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Replacing/upgrading graphics card. Please help me choose!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 28, 2012 8:49:45 PM

Hello.

I'm looking to upgrade/replace the graphics card in my computer, and I have a few that I'm looking at right now. I realize that all of the graphics cards I'm looking at are old cards. I just simply want to know which card(s) I should go with, and what's the best deal out of the bunch, or if I should just keep my current card and not upgrade/replace at all.

I currently have an HIS Radeon HD 4870 512MB GDDR5 DirectX 10.1 graphics card installed in my desktop, so keep that in mind.

The graphics cards I'm looking at right now are:

- XFX GeForce 8800 GT Alpha Dog Edition (512MB GDDR3 card) + an XFX GeForce 8800 GT Zalman Edition (512MB GDDR3 card) both for $70 all together. I would most definitely use both these cards at the same time in an SLI setup.

- BFG GeForce 9600 GT (512MB GDDR3 card) for $30.

- BFG Geforce GTX 260 (192 CUDA cores, 896MB GDDR3 card) for $60.

How much more or less powerful would two XFX GeForce 8800 GT cards be (1GB of total GDDR3 video memory) in comparison to my HIS Radeon HD 4870 512MB and the BFG GeForce GTX 260 896MB??

Are two GeForce 8800 GT 512MB cards in SLI mode more powerful than a single HD 4870 512MB and single GTX 260 896MB?
a b U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 9:31:02 PM

Nope. The SLI and GTX260 options would be about equal to your 4870 and the 9600GT would be a huge downgrade. You'd also not have 1GB effective with SLI - it's still 512MB per GPU. The two cards effectively take turns rendering frames with alternate frame rendering (AFR) so neither card has a full 1GB to play with. Of modern cards, a GTX650 Ti would deliver a significant performance boost. Your 4870 is comparable to a GTX650 if that's any help.
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a b U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 9:32:27 PM

Thats a tuff one. The 4870 you already have is more powerful than a single 8800gt but putting the gts in SLI would beat the 4870 .. but only in games that can use SLI.

Btw - two 512mb cards in sli don't give you 1gb of graphics ram. You still end up with 512mb because the graphics are copies to each card.
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a b U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 9:32:30 PM

Does your PhysX card work by the way? You have a hack to allow combining it with an AMD GPU?
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December 28, 2012 9:41:28 PM

Is my Radeon HD 4870 512MB seriously comparable to a GTX 650 1GB? I paid just $50 for my Radeon HD 4870 (used of course, but...) a GTX 650 1GB is between $90 and $120 where I live, so... I find that to be pretty awesome :) 

I realize that I wouldn't have 1GB of effective video memory, but because I would still be using two 512MB GPU's at the same time, wouldn't the 8800 GT SLI setup perform a bit better than my single HD 4870 at higher resolutions? I mean, I've read some reviews of how an 8800 GT SLI setup performs in comparison to a single HD 4870, and most games that are reviewed have a 0-10 FPS improvement by using two 8800 GT cards in SLI over a single HD 4870, but in real world performance is that actually true, or are the benchmarks just a bit misleading do you think?
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a c 79 U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 9:52:04 PM

well the 6770 would be just as good as the 650, what country do u live in?, i could fetch u a price,

crossfiring the 4870 or sling the 8800gts isnt worth ur money, old cards, even with a new card ud get better performance than 2 old cards like that tbh.

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a b U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 9:53:53 PM

I'd be inclined to say that you can't argue with the benchmarks :-) Though you'll get much more consistent framerates with a single GPU (less up/down performance). SLI/Crossfire are still very much works in progress - they're far from perfect. Back in 2007, SLI was a hell of a lot less evolved even than it is now. You were looking typically at a little over 60% gain from a second card (varying hugely by game though). A 4870 would deliver comfortably 60% better framerates than a single 8800GT, so very comparable overall in mean average frames/second.
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a c 79 U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 10:03:28 PM

still its a loss investment, a gtx 650 or a 7700 would get better performance and be stable. sliing old cards or old atis doesnt seem that great of an idea.

