Upgrading Graphics Card for Gaming ($~200 budget [+~$50])

Hello, there. :hello: I'm upgrading my Desktop's graphics card to enable it to play better games (mostly BF3) and need advice. Information below, divided in quotes and main answers bold.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE:
Quote:
As soon as possible, by the end of the year preferably, but I can wait if it's worth it.

BUDGET RANGE:
Quote:
USD $0-~$200 (If it is really worth it, I could go to ~$50 extra dollars [preferably not])


USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
Quote:
Gaming (Battlefield 3 [Ultra preferably]), Skyrim, I would like to be future proof for a few years if possible. [Borderlands 2, GTA 5, Elder Scrolls 6, BF4, etc), work (word, powerpoint, and the such. [Running 3 monitors]), video editing (I have another computer, and this is a bit of a hobby), general uses... **I also would like to run 3 monitors, but this isn't completely necessary)

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY:
Quote:
ATI Radeon HD 5670 and the stock Dell 525 watt PSU.

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS:
Quote:
It's a stock Dell Studio XPS 9100, with 9 GB of Ram (hopefully upgrading soon [24 GB max]), an Intel Core i7 cpu 930 @2.80GHz processor, etc at Dell Specs Page


PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS:
Quote:
Don't really have one, as long as it's a trusted site. (Newegg, Amazon, etc.)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
Quote:
Me? United States Computer parts? Anywhere.

PARTS PREFERENCES:
Quote:
I don't really have one, but preferably one that can run 3 monitors (which is ATI, if i'm not mistaken [It's not necessary, though: I'm good with two])


OVERCLOCKING:
Quote:
Possibly, but I'm not too experienced with overclocking, never tried it.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE:
Quote:
Same as with overclocking, but probably not. I'm not quite sure if my motherboard can have two GPUs, though.


MONITOR RESOLUTION:
Quote:
I have 3 monitors that I want to hook up with it: Primary: 1920 x 1080 ; Secondary: 1280 x 1024 ; Tertiary: 1020 x 1024 (I care most about the primary resolution, the secondary and tertiary aren't as important, they can be slightly off)


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
Quote:
I would like it to run 3 monitors (For work) and play modern AAA titles (Probably on one monitor). I don't mind if I have to upgrade something like ram, but changing the PSU is a little harder on preassembled computers. I also don't want a graphics card that will not be used fully in gaming due to bottle-necking somewhere else in my configuration. Cheap upgrades are fine if the computer needs it, but try to keep the GPU on par with the computer as it is.


LOOKING AT:
Quote:
I have been looking both at the GTX 560 and Radeon 6950. I don't know if I should be more careful with power usage, though, so the Radeon 7850 is on my list, if it is necessary to pay more. I also don't know what the difference between each version of the card is nor the pros and cons of each and would like to know which would suit me better. If any other graphics card would work well for me, I would consider it.

If you need any more information, I will respond.
Thank-you! :pt1cable:
48 answers Last reply
More about upgrading graphics card gaming budget
  1. I think your going to need a larger budget to achieve all that you have listed.
    You will need a better gpu and a $200 one to play BF3 on three monitors on ultra.
    Your PSU is suspect.
    Your will probably need to OC your cpu as well.
  2. In your price range you won't be to get a $200 or even $250 video card that can play Battlefield 3 on Ultra across 3 displays. But you can still get quite a bit of performance nonetheless. Either the Radeon HD 7850 ($200) or Radeon HD 7870 ($250) are very good choices in this price range. Both will be able to utilize 3 displays and some games will actually play very well across all 3 as well. Both will also give you excellent gaming performance for single display gaming as well.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202004

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150605
  3. Embra said:
    I think your going to need a larger budget to achieve all that you have listed.
    You will need a better gpu and a $200 one to play BF3 on three monitors on ultra.
    Your PSU is suspect.
    Your will probably need to OC your cpu as well.


    Wrong on 1 thing: Dell makes excellent PSU's and the 525W unit in his machine is quite capable.

    I doubt he is able to overclock his CPU, and even if he did, it may or may not net him much performance.
  4. Embra said:
    I think your going to need a larger budget to achieve all that you have listed.
    You will need a better gpu and a $200 one to play BF3 on three monitors on ultra.
    Your PSU is suspect.
    Your will probably need to OC your cpu as well.


