Need Suggestions on New Graphics Card

By EXCellR8 ยท 19 replies
Sep 8, 2008
  1. I'm looking into upgrading my graphics card again and I could use a little help deciding what's best for my setup. I'll be upgrading from a pair of 8600GTs, which have been sold, so I'll be needing more power. I will be doing a lot of high-end gaming with this new machine so I want to enter the enthusiast market again. My system can support two PCI-E 2.0 nVidia GPUs and I have way more than enough juice to run them.

    There is one thing that's going to limit what I install though. My case is not going to allow me to stuff in anything that's more than 9 inches long so the GTX lineup is out for sure. I've been looking at the 8800GT/9800GT and the 8800GTS(G92). The GTS is the better card no doubt, but I'd only be able to use one due to several SATA ports being in the way. So, my real question is how would two (2) 8800GT/9800GTs, in SLI mode, stack up against a single 8800GTS(G92)? I've heard some bad things about how hot the GTs run hot so that's kind of a turn off.... especially since the GTS runs real cool, like 61c load.

    So, if anyone wants to post their input I'd appreciate the help. At this moment I don't know what to go with or if I should wait and see what is released in the next couple of months. I'd like to utilize the full potential of my mobo and psu by using SLI but I guess I could live without it. My budget is ~$300 at the moment; specs are below.

    ASUS P5N-D
    ULTRA 1000w PSU
    Windows XP SP3

    Thanks in advance for any input.
  2. chrissof

    chrissof TS Member Posts: 59

    hi EXCelleR8,how about changing from green to red?
    the 4850 is THE card to buy these days,you can read this in various tests
    and forums.
    it`price tag is pretty low and output in terms of fps is very good.
    and then play with this one for a while and see what the guys from nVidia
    release at the end of this year.
    sure;no sli with ati(crossfire) on your mb,but up to 1200/1000 resolutions are well playable
    with that single card.
    or even wait for release of 4850X2?
    don`t know the resolutions you play at but my 4850 works great for me.
    hope this is a helpful suggestion.
    (considering your spec`s you are good to stuff anything into that case,there will not be a lack of power...)
  3. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    Install an ATI card on an nVidia chipset... isn't that gonna cause all kinds of problems? I mean, the drivers for this board are enough of a pain already, I can't imagine installing Catalyst software on top. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try it out, if possible, and it's cheaper than the 8800GTS...

    Is that the card you're talking about? Is that 800 stream processors I'm seeing!? I can't believe I am even considering the change but I will admit that these HD cards look incredibly promising. The last ATI card I used was a Rage so I haven't really been keeping up with their lineup lol. If I could just find the dimensions of the HD4850, and if it will even work, I might be sold on this idea... thanks mate!
  4. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    The 4850X2 will be the one to buy. Wait for a couple of weeks and save up another $100 IMO. And no, there will not be any problems installing it on an nVIDIA chipset.

    Otherwise, two 8800\9800GTs will be more than enough to outperform a single 8800GTS, no doubt about it.
  5. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    That's kinda what I figured, thanks. I would have bought the two GTs already if it weren't for the whole heat thing... I'm seeing some pretty ridiculous numbers under load. I'm still poking around for more info on the Radeons... HD3870 and HD4850. Depending on how much the HD4850X2 goes for, I might pick one of those up instead, if it's no more than 9 inches long of course. Thanks again for the help.
  6. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    Alright I'd like to know which card is better the 3870 or the 4850... Reason is, I might have to go with one of these cards because I'm thinking the 4850 (X2) is not going to fit in my case (length-wise). I have a limited amount of space because my hard drive cage becomes an issue at around 9 - 9.5 inches, which has been a real drawback i might add... The 3870 looks pretty sweet with the double-profile cooler, which I like, and has a much higher core/memory clock but the 4850 has more stream processing units. Which one should I go with?? Keep in mind that I will be gaming at 1280x1024 resolution and DX9.
  7. eafshar

    eafshar TS Enthusiast Posts: 68

    4850 for sure.. in many games it very much out performs the 3870.. u get the free 4x AA on some of the games too. its a great card except that its high operating tempratures because of the cheap small fan visiontek and the other guys have put on it. It is easy to fix tho with a 30$ after market fan..
  8. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    Thanks for the info. I'm almost sold on the 4850 but I'm still not sure. Some benches say it out performs the 8800GT and some say it doesn't, so I don't know what to believe. I'd hate to make the switch from nVidia, and do away with SLI, to ATI and have a single card that can't compete with an 8800/9800GT. There is a pretty good deal on the VisionTek model 4850 right now on Tiger. $184 + FREE game GRID. The 8800/9800GT is going for a lot less though so I don't know whether to give the Radeon a try. As far as cooling goes, my ZALMAN VF-900cu cooler should fit so I hopefully wouldn't have to worry about the heat. So, I'm still not sure what to get and I've been scratching my head over this for a few weeks now. Wish I could test the cards out myself before choosing...
  9. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    The 4850 is able to outperform the 9800GTX+ most of the time, so it will also be faster than the 8800GT.
  10. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    Thanks Guys

    I'm probably just gonna order one then; install the ZALMAN cooler I have. Both the Sapphire and VisionTek cards are $184 on Tiger right now. I don't know much about either manufacturer but I guess I'll go with the VisionTek because it comes with a game. Looks like the same exact card to me anyways... Thanks for the help, looking forward to trying out a Radeon for a change.
  11. chrissof

    chrissof TS Member Posts: 59

    make sure that Zalman of your`s fit`s the card.
    Don`t go for anything less than 48xx,
    also you might want to install the new ATI Tray Tools,
    bringing down temperatures by implemented control of the fan,
    and beiing able to overclock the cards - and underclocking/volting it also;
    making it cheaper/cooler to use in 2D(many different profiles can be set).

