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Best graphics solution at ~$800?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 1, 2013 12:49:39 AM

I'm probably going to be selling my current system and building a new one. However, I want to upgrade my graphics in any case, and my graphics budget is about the same whether I upgrade or build new.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next 1-10 days

BUDGET RANGE: $600-800 before rebates, before shipping

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming. I assume that anything in this price range will be way more than adequate for anything else I do (watching/recording/streaming video, standard web browsing, math/programming software, Photoshop).

Current games:
1) WoW
2) Skyrim (heavily modded)
3) SCII
4) Rift

Upcoming games:
1) TESO (hopefully beta)
2) SimCity
3) Crysis 3

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: (e.g., ATI Radeon HD 4850 and Corsair 750TX 750W PSU - without this info, it's really hard to help you)

Current:
GPU: Sapphire Radeon 7870 GHz Edition
PSU: PC Power and Cooling 750W 80 Plus Bronze Certified

Likely buy:
PSU: Corsair AX760 fully modular 80 Plus Platinum (can go up to 860 if necessary)

OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS:

Current:
CPU: i5 3570K @ 4.4GHz
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V
RAM: 8GB Corsair DDR1600
Case: Corsair 500R, air cooled
SSD: Samsung 830 256GB

Likely buy:
CPU: i5 3570K (if graphics are below $700, I could go up to the 3770K)
Motherboard: Asus $200-260 model (I'm drooling over the Maximus V Formula but might go for the P8Z77-V Pro)
RAM: 8-16GB DDR1600-1866
Case: Corsair Vengeance C70 or Graphite 600T, air cooled
SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB (cheaper graphics -> possible 512GB)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, amazon.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Prefer Asus or Sapphire; HIS, Gigabyte, PNY, and EVGA OK. Maybe MSI or XFX. No PowerColor, Biostar, or Zotac.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: If that's the best option. Prefer SLI over Crossfire.

MONITOR RESOLUTION:

Current: 1920x1080

Future buy (6-12 months): 2560x1440

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Must handle 8x MSAA extremely well (my one qualm with Nvidia)
No dual-GPU cards
No reference cards - must have custom cooling
I really, really, really hate microstuttering
I can't tolerate framerates dipping below 60 (which is why I'm upgrading). I expect to get >60 FPS at 1080p at all times under all circumstances excluding poorly-optimized beta software, and would really like to be able to expect the same at 1440p if/when I upgrade my monitor.
Would like black PCB or backplate for looks
Don't care about low-pitched fan roar no matter how loud it is, but can't tolerate high-pitched fan/bearing/coil whine

More about : graphics solution 800

March 1, 2013 2:04:34 AM

Just to add, the current setups I'm considering:

Slightly over budget (can use in new build if I cut the budget somewhere else):

Asus GTX 670 DCII 2-way SLI - $840
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabyte 7970 GHz Edition 2-way Crossfire - $860
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

At budget (can use as upgrade or in new system without any other changes):

Gigabyte 7970 2-way Crossfire - $800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX 7970 Black Edition 2-way Crossfire - $800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabyte or MSI 670 OC 2-way SLI - $780
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Under budget (can make some minor upgrades elsewhere)

Sapphire Vapor-X or Asus DCII 7950 2-way SLI - $680
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Way under budget (can make major upgrades elsewhere):

Sapphire Vapor-X 7970 GHz Edition - $460
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabyte 7970 GHz Edition - $430
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'd prefer a single-card solution, but with the 7970s beating the 680s and being so much cheaper, I'm having trouble finding a useful way to spend my budget on one card. I can't quite go up to the Titan, and it's sold out anyway.

I'm OK with SLI, but I don't think 2 670s is an amazing way to spend $800 when I could get 2 7870 GHz (which would theoretically be better than 2 680s even) for just $20-80 more. On the other hand, I'm dubious about Crossfire and the microstuttering issues. And the 7970 GHz I really like (Sapphire Vapor-X) would push me over $900 if I got two of them, so I'm stuck with the Gigabyte, which is voltage-locked, if I want to CF two of them.

Please help :) 
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a c 109 U Graphics card
March 1, 2013 2:14:49 AM

Just get a single card, like the 670 gtx or the 7970.
And you don't need a new psu for those.
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Related resources
a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2013 2:27:31 AM

Just get a 7970 ghz edition.... it'll handle most games on 2560x1440 fine...

every single games you listed aren't that demanding at all... other than crysis 3...

I really don't see the point of 8xMSAA. with that high of a resolution, you're not going to see any difference... There really isn't even a visible difference between 4x and 8x AA at that kind of a resolution...
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a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2013 2:32:09 AM

+1 to the 7970.