    You will definitely need a larger budget.
    Dell Pc's being OEM, have a limited BIOS. Overclocking is probably impossible.
    Dell PSU's are normally very high quality, I'm pretty sure they are made be Seasonic.
  5. Across three monitors you'll need a $500+ budget. Expect to get one monitor ultra on BF3. Some games should work okay with a single and three monitors though. Consider a 7870 as minimum and preferably a 7950 or better.

    7870- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127681

    7950- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102989
  6. I guess I should have specified a little more on that I want it to run 3 monitors, but not for games like BF3, mostly work and LQ games like Minecraft. (It was behind BF3 in error). It would be nice, but all three monitors are at different resolutions and wouldn't look all too good. I just want it to be able to run 3 monitors while I work, but play high quality games on one.
  7. 7850 would be good. Just have to pony up for an active displayport adaptor to run 3 monitors on an AMD card. $20 or so. A GTX 660 can run 4 monitors out of the box and would be worth checking out.

    If you're heavy into compute performance then AMD would be the way to go. Gaming wise I'd rank 7870-660-7850. They are shaving off a couple bucks this week as well across AMD cards, wait a little.
  8. EVGA Superclocked GTX 660: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130826 $224

    It's actually at a great price, normally overclocked 660's would be in the upper $240's.
  9. The 7870 is a good deal more powerful then the GTX 660, and priced competitively.
  10. Here come a few questions: So is going from 7850 to 7870 really worth the ~$70 jump? Or is there any 7870 around my budget of ~$200? I'm not sure if I would be using the 7870 to it's full potential, because my CPU is probably going to bottleneck, so would I be good with the 7850 (or 6950)? Also, what's the difference between XFX, Saphire, MSI, etc? There also seem to be a few recommendations for the GTX 660, is it a good card?
  11. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-660-geforce-gtx-650-benchmark,3297-7.html

    Some bencmarks on the gtx 660. OC'd is almost as powerful as the 660 ti. I think it is the card I'm going to be getting..
  12. So it seems like the 7850 and below don't run BF3 that well compared to the GTX660, but how do they compare with other games? It seems like the GTX660 runs better and is cheaper than the 7850, which barely runs BF3 in comparison.
  13. I'd go for the 7870 still. They do have some at the $200 range after rebates but it's currently out of stock.
    http://pcpartpicker.com/parts/video-card/#c=82,110&sort=a5

    Yes at some games the 660 does do better but it still takes a higher hit at higher AA settings comparatively to AMD cards.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-660-geforce-gtx-650-benchmark,3297-18.html
  14. andrewcarr said:
    I'd go for the 7870 still. They do have some at the $200 range after rebates but it's currently out of stock.
    http://pcpartpicker.com/parts/video-card/#c=82,110&sort=a5

    Yes at some games the 660 does do better but it still takes a higher hit at higher AA settings comparatively to AMD cards.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-660-geforce-gtx-650-benchmark,3297-18.html


    I guess the 7870 does seem nicer with the higher AA settings, but I don't know if I would really see the difference between the two with my GPU. Considering my computer, which I didn't buy with gaming in mind, isn't that powerful, should I just go with the cheaper one? Also, which brand should I go with if I do go AMD?
  15. The i7 you have really isn't bad. What did you decide on for your budget and did you want to OC or not? You should be able to get a good one for $230 and a OC one for $245-250. As for brands most are good but depending on price I'll post what I'd get.
  16. andrewcarr said:
    The i7 you have really isn't bad. What did you decide on for your budget and did you want to OC or not? You should be able to get a good one for $230 and a OC one for $245-250. As for brands most are good but depending on price I'll post what I'd get.


