TW's PC Adventure Thread

Twilight Wolf

Frequent Poster
As a lot of you know, I'm in the process of building myself a new desktop, one designed around gaming. Currently, I'm in what I guess you'd call the planning and development stage, where I read a whole bunch of reviews to determine just what I want to buy. I'm very picky, and since I'm pouring a significant amount of money into this whole enterprise (significant to me, at least), I think I'm entitled to be. I won't have the money for everything until March or so, probably around my birthday, but I want to be well-acquainted with my hardware before I devote my precious money to it.

Now, here's the graphics card I had picked out: the Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB with Vapor-X. Why this card? The 4890 is very best value for my money that I've found so far in terms of price-to-performance, and this particular model seems to be the absolute best of the 4890s available from any manufacturer, plus it's very overclockable. However, my R&D hit a serious snag when this card got slapped with the dreaded "deactivated" label, and neither Newegg nor anyone else has had one available, and the selection of 4890 cards seems to have been cut down dramatically. Newegg had it back in stock for a total of 18 hours or so a few days ago before it was deactivated again. While I could buy one on eBay or, I don't want to, mainly because I don't know for sure what I'm getting since there are two or three versions of this card with different specs and item listings for those sites tend to be very vague compared to Newegg's. My options are now either to wait and hope for it to come back or look for a new card, and since I've never seen deactivated items return to a completely available status, I'm not holding my breath, and don't want to still be holding it when it comes time to purchase everything I don't already have and still be short a graphics card.

Starting tonight, I've begun researching for a new card. The closest in specs that I can find is the Radeon 5770, which is actually cheaper and supports DX11! However, all the benchmarks I've seen seem to put the 4890 ahead in performance, and the memory bandwidth (I think that's what it is) is only half the size of the 4890; not ideal to me. I'd rather spend a little more and get better performance, even if it means sacrificing DX11, which I don't really care too much about and just about no games use yet anyways.

tl;dr: I'm probably not going to be able to buy the graphics card I want. Help me find another one!

If you want to help, here's what I'm looking for:

1.) The card can be either ATI or Nvidia.
2.) It must have comparable performance to the 4890. Give me some benchmarks if you can find any.
3.) It should preferably cost around $200, not too much more. I'm working on a budget here.
4.) Make sure it's reasonably well-documented and isn't a total lemon, please. I don't want to buy a card that has two eggs based on five reviews just because it has good specs.
5.) If you think buying two cards and running them in CrossfireX/SLI would be a better solution, I'm open to suggestions! Just be sure to keep my price restriction in mind, though; I would not only have to buy two cards but a different motherboard than I have planned and would probably have to spend extra on that, too.

Thanks in advance for your help! :D
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

The 4890 is about the best card out there for ~$200.

HD 4870, HD 4890, HD 5770, as well as Nvidia's 9800 GX2, GTX 260, GTX 275 are all right at about the same level of performance.

Out of these, the 4890 wins out in Price/Performance.

If you spend $200, buy a 4890.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Well, my whole problem is that I can't find a 4890, at least not anything like what I want, and Newegg's selection of 4890 cards has been drastically reduced to just two or three. All the information I've found relating to Sapphire's 4890 and the mass unavailability of this card from so many retailers with none of them having any posted ETA on when they should get more leads me to believe that it's been discontinued; one or two stores actually say this is the case. As for the other 4890s available, I can't find much information on those particular cards. The XFX 4890 on Newegg, for example, can't be found anywhere on XFX's own website...

I'm emailing Sapphire to ask about this card as I speak. I'll see if they can tell me if it's even available any more, and if so, where I can get one; and if not available, if they can recommend a comparable model.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

No, I think that's a different card. Different externally, anyways, though in my experience (which I admit is fairly limited), that usually means different internally, too. ... -_-Product

That's the XFX card I'm talking about. It might just have a different shell/cooler, but still, it should be on XFX's website since it's clearly one of their cards.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Oh I see.
Different version, old version.

The current version that they may or may not still produce is the Black Edition of that same card.
Very little difference between the two though.

Let me tell you something, the difference between the 4890 and the 4870 is minuscule.
I mean stupidly tiny.
The Pixel Fillrate on the 4890 is 1.6Gpixels/sec faster.
The Memory Clock on the 4890 is 200MHz faster.

That's all.
That is NOT a big deal.

Of course, what help is that, considering the 4870 is no more readily available than the 4890.

As I said before: "HD 4870, HD 4890, HD 5770, as well as Nvidia's 9800 GX2, GTX 260, GTX 275 are all right at about the same level of performance."
If you're anything but an extreme enthusiast, you won't notice the difference.

