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Thread: Graphics Card Dilemma...

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    Graphics Card Dilemma...

    Trying to figure this out is sending me crazy, so I'd like some help here.

    I'm looking to spend up to £200 exc VAT, and here's what I need:

    1. decent performance in 1920x1200 in current games (I believe a 260gtx or 4870 would deliver this)
    2. low noise
    3. low heat
    4. low power consumption
    5. ability to move to crossfire/sli in future (if I upgraded to a 30" and wanted to run 2560x1600 for instance, or if i just needed more power)

    Now, from my criteria I'd been looking at GTX 275 with an arctic cooling xtreme cooler, however this is a 3 slot cooler so sli wouldn't be possible, these are also pretty impossible to find at the moment and with the cooler end up a bit over budget. I've reconsidered a bit because I think actually a 260-216 or a 1GB 4870 would run at 1920x1200 just fine.

    The problem here is, SLI seems pretty bad compared to Crossfire, so that would mean a future upgrade wouldn't be so great compared to the ATI option. Seems then like ATI would be an easy choice... however the 4870 cards appear to run very hot, hence I'm thinking the fans work harder and they would be noisy.

    This kind of pushes me towards 4890, they actually seem to meet all my criteria though really I don't need a 4890 I think, but lack of other viable cards has pushed me that way. I did briefly consider 4850 and even 4830 crossfired, but this would leave me with no upgrade path and higher power consumption to start off with.

    I'm thinking perhaps a 4890 non reference design with a quieter cooler would be pretty perfect, I do love the Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme GTX 280 I'm not sure if there is anything equivalent for 4890's, I'd prefer if it came with the cooler installed but I would consider installing it myself, looking for a 2 slot max card though.

    Any thoughts and opinions welcome!

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    4870's run hot because the fans don't ramp up, so you get a quiet solution with them. The 260 I seem to remember is the better of the two cards for noise though and both will handle 1920 x 1200 no problem.

    The 4890's fan does ramp up and thus will be nosier. Perhaps the GTX275 will be best.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    I think I've settled on either a GTX 260-216 or an Asus Custom Cooled 4890 if this is out when I order, all dependant on price. I know with the 260 it'll be a lot cheaper and if I'm unhappy with the noise I can always fit the Accelero, but if the Asus 4890 is out, gets good reviews and is not extortionate I may choose that instead.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    The GTS 250 has a very efficient cooler and good power regulation - it would be very comfortable @ 1920 x 1200 and provides a nice SLI option. It's performance sits between the 4850 and 4870, and it's probably currently the best single card in the £100 - £130 bracket: ebuyer have the Palit 1GB version for just £125

    The 4850 will just about cope with 1900 x 1200 but doesn't run quite as well as the GTS 250. The ASUS EAH version has a Zalman-esque cooler that does a good job and is pretty quiet - it's generally available for just over £110.

    At the minute though, the overall best buy just might fall to PowerColor's default-clocked 4870s, costing £149 for the 1GB model and just £129.99 for the 512MB. At those prices they're kind of hard to argue with - 2x 4870 for £260?!

    Since you have the budget, I'd definitely go for a 4870 of some description (the Sapphire Vapour-X, while expensive, are reckoned to be damn good, for instance).

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    I will let you know what i did last week.

    I have currently in my own system 2 x 4870's in Crossfire.
    I was then asked to do a build for someone that would play at good framerates on a 22"-24" monitor so i opted for the EVGA GTX260 (192 cores).

    All fixed up and ready to roll, i put it through its paces in 3D Mark Vantage. The scores came out at over 11K which is pretty good.

    The card was a whole lot quieter than the 4870 and i can guarantee now, if i was to build a system for myself, i would go SLi with 2 of the GTX260's. For £135 delivered, i was pleasantly suprised at the whole package.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    HD4890 with a Thermalright T-Rad2, or a Geforce GTX275 with whatever the equivalent for that is. Not sure if the Accelero Extreme GTX280 fits on it.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    The HD4870 512mb for £130 from Ebuyer is very good value as it seems to be the PCS version too(from the pictures) with an aftermarket cooler.

    This should mean it will run cooler!!

    Edit!!

    The card for sale has the same product number as the PCS version:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/160969

    http://www.powercolor.com/Global/pro...ProductID=4816

    A review of the 512mb version of this card:

    http://www.overclockersclub.com/revi...color_4870pcs/
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 17-04-2009 at 09:52 PM.


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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    What sort of resolution can you run a GTX285 upto with a single card and still keep good frame rates, I am thinks along the similar lines as the OP but would like good rates on a 1920x1080 monitor with high details and AA and AF.

    Looking at the current prices you can get two GTX260's for less than 1 GTX 285.

    This is for a core i7 system I am planning on building in the next couple of months.

    Thanks

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    SLi will generally give very good results especially with strong cards like the 260's, but there results are less consistant game to game.

