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I need a new graphics card

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 10, 2012 4:33:32 PM

This is my first post on Tom's Hardware Forum. I just read the "*How to Ask for Advice about Choosing a New GPU*" topic, and I hope I added enough information in this thread.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Q6600 (2.4GHz)
MoBo: ASUS P5K SE (DDR2)
RAM: 2x2GB DDR2-800
GPU: GeForce GT 520 (1GB)
PSU: Something random (500w)
Monitor: Samsung SyncMaster T240M (24" at 1900x1200)

Usage from most to least important: Gaming; otherwise I wouldn't need an upgrade
Parts preferences: I always used NVidia
Experience with overclocking: Zero

I bought this computer in the beginning of 2008, but last week my GeForce 8800 GTS stopped working, so I borrowed a GeForce GT 520. I was quite disappointed by how it has a worse performance, and now I can barely run a game like Dragon Age Origins without lowering the video settings or the resolution.

So now I decided it's time for a GPU update. I'm worried because my PC is kinda old, so I'm not sure if I'm going to need to upgrade something else.

I would like to run the following games on high or very high video settings, using my native monitor resolution (1900x1200): Dragon Age II, Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, Assassin's Creed 3, The Witcher 2, Batman Arkham City.

Keep in mind that I never cared about turning on the Anti-aliasing or the Anisotropic filtering, as they always lowered my FPS, despite making the game look better.

Considering I'm living in Brazil, the prices for GPUs are usually higher, so I compiled the following list of GPUs that I'm willing to purchase:

GeForce
USD 750 ZOTAC GeForce GTX 670 AMP! Edition ZT-60302-10P 2048MB GDDR5
USD 740 EVGA GeForce GTX 670 02G-P4-2670-KR 2048MB GDDR5
USD 740 ZOTAC GeForce GTX 670 ZT-60301-10P 2048MB GDDR5
USD 700 EVGA GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5
USD 686 MSI GTX 580 TWIN FROZR II OC 1536MB GDDR5
USD 686 ECS GeForce GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5
USD 686 MSI GeForce GTX 670 N670GTX-PM2D2GD5/OC 2048MB GDDR5
USD 500 MSI GeForce GTX 570 Twin Frozr III Power Edition/OC 1280MB GDDR5
USD 480 ECS GeForce GTX 570 NGTX570-1280UI-F 1280MB GDDR5
USD 470 EVGA Geforce GTX 560 Ti 02G-P3-1568-KR 2GB GDDR5
USD 470 Zotac GTX 570 ZT-50203-10M 1280MB GDDR5
USD 413 EVGA Geforce GTX 560 Superclocked 02G-P3-1469-KR 2GB GDDR5
USD 405 Gigabyte Geforce GTX 560 Ti GV-N560OC-1GI 1GB GDDR5
USD 396 EVGA Geforce GTX 560 Ti Superclocked 01G-P3-1563-AR 1GB GDDR5
USD 378 MSI Geforce GTX 560 Ti HAWK 1GB GDDR5
USD 338 MSI Geforce GTX 560 TWIN FROZR II OC 1GB GDDR5
USD 330 EVGA Geforce GTX 560 Superclocked 01G-P3-1463-KR 1GB GDDR5
USD 321 ECS Geforce GTX 560 Black Edition NBGTX560-1GPI-F 1GB GDDR5
USD 300 ECS Geforce GTX 560 NGTX560-1GPI-F1 1GB GDDR5
USD 295 MSI Geforce GTX 560 N560GTX-M2D1GD5 1GB GDDR5
USD 273 EVGA Geforce GTX 550 Ti 02G-P3-1559-KR 2GB GDDR5
USD 263 EVGA Geforce GTX 460 SuperClocked 01G-P3-1363-KR 1GB GDDR5
USD 255 Gigabyte Geforce GTX 550 Ti GV-N550WF2-1GI 1GB GDDR5
USD 224 EVGA Geforce GTX 550 Ti 01G-P3-1556-KR 1GB GDDR5
USD 220 Gigabyte Geforce GTX 550 Ti GV-N550D5-1GI 1GB GDDR5
USD 215 ASUS Geforce GTX 550 Ti ENGTX550 Ti DI/1GD5/BR 1GB GDDR5

