Graphics upgrade

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Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:37 am

Hey guys,
I'm looking for advice on an upgrade.

Moving from a HD6770 on a 24" 1080p monitor, to gaming on the living room TV which is 42" @1080p.
I would like to play most current games at nice settings/fps.
My budget is €130 (what i have right now) - €160/€170 (if i wait a couple of weeks). Below are my options.

Used Sapphire 5850 Delivered for €90
XFX HD 6870 DD 1GB 900MHz Delivered for €142
VTX3D Radeon HD 7770 Delivered for €124
VTX3D Radeon 6870 1GB Delivered for €150
Radeon HD 6870 OEM Delivered for €140
XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition Delivered for €150
Sapphire VAPOR-X HD 7770 GHz Edition OC Delivered for €157

After smooth gaming, noise is my main concern, since this will be in the HTPC. This is why i'm leaning towards something with a dual fan design.
Getting the 5850 cheap would keep me going until a new batch of cards come out and possibly lower prices of the 7 Series cards to where i could purchase one of those.
Any thoughts? :wink:
Thanks.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:45 am

First off, the screen size doesn't matter, its the pixels that count. In your case, you will see the same frame rates on your TV as your 24" monitor since they are both 1080 resolution.

Have a look at this TR article for what increases you can expect from a 7770. (5770 and 6770 are the same card) The 7770 isn't going to be a huge jump from your 6770, but the power usage will be less so heat and therefore noise should be less as well. That's the shining advantage the 7770 has.

If you're looking for a noticeable performance increase over your 6770, that pretty much narrows you down to that 5850 or a 6870. You can see a comparison between the 5850 and 6870 here. You're looking at less than 5fps difference between the two, but the 6870 will be faster...power consumption is roughly the same so noise and temps will come down to the individual coolers.

Here's a TR article that bridges the gap between a 6850/7770 and a 6870. Generally speaking, a 6870 will give roughly 7-8 fps more than a 7770 and 13-16 fps more than your 6770.

Those are just raw fames per second and power consumption that I'm providing here. Directx11 is supported in all the aforementioned cards, but generational features do vary. You'll have to decide whether or not those additional features concern you.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:43 pm

I think he wants the extra power so he can turn up AA to compensate for the increased screen size.

Get either the XFX or VTX3D 6870. If VTX3D has has better customer support and warranty in UK it might be worth the extra money.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:16 pm

I wouldn't go less than an HD7850 or GTX660, personally. The HD6770 is still a pretty stout card at 1080p if you're willing to live without MSAA and the highest detail settings. Hell, I used an HD4870 1GB, which is about the same speed minus DX11 and a good tessellation engine with my 30" 2560x1600 monitor successfully a while back when I was in-between GPUs. It was a much better experience than I was expecting.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:41 pm

GTX660? It's not available yet, and all the info so far points to it being a 150W card that will be available in Europe by September for about €300. It's not really in the same ballpark as anything the OP is talking about; If the estimates are right, it's so overbudget as to be ridiculous.

I'd go for the 7770 instead of the 6870, it is rated at just 80W compared to 151W for the 6870 (wikipedia, admittedly).

The VTX is pretty good, since it's cheap and the stock 7770 fan seems very quiet.
Of the overclocked/aftermarket coolers, the one to get is the Sapphire vapor-X, without question. Heapipes, twin 70mm fans, you can't go wrong. I am very impressed by the Vapor-X cards I've seen, in fact I bought one recently and for a 200W GPU, it's remarkably quiet.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:06 pm

Have you considered another 6770 for crossfire? That might be your best bang for the buck, although it comes with its own caveats, and if noise is concern you probably want to make sure your case is set up so that you can have a slot separating the two cards for airflow.

Disclaimer: I haven't done any research, but given the replies you've had thus far, it seems unlikely that you'll be able to top crossfire for the price, and the good news is that if you're looking for MSAA, crossfire scales very well.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:02 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:GTX660? It's not available yet, and all the info so far points to it being a 150W card that will be available in Europe by September for about €300. It's not really in the same ballpark as anything the OP is talking about; If the estimates are right, it's so overbudget as to be ridiculous.

I'd go for the 7770 instead of the 6870, it is rated at just 80W compared to 151W for the 6870 (wikipedia, admittedly).

