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First PC build GPU questions. So many to choose from

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January 30, 2013 6:27:04 PM

I"m a moderate to heavy gamer and got sick of my consoles crappy performance and limited options so I decided to build my first gaming PC or first PC build of any kind for that matter. I quickly realized I need some help. I am undecided about what GPU to get for around $200. There are so many in that price range and have close to the same specs but very mixed reviews. I have more question now then when I started. For example the Sapphire 7870 GHz Editon 2gb DDR/5 has a core clock of 925 MHz but 1536 stream processors. But then the HIS 7870 2GB DDR/5 also the GHz Edition has a core clock of 1000MHz but only 1280 stream processors. So my biggest question is what am I looking for in a good GPU. I'm trying to spend the least $ possible while still being able to play games on high setting and hopefully get a decent lifespan out of it.

AMD-FX 8350 Vishera 4.0ghz 8-core processor, I know I don't need 8 cores for current games but hopefully games in the near future will start using all 8

ASRock 990FX Extreme 3 Mobo

16 GB 2x8 G-Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz (these are from my current PC and I'll be reusing them for now to save $)

Rosewill challenger ATX mid case

Topower 800w power supply Sli/Crossfire ready

Seagate Barracuda 1TB 720RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s

4 pack of cooler master 120mm fans

Cooler Master Hyper 212 120mm CPU cooler

I have a CD drive from my old PC

Not sure if it matters but my monitor is a 32' 1080P HD TV hooked up to my current PC with HDMI

I'm open to any suggestions or if there is anything I'm forgetting. Thanks for your time and any help I receive
January 30, 2013 6:38:56 PM

People here will tell you o get an intel CPU. while they have been shown to perform better than an AMD processor in gaming, they are more expensive, and an AMD processor will do fine.

I downloaded the crysis 3 MP beta, ran it on ultra settings, and got 30-40 FPS (very playable) on a factory-overclocked Gigabyte 7870. it's cooling solution is also good, so I'd suggest that one from personal experience.

800w PSU is overkill. get a 650/700w bronze PSU. (from a reputable supplier. Corsair is good)

16 GB is pretty much overkill as well. (I'm trying to save you money here) 8Gb is good.

beyond that you're good.

As to the choice of GPU, an 7870 will do fine for you. again, I suggest gigabyte cause it's got good cooling.
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a c 112 U Graphics card
January 30, 2013 6:53:06 PM

ehyde1029 said:
I"m a moderate to heavy gamer and got sick of my consoles crappy performance and limited options so I decided to build my first gaming PC or first PC build of any kind for that matter. I quickly realized I need some help. I am undecided about what GPU to get for around $200. There are so many in that price range and have close to the same specs but very mixed reviews. I have more question now then when I started. For example the Sapphire 7870 GHz Editon 2gb DDR/5 has a core clock of 925 MHz but 1536 stream processors. But then the HIS 7870 2GB DDR/5 also the GHz Edition has a core clock of 1000MHz but only 1280 stream processors. So my biggest question is what am I looking for in a good GPU. I'm trying to spend the least $ possible while still being able to play games on high setting and hopefully get a decent lifespan out of it.

AMD-FX 8350 Vishera 4.0ghz 8-core processor, I know I don't need 8 cores for current games but hopefully games in the near future will start using all 8

ASRock 990FX Extreme 3 Mobo

16 GB 2x8 G-Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz (these are from my current PC and I'll be reusing them for now to save $)

Rosewill challenger ATX mid case

Topower 800w power supply Sli/Crossfire ready

Seagate Barracuda 1TB 720RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s

4 pack of cooler master 120mm fans

Cooler Master Hyper 212 120mm CPU cooler

I have a CD drive from my old PC

Not sure if it matters but my monitor is a 32' 1080P HD TV hooked up to my current PC with HDMI

I'm open to any suggestions or if there is anything I'm forgetting. Thanks for your time and any help I receive


Hi - If you can get a 7870 for $200 then grabit, excellent value at $200. I have a
Sapphire 7870 and very pleased with it.

