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Mid Budget GPU for Skyrim

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August 8, 2012 4:13:37 AM

Hi Experts,

It's been 13 years since I built my last box, but a couple weeks of research I took the plunge again. I took a look at Skyrim on my current system, and was impressed enough to get impulsive on building a decent system to play it on. Current system is a first gen dual core Intel with an ATI Radeon 1650 - Skyrim barely runs on it. I think I did alright with my new selections, given my recent atrophy in this area of my life. I've never OC'd, but am going to give a try with the following that will be arriving tomorrow from NewEgg:

ASUS P8Z77-V LK
i5 3570K
G.Skill 8GB 1600
Zalman CNPS 9500 Cooler
Corsair Carbide 300R Case
Corsair 750W TX750M PSU
240GB Force 3 SSD Sata 3
Barracuda 1TB Sata 3
Windows 7 Pro
Cheap Sony DVD Burner

Where I'm really struggling is in the GPU dept. I have NO CLUE. I realize that my Radeon 1650 is incredibly obsolete. I've heard that Skyrim is fairly demanding (maybe I'm out of date on this fact also), and I'd like to have a fairly realistic looking experience playing this game. Long term, I think I will take advantage of the SLI option that my mobo supports, but I think I'm a year out on that. I don't intend to run more than 1 monitor, and right now I have a Samsung SyncMaster 24.5". I think I will be able to take advantage of my i5 "HD Graphics 4000" video on the CPU in addition to the stand alone GPU that I select, with the Lucid Virtu MVP on my mobo.

So, the question. What is the best single GPU for around $200-230 that I can get that will hold me over for another year until I can SLI with PCIe 3.0? I think it will take another year for the 3.0 SLI options to come down in price. Again, I'd like to be able to play Skyrim on the "high" setting - doesn't need to be "ultra" (although it would be cool if I could). I just have no idea how some of the mid priced GPU's out there can drive Skyrim. I've been WAY out of it for WAY too long.

Another option might be to buy a PCIe 2.0 now, and pick up another of the same down the road to SLI when the price drops. I can't justify the expense of staying on the leading edge of the technology, but want the best value possible. Any thoughts?

TIA for the advise!

Clueless in Phoenix

More about : mid budget gpu skyrim

a c 106 U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 4:27:48 AM

if your looking for cards that you can find new in the market, the 7850 will be slightly above that price point, but is pretty easy on the psu as well(along with 2gb vram so if you xfire, the 2 gb vram is nice for high demand games). Other cards to look at are the HD 6950(many people have them, but who knows how long in the retail market they will be out for), gtx 560ti, gtx 560ti448 and gtx 570, these 4 being last gen cards so if your purchase is in the decently far future, possible finding one of these models will be limited. Nvidia currenlty does not have a current gen gpu in the price point as of yet.
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a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 4:37:36 AM

Ditto the HD 7850 recommendation.
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a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 3:12:00 PM

7850, it is i little better then the 6950, and a dual fan card will let you overclock it to 7950 levels, which you probably wont need.
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a c 130 U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 3:20:12 PM

If your building new right now it would be folly to not wait for the price on the Nvidia 660Ti

Mactronix :) 
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a c 197 U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 3:36:29 PM

I'll cast my vote for the HD7850 also, although it will be at the top edge of your budget.
XFX has two almost identical versions for $230 ($210 if you win the rebate game). The difference seems to be that http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... only has one power connector. That's the one I'd get.
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August 8, 2012 3:43:36 PM

Personally I have the http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... and love it, not a single Hiccup running skyrim or anything else I have thrown at it so far. I would highly recommend going with a GTX 560 Ti based card or saving the few extra bucks and getting a GTX 570 on sale, or If you are able to wait a little longer the rumor is that Nvidia will be releasing some budget minded GTX 6xx cards soon.
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a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 3:52:54 PM

The 7850 is the best bang for buck. Ditto that recommendation.
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August 8, 2012 3:55:39 PM

