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$370 to Spend: 7870 + Extras or 7950?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 5, 2012 11:19:45 PM

Rig:
AMD Phenom II X2 555 unlocked to x4 @ 3.8GHz @ 1.368V
CM GeminIIS downdraft cooler
2x2GB GSkill RipJaws DDR3 1600 8-8-8-24
ASRock M3A770DE Mobo
XFX 5830 1GB @ 880/1100
SeaSonic X750
CM Elite 430
74GB WD Raptor OS
640GB WD Black Programs

So I have about $370 to spend. That's a pretty hard ceiling. I am requesting assistance in spending it and I'm currently debating between the 7870 and the 7950.

I'm wondering how future proof the 7870 is vis a vis the 7950. Will the 7870 "last?" Will it stay at the high-midrange of the pack in benches of future games? (Yes, I realize this questions can't really be answered, but past examples of cards that lasted for awhile proivde clues to future performance of high-end boards: 8800 Ultra. Radeon 9800 Pro, Radeon HD 4890, 5870, GTX 480, etc)

My 5830 has done an able job but I keep wishing I could just turn everything up to eleven and I've thus far never been able to.

I know both cards OC very well, and the 7950 is purported to be an OC monster.

I am interested in the Gigabyte Windforce III version of whichever card I pick. I looked at the MSI Twin Frozr and didn't like the noise. I looked at the HIS IceQ design because I know it comes clocked pretty high already, and the cooler is supposed to be fairly quiet, but I think the Gigabyte represents more cooling capacity, allowing a higher OC or conversely more fans which can spin slower therefore operating more silently. (Like, the ONE good thing about my 5830 is it's pretty quiet, even when running flat out)

Running on a 46" LCD TV with a constant 60 Hz refresh rate. I am planning on upgrading to a TV with a 120 Hz refresh rate at some point in the future. Always run at 1920x1080 if I can get away with it.

Love the eyecandy, but right now I have to turn some off or lower my resolution. I would like to not have to sacrifice either.

I play everything, so asking which games I play is silly. I own Crysis 1 and 2 and the expansions. I play Skyrim, I have GTA IV, STALKER, DiRT3, GRiD, Portal 2, StarCraft II, DoW II, Arkham Asylum, Space Marine, PS2 emulation, Deus Ex, AvP, etc. In sum, I have games from all genres, so just a really good all-round workhorse of a GPU is what I'm after.

So the 7870 is running around $260 on the Egg right now. I can buy just this and pocket the savings. OR

I could buy the 7870 and a XIGMATEK Aegir SD128264 to drop those temps a bit (CPU 66 C Max with GPU at max adding heat) or support a higher OC. (4+ maybe?) OR

I could also get an SSD instead of the HSF, to replace my old 74GB Raptor, but it would still be at most 128GB so I wouldn't be able to put any games on it (Not really, I have Steam on the D drive because I have so many games they would never fit on even a 128GB C drive) So the OS and any non-game progs I use would get a serious boost, but I'm not exactly complaining about the speed of my non-game apps and OS at the moment. OR

I could spend almost all of it on a 7950 and maybe get another 4GB of RAM.

Whichever card I get I will be OC'ing as high as I can get without screwing with voltages. Either card is going to be cooler than what I have.

Yes I know the GTX 670 is only like $30 more expensive but I really can't go over my stated budget. (Even though a 6770 would be sweet)

I'm not interested in the GTX 580.

My board only does x16 x4 Crossfire (I actually have another 5830 but it stutters pretty bad and not too many of my games seem to work too well with CF) which is just not worth it so two 6870's is out. I would need a new board (which I want anyways but that is currently outside the scope of this inquiry.)

Thank you in advance for any and all assistance you may be able to provide.

Best solution

a b U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 11:38:18 PM

well a 580 seems to be about the same as the 7870 I almost think a 7950 would be too much for the old x4 even at 4ghz.

BUT I vote 7870 and a heatsink, 3.8 and 66C at load with that cooler master is a really a 3rd rate cooler sO i feel you can get that x2 over 4Ghz nice overclock by the way totally amazing
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September 5, 2012 11:39:47 PM

If you are going to upgrade your CPU anytime in the near future, get the 7950.

If not, stick to the 7870. You'll definitely need a new CPU before you can really take advantage of a 120Hz monitor as well. 120Hz TVs don't take 120Hz input, so that particular upgrade is not worth it for the PC - get a 120Hz monitor instead.

