Videocard choices - ATi X850 or go for SLI nVidea?

Tesla Monkor

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I haven't made up my mind yet, and was wondering if there's people out there who have experience with these rigs - I'm looking for components for a new game pc. (Current on is 3 years old, and needs to be replaced.)

Leaning to getting a box that runs two 6800GTs in SLI instead of a single Radeon card. (Although I have no complaints regarding the 9700Pro that I have right now - just want the new pc to be able to keep up with the games for the next two years or so.)

Is SLI going to stay around or will it die a nasty death as it did with the Voodoo2 cards so many years ago? Choices, choices.

CPU will probably be a AMD64 at 3500 or 3800, 1-2Gb memory. Don't really need much more, most mainboards come with sound and network onboard these days.

Suppose I'll need to get a case with a huge powersupply for SLI. o_O
 

Danya

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I have SLi and it's nice - where it works. Game support is a bit limited but has improved a lot with the latest drivers from nvidia. TOA is supported with SLi (and probably catacombs too), but I haven't checked it to see how much improvement you get over a single card. Based on the type of profile TOA has you should see about a 90% gain over a single 6800GT using SLi. Where SLi works it is faster than an X850 there's no doubt about that.

Power wise you'll want at the least a high quality 400W supply for SLi. Also it can be fairly noisy, but I guess it depends what else you have in your comp as to how much that'll bother you.
 

Escape

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Tesla Monkor said:
I'm looking for components for a new game pc.

If it's only going to be used for gaming, 2x 6800GTs will be worth it so long as they support your games.

But if the PC will be used for applications besides gaming(video/image editing), you'll be better off with an x800XL/x850 and spend the rest of the money on 2GB of quality ram and a faster CPU. FX55's seem to have gone up in price since I last checked oO - They'll probably come down again when AMD's dual-core CPUs are out later this year. Also, if you get a decent 939 motherboard now, you'll be able to use the dual core CPU's in them later. Something worth thinking about...
 

Tesla Monkor

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Yeh, it's mostly meant for gaming. I have other machines for development - though I don't think that running Visual Studio .NET would be a problem on a SLI machine.

Of course a 939 board with 1Gb+ memory. Nice to know that dual-core processessors will be compatible with those - not that I'm much of an upgrader, but still.
 

Sycho

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If you going SLI, which i would out of the two, get perhaps a 500-600w psu(antec/enermax/ocz are best), maybe a lan-li case(you need good cooling that's for sure) and a good cpu if you want to see it at it's best potential.Preferably a fx proccessor even though they are expensive the machine shouldn't really be bottle necked.

Maybe get a SLI machine with one card in it for now and buy a second when they go down in price, one ultra or GT alone can play games absolutely fine at the moment.
 

Mauness

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hmm this is a hard choice.

Im a avid ATI user, had a 9800 XT, then moved onto a X800 XT AGP card, of which im beating SLI 6600 nVidia's benchmark scores.


The other day my mater brought an PCI-X rX850 and it's benchmark (while using the onboard auto overclocking thingy) beat SLI 6800 GT's benchmarks, and my actuall X800 AGP also beat the 6800 GT's.

If money isnt an issue then go for the nVidia's, if you dont mind playing around with drivers, then id avise getting a ZX850 PCI-X or an X800 AGP as they are both super cards
 

Saggy

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I would go for this:

SLi Motherboard
A64 3200+ (upgrade to dual-core once they are for sale)
1GB of ram (upgrade to 2GB once you get dual-core CPU, current A64's are having problems with more than 1GB of ram)
6800GT or Ultra (upgrade to another one when you feel its needed, much depends on how high resolution you use in games - single 6600GT is enough to run DAoC @ 1600x1200)
 

Sycho

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A 850XT will not beat GT's in SLI unless the 850XT is water-cooled thus severely overclocked it will still be behind but not by much...the reason why is no cpu can fully handle the true potential SLI can give right now.Average SLI 6800GT 3d mark 2003 score is 18-21k...not overclocked, 850XT hits about 16k.Also bare in mind tesla when going SLI(well pci-express) make sure the psu is ATX2.0
 

Mauness

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yeh must appologise, thought my mates score from his 6800GT's were when they were both being used. Phoned him up, then he told me the score was only with 1 card :clap:

For a PSU, id suggest getting a Tagan 480w, might fine PSU and comes with all the connectors for S-ATA drives and PCI-X cards etc.
 

Escape

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Tagans(480W) have a habbit of going 'pop' oO

OCZ PowerStreams are BTX compatible. The 520W unit should last a while...
 

Aoami

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im running a radeon x600pro, athlon3800+, 1gig ram... and catacombs looks superb and runs like a dream. It can handle rvr/raids at full settings without even breaking a sweat.

I'd recommend ATI.
 

cHodAX

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Pair of 6800GT, either an Antec or OCZ 500watt+ PSU, DFI Nforce4 SLI motherboard and an AMD64 3200 is your best bet. You will be a bit CPU limited but the 3200 does a nice overclock and the DFI is probably the best memory overclock around if you are into that kind of thing. Don't bother with the FX55, the dual core version will be available later this year and won't cost much more so hang onto your money for now. The 3200 system with SLI will still blow away any single GPU setup so you will be getting plenty of bang for your book. As for the guy who said the X850 beat a pair of 6800GT, the only times that ever happens is when an unsupported game is used or the user hasn't selected an SLI profile. In any supported game you can expect a 60-70% performance increase over the single card and even then that is being limited by current CPU's, with a dual core those scores should improve quite a bit. Oh and before I forget, you must get a hard drive that supported NCQ, dual core systems seem to make much more use of this feature and it gives a healthy perfomance boost.
 

