Saturday, January 22, 2011

Graphics card upgrade status

There are the concerns with the graphics card upgrade.

1. Price! Not just the price of the card, but the operational cost as well. A power hungry card will be bad on the electricity bill

2. Performance. Of course I am not going to buy a card that is only slightly faster than my existing HD5770. I need it to be at least two times as fast at this one. But that doesn’t mean I would spend $500 on a graphics card. Well I don’t have to, because there are cards even right now that would give about 3 times the performance of a 5770. Well, maybe I will have to got the Crossfire route to get 3x performance, but still, it is possible by only spending about 30k yen.

The following graphs shows how Battlefield Bad Company 2 performance on different cards. Seems like I have to at least go for an HD6970 to get 2x performance. That is about 35k yen over here. But I can get two HD6870s for the same price and that is about 3x performance as the 5770.

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But in a game like Metro 2033 which uses the latest DX11 features like Tessellation, the HD6950 is 2x+ faster than a 5770. HD6870 crossfire gives 4x performance compared to there 5770.

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You must be wondering, what about SLI? Unfortunately, this mobo only supports Crossfire. But the NVidia driver can be hacked to get SLI working on this one too. But I would stick with Crossfire, especially when Crossfire performance seems to have gotten a massive boost with the 6000 series graphics cards.

These are the best prices I can find in Japan online.

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Right now, it seems that the HD6870 is the best card to get. I can add a second card any later when the prices are down or if there is the need for a second card. But lets see if I really need to replace the 5770 anytime soon. Open-mouthed smile

3. Power supply. This is the biggest problem with high-end cards or a crossfire setup. I currently have a 550W PSU, and I don’t know how good that is either. It is a Japanese built one, but there aren’t any reviews of this brand anywhere on the internet. But the card can deliver 22A on two +12V rails each, so it seems the PSU can handle all the way up to a GTX570. Crossfire, I don’t know. Maybe a HD6850 CF setup can fit into that power envelope. I don’t wanna buy a new PSU. That is another JPY10k for a good one.

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4. Last but not least, the size of the graphics card. All these new cards are huge, usually around 11 inches in length. Yikes! I have an Antec 300 case, and I had to check if a high-end card fits. It seems everything except a HD5970, which I would not buy because it is the previous generation, and also it won’t fit the 550W PSU, would fit. I managed to find a screenshot of someone using a HD6970 in that case! Weee!!! (Of course I cannot have any hard drives straightly in front of the card, but that is OK. I only have two drives and I can even move them to 5.25” bays if I have to!)

HD6870 in Antec 300

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