550ti and the 6850 can do the job unless your running some insane resolution. If you can afford the 560ti or the 7850 those would be the better choice, but also about $100 more. If your budget is even higher the 570 is another great choice.
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August 8, 2012 4:03:10 PM

mactronix said:
If your building new right now it would be folly to not wait for the price on the Nvidia 660Ti

Mactronix :) 


+1
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a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 4:04:55 PM

I would agree going with the 7850 as long as your ok getting into the upper end of your budget, it's got a of an edge over the 560TI in performance, heat, and power consumption.
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a c 197 U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 4:08:16 PM

Folly? ROFL...The GTX660Ti is rumored to be coming in at $299, which is over budget. There's nothing "wrong" with the GTX560Ti, but be aware that the HD7850 is on a higher tier. Individual titles may vary, but note that according to http://www.anandtech.com/bench/GPU12/457 the HD7850 blows the GTX560Ti out of the water, with over twice the FPS in Skyrim.

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a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 4:10:38 PM

Onus said:
Folly? ROFL...The GTX660Ti is rumored to be coming in at $299, which is over budget. There's nothing "wrong" with the GTX560Ti, but be aware that the HD7850 is on a higher tier. Individual titles may vary, but note that according to http://www.anandtech.com/bench/GPU12/457 the HD7850 blows the GTX560Ti out of the water, with over twice the FPS in Skyrim.


+1
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a b U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 4:39:44 PM

Be sure to install the high texture pack for Skyrim once you get the new system up and running.

So far VirtuMVP is only effective at helping out low end cards at lower resolutions. The 7850 should be all you need.
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a c 130 U Graphics card
August 8, 2012 5:17:49 PM

Onus said:
Folly? ROFL...The GTX660Ti is rumored to be coming in at $299, which is over budget. There's nothing "wrong" with the GTX560Ti, but be aware that the HD7850 is on a higher tier. Individual titles may vary, but note that according to http://www.anandtech.com/bench/GPU12/457 the HD7850 blows the GTX560Ti out of the water, with over twice the FPS in Skyrim.


Key word here is rumoured I'm just saying it cant hurt to wait and see at this point. Also Anand are way off with that chart. Typically a 7850 will easily beat a stock 560Ti but not by near that much. enough to make a stock 560Ti not even in the equation certainly.
However as I mentioned before key words are important and the key word here is stock.
The 560Ti is as the GTX 460 was before it not about the stock card with the overwhelming majority of the available cards coming from AIB's with higher clocks and superior cooling options.
To clarify I'm not trying to say the 7850 is a bad card or that the 560Ti when the correct models (which cost no more)are considered is a better card.
I'm just saying that on a budget if saving $20-$30 makes a difference to you then loosing about 5 FPS in most games is worth the trade off in my book.

Mactronix :) 
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August 9, 2012 2:09:45 AM

Some options are the gtx 570,560 ti, or the 7850. You could probably get some lower-priced cards (Like gtx 460 on amazon) and sli that for a big performance boost. But I would prefer a single powerful card and go sli/crossfire later. Plus the 660 ti is coming out and priced between $250 and $300. Of cousre you could overclock intel`s hd graphics to play pretty well, but with $200 its better to get a dedicated. Go here to compare graphics cards
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car... not really a full comparison but it should help guide you in what graphics cards are neck and neck/competing with each other. It`s all up to you though
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August 12, 2012 9:30:50 PM

Guys,

First, thanks for all of the great insight. Really Appreciated! Invaluable - especially for a guy like me that has stepped away for the past 10 years. I've been pretty busy over the past couple of days setting up the system, and am pretty pleased with it so far.

I've been convinced to increase the budget a little, which seemed to happen with every component I purchased for this system. The "Creap Factor". I think you've helped me to narrow the choice to a 7850. I'm pretty sure my mobo can also Crossfire, and I'm not sure I want to wait for the next GTX's. The test results for Skyrim in the post above are impressive. I ran Skyrim on my new system last night with Medium settings, but full 1920-1200 res. Fraps FPS was 15-20 most of the time. Not the best, but not bad for a system just using the integrated GPU. At least it was playable.

I just checked out some Eyefinity demos and, while cool, I am not super impressed. Takes up a lot of desk real estate that I'm not willing to give up. Might increase the size of my monitor from 24.5" to 27", which should make a little difference. Larger than that, the costs are nuts.