    The budget isn't exactly the most I can spend, but I really only want to put around $200 into this, with around $50 that would have went to more RAM, but could be put into the card. I guess the cap is about $300, because I wouldn't consider anything over that, but the closer to $200 (+$50) the better. In short, I want the most performance out of the least money. As for OC, I'm open to the possibility, but I've never had experience with them before. The standard one should be good enough, but I guess I would need to do more research on it. What would be the difference in performance and price? How much hotter would it get? Would I need to go with a powerful cooling system? Thanks for the help by the way.
  17. For $260, the 7870 is really hard to beat. If you get this Sapphire ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102981 ) it has very good cooling for both overclocking and stock. It's also very quiet.
  18. I'm not denying that that sapphire GPU is a bad card but you can get a MSI hawk for about the same price. It has a factory OC so the OP doesn't have to mess with that and if/when he does want more performance it should OC better (would probably get to similar max clock but MSI board would be cooler) than the sapphire.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127681

    Then you have some money left over for ram upgrade.
    1600- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145345
    1866- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231460
    1866- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220692
    2133- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220707
  19. The 7870 looks great, and I'll definitely consider it (In fact, it's the one I'm most likely going to get), but I'm wondering how much performance I could get out of a $200 and below card. Any suggestions?
  20. More questions: So considering my situation, is it really worth going over my budget to get the 7870? Also, are all these bechmark comparisons minimums or averages? The 7850 might work just fine for me, but I'm probably going to be looking into a 7870. Also, can the GTX 560 run 3 monitors? Also, is it bad to go to the bare minimum requirements for the PSU?
  21. I'm not sure if the GTX 560 can run 3 monitors or not, but it's not nearly as powerful as the HD 7850 or 7870. In my opinion, the HD 7870 is worth the extra money, but that's a decision honestly only you can make. You can use the link I posted to compare different cards and the average frame rates they give you.


    Also, you have a quality PSU, any of the cards we've discussed will be just fine :)
  22. Thank you for all of the responses thus far, they're really helping me out. But now for brand: I think the 7870 seems like the card for me, but I'm not quite sure about the differences of each kind. According to the earlier posts, the ones I should look at are:
    MSI Hawk
    MSI Twin-Frozr
    Sapphire
    Or perhaps one of XFX's
    Et cetera.

    I would like to know which would be recommended, and the pros and cons. Right now, I'm leaning towards the MSI Hawk 7870, but I'm wondering which would suit me the best.
  23. Out of those cards, I would get either the MSI or the Sapphire. The MSI is factory overclocked to 1100MHz where as the Sapphire and XFX cards are running at 1000MHz. But in my opinion, Sapphire and XFX are better brands, and have much better customer support.
  24. stant1rm said:
    Out of those cards, I would get either the MSI or the Sapphire. The MSI is factory overclocked to 1100MHz where as the Sapphire and XFX cards are running at 1000MHz. But in my opinion, Sapphire and XFX are better brands, and have much better customer support.

    I've read a few reviews that the card is DOA, so is their CS decent enough, or is it bad enough to completely avoid them? Also, I can't seem to find the power requirements anywhere. Do you know where I could find them/ where they are?
  25. Don't worry about power requirements, you 525W PSU is plenty enough.

    Every company mails out a few DOA's, it happens. Although a lot of DOA's are really just stupid people. But if I had to deal with DOA, I would much rather go through XFX or Sapphire. XFX is nice because the Double D cards have lifetime warranties. MSI's customer support will get the job down, but's not as quick or as friendly as XFX/Sapphire. A lot more hoops to jump through.
  26. I'm curious as to how much quality I should expect from the MSI, rather than the others. Is it durable enough to last me about 3-5 years? I'm hoping that I won't need to use MSI's customer support, though. The Hawk seems to be the best deal with all of the extra features and clock speed, but is there any compelling reason to get another one?

    Edit: After looking around, I've found another that looks pretty good. It's a Gigabyte, and it has the same specs as the MSI Hawk, but the (Newegg) reviews are slightly higher. Is there any real difference between the two, and which would be more recommended?
  27. That Gigabyte model is fantastic and it's a pretty durn good card. Looks like you found the one. It'll run both cool and quiet.
  28. stant1rm said:
    That Gigabyte model is fantastic and it's a pretty durn good card. Looks like you found the one. It'll run both cool and quiet.

