GPU Upgrade Considerations

By Ritwik7
Sep 21, 2009
Topic Status:
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  1. Hi guys! I'm considering a GPU upgrade sometime around Christmas / New Year. My current specs:

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 (BE) @ 3.6GHz OC
    Mobo: ASUS M4A78T-E
    Mem: 1 X 2GB DDR3 (1333 MHz) Transcend
    Video: XFX Nvidia GeForce 9800GT (512MB GDDR3)
    PSU: Cooler Master Extreme Power Duo 600W
    OS: Windows XP Pro (32 Bit)

    I have a lot of confusion regarding my choices.

    1. My primary considerations were 2 HD4850 (512MB) in CrossFire or the HD4870 (1GB). Which is a better choice?

    2. Also does the HD4850 (512MB) in CrossFire outperform the GTX-275 / HD4890?

    3. Will buying the HD4850 1GB cards be better if I want to go CrossFire?

    4. Cooler Master says that the PSU is SLI and CrossFire ready. Will it provide enough juice to 2 HD4850 cards?

    5. I have the ASUS M4A78T-E motherboard based on the AMD 790GX chipset. Is it a good board to CrossFire on? Will there be any issues with dual GPUs on my board?

    6. Will two cards in CrossFire run very hot? Will I require aftermarket VGA coolers?

    I plan on the GPU upgrade as I'll be probably switching to a 22" monitor sometime.

    Thanks in advance. Look forward to all your responses.
  2. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,282   +24

    The HD 4870 will be better; less power consumption and heat output to deal with. Driver support has improved a lot for CrossfireX, but is still not up to par for some games. I would not bother unless you have adequate cooling, because two HD 4850s will run hot. An alternative would be to use HD 4770s instead, if you can find them for around the same price as an HD 4850.

    The PSU is another issue. It will handle one HD 4870 fine, but I would not recommend it for CrossfireX at all.

    So either get a new PSU, or stick to a single-card solution.

    Hope I helped. :)
  3. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,288   +7

    Adequate cooling as in aftermarket VGA coolers? I have a CM 690 case which has decent airflow. I intend to attach a couple more fans at the top of the case and one at the bottom.

    The HD4770, from the current pricing, seems to be a little bit more expensive than the HD4850 512MB card. Will CrossFiring 2 HD4770 provide performance comparable to the GTX-275?

    Also, what advantage would the 1GB HD4850 have over the 512MB version? Any noticeable effect when 2 of them are in CF?

    With Rage's recommendation I'm leaning towards the HD4870 1GB. :)

    However, looking forward to a few more suggestions and clarifications for my remaining queries.
  4. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,282   +24

    Two HD 4770s can actually stand up to the GTX 280, which is definitely not bad for their price IMO. However, if you are playing at not more than 1680x1050 or 1920x1080, if you can grab a single HD 4870 (1GB for 1920x1080, 512MB for 1680x1050) for significantly lesser than two HD 4770s (significant as in ~2000 rupees, or more) then that would be the best option.

    Look at these reviews for more info on the potential performance of an HD 4770 CrossfireX configuration:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-4770-crossfire,2288-11.html#
    http://www.legitreviews.com/article/966/10/
    http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=828&p=9
    http://www.hardocp.com/article/2009/08/18/amd_radeon_hd_4770_crossfire_evaluation/10
    http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=18281&page=10
  5. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,364   +9

    why not wait and see the price of the new 5850 cards which 1 card is said to be faster than 1 gtx 280 and they will probably only be slightly more than a 4890 either that or go with a 4890 card imo.
  6. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,288   +7

    Approximate Prices:

    2 x HD 4770 (512 MB) : Rs. 14,000 - 15,000

    1 x HD 4870 (1 GB) : Rs. 10,500 - 11,000

    1 x HD 4890 (1 GB) : Rs. 13,000 - 13,500

    1 x GTX -275 : Rs. 13,000 - 13,500

    2 x HD 4850 (512 MB) : Rs. 13,000 - 13,500

    2 x HD 4850 (1 GB) : Rs. 14,500 - 15,000

    As you can see, 2 HD 4770s in CF come out be among the two most expensive options. On a 22" monitor I guess I'll be gaming at 1920x1080. What are your views?

