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What's up with "modern" graphics card performance?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 19, 2012 8:53:26 PM

Hello All,

Been a long-time TH reader(1996), but this is my 1st post.

Can anyone explain why i'm having such a hard time justifying upgrading my primary desktop video?

In Aug '08, I upgraded from an ATI X1900XT card to a HD4850 512mb DDR3 card for about $250.
In Jan '10, I picked up another HD4850 for around $110 and ran CF.
I have been very happy with the level of performance i've had in almost all games, typically running at 1920x1200, with HIGH settings if not ULTRA.

Lately, I've been thinking that my machine, with a Core2Quad@3.5ghz & 8gb ram, would best benefit, from a gaming standpoint, with a single-card video solution that would outperform my HD4850s in CF. Plus this would hopefully lighten the load on my PS.

After all this time, is it really gonna cost me over $300 to exceed my current performance with a single card solution???
I barely paid that much combined for the 2 cards i'm currently running - and that was 2-1/2 to almost 4 years ago.

What gives? Was the 4800 series that kick-butt? Have Nvidia and ATI/AMD been just constantly re-badging cards the past few years?
I really expected to find a single card solution that would exceed my current performance for under $200...
The closest i've seen is maybe an HD7850, but I'm just don't think i'm going to see a huge performance boost for the $$$.

Just looking for ideas/input.


Thanks,

JR
a b U Graphics card
July 19, 2012 8:59:11 PM

My GTX 460 would trade blows with your system and its an aging card. Upgrading to a single card such as the GTX 670 or AMD 7950 or even something lower end should produce some big improvements.
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a c 198 U Graphics card
July 19, 2012 9:08:14 PM

Remember, single cards also use less power and have other small advantages.

Yes the 4800 series was a good series, but they only also support DX10. The thing is that when you upgrade to a single card, then you would be able to Crossfire that later as well, thus yielding better performance.
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a b U Graphics card
July 19, 2012 9:29:28 PM

One tricky thing about older x2 setups is that a newer single card may not blow away their performance, but it will have other serious benefits: absence of microstutter, power usage and noise/heat, VRAM (remember that crossfired cards still have the same effective memory of a single card), continuing driver updates, and of course all the new technologies that come out (e.g. adaptive vsync, DX11).

A lot of the recent progress, influenced by phones, laptops and tablets, is to make graphics hardware more power efficient. That was a big upgrade in the 500->600 series for nvidia and the 6000->7000 series for AMD; it's not just advances in lithography (though that is helpful), but also a greater consciousness of power use, which shows up in idle power usage too.

But as for your particular cards... I can't find a great single benchmark, but a decent comparison on anandtech is a single 4870 (similar to 4850) and the 7850, here: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/513?vs=549 Especially in newer titles, the 7850 blows it away--generally double the performance and at lower power and temperature. That's not to mention that (1) you have 4850s, which are worse; (2) the VRAM on the 7850 is double the 4850, which is important at higher resolutions and especially with modern textures, etc.; (3) you avoid micro-stutter; (4) the 7850 can overclock like a beast.

The other odd thing is that when you say you're looking at sub-$200, there's a hole in the current lineup. In their new lineups, neither nvidia nor AMD has released a solid mid-range card for below $200. There is no 7830; you're stuck with last generation's hardware, and to get under $200 you need a 6950 or a 560 Ti on a rebate (or possibly a 480, but it's hard to advocate for that compared to your setup--it's old, inefficient tech, even though it's powerful). Those are good cards, but not quite 7850 performance and certainly much less efficient and overclockable. But both the 7850 and 7870 are under $300 (and, with rebates, the 7950 is close, and the 660 Ti should be too).

So after all that, I guess my advice is that if you're committed to sub-$200, don't upgrade yet. And also don't upgrade if you're sticking with 1920x1080 or 1920x1200. However, I think the 7000 series would be a real upgrade for you, especially on newer games or higher resolutions.
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a b U Graphics card
July 19, 2012 10:01:21 PM

I agree with your point as you say the only advantage you get with any upgrade is going from high to ultra settings and DX 11 (assuming your FPS are fine) and with the 4000 & 5000 series cards the top ones where under $300 on or shortly after release now they are much more. If they still sold 4850s now they would be a good buy for $20-30 less than a 7750 if you don't mind the extra power consumption.
You would see a good performance gain if you got a 7850 though, but as I said if you don't want more FPS its only going from high to ultra.
Its similar for CPUs if you got a core 2 quad and could overclock to 3Ghz+ then there is little reason to upgrade.
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a b U Graphics card
July 19, 2012 10:11:41 PM

motorneuron knows what's going on and sums it up very nicely.

I can very much relate to your situation. I bought a 560ti for $330and a 2nd one later on for $250 and a year later I went to a 670 FTW. Why? Less power, less heat, less hassle but basically the same performance. I don't think you will be disappointed.
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July 23, 2012 12:45:34 AM

Thanks Everyone for your input.

For now, i'm just going to sit back and wait. Maybe next summer i'll find something under the magic $200 barrier that'll bury my decrepit CF setup...

For now, I did get a HD7550 for my HTPC.


Thanks again,

JR
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July 27, 2012 2:07:32 AM

Best answer selected by jrrjr71.
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