Radeon
USD 765 XFX Radeon HD 7970 Core Edition 3GB GDDR5
USD 721 MSI Radeon HD 7950 Twin Frozr 3GD5/OC 3GB GDDR5
USD 704 Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB GDDR5
USD 681 XFX Radeon HD 7950 FX-795A-TDFC Core Editon 3GB GDDR5
USD 660 MSI Radeon HD 7870 Hawk 2048MB GDDR5
USD 615 XFX Radeon HD 7870 FX-787A-CNFC Core Edition 2048MB GDDR5
USD 606 MSI Radeon HD 7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC 2048MB GDDR5
USD 594 HIS Radeon HD 6970 IceQ H697Q2G2M 2GB GDDR5
USD 585 Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2048MB GDDR5
USD 580 Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 GV-R787OC-2GD 2GB GDDR5
USD 430 XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition FX-785A-CNJC 2GB GDDR5
USD 391 Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 OC 2GB GDDR5
USD 389 XFX Radeon HD 6950 HD-695X-CDFC 2GB GDDR5
USD 316 Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5
USD 303 XFX Radeon HD 6870 HD-687A-ZHFC 1GB GDDR5
USD 268 Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5
USD 264 Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Vapor X GHz Edition OC 1GB GDDR5
USD 259 XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition FX-777A-ZNB4 1GB GDDR5
USD 255 XFX Radeon HD 7770 Core Edition FX-777A-ZNF4 1GB GDDR5
USD 255 Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 1GB GDDR5
USD 255 Gigabyte Radeon HD 7770 GV-R777OC-1GD 1GB GDDR5

I was mainly looking for a GPU for about $200-400, but if I really need a more expensive one to run the games that I mentioned, I might consider buying it.

I don't understand the difference between an ASUS GeForce GTX 550 Ti and an EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti ($60 more expensive); or the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 550 Ti GV-N550WF2-1GI vs the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 550 Ti GV-N550D5-1GI ($35 cheaper). Actually I don't understand the difference of prices between the ASUS x Gigabyte x EVGA x MSI, etc. I know they aren't the same brand, but do they have different performances?

I also don't understand how the MSI GeForce GTX 670 can be cheaper than the ECS GTX 580. If you can explain these things to me, and give your suggestion, I will be satisfied.

Thanks for the attention.

More about : graphics card

a b U Graphics card
August 10, 2012 4:54:11 PM

I would recommend the radeon 7850 for your purposes. It will be able to play every game at max or near max on your resolution. Since you turn AF and AA off, maxing out every game shouldn't be a problem.

The difference between the brands and models is that they come with different heatsinks, fans, clocks, and memory. A lot of cards come factory overclocked, and these cards will typically carry better heatsinks and fans. A higher memory version of the same card will carry a higher price as well.

Where are you getting your prices btw? They seem a bit high.
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August 10, 2012 5:20:21 PM

The prices are from a brazilian store. Electronics are pretty expensive here, because the import tax is pretty high (60%+).

I liked your suggestion. I searched some sites and found that the 7850 is a bit faster than the GTX 570, and it consume less energy. Is 500w enough to run this setup?
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a b U Graphics card
August 10, 2012 5:35:17 PM

While I don't recommend ever running on a no-name/generic/random PSU, if you had no trouble running the 8800GTS, you'll have no trouble running a 7850 - they've got roughly the same power draw.

If you're willing to upgrade your PSU as well, it'd be stellar if you could pull some price/models like you did with the video cards.

Edit: Forgot to mention, the 7850 is definitely your best value here, especially compared to the prices of some of those 560s an 560Tis.
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August 10, 2012 5:47:19 PM

I would stick with one of these:

USD 500 MSI GeForce GTX 570 Twin Frozr III Power Edition/OC 1280MB GDDR5
USD 480 ECS GeForce GTX 570 NGTX570-1280UI-F 1280MB GDDR5
USD 430 XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition FX-785A-CNJC 2GB GDDR5
USD 391 Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 OC 2GB GDDR5

I might be mistaken but I believe the GTX 570 does have a better performance than the HD 7850.