The VTX is pretty good, since it's cheap and the stock 7770 fan seems very quiet.
Of the overclocked/aftermarket coolers, the one to get is the Sapphire vapor-X, without question. Heapipes, twin 70mm fans, you can't go wrong. I am very impressed by the Vapor-X cards I've seen, in fact I bought one recently and for a 200W GPU, it's remarkably quiet.


You're mostly right, and I didn't really qualify my statement. If the GTX660-series follows the GTX560-series, there will probably be a range of GPUs available covering the HD7850 to the HD7950 (or close), with respective pricing. I'd expect a lower end model to approach 200 Euros/Dollars, which is within his budget considerations, assuming he waits till they're available (which is imminent). The HD7850 would be the best choice for today, as anything slower wouldn't be worth the investment over an HD6770; he might as well wait and save.

For Crossfire, it's just not worth it if you're using lower-end cards. You may get the FPS, but you also get micro-stuttering, along with splitting PCIe lanes and extra power requirements. It's not totally out of the picture and it might very well be the best inexpensive option, but unless there isn't a single card available that's fast enough, Crossfire/SLi shouldn't be used.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:51 am

Airmantharp wrote:For Crossfire, it's just not worth it if you're using lower-end cards. You may get the FPS, but you also get micro-stuttering, along with splitting PCIe lanes and extra power requirements. It's not totally out of the picture and it might very well be the best inexpensive option, but unless there isn't a single card available that's fast enough, Crossfire/SLi shouldn't be used.


Actually it's all about overkill here; for around the same price as an "upgrade" single card he can get a LOT more performance from crossfire. Microstuttering isn't a problem if all of the frames are below the inverse of the refresh rate. A 6770 isn't even going to begin to saturate the PCIe bandwidth. I think you need to look at crossfire scaling a little more if you think that it will.

I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but given his requirements, it really is by far the best price/performance ratio. Going from one 6770 to two at the same resolution is going to make so much more difference than a small number of frames above 16.7ms, I just don't see the concern. I'd say the major caveats are hardware-related (does he have a mobo and psu that can do crossfire), with some question on the video driver side. Do you have crossfire? I do (2x6970 @ 1680x1050 @ 120hz), I really like high framerates. I can tell you that this setup is very well suited, and someone that's obviously a little less sensitive to framerate is going to be more satisfied, rather than less.

This page shows the difference between a single and crossfired 6770; note in the top graph that it nearly doubles the minimum framerate to nearly 60 fps. That means, by definition, that microstuttering is having a very small effect, if any on Crysis Warhead, which is still a bit of a hog even today.

If he was starting out without any card, I would wholeheartedly recommend a faster single card. He's not though.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:07 am

Some people wrote: Crossfire stuff.


HTPC.
MicroATX board in all likelihood so very unlikely to fit the bill.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:21 am

Thanks guys,
Lots of good info and opinions there.

Yes my HTPC is m-ATX and running an H77 chipset so i believe crossfire is off the table there.
I've made some second hand sales in the last 24hrs so I now have €200 to spend today.
I would live the HD 7850 but it's over €200 everywhere i look.
Should I get the HD 6950 now...or hold off another week or two, to see if Nvidia do indeed release their midrange stuff, which in turn may bring the 7850 within my budget?
Would love to get the best single card solution in terms of performance - noise - power.
Cheers :D
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:49 am

Jason181 wrote:Microstuttering isn't a problem if all of the frames are below the inverse of the refresh rate..


That doesn't happen often even in single GPU setups, but has been reduced in the higher end cards from the current GPU generation. Here's another example. But unusually long refresh rates are magnified when moving to crossfire/SLI.

You may want to read through this article which illustrates the pitfalls of microstuttering incurred with multi-GPU setups. It's a widely recognized problem, and it's not just as simple as how much combined GPU horsepower you have. I would agree that microstuttering becomes less frequent as your graphics horsepower increases, but games are set to automatically detect and apply optimal video settings based on your setup, and what user is going to want to reduce video quality to churn out 100+ FPS so that microstuttering is reduced (but not eliminated). That's just wasting that extra GPU muscle you just bought. Obviously users' tolerance to microstuttering may vary greatly, but how do you know what your threshold is until it's too late.

Chrispy_ wrote:HTPC.


Exactly.

