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Choosing a GPU: NVIDIA 9800 GTX, NVIDIA GTX 260, or switching to ATI

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#1
Hello world,

I recently posted a message on:
"Choosing a CPU: AMD Phenom 9950"
"Choosing a Motherboard: ASUS, AM2+ Socket, NVIDIA/SLI Chipset, or switch to non-ASUS"
"Choosing RAM: For 64-bit Quad Core (AMD Phenom 9950)"

The focus of this message is GPU specific.

Here is a summarized introduction on what lead to this discussion and will eventually consist of purchasing my GPU:

I have needed a new computer for some time now, specifically for producing music (for my profession), though with the invitation to join an early testing phase of an unnamed online game that is not due for release until next year, I picked up the motivation to finally build a computer rather than buy a pre-built. I think it's pretty funny when you are motivated to build a computer for "work" when you know it will be used for "fun" too. ;) Though, my work is also fun, I love my career. In any case, you will find some of the information on the "whole project" in another thread, including revisions to my big list of components/parts. Here is a direct link to "version 1.5" of my list.

Purpose of this computer: 1/2 music production, 1/2 gaming; and a little extra multimedia mixed in, for use with movies/tv shows.

Price range for this computer: $1,000 to $1,500 (if possible), though I might go a little higher.

Side note: some subjects require some special attention and the purpose in the "System Builder's Advice" forum is "...for your whole project." So, I'll leave that there and this one specific piece of my computer puzzle open to discussion here. This is the perfect place for GPU talk, after all! Now... back to the topic...

I am 100% positive that I want the "AMD Phenom 9950" CPU and around 95-99% positive that I want the "NVIDIA 9800 GTX" GPU. (The 95-99% on the GPU involves the motherboard, which will be explained elsewhere.)

GPU:

The GPU is really for my gaming experience - and I'm testing a game that won't be released for another year. I know the game has absolute bare minimum requirements of "Shader Model 3.0 capable Video card, Direct X 9c, 256 MB Ram". I'd like to make sure the GPU I get definitely supports that. I am pretty sure the 9800GTX does. The rest of the computer use, as far as I'm concerned, will not be graphics intense, as I had previously mentioned that I will be using it 1/2 for gaming and 1/2 for professionally produced music - MIDI and live audio, for composing and recording.

I have come across several versions of the 9800 GTX GPU though I am unsure which one to get. It would help if I knew how they are different and the pros/cons to their differences.

I am aware of the various clock speeds including the stock speed, superclocked, and ssc, though I am unaware of the pros/cons in each.

I am aware of some basics within a few other GPU specs, though I am unaware of what those specs really mean and how they differ.

Here are the three GPUs I am referring to:

"EVGA 512-P3-N873-AR GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130376
($189.99)
($159.99 after $30.00 Mail-In Rebate, available up to 11/5, with special savings on AMD CPU combo, ends 11/5)

or

"XFX PVT98FYDBU GeForce 9800 GTX Black Edition 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150297
($189.99)
(Black Edition overclocked at 760MHz)

or

"EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX(G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130339
($159.99)

I did look into a lower priced GTX260, though it is doubtful I can afford it:

"MSI N260GTX-T2D896 OC GeForce GTX 260 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...rd section of this message.)m=N82E16814127361
($239.99)
(Free Rainbow 6 Vegas2 game w/ purchase, limited offer.)
(Considering the other components I'll be getting, the GTX260 is most likely out of my price range.)

Thank you!
 
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erocker

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#2
Those are all good GPU's, but why not a HD 4870? It outperforms all of those. Why not go with an Intel Quad too? Much more powerful.
 
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#3
Yes a nice Intel Quad with A P45 motherboard and HD 4870 would be a very nice choice indeed.
And if you would save some money on the videocard you could get 2 EVGA 8800 GTS 512 G92 for SLI. Those are still killer cards. for cheap.
 
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#4
Those are all good GPU's, but why not a HD 4870? It outperforms all of those. Why not go with an Intel Quad too? Much more powerful.
Regarding the off topic, please see: "Choosing a CPU: AMD Phenom 9950"

Regarding the topic: I am considering ATI. I have looked at HD4850 and HD4870. I believe the HD4850 was closer to GTX9800's price range but at lower quality. I believe the HD4870 was higher in price and quality than GTX9800, I can't remember. So for now, the GTX9800 is my happy middle-point.