    @ Rage : Thanks a lot. :)
  7. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,364   +9

    rit i would say grab 2 4850 1gb models and call it a day they will out perform a 4890 and even a gtx 285 in some cases that would be my choice :)
    other than that i would get the 4890 or gtx 275
  8. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,288   +7

    Well, from what I've been reading I see that the HD 4770 CF is very versatile. A lot of people prefer it over the HD 4850 CF.

    Won't 2 HD 4850s (1GB) run much hotter and consume a lot of power? Won't they necessitate the use of a VGA cooler?

    And what significant differences are there in CrossFiring the 512 MB 4850s and the 1 GB 4850s?
  9. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,364   +9

    well first of all the 1gb models will help with higher resolutions yes they take more power but overall they are faster especially at 1900 x 1080 res and up in bench marks it has been proven that the 4770 is slower at higher resolutions especially if you play above 1680 x 1050 res.
  10. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,887   +85


    I concur with Klepto, the 4850 and the 4830 do better and overtake the 4770 at higher resolutions. the fact is that some cards crossfire better than others. the ATI 4850 and 4830 are two examples of cards that crossfire extremely well. the 4770 crossfires very well, but starts to lose steam after 1680 x 1050.I have the standard lineup of games ,Crysis,warhead, cod, stalker, halo.fallout etc, and I have not run into problems with games that don't use crossfire well, but i strongly suspect that Moiz has a lot more games than i do , so i defer to his knowledge of what software does not crossfire well. also, driver development has really come along way with crossfire and with the 4850's in tandem, im sure you will be pleased with the result.I have experimented with configurations of most of these cards and i would recommend the pair of 4850's for both performance and price/performance. ........k.....im off my soapbox now LOL
  11. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,364   +9

     
  12. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,288   +7

    Thanks klepto and red. Like I had stated before my intention was to CF 2 512 MB HD 4850s. If you guys recommend the 1 GB cards I'll look into them. But like Rage said the cards will run very hot. So another important question is whether I'll need a separate graphics card cooler.

    Also 2 HD 4850s will be power hungry. I've listed my PSU in the first post. Rage says that CrossFiring the the HD 4850s will not be the best idea with that PSU.

    Taking into account my limited budget, changing the PSU is not an option. Again, do I need a separate VGA cooler?
  13. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,364   +9

    my 4850 runs at 40c at idle and around 58c on a heavy load so i dont think you will have a problem i think the 512mb cards will run just fine on that psu imo. might ask rage t make sure.
  14. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,282   +24

    Since you say you have good airflow in your case, I don't think you should need a separate cooler. But the PSU is the problem point in your build; it may not be powerful enough for two HD 4850s, considering its build quality and Cooler Master's reputation for over-rating their PSUs.

    I would still recommend a single-card build purely from a power consumption POV.
  15. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,288   +7

    I just checked out the article on the ATI HD 5870 here : http://www.techspot.com/review/198-ati-radeon-hd-5870-review/
    Really wish I could afford it.

    For now, I'll have to carefully decide what to buy. The 2 4850s (512 MB) were my initial choice.

    However, 2 x HD 4770 is really enticing with it's lower temps and relatively lower power consumption. But I don't know how they will scale ahead in future. I wouldn't like to spend a lot more money on something that won't last me long.

    The HD 4870 is a stellar card and the cheapest among my options. Also in no way would it necessitate a new PSU. Going with the HD 4870 might enable me to save enough and get the HD 5870 (or other DX-11) card in a year's time from now. :)

    (Also am waiting for the prices of the HD 5870 and HD 5850 to be revealed in India.)
  16. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,364   +9

    well the 5850 is supposed to be around $249 to $299 which is pretty sweet since it will play anything you want faster than a gtx 285.
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