Get a 5850 or add another 4850 in CF?

By slh28 · 14 replies
Mar 25, 2010
  1. So here's the deal - I'm going to upgrade most of my system (CPU, mobo, RAM, graphics, maybe SSD) pretty soon but I'm still undecided whether to get a Radeon 5850 or get another 4850 and go Crossfire...

    Buying a 4850 would cost £70, whereas a 5850 costs £220, minus the proceeds from my 4850 which gives a net figure of £150. Apparently the performances are pretty similar for these two setups, although obviously being a single card the 5850 won't have many driver issues and uses less power. I'm hoping that the 5850 will come down in price once the GTX 470/480 hit the market.

    I'm interested to hear the thoughts of anyone who has either of these setups, and if anyone owns a DX11 card - are there any notable differences? Also if I get a board with 2 PCI Express x16 slots running at x16 and x4, will there be any significant performance loss?
  2. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    I presume by "notable differences", you mean between DX11 and DX10/9 ?
    If that's the case then from what I've seen/played (DIRT2, Call of Pripyat) -then no, not a lot. There are differences but during gameplay I wouldn't say it's very noticable- not like the difference between static and full dynamic lighting for example, where the game just feels tangibly better.
    The 5850 would give better AA levels and probably higher minimum framerates- although that would depend (slightly) whether you have 512Mb or 1Gb HD 4850 cards.

    There would be some performance loss going with 4 lanes mechanical on the secondary card. Not so much with a HD4850 in the slot, but the 5850 would be handicapped to measurable degree. I'd probably skip the budget P55 boards (if this what you were planning on) and go with a board that can scale the PCIe lanes to x8, x8 if you plan on Crossfire. There should not be a large price difference involved.

    With all that out of the way, whether the 5850 upgrade is worth the extra outlay would depend on what monitor resolution you game at, how much gaming you do (or will do), and whether the extra outlay is going to represent a financial hassle.
    I would probably go with the 5850 now as AMD are not likely to lower prices any time soon, in fact prices could well go up if the GTX 470/480 stocks aren't great. You will most likely get a better price for your 4850 now as well, since the card is still currently stocked as a new part.
    If you are planning on Crossfiring 4850's then I would likely keep them until AMD refresh the 5xxx series or introduce it's replacement either late this year, or early 2011.
  3. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Posts: 1,835

    Considering that not all games support CrossFire natively, I say sell the 4850 and move to a single 5850, especially since you can use DX11. Of course the 4850 is still a great graphics card so the upgrade wouldn't produce too much of a difference as dbz pointed out.
  4. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,672   +9

    +1 dbz
  5. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,706   +172

    Thanks for the replies, I think I'm leaning more towards the 5850 now and it's interesting to hear reports that it probably won't come down in price any time soon (but that's what a lack of competition always does I guess).

    I game at 1920x1080 and I play mostly FPS's on my PC (Crysis, CoD, Fallout, etc.) and with my current 4850 I can just about play most games at max settings but usually with a bit of stutter which is why I want to upgrade. However I'm not really a heavy gamer which is why I'm having trouble justifying the price tag for a 5850, but then I wouldn't be too bothered if the card's value is going to hold up until the next gen cards come out.

    Regarding the P55 boards (which was what I was planning on - good guess :)) the ones which have x8 in the second lane cost about 50% more than the x4 ones, bringing the cost to a similar level to the X58 boards... btw I'm looking at boards which have USB 3.0 ports, meaning there's not a lot of choice out there right now.
  6. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    If you aren't planning on Crossfiring with a second 5xxx series card then the second slot bandwidth isn't a problem. Be aware that a few (most?) boards that use the x16, x4 layout will default to x8 (main PCIe x16 slot) with the second slot unusable when running USB3/SATA 6Gb in any case. The performance degradation between running at x16 and x8 is negligable for the HD 5850, so you should be fine.
  7. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,706   +172

    Hmm that's interesting. Will have to do some research on that as I wouldn't want to hurt any future upgrade possibilities. I was looking at this one but there don't seem to be many reviews out there for it, or for any USB 3.0 motherboards for that matter...
  8. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,115   +9

    this is just my opinion but why not grab another 4850 crossfire them and get the better mb with duel 16x lanes then in a year get a better video card trust me there is no point in dx 11 right now anyways so in the long run u will get better performance and a better mb for the same as what u would spend on just the 5850.
  9. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Can't you get a 5850 and use your old card in cross fire? Or is that not allowed anymore? I don't even know if that will actually help.
  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You can expect some big changes in equipment, and in prices by the fourth week in May. You might benefit from waiting until AMD and GeForce release their new stuff officially... Info is already out on a number of sites.
  11. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,706   +172

    Nice idea, but I haven't seen any USB 3.0/SATA 6Gbps boards which have two x16 lanes, the ones from Gigabyte state that when Xfire/SLI is used, USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps don't even work. Asus don't say anything on their specifications, so I don't really want to take that risk... unless someone has a decent board they could recommend :)

    Would the performance actually be additive? It was my impression that under that setup a lot of the horsepower from the more powerful card would be wasted.

    Fourth week of May... wow that's accurate ;) Maybe I will hold off the graphics card upgrade until then, although it doesn't seem as though there will be a price war any time soon.
  12. PaulWuzHere

    PaulWuzHere TS Guru Posts: 271

    I asked myself the same question. Then I went over to tomshardware and found out that in most cases a 4850 crossfire setup will match a 5850. I say pick up a 4850 and wait a while for 5870 to come down in price or if there will be a 5890?

    I have had very little compatibility issues and altogether enjoyed the setup.
  13. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Probably not heh.
    Probably just a 5850. Their prices may drop a little in light of the GTX 400's, and they're just newer, plus no issues with games that don't support CF.
  14. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,115   +9

    i still say get a better mb and just use a second 4850 in xfire to save some money no real reason to blow a bunch of money on dx 11 cards right now.
  15. Airbornx2n1

    Airbornx2n1 TS Rookie

    Xfire it imho it would save you money the olny down fall is dx 11 but if you run xp u can olny use dx9.0c and all games out default to it
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