View Full Version : Best bang for the buck?
01-09-2012, 05:08 PM
Finishing up an i5-2500K/Z68 build for my 16y/o brother - he intends to use it for HD video editing (his own footage) and photoshop type activity, with a little gaming interest as well.
Can someone recommend a video card setup that will give optimal price/performance ratio? I find that historically the generation just behind the cutting edge seems to lie in the ~130-180 USD range, and going for the new ~$300+ cards doesn't provide that much more performance. What would you recommend for a kid with very limited income?
i5-2500K running @ 4.5gHz
XFX Core Edition PRO550W PSU
8GB A-Data DDR3 1600
I've been out of the loop on video cards for a while now, so I don't know if there's another platform coming out soon that will obsolete the current offerings, or whether he will really benefit from CUDA (or what that even does, lol), so I'm really coming at this one blind and would appreciate some input. He wants to make a purchase soon because he's playing Minecraft and it's running choppy on the i5 without a discreet GPU, although I can advise him to wait it out if there's a better option in the near future.
01-09-2012, 05:18 PM
GTX 560 / HD 6870
01-09-2012, 06:11 PM
This might help ;)
01-10-2012, 09:19 PM
HD 6790 at a guess. Used GTX 460, GTX 560 TI, HD 6850.
01-11-2012, 09:46 PM
Ok, I've done a little research here, thanks for the link to the article.
These are the units I'm looking at:
HD 6870 ($155): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=14-102-948&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&Pagesize=10&PurchaseMark=&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&VendorMark=&IsFeedbackTab=true&Page=3#top
GTX 580 Ti ($220): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=14-500-196&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&Pagesize=10&PurchaseMark=&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&VendorMark=&IsFeedbackTab=true&Page=4#scrollFullInfo
HD 6950 ($230):http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=14-131-393&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&Pagesize=10&PurchaseMark=&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&VendorMark=&IsFeedbackTab=true&Page=4#scrollFullInfo
I do plan on overclocking the GPU.
Most reviews I'm seeing show that the HD 6870 beats the GTX 580, but then once you start talking about the 580 Ti, it becomes comparable to the HD 6950, which can be obtained for roughly the same price at this time ($210-230).
So the choice seems to be between 2 mid-range tiers, the 580Ti/6950 comes around $75 more expensive than the 6870... so now I'm trying to figure out of the performance gain there is worth that extra cash...
Toms gives the following ratings (however those are calculated):
-HD 6870 = 76.7%(enthusiast index)/103.5%(gamer index)
-GTX 580 Ti = 99.62%(enthusiast)/136.73%(gamer)
-HD 6970 = 111.62%(enthusiast)/148.66%(gamer)**
**because the 6950 listed can be unlocked to run as an HD 6970
However, I'm also seeing that the 6950 can be unlocked to 6970 performance (http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/overclocking/159), which brings the performance up to cards that cost $300-350.
So, should I stick with the true value option (HD 6870 @ $155) or is it worth it in terms of value, performance and future-proofing to spend the extra $75 to grab an HD 6950 which I can unlock to run like an HD 6970?
01-12-2012, 04:59 AM
First off, you meant GTX560/GTX560Ti, not 580. ;)
Most modern HD6950s cannot be unlocked in a simple way. Though, I heard there is a way to get around it (search for "bubblegum mod"). It also voids your warranty.
Both HD6950 and GTX560Ti are decent choices. From what I saw on most tests Radeon tends to be slughtly better than GTX560Ti. Anyway, do not get theGTX560Ti from Zotac, as its cooling system is very weak.
Here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125401 - Gigabyte has better cooling and it's cheaper too. Galaxy: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814162074 is good too.
Same goes for HD6950, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125385 is a better choice than PowerColor.
01-12-2012, 12:34 PM
Yes, of course - thanks for the correction..
From what I've heard of the Zotac 560Ti, the cooler is actually very nice, but all the overheating problems arise because it comes with such a high overclock margin (clocked at 950mHz, set at unnecessarily high voltage). The reviews I've seen say that if you simply turn down the voltage a notch, the temps stay very low and the fan stays very quiet. I did see the Gigabyte model and you're right that would be a good choice as well, but I'm surprised you recommended the Galaxy - a lot of reviewers were complaining about heat and poor customer service.
Anyway, it seems you recommend skipping past the HD 6870 and spending the extra cash.. in that case I would probably opt for the PowerColor 6950 I linked because several of the reviewers say they were able to successfully unlock it, and the cooler is quiet and effective.
My brother comes back from a school trip today, so I'll leave the final decision up to him. Thanks for the feedback!
01-12-2012, 02:45 PM
Well, from TPU's review of Zotac I can gather than it isn't espacially quiet nor cool. I'm pretty sure both Gigabyte and Galaxy are better in that department. As for the consumer service - I dunno, I live outside US and Galaxy/KFA2 cards aren't available anymore in Poland (they used to be - I still own Galaxy 8800GT). ;)
01-14-2012, 06:41 AM
Most modern HD6950s cannot be unlocked in a simple way
Imo it's simple. Get with GPU-z your BIOS, change is with RBE and flash it back, simple as that.
01-14-2012, 01:49 PM
Do you know where I can find a guide to using RBE? (I ordered the PowerColor HD 6950)
01-16-2012, 05:06 AM
01-16-2012, 05:52 AM
My Sapphire HD6950 Dual Fan (also sold as Dirt3 Ed) came with shaders already unlocked in the backup BIOS. First I thought I had gotten a used card, but it turns out Sapphire actually did this on purpose, because a load of people who bought the same card found the unlocked shaders in the second BIOS.
01-17-2012, 08:12 PM
Thanks for the link, worked like a charm :)
I ran the MSI Kompressor benchmark test with max settings at 1920x1080, and it didn't even hit 50 degrees with the fan running at an inaudible 25%
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