Sycho

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Doesn't the 3200 have x10 multiplier though chod? i get my athlon 3500 winchester to 2.5ghz on stock cooling with ease, temps only raise by like 3c or so.I would go with a 3500/3800 winchester but if you got the cash the fx still shouldn't be ignored, i seen people hit 3.3ghz with them which is pretty damn fast.(pretty sure it was done using a MACH II though)

Think with good ram and cooling i can get my 3500 to 2.7ghz which is good still.(slightly higher than a stock fx cpu)
 

cHodAX

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Sycho said:
Doesn't the 3200 have x10 multiplier though chod? i get my athlon 3500 winchester to 2.5ghz on stock cooling with ease, temps only raise by like 3c or so.I would go with a 3500/3800 winchester but if you got the cash the fx still shouldn't be ignored, i seen people hit 3.3ghz with them which is pretty damn fast.(pretty sure it was done using a MACH II though)

Think with good ram and cooling i can get my 3500 to 2.7ghz which is good still.(slightly higher than a stock fx cpu)


With a DFI mobo and good OCZ memory the x10 doesn't matter so much, you are getting the overclock by raising the FSB anyway and it delivers much better performance than a straight CPU overclock. Personally I would drop the multiplier to x9 and raise the FSB to at least 270mhz (540mhz effective) or so anyway, getting similiar performance to an AMD64 4000+ that way but of course good cooling and great memory like the OCZ PC3200 EL Platinum Rev. 2 is vital to get it all running stable.
 

Saggy

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cHodAX said:
With a DFI mobo and good OCZ memory the x10 doesn't matter so much, you are getting the overclock by raising the FSB anyway and it delivers much better performance than a straight CPU overclock. Personally I would drop the multiplier to x9 and raise the FSB to at least 270mhz (540mhz effective) or so anyway, getting similiar performance to an AMD64 4000+ that way but of course good cooling and great memory like the OCZ PC3200 EL Platinum Rev. 2 is vital to get it all running stable.
My 3200+ (boxed, using DFI SLI-D :p) can handle 10x265mhz if I drop the latency to 2.5-3-3-7 @ 3.4v (running at 10x250 2-2-2-5 atm though). Using V-data ram, 190€ for 2x512 which isn't all that bad considering that OCZ set costs ~300€ where I live :p Oh, not using extra cooling apart from the cooler in the Antec Sonata case :p
 

cHodAX

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Saggy said:
My 3200+ (boxed, using DFI SLI-D :p) can handle 10x265mhz if I drop the latency to 2.5-3-3-7 @ 3.4v (running at 10x250 2-2-2-5 atm though). Using V-data ram, 190€ for 2x512 which isn't all that bad considering that OCZ set costs ~300€ where I live. Oh, not using extra cooling apart from the cooler in the Antec Sonata case

Yeah that is why I said 'at least' ;) I gave a mild overclock because it is one that is easily obtained without too many hours of tweaking. As for the memory well Anandtech have had those OCZ sticks running at over 300mhz, yes the price is a premium but if you want the best overclock possible then you must be prepared to pay a bit more ;) Cooling... well I meant the use of a good cooler rather than a tricked out case, I certainly wouldn't try a big overclock using AMD's stock cooling thats for sure.
 

Tesla Monkor

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Well, I'm not really planning to OC anything - as long as it work good out of the box, I'm happy. All this CAS rating stuff just confuses me. :)
 

cHodAX

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Tesla Monkor said:
Well, I'm not really planning to OC anything - as long as it work good out of the box, I'm happy. All this CAS rating stuff just confuses me. :)

The 3200 is still very good bang for your buck then and it leaves you with a very nice upgrade path to dual core FX later in the year, in your shoes that is what I would do. The 3500 is good value as well but the 3800 and 4000 really aren't worth the extra cash, better to save the extra money for dual core.
 

Saggy

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cHodAX said:
Yeah that is why I said 'at least' ;) I gave a mild overclock because it is one that is easily obtained without too many hours of tweaking. As for the memory well Anandtech have had those OCZ sticks running at over 300mhz, yes the price is a premium but if you want the best overclock possible then you must be prepared to pay a bit more ;) Cooling... well I meant the use of a good cooler rather than a tricked out case, I certainly wouldn't try a big overclock using AMD's stock cooling thats for sure.
Just pointed out that you can reach decent numbers without dropping the multiplier ;) Oh, Vdata uses the same chip as OCZ VX (UTT) as far as I know of so while OCZ's TCCD runs at >300mhz it wont keep up with the VX's speed because of latency settings (think that was in Anandtech's test too). The settings I posted in my previous post are "100%" stable with boxed cooler and I'm not really looking for getting any higher :p
 

cHodAX

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Saggy said:
Oh, Vdata uses the same chip as OCZ VX (UTT) as far as I know of so while OCZ's TCCD runs at >300mhz it wont keep up with the VX's speed because of latency settings (think that was in Anandtech's test too). The settings I posted in my previous post are "100%" stable with boxed cooler and I'm not really looking for getting any higher :p

Latency is very important on A64 I will admit but you get some real tight timings on those OCZ sticks by dropping down to the 280-290mhz area, now an extra 40mhz (80mhz effective) might not sound like that much when you consider the premium you pay for the memory but when dual core comes along any extra bandwidth on the FSB is going to make a substantial difference. Tight timings and bandwidth will be vital then, right now the timings are much more important so that the CPU is not sat with nothing to do whilst precious cycles tick away waiting for data to arrive, dual core will be much the same but with 2 CPU cores to feed the memory bus is much easier to saturate so bandwidth also become an important factor. Roll on DDR500 to be honest, I can see higher speed dual core CPU's really needing it.
 

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