Nick is correct you don't need 800w & Topower is not a brand I would recommend.
realhardtech suggests a 500w psu for a system with one 7870, and that has
some wiggle room added in. Stick with a good brand:
Seasonic, XFX, Antec, PC Power & Cooling, Rosewill Capstone series,
most Corsair's and some others.

Tom



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January 30, 2013 6:57:23 PM

Yeah that is what I'm thinking then maybe down the road I can crossfire or upgrade. Does manufacturer matter and is there anything else withing $50 that would get a FPS increase that would justify the extra $
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January 30, 2013 7:01:05 PM

Hey there, AMD cpus are fine.

If you can find it, AMD Radeon HD 7870 LE is a better version of HD 7870 that is as fast as HD 7950. It is only 20 or so dollar more than 7870. If you can't find it, HD 7870 is also pretty unbeatable.


Get catalyst 13.2 beta as that fixes many bugs and contain a lot of improvements.
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January 30, 2013 7:02:25 PM

Thanks Tom, the PSU is something I didn't look much into but I will take your advice. There are a few 7870 on newegg fr around $200 so I guess I'll get one
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a c 259 U Graphics card
January 30, 2013 7:05:20 PM

Games are usually more dependent on the graphics card than they are on the cpu.
My rule of thumb is to spend twice your cpu budget on the graphics card.

In this case, your $200 FX-8150 might be more appropriately matched with a $370 GTX670.

But for a combined budget of $400, divide it up into a $130 cpu like a i3-3320 and a $270 graphics card like a 7870LE.

Few games use more than 2-3 cores making the extra cores of the FX-8350 largely useless.
Faster cores help more, and the fx is sadly lacking in efficiency per core compared to intel today.
By the time that changes, the FX-8350 will be obsolete.
Today, a similarly priced 3570 is more effective, but for an extra 5% in cost, you can buy a 3570K which can be conservatively overclocked to 4.3, a 25% boost in cpu power.

If you have certain games you want to play, do some research and comparisons that are based on them.

I would see it as a good strategy to spend $220 on a 3570K and a lesser garaphics card.
I see the 3570K as a 4 year chip, even after haswell launches this summer.

It will be easier to upgrade a graphics card over time.

Now, you asked about which card to pick.
Ignore specs, that is all folded into the design and the price performance equation.
Buy the best card you feel comfortable paying for.
Pick a brand you like, or if you have a preference nvidia/amd for the driver support. In the end, all cards at the same price point will perform equally well.
So don't anguish about it.

Whatever you pick, here is a handy chart with the psu size you need:
http://www.realhardtechx.com/index_archivos/Page362.htm

And a chart organized by quality tiers:
http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx
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January 30, 2013 7:25:08 PM

wait wait, I thought I saw FX 8350. Dude, if you buy AMD, go piledriver or buy Intel, bulldozer is ***. save yourself 50 dollars and get a FX 6300 and use that 50 dollars on a 7870 LE (which can be crossfired with a tahiti GPU, like the 7950 and 7970) or, use the money saved from the PSU and the extra ram and put it into a 7950 straight up.

actually, how bout this. you post your total budget, and we'll give you the best builds you can get in said budget? (if you have any parts for it, like an optical drive yu mentioned, let us know)
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January 30, 2013 7:29:07 PM

burntpizza said:
Hey there, AMD cpus are fine.

If you can find it, AMD Radeon HD 7870 LE is a better version of HD 7870 that is as fast as HD 7950. It is only 20 or so dollar more than 7870. If you can't find it, HD 7870 is also pretty unbeatable.


Get catalyst 13.2 beta as that fixes many bugs and contain a lot of improvements.