Yes a nice Intel Quad with A P45 motherboard and HD 4870 would be a very nice choice indeed.
And if you would save some money on the videocard you could get 2 EVGA 8800 GTS 512 G92 for SLI. Those are still killer cards. for cheap.
Regarding the off topic, please see: "Choosing a CPU: AMD Phenom 9950"

Regarding the topic: I am seriously considering the HD4870 but need to understand some other aspects first, pertaining to motherboard to a degree, though primarily pertaining to the specific mentions of what I am unaware of and would like to know the pros/cons, differences, etc. (please see OP). Thank you! :)

Would two 8800GTS out-perform one 9800GTX?
 
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#5
Yes i think they would.
And for the AMD/Intel thing. It's your choice. If you are good with a fair overclock instead of getting even more out of with a good Quad chip go for AMD.
Either way it's gonna be good.
 
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#6
Agree with rest here, HD4870 would probably do you the best.
 
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#7
Hey professor. Instead of getting the older Black Edition i suggest getting the 9800GTX+ for the exact same price. Runs cooler and can OC faster and i must say this is one hell of a card. I have it and have NO complaints =)

Well cept for the size, but most top end cards are huge anyways.
 
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#8
Yes i think they would.
And for the AMD/Intel thing. It's your choice. If you are good with a fair overclock instead of getting even more out of with a good Quad chip go for AMD.
Either way it's gonna be good.
How does price compare between two 8800GTS and one 9800GTX?

I'm hoping to keep the price in a range close to the prices listed above for the 9800GTX variations.

Agree with rest here, HD4870 would probably do you the best.
I saw that HD4870 is more expensive than 9800GTX, or is there a source with matching price?

I'm 95-99% decided on NVIDIA, though I will switch and buy ATI if the circumstances are right.

Hey professor. Instead of getting the older Black Edition i suggest getting the 9800GTX+ for the exact same price. Runs cooler and can OC faster and i must say this is one hell of a card. I have it and have NO complaints =)

Well cept for the size, but most top end cards are huge anyways.
Okay, Black Edition is older, I didn't know that. :)

Now I have the new dilemma of:
A. One 9800 GTX+.
B. Two 8800 GTS.
C. One HD 4870.

:)

Oh.... I will have one LCD monitor now but in the future I will have three LCD monitors. I hope I can still plug all of them into whatever GPU or GPUs I'll be using and receive an equal performance/quality in the game.
 

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#10
How does price compare between two 8800GTS and one 9800GTX?

I'm hoping to keep the price in a range close to the prices listed above for the 9800GTX variations.



I saw that HD4870 is more expensive than 9800GTX, or is there a source with matching price?

I'm 95-99% decided on NVIDIA, though I will switch and buy ATI if the circumstances are right.



Okay, Black Edition is older, I didn't know that. :)

Now I have the new dilemma of:
A. One 9800 GTX+.
B. Two 8800 GTS.
C. One HD 4870.

:)

Oh.... I will have one LCD monitor now but in the future I will have three LCD monitors. I hope I can still plug all of them into whatever GPU or GPUs I'll be using and receive an equal performance/quality in the game.
I suggest a 4850 if ur gonna run at med resolutions such as 1680 x 1080.

And look that this bargain.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102770

$140
 
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#11
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125225

After rebates and stuff, its a whole lot cheaper. Still not the price of the 9800GTX, but it does perform better.

But if you are going to get 3 LCD screens, you will need to go an SLi or crossfire option as each card only supports two screens.
That does look tasty ;) and if I can afford the 9800GTX+ then that HD 4870 would only be about $10 more, a worthwhile difference. I don't know yet if I can afford that, it depends on a lot of other factors, though I know the generic "9800GTX" (without the "+") is in a safe price range.

How do I compare the specs on these different GPUs and understand what they mean?

I suggest a 4850 if ur gonna run at med resolutions such as 1680 x 1080.

And look that this bargain.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102770

$140

It'd be nice to have 1680x1050 again, I had that on my old laptop, never did have it on a desktop. I prefer having higher a resolution if possible. I'll be going for 22" or 24" LCD monitor, though I'm guessing certain models of GPUs will help crank out uber-resolutions.

If I go ATI I think I'll try the HD 4870... NVIDIA's 9800GTX or GTX+ might be my route, still, though I'm not sure about differences in detailed specs on all these GPUs. I don't know what they mean.

...and I think ATI and NVIDIA use somewhat different classifications for some of their specs. <shrugs>

Regarding technicks idea on two 8800GTS:
I compared prices on the two 8800GTS and the one 9800GTX(+). The two 8800GTS were much more expensive. Although the thought of combining two GPUs is very cool, it is currently out of my price range. :(
 

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#12
That does look tasty ;) and if I can afford the 9800GTX+ then that HD 4870 would only be about $10 more, a worthwhile difference. I don't know yet if I can afford that, it depends on a lot of other factors, though I know the generic "9800GTX" (without the "+") is in a safe price range.