    So the Gigabyte is better? I'm kind of neutral right now, because they really seem to be the same, but the Gigabyte has better reviews, whereas the MSI Hawk seems to have better features. :??: Judging that you have more experience than me, which would you see as the better choice?
  29. Now for my take on the cards. Since you don't have any overclocking experience I'd go with the MSI they are designed great and it should still have quite a bit of OC room. Second I would get the Sapphire although the stock specs are slightly lower the cooler is better (about same as MSI possibly a bit worse) and the card should OC better than the XFX and Gigabyte. Asus also makes some nice cards but I'd still get the MSI and Sapphire over their offering.
    Now from my top 6 favorites in terms of the 7870 (under $250).
    #1- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127681
    #2- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161404
    #3- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102981
    #4- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121649
    #6- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150606
    #6- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125418

    Tie for last.

    This is mainly based on long term temperature and OC. After one model per brand is listed I didn't re list brand. Most of these boards if not the high OC model have one with the same cooler that are factory OC slightly demanding a price premium. I personally don't think it's worth it when I can open a program raise the bar up 50 and easily perform at the same level. Although you should technically perform stress testing I highly doubt (as in I'd put money on it) a slight bump like that would cause artifacts.
  30. Not that it means much, but the one of the three Gigabyte cards died after I used it for three years, the other two are now spares. They still work. The two MSI cards I bought 3 years ago work fine, still using one of them. I'm thinking it's random chance when it comes to quality or how long a particular card will last. Buy what your budget can afford and base it on features or addons such as games and price. Then, hope the gods favor you and give you a good card that lasts a long time :wahoo:
  31. andrewcarr said:
    Now for my take on the cards. Since you don't have any overclocking experience I'd go with the MSI they are designed great and it should still have quite a bit of OC room. Second I would get the Sapphire although the stock specs are slightly lower the cooler is better (about same as MSI possibly a bit worse) and the card should OC better than the XFX and Gigabyte. Asus also makes some nice cards but I'd still get the MSI and Sapphire over their offering.
    Now from my top 6 favorites in terms of the 7870 (under $250).
    #1- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127681
    #2- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161404
    #3- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102981
    #4- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121649
    #6- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150606
    #6- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125418

    Tie for last.

    This is mainly based on long term temperature and OC. After one model per brand is listed I didn't re list brand. Most of these boards if not the high OC model have one with the same cooler that are factory OC slightly demanding a price premium. I personally don't think it's worth it when I can open a program raise the bar up 50 and easily perform at the same level. Although you should technically perform stress testing I highly doubt (as in I'd put money on it) a slight bump like that would cause artifacts.


    The MSI Hawk 7870 is definitely on the top of my list, but I'm curious as to why it has so many negative reviews on Newegg. (under the feedback section) People are saying that it's "Buggy - Constant freezes and BSOD's since installing. Using latest drivers", alot of people are complaining about it being DOA half the time, and supposedly the fans need an MRA on arrival, which, supposedly MSI has horrible service. Is this mostly just user error, or are they only reviewing it because it truly is problematic?

    On the other hand, the Gigabyte model has almost no complaints, yet the same specs and price. It's the best reviewed, most sold, and most popular 7870 there, yet, compared to the MSI Hawk, it seems like it lacks a few features.

    What are the pros and cons, perhaps. Is the MSI a really a good card in terms of reliability (If I didn't see the feedback section on Newegg, I probably would have already ordered this card), or is it known to have problems? Also, what are the key differences between each card? They seem to be nearly the same: perhaps the MSI has better cooling? I'm almost sold on it, but I want to be sure before purchasing anything.
  32. When you read reviews think of it this way. The vast majority of users that buy one never review it. The main ones that do, only do so because their having problems. I've bought products with 33% 5 star ratings and never had a problem. Also the sample size is so small with only a total of 11 reviews. Some people upgrade and never completely get rid of old software causing the compatibility issues. They both run on the same AMD software so I don't think that's a problem at all. I would rate the MSI at better reliability simply because it will stay cooler (and the number one enemy of electronics is heat). Also as I previously stated the MSI has a much better cooler and thus better OC potential. I would estimate a couple hundred cards of the MSI have been sold of that lets estimate 5 were bad (unlucky people). So looking at the chances of getting a bad card would be about 3% (and I'd bet it's less). Conclusion get the MSI and don't look back.
  33. I must disagree. The Gigabyte Windforce 3X is a far more capable cooling solution. The highest the GPU got under load was 50C, that's not the average, that's the max temp. MSI's card was hitting 76C under load. There is no comparison. Gigabyte also has better custom support. Both cards come from the factory with same overclocks, but Gigabytes model has far more headroom.