And btw this is the 7870 to get for $240:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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September 5, 2012 11:45:34 PM

Oh and my 2 cents about what will "last" --> I think we're a generation (maybe even 2?) away still from a card that will last through the next console generation the way the 8800 lasted through this one.

Just a guess of course, but I think that typically a video card lasts best when it is released around or shortly after when a new console cycle gets up and running.
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September 6, 2012 1:57:21 AM

spentshells said:
well a 580 seems to be about the same as the 7870 I almost think a 7950 would be too much for the old x4 even at 4ghz.

BUT I vote 7870 and a heatsink, 3.8 and 66C at load with that cooler master is a really a 3rd rate cooler sO i feel you can get that x2 over 4Ghz nice overclock by the way totally amazing



Thanks!

I'd like to push it some more but not without better cooling.... I really like the Xigmatek cooler. It's powerful and quiet. I kinda kick myself for the GeminIIS but I had originally swapped out the fan for an LED because I wanted another pretty shiny spinny thing in my case window, but it was holding back performance, so I put the stock fan back in it, but I know I can get better cooling with a better HSF. Also, I should apologize as the 66C I quoted is kind of a guess. Once you unlock cores on the Phenom you lose the ability to accurately monitor the chip temp. I'm using HWMonitor which seems to report a current temp of 64C and a max of 129C. It never shows as current 129C so either it's a bug, OR what I suspect is happening is that 64C is the temp at the motherboard, whereas the 129C is the temp of one of the cores, where it will be much higher. If that is correct, than 129C is obviously a good bit higher than I would like so a declock would probably be in order until I an get a new HSF, so even though I have run it there maxed out for a good while with no ill effects, I would definitely not want to leave it there until I get better cooling.

All things being equal, a 7870 or a 7950 would use less power and generate less heat and noise than the 580, plus it's one generation out of date as compared to the Tahiti.

Here's a quick shot of my clock and temps. It's a big screen so zoom in.

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a c 598 U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 2:56:18 AM

Just need to point out that Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are PhysX games that would look better with PhysX enabled on a GTX 670 or GTX 660 Ti.

Not wanting to butt in on an AMD thread, but the EVGA GTX 670 is $380 with free copy of Borderlands 2.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The Galaxy GTX 670 is $360 after rebate and also comes with the free Borderlands 2 deal:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 3:04:28 AM

PhysX is a gimmick. I have the Windforce 7950 and its a fantastic card. If you OC and push the voltage up make sure your case has good cooling. That being said, I'd upgrade the CPU first, double the RAM second, and get a better case third.
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a b U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 11:27:06 AM

Goose_Nipples said:
Thanks!

I'd like to push it some more but not without better cooling.... I really like the Xigmatek cooler. It's powerful and quiet. I kinda kick myself for the GeminIIS but I had originally swapped out the fan for an LED because I wanted another pretty shiny spinny thing in my case window, but it was holding back performance, so I put the stock fan back in it, but I know I can get better cooling with a better HSF. Also, I should apologize as the 66C I quoted is kind of a guess. Once you unlock cores on the Phenom you lose the ability to accurately monitor the chip temp. I'm using HWMonitor which seems to report a current temp of 64C and a max of 129C. It never shows as current 129C so either it's a bug, OR what I suspect is happening is that 64C is the temp at the motherboard, whereas the 129C is the temp of one of the cores, where it will be much higher. If that is correct, than 129C is obviously a good bit higher than I would like so a declock would probably be in order until I an get a new HSF, so even though I have run it there maxed out for a good while with no ill effects, I would definitely not want to leave it there until I get better cooling.

All things being equal, a 7870 or a 7950 would use less power and generate less heat and noise than the 580, plus it's one generation out of date as compared to the Tahiti.

Here's a quick shot of my clock and temps. It's a big screen so zoom in.

http://i1253.photobucket.com/albums/hh594/Goose_Nipples/Benches.jpg



129 C ? no not likely the tjmax is 100 or so. One of the temp sensors is seriously hooped

this is likely why the other two cores were disabled and it was sold as an x2.

They are getting cheap in some places so maybe look into a Mugen 3 or a CM V6GT even a cooler master 212 will be a load better than what you have now.


Bigmac70 linked the perfect card for the price and you can oc the heck out of it too !

Super OC machine
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September 6, 2012 11:33:06 AM

Just an fyi, sometimes AMD chips don't report temps correctly when they have their cores unlocked. I don't know if that's true for the x2-->x4 that you have, but I had an Athlon ii x3 unlocked to x4 and a phenom ii x4 unlocked to x6 and both did not report correct temps when unlocked.