+1 Agree that 7870 LE tahiti is the best graphic card in mid range

=> Another thing is that it uses the same shaders like 7950
=> Benchmark results are way beyond 660ti and 7870 and really close to 7950
=> Only one vendor for this card POWERCOLOR
=> It offers a extended warrenty service :sol: 
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January 31, 2013 12:58:09 PM

CarolKarine said:
wait wait, I thought I saw FX 8350. Dude, if you buy AMD, go piledriver or buy Intel, bulldozer is ***. save yourself 50 dollars and get a FX 6300 and use that 50 dollars on a 7870 LE (which can be crossfired with a tahiti GPU, like the 7950 and 7970) or, use the money saved from the PSU and the extra ram and put it into a 7950 straight up.

actually, how bout this. you post your total budget, and we'll give you the best builds you can get in said budget? (if you have any parts for it, like an optical drive yu mentioned, let us know)







Since thjis was my first buiold I though my $500 would be plenty but that quick grew to $600 then $700 so I think $7500-$800 is my max but I think I want the 8350 unless there is another option that will blow it out of the water for allot less
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January 31, 2013 1:00:17 PM

I though the 8350 was not the bulldozer anymore. Isn't the 8150 the last of that or am I totally wrong again. I thought it was Vishera
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a c 259 U Graphics card
January 31, 2013 1:06:16 PM

At any price point, the intel cpu's will be better for the gamer.
If you will be primarily running multicore enabled and cpu bound apps, then the FX multicore cpu's might be appropriate.

As to the possibility of planning for sli or crossfire, here is my canned rant on that:

-----------------------------Start of rant----------------------------------------------------
Dual graphics cards vs. a good single card.

a) How good do you really need to be?
A single GTX650/ti or 7770 can give you good performance at 1920 x 1200 in most games.

A single GTX660 or 7850 will give you excellent performance at 1920 x 1200 in most games.
Even 2560 x 1600 will be good with lowered detail.
A single gtx690 is about as good as it gets.

Only if you are looking at triple monitor gaming, then sli/cf will be needed.
Even that is now changing with triple monitor support on top end cards.

b) The costs for a single card are lower.
You require a less expensive motherboard; no need for sli/cf or multiple pci-e slots.
Even a ITX motherboard will do.

Your psu costs are less.
A GTX660 needs a 430w psu, even a GTX680 only needs a 550w psu.
When you add another card to the mix, plan on adding 150-200w to your psu requirements.

Even the strongest GTX690 only needs 620w.

Case cooling becomes more of an issue with dual cards.
That means a more expensive case with more and stronger fans.
You will also look at more noise.

c) Dual cards do not always render their half of the display in sync, causing microstuttering. It is an annoying effect.
The benefit of higher benchmark fps can be offset, particularly with lower tier cards.
Read this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

d) dual card support is dependent on the driver. Not all games can benefit from dual cards.

e) cf/sli up front reduces your option to get another card for an upgrade. Not that I suggest you plan for that.
It will often be the case that replacing your current card with a newer gen card will offer a better upgrade path.
The GTX780 and amd 8000 series are not that far off.
-------------------------------End of rant-----------------------------------------------------------
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January 31, 2013 1:10:12 PM

geofelt said:
At any price point, the intel cpu's will be better for the gamer.
If you will be primarily running multicore enabled and cpu bound apps, then the FX multicore cpu's might be appropriate.

As to the possibility of planning for sli or crossfire, here is my canned rant on that:

-----------------------------Start of rant----------------------------------------------------
Dual graphics cards vs. a good single card.

a) How good do you really need to be?
A single GTX650/ti or 7770 can give you good performance at 1920 x 1200 in most games.

A single GTX660 or 7850 will give you excellent performance at 1920 x 1200 in most games.
Even 2560 x 1600 will be good with lowered detail.
A single gtx690 is about as good as it gets.