Mine is perfectly fine running 1440p
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a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2013 2:39:39 AM

The 7970 from my experience is overkill on the games I play @1080p. I haven't received my crisis bioshock bundle yet, but everything else (bf3, skyrim, nfsmw ect.) this card smashes through. I would grab a ghz edition for your current res, maybe crossfire later with the monitor upgrade.
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a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2013 2:42:43 AM

zpwslayer said:
The 7970 from my experience is overkill on the games I play @1080p. I haven't received my crisis bioshock bundle yet, but everything else (bf3, skyrim, nfsmw ect.) this card smashes through. I would grab a ghz edition for your current res, maybe crossfire later with the monitor upgrade.


You don't even need a 7970... my GTX 670 FTW ($20 or so cheaper?) also maxes out pretty much everything at 60 fps...
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March 1, 2013 2:45:20 AM

Quote:
every single games you listed aren't that demanding at all... other than crysis 3...

Well, I want to be able to run Crysis 3 well. And I don't know what the sysreqs will be for TESO, but I imagine they'll be pretty tough.

Rift is also absurdly demanding because it's poorly optimized, although I don't think it'll get much out of a CF/SLI setup because of the poor optimization.

And even WoW will surprise you when you get 25+ players in combat in an outdoor zone with settings cranked up. My current system drops as low as 35fps at 1080p, even with a couple of tweaks to the max settings.

Basically, I know I'm going to be unhappy if I see anything below 60 at any point at all ever. I'm willing to drop the cash to make that not happen - I'm not worried about 'wasted' performance because I expect it will be used by new games in a year or two. I just need to know how to spend the money.

Quote:
I really don't see the point of 8xMSAA. with that high of a resolution, you're not going to see any difference... There really isn't even a visible difference between 4x and 8x AA at that kind of a resolution...

Right now I'm running at 1080p on a 27-inch monitor (so I have big pixels), and I can't afford both a 1440p monitor and a card to support it right now, so I'm stuck at 1080 for at least another 6-12 months.

Higher AA settings often help with edge flicker when moving or turning the camera, even when you can't tell the difference in a still shot. I usually run at 2x or 4x, but I need to have the option to turn up to 8x without a performance drop in games where it helps.
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a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2013 2:50:53 AM

killerhurtalot said:
You don't even need a 7970... my GTX 670 FTW ($20 or so cheaper?) also maxes out pretty much everything at 60 fps...

Good point. Im realizing that now. I should have just grabbed a 7950 and saved 100 dollars lol I only play @1080p so I really dont even need all the gpu muscle that I thought I did :pfff: 
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Anonymous
March 1, 2013 3:04:12 AM

Do not get the ghz edition its a waste of money to get that over the plain 7970.Saphhire dual x 7970 $399 a piece after rebate.Any 7970 overclocked to a mear 1 ghz is the exact same performance as the ghz edition.
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a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2013 3:07:01 AM

kaels said:
Quote:
every single games you listed aren't that demanding at all... other than crysis 3...

Well, I want to be able to run Crysis 3 well. And I don't know what the sysreqs will be for TESO, but I imagine they'll be pretty tough.

Rift is also absurdly demanding because it's poorly optimized, although I don't think it'll get much out of a CF/SLI setup because of the poor optimization.

And even WoW will surprise you when you get 25+ players in combat in an outdoor zone with settings cranked up. My current system drops as low as 35fps at 1080p, even with a couple of tweaks to the max settings.

Basically, I know I'm going to be unhappy if I see anything below 60 at any point at all ever. I'm willing to drop the cash to make that not happen - I'm not worried about 'wasted' performance because I expect it will be used by new games in a year or two. I just need to know how to spend the money.

Quote:
I really don't see the point of 8xMSAA. with that high of a resolution, you're not going to see any difference... There really isn't even a visible difference between 4x and 8x AA at that kind of a resolution...

Right now I'm running at 1080p on a 27-inch monitor (so I have big pixels), and I can't afford both a 1440p monitor and a card to support it right now, so I'm stuck at 1080 for at least another 6-12 months.

Higher AA settings often help with edge flicker when moving or turning the camera, even when you can't tell the difference in a still shot. I usually run at 2x or 4x, but I need to have the option to turn up to 8x without a performance drop in games where it helps.



:/  how close do you sit to your screen lol. i sit like maybe 2-2.5 feet away from a 27" screen and I don't see anything jaggy at 1080p w/ 4x msaa...
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March 1, 2013 3:25:54 AM

kaels said:
Quote:
every single games you listed aren't that demanding at all... other than crysis 3...

Well, I want to be able to run Crysis 3 well. And I don't know what the sysreqs will be for TESO, but I imagine they'll be pretty tough.

Rift is also absurdly demanding because it's poorly optimized, although I don't think it'll get much out of a CF/SLI setup because of the poor optimization.

And even WoW will surprise you when you get 25+ players in combat in an outdoor zone with settings cranked up. My current system drops as low as 35fps at 1080p, even with a couple of tweaks to the max settings.

