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Graphics Card Upgrade, Power Concerns

Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:39 pm

Last Spring, I rebuilt my machine as basically an Econobox (4x AMD Athlon 3.0 GHz, 8GB DDR1333, 1TB HD, etc.). At the time, I saved money by reusing an old GeForce 6600GT for graphics. I've held out for a bit, and now that it's birthday and Christmas season, I'm looking to do a long overdue upgrade of the GPU. My ideal goal would be to run Skyrim at 1080p and "pretty" settings (resolution is more important to me than eye candy). My choices are the typical mid-range ($130 - $180) choices: Radeon 6850 and 6870, GTX 460 and (maybe) GTX 560.

My concern isn't with brands or performance, as I'm pretty convinced I can't go terribly wrong with those choices. I am concerned with power consumption. I have a Corsair 400W Bronze Certified Power Supply that I don't plan on replacing with this upgrade. I don't overclock (and don't ever plan to with this system). I plug everything into the PSU calculator and get the following recommendations:

HD 6850 - 325 W
HD 6870 - 353 W
GTX 460 - 359 W
GTX 560 - 376 W

Right now my thinking is the 6850 because I'm paranoid about power. Do these numbers seem sane? Is using one of these cards going to overburden the PSU? If the price difference between the cards isn't an issue, which would the board recommend for my current setup?
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Re: Graphics Card Upgrade, Power Concerns

Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:52 pm

power supplies degrade over the course of the year, so i think you're going to output a little less? why not wait for the radeon 7xxx in january, they require much less power for the same performance
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Re: Graphics Card Upgrade, Power Concerns

Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:59 pm

Your power supply shouldn't have any problems supporting that load. If it was some generic pile of junk, then that might be a concern, but a Corsair supply shouldn't have issues.

Switching power supplies actually run most efficiently when heavily loaded, so there's nothing wrong with loading them up to 80% or more of their full-load rating.
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Re: Graphics Card Upgrade, Power Concerns

Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:44 pm

The Radeon HD6870 provides the best bang for the buck among your suggestions.

Your existing power supply is fine as long as you're only using one of those graphics cards at a time.

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