This website is usually pretty good with benchmarks:
http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

Different brands also means different materials involved in the heatsink, fans, memmory etc etc. When you do decide which card is best for you, I would do some reasearch, see what people are saying about each model then go from there.

Do you have a link to your PSU? I think it will be enough, but it would be better with we had the specs of the PSU.

Also, another thing to look at is your CPU. You are running the same CPU as I am and we are bot brazllians, look at that, small world lmao. I am not sure it would be able to handle some of the cards on the list, for sure not a 670 or a 7970.
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a c 192 U Graphics card
August 10, 2012 6:19:39 PM

I agree with mousseng. The capability of your PSU is of paramount importance, since exceeding can kill it, and possibly other parts too if it's a cheapie. I would not install any graphics card that requires more PCIe power connections than it actually has (i..e. do not use adapters). If you have one, a HD7850 is probably a good choice; it is around the same performance as a GTX570, and uses considerably less power.
Anandtech's benchmark charts indicates that the GTX560Ti does very poorly on Skyrim, so skip that one.
You may not need to spend a lot though. If you were happy with the performance of the 8800GTS, the HD7750 is three tiers higher than that, but needs NO auxiliary power. Up another two tiers you'll find the HD7770, which needs one PCIe power connection.
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August 10, 2012 6:50:44 PM

The problem is that I don't remember the brand of the PSU and I don't have the box anymore. As far as I know, programs like AIDA64 can't tell what are the specs either. So I'm sitting here staring at the sticker on the PSU (That has some values in Volts, Amperes and Watts), and I have no clue of what I'm supposed to do, because now I'm concerned with my PC overheating in case I exchange the GPU.

I'm not sure if I really need to buy a PSU, but if I do, here is the list that you requested:
USD 288 Corsair ATX 750W CMPSU-750AX
USD 285 Pixxo ATX 800W PE800S0PSB
USD 283 XFX Pro 850W Edition Semi Modular P1-850B-NLG9
USD 279 Seasonic ATX 760W Gold SS-760KM Active PFC X-760
USD 277 NZXT ATX 850W 80Plus Hale 82 463
USD 274 Corsair ATX 850W - CMPSU-850HX
USD 272 NZXT ATX HALE 90 750W 80 Plus
USD 271 CoolerMaster ATX 850W Silent Pro RS850-AMBAJ3
USD 271 C3 Tech 850W- PSHII-850V 80PLUS BRONZE
USD 255 XFX 750W Edition Semi Modular P1-750B-NLG9
USD 255 Thermaltake ATX TR2 800W TR-800P
USD 251 NZXT ATX 750W 80Plus Hale 82 462
USD 250 Corsair ATX 750W HX Series - CMPSU-750HX
USD 250 Sentey ATX 750W GSP750-SM 115V/240V
USD 243 Corsair ATX 850W Enthusiast Series TX850M - CP-9020004-NA
USD 233 Corsair ATX 650W Gold AX650 - CP-9020006-NA
USD 225 Corsair ATX 850W CMPSU-850TXV2
USD 225 Cougar ATX 850W Real 3721-3 CMX
USD 222 C3 Tech ATX 750W PSHII-750VE 24PS CIL
USD 221 Sentey ATX 650W Modular GSP650-SM
USD 220 Thermaltake ATX TR2 modular 750W TRX-750M
USD 218 Corsair 650W CMPSU-650HX
USD 218 NZXT ATX 650W 80Plus Hale 82 - 500
USD 216 Corsair ATX 750W CMPSU-750TXV2
USD 216 XFX ATX 750W Core Edition P1-750S-NLB9
USD 211 Thermaltake ATX Toughpower XT 675W TPX675M
USD 209 Corsair ATX 800W CMPSU-800G
USD 205 Corsair ATX 750W Enthusiast Series TX750M - CP-9020003-NA
USD 203 CoolerMaster ATX GX-750W RS750-ACAAD3-BR
USD 200 Thermaltake ATX TR2 700W TR-700P
USD 198 Seventeam ATX 850W V-Force ST-850ZAF
USD 195 Thermaltake ATX TR2 Modular 650W TRX-650M
USD 195 XFX ATX 650W Core Edition P1-650S-NLB9
USD 188 Sentey ATX 700W Modular HBP700-SM
USD 186 OCZ ATX 750W ZT Series OCZ-ZT750W
USD 185 Sentey ATX 700W Real Modular ERP700-SM
USD 184 Corsair ATX 650W Enthusiast Series TX650M - CP-9020002-NA
USD 184 OCZ ATX 750W Fatal1ty Series OCZ750FTY
USD 178 Corsair ATX 700W CMPSU-700G
USD 170 CoolerMaster ATX GX-650W RS650-ACAAD3-BR
USD 170 Seventeam ATX 750W V-Force ST-750Z AF
USD 161 Corsair ATX 650W CMPSU-650TXV2
USD 160 Corsair ATX GS600 600W CMPSU-600G
USD 150 Sentey ATX 500W Real Standard HBP500-SM