I've narrowed to:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Any thoughts on these?

Again, thanks for all of the generous contribution!
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a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2012 9:38:38 PM

For the money, I like the MSI Radeon HD 7850 Twin Frozr, I'm sure you could probably OC that to around 1000MHz and the Twin Frozr cooling is well respected.
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a c 197 U Graphics card
August 13, 2012 12:49:00 AM

As much as I like XFX, I think I'd choose MSI there too. The XFX card needs two power connectors, unlike any of the others. It shouldn't need that. You should be able to OC one of the MSIs to the same speed or better.
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August 14, 2012 3:47:00 AM

Thanks again, Guys!

Pulled the trigger on the 7850 Twin Frozr today, and will have it on Wednesday. DL'ing the texture packs now, and will hopefully post that I'm blown away by the performance...
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a b U Graphics card
August 14, 2012 3:52:32 AM

Good for you!
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a c 197 U Graphics card
August 14, 2012 9:50:18 AM

Good deal! Do tell!
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August 16, 2012 3:20:48 AM

Well, it went in with full driver update in less than 1/2 hour. No issues!

Fired up Fraps, and then Skyrim on Ultra with the full texture pack. I'm getting no less than 58 fps (mostly 60) with everything maxed, and couldn't be happier. God, I have been gone a long time! I'm blown away!

Oh, and I haven't even start OC'ing anything yet. I still have room to go with my CPU, and this card. Although, I'm not sure I'll need it for Skyrim. I haven't seen a lot of action in the game yet with the new card, so maybe my fps will drop when the screen is full of an army, but I'm fairly certain I can tweak this card to compensate.

So, why am I not locked into Skyrim for the night? Just wanted to make sure I thanked you guys for all of your guidance before I got stuck in the game for the night.

Thanks again, I couldn't be happier!!!

Sea Ray
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a b U Graphics card
August 16, 2012 4:57:58 AM

Congrats! Happy Dragon Shouting!
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January 8, 2013 2:08:05 AM

Hi Guys, I'm back! Loving the performance with Skyrim on the MSI R7850 Twin Frozr 2GD5. I'm on a 24.5" monitor, and have been looking at 27's. Came across a couple in 3D, and have heard good things about Skyrim in 3D. I'm wondering, what exactly is required to play in 3D. Yes, I'm totally green on this topic. If I understand correctly, the video card already supports it. Is there anything required in terms of software? Does the game already support 3D as well? Is the only thing required a 3D monitor and the glasses?

I understand the frame rates are cut in half in 3D. I guess if it wasn't quick enough, I could drop in another 7850, or change some res. or other settings. Not to mention, I haven't even had the need to OC this card yet. It looks like a worthy experiment. Anyone with some good experience?
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a c 217 U Graphics card
January 8, 2013 2:19:45 AM

You want to look for an HD3D compatible monitor with a Displayport connection. Samsung's 700, 750 and 950 series support it. The 700 doing it through DVI-D, which is very unusual for HD3D. Normally if you see a 3D monitor that uses DVI-D, it is designed for Nvidia cards.
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January 12, 2013 9:21:01 PM

Thanks! However, it looks like the Samsungs have all been disco'd Not many out there support HD3D. Looks like Nvidia dominates the 3D market, from what I can see.
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a c 217 U Graphics card
January 12, 2013 9:42:44 PM

That is why I use a 3D Vision monitor, but that requires an Nvidia card.
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January 12, 2013 9:56:11 PM

Looks like I might have bought the wrong video card for 3D.
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January 12, 2013 11:12:55 PM

Bystander: On second thought, I found some S27A950's still available. I also ready another post from you and it appeared that you were also running one of these with Skyrim (I assume 3D). The price tag is pretty rich, at ~$700. Coming from a 2D 24.5", do you think the 3D experience with Skyrim is worth the investment?
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a c 217 U Graphics card
January 12, 2013 11:58:11 PM

No, I run the one in my signature. It's an Acer, before the 3D Vision 2 monitors came out.
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!