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New build: Is my graphics card the weakest link?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 15, 2012 6:14:54 PM

Hello THG!

I was quite active 6 years ago, and satisfied with my respected rig (at the time). Since then, I don't even know what my old THG logon was. Time to overhaul "Big Daddy," as I call my box. Here's the (very abridged) original rig:

- Core 2 duo e6600 with an ASUS nForce chipset mobo
- GeForce 8800 GTX
- 10,000 RPM HD
- 4 gigs killer (at the time) Corsair RAM
- Antec 900 case with crazy fans going on
- Zalman 9700 cooler

Since then, I've made a few changes:
- Out with the GeForce, and in with a Radeon 6850.
- New Kingston HyperX 3K 240 GB SSD (which doesn't do nearly what it should in this platform).

Components purchased so far for Big Daddy's overhaul (but not yet installed):

- ASUS Sabertooth Z77 mobo (I know there's alternatives, but ASUS's stability lasted a long, long time. Gonna stick with them over say, Gigabyte).
- Core i5 3750k
- 32 gb of Ripjaws PC1600 RAM

I'm sure the new build with be an improvement to say the least.

My question is this: With PCIe3 being supported in the new mobo, is my Radeon 6850 still worth keeping? Get another one to configure in Crossfire? Or just get a new (and relatively cost effective) PCIe3 video card?

My needs are heavily graphics intensive. Would the Radeon 6850 be my weakest link? Are there any other pitfalls I'm missing here?

Thanks guys. Good to be back.
a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2012 6:25:07 PM

don't worry about the pci-e3.0, no cards today max out the 2.0 lanes anyway. as far as how good the 6850 is, it depends on the resolution you game at, but that is by no means a weak card.
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a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2012 6:25:15 PM

Is your RAM arranged in 4x8GB sticks? Unless you need the 32GB of RAM for 3d Rendering or something, 16GB would have been more than enough.

Plus by having four sticks, you are no longer running in dual channel mode, and hence halved your bandwidth.


**Aside from that, you have a CPU that will only bottleneck something like 4 way SLI-680's. So the GPU will be the weak point now.

The HD 6850 is on par with the HD7770, which is quite frequently recommended for budget gaming builds. I would strongly recommend you balance out your build by either purchasing an HD 79xx or a GTX 670/680.

No cards can even saturate PCIe2.0 yet, so having PCIe3.0 doesn't really mean anything at all.

If you elaborate on what your graphical needs are, then we can help more in choosing a graphics card that will support that need just perfectly.

I'll recommend a purchase now however, that will be quite the upgrade from your current GPU.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It is just under $200, and comes with both Far Cry 3, and Hitman Absolution free. You can even sell those if you don't wish to play them, or already own them. This will further reduce the price.
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a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2012 6:28:32 PM

RJSampson said:
Hello THG!

I was quite active 6 years ago, and satisfied with my respected rig (at the time). Since then, I don't even know what my old THG logon was. Time to overhaul "Big Daddy," as I call my box. Here's the (very abridged) original rig:

- Core 2 duo e6600 with an ASUS nForce chipset mobo
- GeForce 8800 GTX
- 10,000 RPM HD
- 4 gigs killer (at the time) Corsair RAM
- Antec 900 case with crazy fans going on
- Zalman 9700 cooler

Since then, I've made a few changes:
- Out with the GeForce, and in with a Radeon 6850.
- New Kingston HyperX 3K 240 GB SSD (which doesn't do nearly what it should in this platform).

Components purchased so far for Big Daddy's overhaul (but not yet installed):

- ASUS Sabertooth Z77 mobo (I know there's alternatives, but ASUS's stability lasted a long, long time. Gonna stick with them over say, Gigabyte).
- Core i5 3750k
- 32 gb of Ripjaws PC1600 RAM

I'm sure the new build with be an improvement to say the least.

My question is this: With PCIe3 being supported in the new mobo, is my Radeon 6850 still worth keeping? Get another one to configure in Crossfire? Or just get a new (and relatively cost effective) PCIe3 video card?

My needs are heavily graphics intensive. Would the Radeon 6850 be my weakest link? Are there any other pitfalls I'm missing here?

Thanks guys. Good to be back.


Yeah lol it is easily your weakest link. A 7850 2GB is more than twice as strong and only $185!

Sell your 6850 for $100, and buy a 7970 (Or any card since your CPU can handle even a 7990!).
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a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2012 6:33:19 PM

Having four sticks of memorydoes run in dual channel. I have never heard anything to the contrary. I really like having 32GB of memory as it frees up room for a ramdisk. There are applications (and who only uses one at a time?) that will use as much memory as you can give em. Plus its dirt cheap right now.

What graphically intensive work is it that you do? That would help with the graphics card choice.
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a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2012 6:36:40 PM

Yeah I was just about to say that four sticks will run dual channel :-) Your mobo manual will tell you (or it may be obvious on the board itself) which slots belong to which channel. Obviously put two sticks in each channel. As people have said, PCI-E 3 is nothing to worry about, though good to keep in mind for the future. GTX660 is an excellent graphics card that will allow you to max almost all games at 1080p and AA (not Far Cry 3, but that would require a GTX670 - insanely demanding game).
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a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2012 6:56:54 PM

What games do you play, what resolution is your monitor, and what's your budget?
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