How do I compare the specs on these different GPUs and understand what they mean?




It'd be nice to have 1680x1050 again, I had that on my old laptop, never did have it on a desktop. I prefer having higher a resolution if possible. I'll be going for 22" or 24" LCD monitor, though I'm guessing certain models of GPUs will help crank out uber-resolutions.

If I go ATI I think I'll try the HD 4870... NVIDIA's 9800GTX or GTX+ might be my route, still, though I'm not sure about differences in detailed specs on all these GPUs. I don't know what they mean.

...and I think ATI and NVIDIA use somewhat different classifications for some of their specs. <shrugs>

Regarding technicks idea on two 8800GTS:
I compared prices on the two 8800GTS and the one 9800GTX(+). The two 8800GTS were much more expensive. Although the thought of combining two GPUs is very cool, it is currently out of my price range. :(
Best way to check how good a graphics card's performance is is simply to search the net for reviews. You are exactly right, ATi and nvidia have different classifications for their specifications. Its really hard to sit down, look at the cards specs and know what your gonna get out of it.

Just type like "9800GTX review" in on google and you will get lots of reviews. Even here at TPU, the Admin does lots and lots of reviews on all the diff graphics cards, so check something like that out :).

Eg:
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Zotac/GeForce_GTX_260_Amp2_Edition/26.html
 
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#13
The palit 4870 was $239 free ship the other day. A friend got it in time I think, but the price just went back up.
 
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#14
the problem with reviews is that they run at "stock"... almost no gamers run their cards at stock... its like running a cpu at stock.

The Ati is great at stock but overclocks on-average about 8%-13% (800-850Mhz core)

The nvidia cards are about 5-10% slower but can overclock from 22-31% (700ish-750ish)... when this is taken into account, it becomes a much tougher decision.

You cant go wrong with either card, but get the 1gb 4870 if you do go for ATi. I have 260gtx's in SLi and theyre really quiet at idle. You can get a 192shader gtx 260 for $220 from neweg (after $20 MIR).
 
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#15
Best way to check how good a graphics card's performance is is simply to search the net for reviews. You are exactly right, ATi and nvidia have different classifications for their specifications. Its really hard to sit down, look at the cards specs and know what your gonna get out of it.

Just type like "9800GTX review" in on google and you will get lots of reviews. Even here at TPU, the Admin does lots and lots of reviews on all the diff graphics cards, so check something like that out :).

Eg:
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Zotac/GeForce_GTX_260_Amp2_Edition/26.html
Google it, of course (slapping myself on the forehead, "d'oh!"). I'll google reviews. I can see that the TPU sources are very good, that will definitely help. I wonder if there's a bar graph like that one you linked that includes a price tag $$$ on each GPU at the same time as performance. heheh

The palit 4870 was $239 free ship the other day. A friend got it in time I think, but the price just went back up.
Cool. Is palit a good brand? (I'm guessing that's a yes.) :)

I still don't know if I can go as high as the low to mid $200 range on GPU, I hope to know soon.

But it sounds like your friend got a very good deal!

the problem with reviews is that they run at "stock"... almost no gamers run their cards at stock... its like running a cpu at stock.

The Ati is great at stock but overclocks on-average about 8%-13% (800-850Mhz core)

The nvidia cards are about 5-10% slower but can overclock from 22-31% (700ish-750ish)... when this is taken into account, it becomes a much tougher decision.

You cant go wrong with either card, but get the 1gb 4870 if you do go for ATi. I have 260gtx's in SLi and theyre really quiet at idle. You can get a 192shader gtx 260 for $220 from neweg (after $20 MIR).
Do gamers actually overclock GPUs themselves or can they only buy them "pre-overclocked" from the companies that sale them? (I've seen superclocked, SSC, etc., though am not sure if individual gamers actually do it.) I'd be afraid to, scared of breaking it or making my whole computer or my whole house blow up. lol

That's very interesting how ati and nvidia overclock.

If it comes oc'd from the factory I suppose that solves things, though from the SSC/etc. GPUs that I've seen, it certainly comes at a cost (well worth it I'm guessing).

EDIT:
I just saw the last bit you wrote... it'd be so sweet to get those gtx260s for under $200!

How does a 1GB GPU differ from the others?

EDIT2/UPDATE:

For now, I'm going to go with the 9800GTX+ so I can budget in some other components.... might change it after selecting everything else.

EDIT3/UPDATE:

...and... I changed it. I bought it... waiting for it from newegg... I went for the GTX 260. :)
 
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