Only if you are looking at triple monitor gaming, then sli/cf will be needed.
Even that is now changing with triple monitor support on top end cards.

b) The costs for a single card are lower.
You require a less expensive motherboard; no need for sli/cf or multiple pci-e slots.
Even a ITX motherboard will do.

Your psu costs are less.
A GTX660 needs a 430w psu, even a GTX680 only needs a 550w psu.
When you add another card to the mix, plan on adding 150-200w to your psu requirements.

Even the strongest GTX690 only needs 620w.

Case cooling becomes more of an issue with dual cards.
That means a more expensive case with more and stronger fans.
You will also look at more noise.

c) Dual cards do not always render their half of the display in sync, causing microstuttering. It is an annoying effect.
The benefit of higher benchmark fps can be offset, particularly with lower tier cards.
Read this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

d) dual card support is dependent on the driver. Not all games can benefit from dual cards.

e) cf/sli up front reduces your option to get another card for an upgrade. Not that I suggest you plan for that.
It will often be the case that replacing your current card with a newer gen card will offer a better upgrade path.
The GTX780 and amd 8000 series are not that far off.
-------------------------------End of rant-----------------------------------------------------------


excellent rant!
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January 31, 2013 1:45:05 PM

Intel CPU's will be better, but in the long run the difference is actually pretty minimal compared to how much you spend on a GPU.

my suggestion:

AMD FX 6300 (or 4300, if you really need to save money - difference is only in highly-threaded apps)
Gigabyte 7870
600w PSU (corsair is my preffered brand, but just make sure it's a good brand)
gigabyte GA-970 AM3+ mobo
8GB ram
some 50 dollar ATX case. make sure it comes with at least some fans.
your current optical drive
storage (I prefer western digital)

That's basically my current system setup, and I'm getting playable (35-40 fps) framerates in the crysis 3 MP beta at 1080p, ultra. I get near 160fps (vsync off) on low settings, which is still sexy. (also note that the multiplayer for crysis 3 is as good looking as the campaign demos I've seen so far) temps didn't go above 50 degrees Celsius (70 is the threshold for starting to hurt your components)

AMD graphics cards are generally 20-30 dollars cheaper than nvidia cards, which because you're on a budget is key. plus, they get the same performance.

AMD CPU's aren't as good as intel, unless you're doing highly threaded operations. However, you're trying to save money, and your processor isn't key to gaming (it can be a bottleneck, but the two CPU's I've suggested won't be for another couple years. an 8350 won't be a bottleneck for longer than that)
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January 31, 2013 3:49:34 PM

Yeah I guess I just figured for the extra few bucks over the FX-6300 why not go for it and hopefully get a little longevity out of the CPU. All the reviews I've been watching of Intel vs. AMD they seemed to perform within 5 FPS of each other. I decided to get the 7870LE but it seems like word spread pretty quick and they are sold out on most sites. So I'm ordering stuff this weekend yay! I'm pretty sure by then I'll have completely changed my build 3 or 4 times
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January 31, 2013 3:51:35 PM

Also I read somewhere to take full advantage of the new FX 'vishera CPU to get a 990fx Mobo is that true. I might be doing a little bit of OCing but nothing major with the cpu already at 4ghz/ 4.2turbo
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a c 112 U Graphics card
January 31, 2013 3:53:35 PM

ehyde1029 said:
Yeah I guess I just figured for the extra few bucks over the FX-6300 why not go for it and hopefully get a little longevity out of the CPU. All the reviews I've been watching of Intel vs. AMD they seemed to perform within 5 FPS of each other. I decided to get the 7870LE but it seems like word spread pretty quick and they are sold out on most sites. So I'm ordering stuff this weekend yay! I'm pretty sure by then I'll have completely changed my build 3 or 4 times



LOL! - That's what I did, changed my mind several times. Fortunately,
an offer "I can't refuse" popped up (7870 for $185) or I'd
prob still be tryin to decide.

Tom
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January 31, 2013 4:06:30 PM

Best answer selected by ehyde1029.
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