I used the link that Randini sent and did some calculations, and it recommends 556W with the Radeon 7850.. (It was 550W with the 8800 GTS)
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August 10, 2012 6:51:40 PM

Am I the only one who thinks that CPU is going to be a bottleneck on one of the newest cards? Personally I'd recommend a more middle of the road video card + CPU + motherboard.

I think you'd gain more by upgrading those 3 things vs. just the video card.
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a b U Graphics card
August 10, 2012 7:15:51 PM

ncasolo said:
Am I the only one who thinks that CPU is going to be a bottleneck on one of the newest cards? Personally I'd recommend a more middle of the road video card + CPU + motherboard.

I think you'd gain more by upgrading those 3 things vs. just the video card.

I wasn't even thinking in that direction, but yes, it would. The Q6600 is a few steps down from a 965BE (which I don't think would have much trouble with the 7850). That being the case, he could save his money and get the more modest Radeon 7770 (which is still more powerful than the 8800GTS). If he's really worried about cooling, there's always Sapphire's Vapor-X model, which is only $9 more.

Edit: @OP - I'm not gonna suggest you upgrade your PSU until we can figure out what it is exactly. There are no markings on it at all? Usually there'll be a brand or model name somewhere on it (unless it's some generic no-name).

If you do have to upgrade, though, I would recommend this one: "USD 161 Corsair ATX 650W CMPSU-650TXV2" and this one: "USD 205 Corsair ATX 750W Enthusiast Series TX750M - CP-9020003-NA"
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Anonymous
August 10, 2012 7:46:18 PM

I would cross the 7770 and the 550ti off of your list, they can't even always run games on high/very high @ 1600x900 resolution. Forget 1900x1200 (~1.4 million pixels vs ~2.3 million, or about 70% more).

I know that the 6850 or GTX 460/560 are good cards for the 1900x1080 resoultion but I'm not sure how they'd handle 1900x1200..

That's the lowest point I'd consider looking, especially because they are not all that much more expensive.
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August 10, 2012 8:12:34 PM

dudewitbow said:
passmark is very synthetic and inaccurate. its not all the time that 670's score better than the 680...


It is however a good place to start. Those are mostly averages. After that you can go deeper and find out which cards actually work best with the games you usually play. It is by no means a deciding factor.

I did mention bottleneck on m earlier post, and I agree that a mid-range card would be best in this case. With my Q6600 I run an HD 6950 and from my old 8800 GT I see triple the performance in some games.

If $40is not a problem for you, then I would say go for the

USD 430 XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition FX-785A-CNJC 2GB GDDR5

If you want to stay more on the budget side of things, go for the

USD 391 Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 OC 2GB GDDR5
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