    I'd be tempted by the one uber card tbh, but in all honesty, for 1920 x 1080 I'd get one 260 or one 275 and see how you get on.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    Tbh, Powercolor's aftermarket coolers aren't ideal. The Asus and HIS coolers are better.
    Chanfron: Don't buy a GTX285, the GTX275 is no slower.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    The HD4870 512mb for £130 from Ebuyer is very good value as it seems to be the PCS version too(from the pictures) with an aftermarket cooler.
    Just done some research on that card and it's a definite no-no

    4870's are pretty much out for me anyway, I don't like the excessive heat/power consumption. Apparently the fan on the PCS version is noisier than the stock cooler at low speeds, and the powercolor cards had a lot of issues from what I've read.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    Sorry what? The GTX275 uses LOADS more power than the HD4870, by a good 30%+, and secondly runs at 90ºC, not even the HD4870 gets that hot, only the X2 does.
    In any case the 4870 only runs hot because the default fan speed is so low (which is no problem, contrary to popular belief, when run at stock settings a graphics card running hot does not shorten its life). If it does bug you, turn the fan speed up, or buy an HD4890 which has a higher fan speed off the bat.

    Not getting all defensive, but neither of those arguments have any weight against the HD4870.

    I've seen a lot of Powercolor cards go bad for no reason, especially the old HD3870s. When there are other cheap brands to choose from I fail to see why anyone needs to buy a Powercolor.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    Quote Originally Posted by sammorris View Post
    Sorry what? The GTX275 uses LOADS more power than the HD4870, by a good 30%+, and secondly runs at 90ºC, not even the HD4870 gets that hot, only the X2 does.
    In any case the 4870 only runs hot because the default fan speed is so low (which is no problem, contrary to popular belief, when run at stock settings a graphics card running hot does not shorten its life). If it does bug you, turn the fan speed up, or buy an HD4890 which has a higher fan speed off the bat.

    Not getting all defensive, but neither of those arguments have any weight against the HD4870.

    I've seen a lot of Powercolor cards go bad for no reason, especially the old HD3870s. When there are other cheap brands to choose from I fail to see why anyone needs to buy a Powercolor.
    I was comparing like for like though. i.e. 260 vs 4870, 275 vs 4890, I don't think the 4870 vs 275 comparison is an issue since its a step up on one side.

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3539&p=22

    To be honest though power draw is a secondary concern, the heat is the major issue i have with the 4870.

    As far as the 275 getting very hot, thats a fair point, really the cards it has come down for me to choose between are a 260 and a 4890, preferably with non stock cooling solutions on both but I can get either the accelero or the t-rad 2and DIY it if i get stock and decide I'm not happy with it. I know the 4890 will offer better performance, I'm going to see what the prices of each are when I come to ordering, probably leaning towards the 4890 though!
    Last edited by fragster; 18-04-2009 at 10:29 AM.

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    TBH the argument about the HD4870 running hot is weak as it is because the cards have a VERY low default fan speed just as my HD3870 did. The same thing also affected the HD3850 and the HD4850 IIRC. If you want it to run cooler just use software like ATITool, Rivatuner or ATI Tray Tools to ramp the fan up automatically when needed. You can also set lower clockspeeds in 2D mode too than normal and ATI Tray Tools will set the card to 3D clockspeeds when gaming. This means the graphics card will not only run cooler but also consume slightly less power too.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 18-04-2009 at 10:41 AM.


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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    Interesting, thanks for that!

    I guess perhaps a 4870 1GB is a viable option too then, which is great as this would have been my preferred card out of the lot of them due to better crossfire than SLI performance. I hope this is the case though, guess I'd have to take the gamble on the 4870 to find out, I need the cooling to be more or less silent and ideally keep the card under 70 loaded. I have found a fairly viable solution though if it's not the case in the T-rad 2 with some scythe slim fans. Could end up with a setup similar to this:

    http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c1...7/Image014.jpg
    http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c1...7/Image015.jpg

    We'll see in the coming weeks what I finally settle on!

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    Re: Graphics Card Dilemma...

    The GTX260 216 does run cooler than the HD4870, but not by much, and unlike the GTX275 vs HD4890, it's no quieter.
    My July 2006 X1900XT has run at 90ºC load from new, whether on its standard cooler, or on the HR-03 rev.A which I run fanless. It hasn't done it any harm, and it's still running my server PC to this day.
    To give you an idea, the idle fan speed of the HD4870 is only 950rpm at 26%, 1100rpm at 27% (yeah, the percentage numbers are a bit off). The load fan speed of the HD4870 (85ºC) is 1800rpm, the load fan speed of the HD4890 (65-70ºC) is 2400rpm, and the fan will go up to 5000. There's a lot of breathing room if you don't care about noise but do care about temperatures. Personally, I'm the opposite, I'm fine with a system running warm if it's quiet. The HD4870 is therefore the best tool in the box for that with a stock cooler. Any of these cards will run cool and quiet with a T-rad2 fitted though. The Accelero may do the same job, but the mounting method for those is very poorly thought out, and I destroyed a graphics card trying to fit one, even by following the instructions. Fortunately it was only a £120 HD3870!
    DIY cooling is always better than stock, even when the graphics cards have non-reference coolers.


    Those pics show exactly how you should do it (but be advised those are 10mm thick pancake fans, NOT your average fans), but bear in mind this is a standard double-slot width board in the photo. If you have a single-slot width board (such as any of Gigabyte's i7 offerings) this will be a very tight fit, and your temps will be MUCH higher. If this is your situation it's fixable by adding a side fan perpendicular to the graphics cards, in the same orientation as your case's side fan (if you have one, and with internal graphics cooling for that much heat, I STRONGLY recommend one), but rather than be a side fan for the case, be a side fan for the graphics cards, if that makes sense.

    Also, you don't need two crossfire bridges, one is fine for two cards.

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