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  1. #1
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    Recommended upgrade from an AMD HD7850?

    I have an old HD7850 (2GB) and a 1080p monitor. Two years ago it ran everything I threw at it near 60 fps, except maybe Metro 2033. It runs things just about okay right now, but with each new game I find myself lowering visual fidelity a little more to get 40+ fps. SSAO and Tesselation are pretty much off the table for me. Antialiasing, too, if the game doesn't support SMAA/FXAA. Even New Vegas with a small texture pack and ENB dips below 30 fps.

    For less than $350, what's the best card I can buy to play at 1080p (mostly) or 1440p (maaaybe)? Some things to consider:

    1. The PC's an Intel i5 2500K with 12 GB of RAM, running on an Antec earthwatts 650 W power supply. I can't afford to upgrade the power supply.

    2. I hope to be running games at 60 fps at medium to high settings, with most bells and whistles turned on, in 2016. Considering the new consoles are just out and the Oculus rift is going to shake things up, predicting graphics card performance two years from now is a fool's errand, I know. Still, a lower bound would be nice to have.

    3. I play in a temperature-unregulated environment that's fairly warm (25 C - 33 C) most of the year. It has to run cool. The 7850 almost never goes over 75 degrees C. The PC is on most of the day; so it's got to be power efficient when idle.

    4. AMD or nVidia: No preference. The surge of proprietary APIs and tech is a little concerning, but at this point I'm not decided on Mantle/Freesync vs PhysX/Gsync/whatever else nVidia is cooking up. I don't expect this stuff to really matter until 2016 when monitors and developers catch up.

    Well that's it. Any recommendations?

    (PS: Speaking of the rift, do we know what it will take to power that thing? With two displays running at 90 fps at 1080p, does it (realistically) even make sense to consider running it on a mid-range ~$300 card?)
    Last edited by karthink; 09-06-2014 at 06:13 AM.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    If you're lucky you may find an R9 290 in that price range. But more likely you're looking at an R9 280X or a GTX 770. The 280X is just a rebranded 7970 (like the 770 is a rebranded 680).

  3. #3
    Network Hub Colonel J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post
    If you're lucky you may find an R9 290 in that price range. But more likely you're looking at an R9 280X or a GTX 770. The 280X is just a rebranded 7970 (like the 770 is a rebranded 680).
    Yeah that's your choice unless you can stretch your budget to a 290 or a GTX 780 (the 290 is a little cheaper)

    Last month I upgraded from a 560Ti 1GB to a 280X...similar system to yours, a i5 2500K, 8GB, 1920x1080 monitor. I was a bit circumspect about both the 770 and the 280X as they are basically 2 year old tech now. But I needed an upgrade, the next iteration of Nvidia Maxwell cards at this mid to high end price point seem to be some way off still, and didn't want to spend more. I would have preferred an Nvidia card but for me the 3GB VRAM on the standard 280X was the deciding factor, I want it to do me for at least 2 years and already the last few months I've got new games that are wanting more 2GB for 1080p at High/Ultra settings; BF4, Wolfenstein, and Watchdogs when I get it. You can get a 4GB version of the GTX770 but (so I'm told) the smaller memory bus on the 770 means it's compromised at the upper end when you bolt on an extra 2GB. And it's more money, you're not far from the price of some of the cheaper 290's at that point.

    I'm running at 1080 and a 280X/770 should move you comfortably from 'Med to High' to 'High to Ultra' on most things.

    The 280X is the first AMD card I've had for a while...one reason I'd preferred Nvidia is conventional wisdom that they are generally cooler, quieter and more power efficient. But most the non-reference cards have very good coolers on them now and reading the reviews it doesn't seem to be issue either way if you go for one of the good brands. I bought an Asus 280X Direct CU II TOP and it's no hotter or noisier (if anything it's quieter at Idle) than my old Asus 560Ti. I'm in a warm room with the PC down on the floor and idle temps are neve over 35C, and not seen it get much past mid 70's C at highest load. Check the reviews for power consumption at idle and load if that's a concern.

    Another thing to check before you buy is that the length of the card will fit in your case, some of the custom coolered cards have gotten really big. I thought I'd have no problems in a Fractal R3 which isn't (so I thought) a small case, but I'm glad I checked as there were one or two cards I was considering (e.g. the Sapphire 280Xs) that on paper were a few mm longer than the clearance I have to the HDD bay at the front. I have less than 5mm clearance on that Asus card but it fits.
    Last edited by Colonel J; 11-06-2014 at 12:43 PM.


  4. #4
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    NewEgg currently has an open box Direct CU II 290 up for $322. As long as you don't mind the open box bit thats a stonking deal for one of the better after-market coolers.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
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    Yah, my Asus 7950 Direct CU II is a tight fit. Great card and cooler.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboonanza View Post
    NewEgg currently has an open box Direct CU II 290 up for $322. As long as you don't mind the open box bit thats a stonking deal for one of the better after-market coolers.
    The Asus R9 290 is actually one of the worse aftermarket coolers because Asus recycled their cooler from the GTX 780. The latter has a much larger GPU, so two of the heatpipes don't make any contact with the smaller GPU in the R9 290 at all, limiting cooling performance.

    It's still alright though, and much better than the stock cooler.

  7. #7
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    I ended up purchasing the Sapphire r9 290 Vapor-X OC. At $470. With tax piled on top, it's bloody expensive, but I figured this card should tide me over until the end of this console generation. It handily beats the GTX 780 in most games, and benchmarks show it trouncing everything that's not a GTX 780 Ti, an R9 290X or a dual GPU solution. It's a power hog, but at least runs very cool (~60 C at gaming load) and quiet.

    And considering I play at 1080p, I don't plan on overclocking it until 2016 at least. I might even consider "underclocking" to keep power draw down a bit. It appears to be better than the Titan and 290X when OC'd, FWIW.

    BTW, anyone know if the $35 gap between the cheaper Sapphire r9 290 Tri-X and Vapor-X is justified? I read some vague mentions of better quality components/heatsink and more overclocking potential, but there is no manifest difference in benchmarks.
    Last edited by karthink; 16-06-2014 at 05:46 AM.

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