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a b U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 10:13:26 PM

Agreed - best to grab something a bit more recent if you can. If you're wanting to buy used and need previous-gen hardware, a GTX560 would be a solid upgrade - generally as good or a bit better than the GTX650 Ti. A GTX650 (non-Ti) or 7770 would pretty much replicate what you already have.
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a c 79 U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 10:14:24 PM

yeah ive checked ebay nothing that great atm. so thats why i recommand a 650 or 7770 as his budget seems limited. :p 

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a b U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 10:17:52 PM

Fair enough, but keep in mind there's no point in upgrading if you're not getting a noticeable improvement :-) OP, let us know if you find any other good used deals and we can advise. I'm off to bed now but I'll probably get back on here tomorrow.
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December 28, 2012 10:28:39 PM

True enough. I do love my HD 4870 very much. It's been a fantastic card for me so far, and I've been able to run every game I've played on my desktop at medium/mixed high settings at 1280 x 720 (some games I've been able to completely max out as long as I keep the resolution to 1280 x 720, which is more than good enough resolution for me) so if there's no real performance gain by replacing my HD 4870 with two 8800 GT's or a GTX 260, then there's no point in me upgrading at the moment. I only looked at these cards because they were moderately affordable. An HD 7770 is over $100 where I live, and a GTX 650 is between $90 and $120 where I live, and unfortunately I don't have that kind of money. $70 for the two 8800 GT's was really pushing it for me, so... yeah.

Quick question:
An ASUS GeForce GT 520 1GB DX11 vs. the BFG GeForce 9600 GT OC 512MB.

Which graphics card is a better PhysX card??

Would I see a performance gain (or rather, any kind of gain at all in games) if I were to use my HD 4870 as my main card and then use either the GT 520 or 9600 GT (whichever one is better) as a PhysX card?
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a c 79 U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 10:34:23 PM

id say the both would do ok for physx, but not all programs support physx and if u can afford it getting a new card would be beneficial for u,

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December 28, 2012 10:38:23 PM

Okay, what if I used my HD 4870 as my main card, and then used one of the 8800 GT cards I listed as a PhysX card? How much of an upgrade would going from a 9600 GT to an 8800 GT be for PhysX? I have the option to buy just one of the 8800 GT's, which is why I'm asking :p 
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a c 79 U Graphics card
December 28, 2012 10:59:15 PM

id say dont buy either its not worth investing in such old cards.

whats ur budget?

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a b U Graphics card
December 29, 2012 5:18:40 PM

+1 to iceclock. You've already got a card running PhysX - I think it's ample. Like iceclock says, your money would be better spent on the main card (saved towards a genuinely noticeable upgrade).
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a c 79 U Graphics card
December 29, 2012 6:21:27 PM

excellent ;) 
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December 29, 2012 6:38:27 PM

Hi, I'm having the same problem, I bought this HP for christmas (http://www.futureshop.ca/en-CA/product/hewlett-packard-...) and don't think it has significant graphics for playing Skyrim, AC3 etc.
It has all of these specs:

Screen Size: 15.6 Inches
Native Screen Resolution: 1366 x 768
LED Backlit Display: Yes
Touchscreen Display: No
3D Capable Display: No
Processor Type: AMD A10-4600M
Processor Cores: 4
Processor Speed: 2.3 GHz
Processor Cache: 4 MB L2
Hard Drive Capacity: 1 TB
Hard Drive Speed (Revolutions Per Minute): 5400 rpm
RAM Size: 8 GB
RAM Type DDR3 SDRAM
RAM Speed Information Not Available
RAM Slots 2
Optical Drive Super-Multi DVD +/-RW
Built-in Memory Card Reader Yes
Memory Card Reader - Compatible Memory Type Information Not Available
Graphics
Graphics Chipset AMD Radeon HD 7660G / 7670M Dual GPU
Video Memory Configuration Dedicated
Dedicated Video Memory Size 2 GB
Wireless Display (WiDi) Capable No

I'm also hoping to upgrade to a card of this caliber: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Any feedback would be great, thanks! :) 
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