To the OP: the GTX 660 may be a couple months away yet. The good thing about waiting is that once Nvidia can offer some competition in the mid-range market, the 7850 prices might drop a bit. But that's just speculation.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:50 pm

Avoid the 6950 for the same reasons as the 5850. It's hotter, larger, and not really HTPC-friendly if you're looking for something quiet.
The 7850 is a great card if you want substantially more power than the 6770. You'll probably pick one up for about €225 if you hunt around a bit (though exact prices are hard to give you without knowing which country you're in - taxes, shipping etc).

Ignore the GTX660, unless you have more money and are patient; USD and Euros are pretty similar in the PC industry, so when the GTX660 NDA lifts on the 16th August all evidence says the MSRP will be $299. I would be amazed if you can get one delivered in Europe for under €300 before September. The true mid-range solution from Nvidia (GK106) isn't going to come for ages; There's no hint of an NDA yet, very little leaked info and all we know for sure is "Q3" which is probably financial rather than calendar year, given that the GTX660 is still counted as Q2 in August.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:56 pm

My stock HD6950's were rather quiet under load, thank you, and silent at stock. Granted my case setup was designed to take advantage of their exhausting coolers.

In any case, all things being the same, an HD7850+ now, or wait for reduced pricing later along with competition from Nvidia.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:21 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:"Q3" which is probably financial rather than calendar year, given that the GTX660 is still counted as Q2 in August.
NVidia's financial Q3 runs through Halloween.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:33 am

Airmantharp wrote:My stock HD6950's were rather quiet under load, thank you, and silent at stock. Granted my case setup was designed to take advantage of their exhausting coolers.

Yeah, I'm not saying that the 6950 are dustbusters, just that they'll be hotter and louder than an 7770 or 7850. I'm running a 6950 myself but it's a large card that needs a lot of airflow to run quiet, hence my recommendation to stay clear of it in a small MATX case where quiet operation is a priority.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:53 pm

Ok,
I've just wandered across this review of the Club3D HD 7850 Royal Queen 1 GB.
It get's a pretty decent 9.5/10 and the acoustics seem quite good!
I can get it here for €216 delivered.
I think waiting another week and pulling the trigger on this is my best option long term.
Unless something major happens soon to drop prices, i can't see a better alternative and i'm really at the limit of my budget with this, what will be my most expensive gpu purchase yet.
Ya, mind made up, cheers guys! :D
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:11 pm

DPete27 wrote:You may want to read through this article which illustrates the pitfalls of microstuttering incurred with multi-GPU setups.


I have read that article, but did you look at the 6970 versus the 6970 crossfire numbers? This page and this page show that the crossfire setup has vastly superior frametimes in both cases. The SLI results are disappointing, but it looks like you saw the SLI results and concluded that multi-gpu setups are bad.

Dpete27 wrote:I would agree that microstuttering becomes less frequent as your graphics horsepower increases, but games are set to automatically detect and apply optimal video settings based on your setup...


If you roughly double the horsepower, the framerates at a given resolution/quality are going to be a nonissue because you're doubling the horsepower. Who uses the default video settings? I kinda doubt the type of person who would buy a crossfire setup would.

Again, I would agree that if someone is starting with no graphics card, then a single-gpu solution is really the way to go for various reasons. It's really semantics now that we know his mobo won't support it, but for many people out there the reality is that they already have one card, and to get the same performance that buying a second card would provide, they'd have to pay a lot more, oftentimes over twice as much.

I think Techreport's analysis of microstuttering is great. It just doesn't apply to all situations. To me, it's not a "waste" of power to have 2 6970s for a 1680x1050 display because I like eye candy and I like high fps. If you halve the refresh rate to 60, it would be complete overkill, but remember I'm effective running the same amount of pixels as a 2560x1440 monitor at 60 hz.

To me, the resolutions used in the triple-display gaming article are crazy because I don't care how much screen real estate I have if my framerates are in the 30s. But, I realize that to each their own. When you take the time to link articles, it might behoove you to make sure they support your point.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:18 am

Check the prices on the 2GB variants before you settle on one with just 1GB of graphics memory.
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Re: Graphics upgrade

Postposted on Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:47 am

Ooh, good catch JAE, I didn't notice that. I agree though, there's a reason why newegg.com (in the US) has fifteen 2GB cards and only one 1GB one. And stepping up to 2GB only costs $10 more.
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