And yeah PhysX is nothing but a silly gimmick for someone who plays such a large variety of games. PhysX only matters for a purchasing decision if you know you'll be sinking a ton of time into one of the couple games that actually use it well.
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a c 185 U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 11:53:06 AM

R7950 would be the way to go EDIT- Hmmmm... except your cpu that's not going to work out sorry i would suggest this card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... though it might even be to much i am pretty sure you'll be fine lol i know pretty sure doesn't help much you want to be sure maybe somebody else can chime in here if not i will look into it more no worries! ;) 
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a c 185 U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 11:54:59 AM

lol nvm i see you have already been recommended same card i need some coffee i am sleeping today
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a b U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 12:11:35 PM

Your CPU is more than powerfull enough even for a overclocked HD 7970.Don't listen to the people telling you it's not true.You'll only see a bottleneck in poorly optimised games such as Starcraft and games like that are really rare.
Here's some proof
http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-7970-cpu-scalin...

What i think you should do is buy a HD 7950 and overclock it.Once overclocked it will be as fast as a overclocked GTX 670 but since it'll use an aftermarket cooler it will run cooler and quieter.

Or you could just buy a GTX 670 as it will perform better than the HD 7950 at stock
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September 6, 2012 12:20:03 PM

:lol:  @ blaming the games for the CPU bottlenecking...

Anyways, the CPU will bottleneck in any game that depends much on CPU power. RTS games, Skyrim, GTA IV, BF3 multiplayer...

Even in that article, you see that having no bottleneck is the exception (Crysis 2, Metro 2033), not the rule. BF3 doesn't matter because they bench single player which would probably run fine on a Pentium 3. Multiplayer is a different beast entirely and a quad core Phenom WILL bottleneck.

Because he's going for an OC, he should be able to get the 7870 up to at least 7950 stock levels, which would balance well with that CPU at 1080p. The 7950 OC or 670 OC will bottleneck on his CPU, badly in some games. No real reason to get a 670 since when overclocked the 7950 will be roughly the same performance as an OC'd 670 but for less money.

Best bet is to get that 7870 HAWK and put the saved money towards other upgrades (e.g. RAM, new CPU/mobo, etc)...
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a b U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 12:20:27 PM

Will he get more frames with a better cpu ? Yes ? then it is in fact a bottleneck...

I'm not even someone who really ever says that, it actually pisses me off a bit but I do not encourage a waste of money, a 7970 would have the cpu at 100% usage without issue at all times this is a problem
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a c 185 U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 1:13:53 PM

Kamen_BG said:
Your CPU is more than powerfull enough even for a overclocked HD 7970.Don't listen to the people telling you it's not true.You'll only see a bottleneck in poorly optimised games such as Starcraft and games like that are really rare.
Here's some proof
http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-7970-cpu-scalin...

What i think you should do is buy a HD 7950 and overclock it.Once overclocked it will be as fast as a overclocked GTX 670 but since it'll use an aftermarket cooler it will run cooler and quieter.

Or you could just buy a GTX 670 as it will perform better than the HD 7950 at stock
:lol:  you should add that your not responsible if he breaks his card and with overclocking there is no guarantee oc i have seen many break their cards listening to stuff like that it is possible though if you know what your doing
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September 6, 2012 1:33:32 PM

spentshells said:
129 C ? no not likely the tjmax is 100 or so. One of the temp sensors is seriously hooped

this is likely why the other two cores were disabled and it was sold as an x2.

They are getting cheap in some places so maybe look into a Mugen 3 or a CM V6GT even a cooler master 212 will be a load better than what you have now.


Bigmac70 linked the perfect card for the price and you can oc the heck out of it too !

Super OC machine


You are most likely correct about the temps on the cores. It makes me feel better at any rate :)  I will be going by the temp at the board, and as long as it doesn't go over 65, I feel safe. I will still likely adjust the multi until the temps don't go over 60 until I get a new HSF.

As you are the second person to prefer the MSI Hawk 7870 over the Gigabyte 7870 Windforce, can you or anyone tell me why they would choose the MSI over the Gigabyte?

They are clocked the same from the factory. They are the same price on Newegg. I see the MSI has it's "dust-removal" technology, though that remains to be seen how effective it is in actual usage. The MSI card looks like it can OC higher, but at the expense of noise and temperature vs the Gigabyte. (I'm summarizing based on the several reviews I've just read about both of these cards) MSI has the GPU Reactor which cleans up the power a bit, but I will probably never be able to take proper advantage of this feature as I will likely not be messing with voltages during the lifetime of the card.