    Gigabyte Review http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/gigabyte_radeon_hd_7870_oc_review,8.htm

    MSI Hawk http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/HD_7870_HAWK/32.html

    Get the Gigabyte card, I promise you'll love it. "We'd recommend the Gigabyte R7870 OC for those who demand a little more performance and have a need for tweaking and overclocking. The performance is really good for modern gaming at 1920x1080 / 1200. The overall build quality of the product is nice, it is a relatively silent product and the thermals are just awesome.

    And that makes me give the GV-R787OC-2GD two big thumbs up, it really is a lovely product." Quote from the Windforce 3X Review.
  34. I disregard all results from different companies. I have no clue what ambient temperatures they had. Also you left out the fact that during OC the MSI was better. Earning the reviews highly recommended badge.
  35. There's no way ambient temps can make for a 26C difference. To imply that is ludicrous.

    The Gigabyte model is also quieter underload, 40dBA at full load while maintaing a max temp of 50C, whereas the Hawk was 48dBA at full load while letting the temp rise as high a 76C.

    Also, the Gigabyte model was overclocked to 1258MHz on the core, whereas the MSI Hawk was overclocked to 1260MHz. Is that really a point you want to argue? Secondly, the both the thermals and the noise level on the Gigabyte are theoretically much better when overclocked, seeing as the MSI Hawk was averaging 78C when OC'd.

    You can't argue the point, the Windforce 3X cooling solution is far better then the MSI Hawk, seeing as the Gigabyte card has 3 larger fans, compared to the Hawks 2.

    Also, you ranked the XFX card in a tie for last with Gigabyte card? Really?
  36. MSI- http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/msi_radeon_hd_7870_hawk_review,1.html
    Gigabyte- http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/gigabyte_radeon_hd_7870_oc_review,1.html

    As I said I'd still go with the MSI better OC and better overall card (quality and cooling).
  37. How is it a better card, when using the exact same website and test methods, load temps were 18C higher! And MSI's quality control has been suspect over the years.
  38. Hmm, I'm beginning to be confused as to which card I should get. I'll let you guys try to come to a conclusion. By the way, if the tempertures are correct, it's looking like the Gigabyte is slightly better at the expense of ~2 fps, but then again, I don't know much about graphics cards.
  39. I honestly don't think we'll agree. It'll end like this. I'd buy the MSI and stant would buy the Gigabyte. Overall I just believe it's a better engineered card. Neither will be bad but I just think the MSI is better. Both cards are recommended by their reviews.
  40. andrewcarr said:
    I honestly don't think we'll agree. It'll end like this. I'd buy the MSI and stant would buy the Gigabyte. Overall I just believe it's a better engineered card. Neither will be bad but I just think the MSI is better. Both cards are recommended by their reviews.


    We could agree to disagree? :whistle:
  41. True, true. I guess the rest is up to me, and because two veteran users can't decide on which is better, then they are probably both very good cards. Regardless, whichever choice I make, it'll definitely be better than what I have. Thanks for the help! :D

    (But keep posting if you have anything to add to the discussion, I still haven't completely made up my mind as of yet)
  42. I don't know if anything can be added, we presented out opinions, and lots of data. Both are great cards, I just lean towards the Gigabyte card for the superior cooling and slightly reduced noise levels.
  43. Okay the MSI has more features for OC. The Gigabyte's load temps are lower but MSI still has respectable numbers. They are both quite at idle and about the same at stock load (although MSI is 1 DBa louder at each). The MSI does get loud under higher OC load (but any card gets louder as the fan has to spin faster, remember this is only at a higher OC where at stock they are similar). MSI at the same stock settings puts out a few more FPS. I don't think slant will argue that the Gigabyte looks nicer though.

    Honestly the better OC and higer FPS at the same clock is enough for me to get the Hawk. But in the end it's your decision, and as you said either is a huge improvement and you'll like either.
  44. I think I'm just going to open a poll and see what some other people think. I'll probably just go for the most popular one.
  45. Post a link to it. BTW I hope MSI wins.
  46. Here's a link to it: Poll.
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