Basically, I know I'm going to be unhappy if I see anything below 60 at any point at all ever. I'm willing to drop the cash to make that not happen - I'm not worried about 'wasted' performance because I expect it will be used by new games in a year or two. I just need to know how to spend the money.

Quote:
I really don't see the point of 8xMSAA. with that high of a resolution, you're not going to see any difference... There really isn't even a visible difference between 4x and 8x AA at that kind of a resolution...

Right now I'm running at 1080p on a 27-inch monitor (so I have big pixels), and I can't afford both a 1440p monitor and a card to support it right now, so I'm stuck at 1080 for at least another 6-12 months.

Higher AA settings often help with edge flicker when moving or turning the camera, even when you can't tell the difference in a still shot. I usually run at 2x or 4x, but I need to have the option to turn up to 8x without a performance drop in games where it helps.


That WoW situation is probably CPU more than GPU; WoW is notoriously CPU-dependent.
Makes sense if you think about how many back-end calculations need to be done when you get into densely populated areas.
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March 1, 2013 4:00:23 AM

unksol said:
7970s are easily the best value. The 6 free games help cost wise too. Sell them if you don't want them.

http://sites.amd.com/us/promo/never-settle/Pages/nsrelo...

Which ones? I know some 7970s are basically the same as GHz Editions but with lower factory clock. But the ones I know are good (Sapphire 7970 with Boost, Asus 7970 DCUII) have been sold out on Newegg for over a week and are way overpriced on Amazon (more expensive than most of the GHz Editions).

So I'm stuck with voltage-locked non-Boost XFX or Gigabyte (which means I don't get to take full advantage of the 7970's overclockability), reference cards, and PowerColor (ew). And the way overpriced MSI. Not sure which of those to pick. I'm more-or-less leaning Gigabyte, but if I go that way (with the voltage lock) I have a really hard time turning down the GHz Edition of the same card for just $60 more and no need to worry about OCability.
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Anonymous
March 1, 2013 4:17:50 AM

kaels said:
Which ones? I know some 7970s are basically the same as GHz Editions but with lower factory clock. But the ones I know are good (Sapphire 7970 with Boost, Asus 7970 DCUII) have been sold out on Newegg for over a week and are way overpriced on Amazon (more expensive than most of the GHz Editions).

So I'm stuck with voltage-locked non-Boost XFX or Gigabyte (which means I don't get to take full advantage of the 7970's overclockability), reference cards, and PowerColor (ew). And the way overpriced MSI. Not sure which of those to pick. I'm more-or-less leaning Gigabyte, but if I go that way (with the voltage lock) I have a really hard time turning down the GHz Edition of the same card for just $60 more and no need to worry about OCability.



Even voltage locked 7970's will hit 1100 mhz pretty easy.Ive owned 3 7950's and a 7970 and ive gotten them all to hit 1125 mhz without touching the voltage.Unless your just out to overclock for benchmark purpouses 1100 mhz is a banging card for 24/7 use.
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March 1, 2013 4:23:08 AM

Quote:
That WoW situation is probably CPU more than GPU; WoW is notoriously CPU-dependent.
Makes sense if you think about how many back-end calculations need to be done when you get into densely populated areas.


I'm pretty sure there's a significant GPU component. It's a lot worse in the newer zones than in the older ones, which implies to me that textures/polygons are at fault, not combat computations.

Also, background programs have very little impact on my framerates on the low end (I can do video processing in the background without really noticing much of a difference in high-demand situations, although if I'm just staring at a blank wall I can see a dip from ~120 to ~100 if I stress the CPU).

I've also seen people recording/streaming at 60FPS in the same situations where I'm dipping to 35-40. I'm sure they're not all running processors dramatically better than a 3570K@4.4GHz.
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March 1, 2013 8:17:44 AM

Your best option for single monitor and even for upgrade in future resolution bump is 7970 or drop another $100 for a titan, your definitely set for future demanding games specially with a cpu OC at 4.4ghz...
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March 1, 2013 11:50:11 AM

I would suggest an EVGA 670 in SLI. My justification for not wanting to go with ATI was the experience I’ve had with support with drivers in the past and catalyst is really not friendly to use in tweaking. Of course people will tell you about micro-stuttering OMG! We’re all going to die…NO. If you look at the micro-stuttering tests that have been done here, Nvidia comes pretty close to a single GPU and pretty darn close when you add a third card.

I offer the following statement if you’re considering a single GPU setup… The GTX 680 is overpriced, small improvement for astronomically higher cost (not worth it). Same thing with the 690 unless you have the cash flow to justify spending that much, it does have its benefits equal to its drawbacks…weigh your options.

You can try to create an absolute weighted comparison chart and score your options and come to a decision mathematically (assumption that you weighted your options in line with your wants)
Clear disclaimer, this is what I’ve found to be the best performance/per dollar/ for my needs. It may not work for you.

Cheers,
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