2GB memory over the 1GB in the GTX cards

Alright... I suppose I have a few more questions now.

It's been a long time since I've looked into the brands. Power Cooler, ASUS, and HIS appear to be the favorites on Newegg for the 7850s. Are there any side-by-side comparisons of these three involving their heat efficiency and noise generated? I'm looking on Google, but so far, I haven't found anything quite yet.


i dont think any site did side by side testing on it. This site has only worked with the 7970 and the 7950 so far. as of company this is how I see them:

Asus: Common choice, does both amd and nvidia cards, if they had a single con, is that almost all of their DCII cards are huge compared to the others of the same category
HIS: different models IceQ X are superb, some are okay. usually cheap price and works
Sapphire: Largest distributor of cards, more famous for smaller sized cards and special models(Flex(more hdmi ports), Vapor-X(special cooling system), Toxic(same as vapor x), Ultimate(fanless))
XFX: Good fans, occasionally loud models here and there. usually one of the longest in size.
Gigabyte: Does both nvidia and amd cards, specific models are hit and miss, as some models can come out loud, others can be really good.
Visiontek: never took to learn much about them, rarely mentioned, i think theirs is mostly reference models
MSI: Has great remodels of some of their twinfrozr series, cant really go wrong usually when this is a choice.
Powercolor: rarely mentioned, few of their models are good though. avoid picking out a reference card.
Diamond: rarely seen, most of the cards look like reference to me
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a c 91 U Graphics card
July 3, 2012 3:32:21 AM

don't forget the sapphire atomic (waterblock, insane clocks) lol

nice summary you got there dudewitbow!. generally, these coolers are comparible with small variabtions: MSI twin frozer, Sapphire dualx or vaporx, ASUS directu CU II, Gigabyte windforce, and HIS IceQ. in generally I would just go with whichever is cheapest
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July 3, 2012 3:34:25 AM

Thank you, that does rather help me out. Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI sounds good. XFX, yeah, I have to agree with the length of the card being an issue for what I had once considered to be the card I wanted. But since I want to keep the middle HDD section in on the Cooler Master HAF 912, I'm stuck with cards shorter than 270mm and that took me away from XFX.

Well, until I just did a comparison on newegg, that is. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... This one's small enough to fit into the case without removing the midsection HDD cage, and it seems to be pretty popular as well. It's a bit more expensive than I was originally hoping, but if I hold off 'til October (or so) then it should be easy enough to purchase.

Plus, if I don't have to upgrade again anytime soon, all the better and I'll feel better about having paid a bit more to make sure that I have a good card that can last a few years.
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a c 91 U Graphics card
July 3, 2012 3:37:47 AM

sapphire had their Dirt 3 edition 6950 on sale for $200 a few weeks ago... keep looking and you never know :) 
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July 3, 2012 3:38:25 AM

I'll be sure to do that. I've got some time, after all.
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July 10, 2012 12:52:44 AM

Best answer selected by macgreen.
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