Also, to begin narrowing the scope of this thread: I have eliminated the 7950 as a viable choice (even though it still remains a very attractive one) due to insufficient CPU muscle. The 7870 remains my sole choice.

I agree that more CPU is needed than what I currently have, and transitioning to LGA 1155 and an unlocked Ivy Bridge is my next, big, longterm (very $$$) upgrade. Choosing between upgrading the CPU or GPU is a very easy choice right now. The 5830 has got to go. (Now to find some bitcoin miner who wants it)

The only question that remains for me is:

MSI 7870 Hawk or Gigabyte 7870? Which one and why?

I have decided to spend the remaining cash on upgrading the CoolerMaster GeminIIS cooler with the Xigmatek SD128264 Aegir (#3 on the Frostytech's top 5 AMD by temp list, and gets good noise numbers too)
http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm
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September 6, 2012 1:39:05 PM

That 7870 has nicer components used on the PCB which will allow for a better chance at a very high overclock.

The Gigabyte Windforce is a good card too, and probably will be quieter than the MSI card, though I wouldn't expect the MSI card to be too offensive with noise since you're not going to be cranking up voltages (which is where the heat really takes off and hence the noise). Temps should be OK on the MSI card. The GPU Reactor really only matters for major overclocking like LN2 - air overclocking doesn't really benefit from it even with voltage tweaking.

My preference would be the Hawk for the better overclocking, but as we all know overclocking ultimately depends on the luck of the draw and the Gigabyte card will be quieter. Both are nice deals for $240.
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a b U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 2:25:45 PM

If no OC get whichever is cheapest you really can't lose. The windforce would be quieter but as mentioned the hawk would not be offensive.
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a c 185 U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 3:20:47 PM

My vote goes to the Hawk i seen that little monster in action used it for a few days while my buddy had me watch his house while he was traveling i am not saying the windforce is less of a card just saying i know for a fact the hawk = http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=w...
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September 6, 2012 3:27:57 PM

spentshells said:
If no OC get whichever is cheapest you really can't lose. The windforce would be quieter but as mentioned the hawk would not be offensive.



I will definitely OC whichever card I get. (shy of messing with voltage, unless I get a random infusion of cash and a burning desire to watercool) By my way of thinking, as long as the temps are safe, there's no reason not to.

I acknowledge the wisdom of the internet: The Hawk will likely OC higher than the Gigabyte and it is generally higher-quality. I have, however, seen a few articles that indicate the Hawk is a bit noisy when you crank the fans to mitigate the higher temps after you OC, whereas the Gigabyte stays quiet I keep harping on noise because I am coming from a fairly quiet card now, even after OC and under full load.

I'm assuming you all see I'm rooting for the Gigabyte because I have it in my head that the Hawk is going to be loud and I haven't seen anyone say that about the Gigabyte, but again, I'm probably just being silly.

So, if you all think that there would not be a noticeable difference between the OC'd Hawk and the OC'd Gigabyte, then I will go with the Gigabyte, because it's quieter. If you all feel that I am silly and should go with the highest performing card I can, and that the higher OC potential will generate a NOTICEABLE difference in performance or a significant increase in the longevity and relevance of the card in future titles (because of said performance) and can either live with higher temps or higher noise, or that 48DBa isn't really all that loud, then I will go with the Hawk.

And after that I will stop bugging you and buy stuff and be happy. Thank you.
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a b U Graphics card
September 6, 2012 3:33:51 PM

No by all means buy the windforce it will be quieter but not a night and day situation sounds like you want teh gigabyte card then deffiantely get it the difference without the voltage tweeks will be minimal, neither card has cherry picked chips.
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September 6, 2012 6:59:27 PM

Smeg45 said:
PhysX is a gimmick. I have the Windforce 7950 and its a fantastic card. If you OC and push the voltage up make sure your case has good cooling. That being said, I'd upgrade the CPU first, double the RAM second, and get a better case third.


Just to confirm, you'd recommend upgrading the CPU (and in this case, that means CPU and mobo) before upgrading the (craptastic) 5830? :p  Lol
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September 6, 2012 7:09:43 PM

Best answer selected by Goose_Nipples.
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September 7, 2012 11:30:41 AM

UPDATE:

I went with the wisdom of the interwebs and purchased the Hawk 7870 last night, as well as the Xigmatek Aegir cooler.

Thank you all for your assistance.
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