    I have not had any driver issues,they are not that bad....
  12. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    FYI, there's a Sapphire Radeon is for $149 with a $20 MIR on Newegg. It's also about an inch shorter than the other boards, so it won't cramp your case. And of course, the price is fantastic.
  13. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    This is the cooler I have:

    -the HD4850 is listed near the bottom where the 75.5mm holes are listed.

    I would be able to control the speed of the Zalman cooler manually from outside the case. The heatsink uses dual heatpipes and the fan is pretty quiet even at full speed.

    Yea I've checked that card out too, the price is pretty good. I guess it just comes down to which brand, size, and color PCB I want. I can't order anything until Friday so there's still some time to choose, but I'm definitely sold on the 4850... for now.
  14. X DarthMonkey X

    X DarthMonkey X TS Rookie Posts: 76

    As far as the temperature of ATi 4800 series cards goes, I'm not going to get into the "why" or "how", I'm just going to say it's normal, and you generally don't have to spend the extra dough to keep it cool. There's a surprisingly easy "hack" you can use in the ATi software to manually adjust the fan speed, but higher speeds get loud (The process of this hack also enables overclocking of the card!).

    In reality, the card runs around 80c very stably, and rarely fluctuates unless under heavy duress. It's true that 80 is very hot, but it's impossible to apply a standard "Safe" temperature range to any product, since each product is designed to individual specifications.

    Me? I cranked my fan speed up. Even though I typed the above paragraph, 80 degrees scares the bejeezers outta me. With the fan at 50% speed, it runs fairly quietly (still louder than some would like) and keeps it well below 60 degrees when idle, and right on top of 60 under load. Heck, even 30% (Which is not noticably louder than the default 20%) keeps it below 70.

    Is the 4850 worth the ridiculously low price? Yeah, but if you have a budget of $300 then go for the 4870. Its cooling is slightly better, and its performance can barely be compared to its smaller counterpart. The only problem is finding one that's the right size.
  15. chrissof

    chrissof TS Member Posts: 59

    I do agree,of course the 4870 is better,it`s cooling pushes hot air out of the case!
    reference 4850 don`t
  16. chrissof

    chrissof TS Member Posts: 59

  17. X DarthMonkey X

    X DarthMonkey X TS Rookie Posts: 76

    Chris, your posts are hard to make heads or tails of... Although I do get what you're trying to say.

    He's right, the Zalman cooler (or any third-party cooler) isn't worth it. Stock cooling is more than enough, ATi's reference is excellent, but admittedly not flawless.
  18. TBolt

    TBolt TS Rookie Posts: 65

    EXCell, might have to change your avatar, eh? lol

    Been curious about swithing back myself...but so far I've been pretty impressed with my 8800s in SLI. They do pump out a lot of friggin heat though...

    I've probably read the same stuff everyone has about the comparisons, and yes, the 4850 does look inticing...especially given the reports that Crossfire scales much more efficiently than SLI. My only drawback is I'd have to change mobos...which I don't really want because I really like the one I have...but I could be persuaded :p

    If you get the 4850, could you report your gaming experience with it in terms of how it does with any highend game(s) you have (like Crysis if you have it)? Thanks and good luck.
  19. X DarthMonkey X

    X DarthMonkey X TS Rookie Posts: 76

    I have a 4850!

    TBolt: "Yay, do tell me more about it!"

    Okay! I love my 4850! It blows my 8800GTS out of the water, even in nVIDIA-lover games like Crysis.

    Every game I play (other than Crysis) plays at max resolution, max detail, and at least 4x AA (When available). Fraps never drops below 40fps (unless it's Crysis...)

    Still, a 4870 would be awesome. I got my 4850 before the 4870 was released a week later, and since I was satisfied I never exchanged it.

    Assassin's creed: No issues, 1680 x 1050 all settings maxxed, 40ish fps.
    Crysis: Some slowdown on large maps, big slowdown in graphics-intensive scenes (The final boss makes it drop below 20 unless on med-high settigs)
    Mass Effect: Never had a problem, 1680 x 1050 all settings maxxed, 40-50fps.
    CoD4: No problems, 1680 x 1050 all max, rarely drops below 50fps.

    Also note that my 4850 is overclocked to 700MHz GPU, and 1115MHz GRAM.
  20. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    Yep, may have to slightly modify my avatar lol, although I will be running my 750i board so technically I'm still nVidia-based. If I end up going with the Radeon I'll post up what I get in terms of performance. I have Crysis and 3DMark05 so I will be able to test the card out for you.

    As far as cooling is concerned, I already have the Zalman cooler, in fact two of them, so I will most likely install that over the stock setup. I wish I could stuff an HD4870 in there; use the dual-slot cooling, but the card is too long to fit as I've stated before... unless there exists a smaller one.

    On second thought, looks like the HD4870 is only 9.5 inches long; I remeasured and I think it will fit in there rather nice! I might just go with that instead lol...
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