5770 is almost exactly the same, and in some ways, better, than a 4890.
And they're much more available, and becoming more so.
Oh, and they're not terrible expensive.
For instance,

XFX is a great brand, whether you go Nvidia or ATI.
Sapphire is of course highly praised among ATI cards.
My personal favorite would be BFG, however, they do not make ATI cards.

All in all, take your pic, and look around.
5770, will probably end up being your best bet on the ATI side of things.
If you decide to go Nvidia, the GTX 260 and GTX 275 are both excellent cards.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

what is it with graphics cards? i am confused. ATI and nVidia make the cards, right? but then theres like twenty other brands that sell em, like xfx, saphire, and BFG, and so on. what is it? just some sort of rebranding scheme? or are the cards different?

also, i just installed my new graphics card last night (nVidia/EVGA 9500 GTS, 1gb), and its plenty fast for my needs, which is mostly hl2 and gmod, but i played bioshock, runs fine in 1080pi, high detail. so, im not sure what you are gonna play on yours, but this card works with all my stuff. plus, its only 69$, so way cheaper. ;)
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Yeah, the 5770 is probably what I'll go for if I can't get a 4890. Looking at some more benchmarks, it looks like it's not all that far off from the 4890 in terms of performance (as little as 2-3 FPS in some cases), so it's probably not even a noticeable difference. Also, it's still fairly new compared to the 4890, so who knows, performance might even improve when the drivers for it do. Having DX11 is still fairly useless to me, though, but it'd probably be nice to have for the future; make my rig a little more future-resistant, you know? Eyefinity I probably won't use since I don't have room for three monitors. Personally, I'd prefer to get an ATI card since most of the games I'll be playing are Valve games, and it's well-known that their preference is ATI.

I'll probably get this card: Sapphire's 5770. It's got the highest rating on Newegg (no, I don't count something with five eggs based on two reviews as being highest-rated), plus it's a Sapphire, though it does lack Vapor-X. Time for more research, I guess. EDIT: Oh, yeah, it comes with a copy of Battleforge, too! Sweet, a game that actually supports DX11! :D

Thanks, jlee!

samjc3: The cards, I've found, are very rarely actually made by ATI or Nvidia, and are instead manufactured by those different companies using ATI/Nvidia's chipsets. A lot of the time the same card made by different manufacturers will have different specs. As for what I'll be using my card for, I'm gonna be running much more intensive stuff than Half-Life 2 or Gmod. Like Crysis, for example. However, having a nice, powerful card certainly won't hurt when I want to play some Counter-Strike: Source or Team Fortress 2.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Thanks, and will do.

EDIT: Hmm, the 4850 x2 looks intriguing, as well. It's a dual-GPU setup, but so far, it seems to have a performance edge over the 4890. Tom's Hardware even placed it above the 4890 in its most recent Graphics Card Hierarchy. The one on Newegg costs as much as a 4890, and it also includes what appears to be a full version of 3DMark Vantage! The only potential issue is the size; I need to make sure it'll fit in my case.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Twilight Wolf said:
Thanks, and will do.

EDIT: Hmm, the 4850 x2 looks intriguing, as well. It's a dual-GPU setup, but so far, it seems to have a performance edge over the 4890. Tom's Hardware even placed it above the 4890 in its most recent Graphics Card Hierarchy. The one on Newegg costs as much as a 4890, and it also includes what appears to be a full version of 3DMark Vantage! The only potential issue is the size; I need to make sure it'll fit in my case.

Size, and heat, and power. It might get you a bit more performance, but I would recommend sticking to a single-GPU card. Apparently they had driver and compatibility issues, but that seems to be cleared up now. You do, however, get bragging rights.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

This is the Best and Original....accept no substitutes :

Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

That should be able to run Crysis on full settings :lol:
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Well, I got a reply from Sapphire today (in broken English, lawl), and apparently they don't manufacture the 4890 any more... Guess that narrows it down, then. They told me I should consider the HD 5k series as a replacement. Since the 5770 is the best one in my price range, that would be the HD 5k I would go for. However, I spent a lot of time last night reading reviews and researching the 4850 x2, and what I've seen is pretty impressive: it seems to be right on par with the 4890 in performance, even better at times. However, it'd just fit in my Antec Nine Hundred, and I might have to buy a more powerful PSU; Sapphire recommends a 650 watt PSU for a single card! Now, I was already planning on buying a 650 watt Corsair, but still, I'd probably go for the 750 watt model Corsair makes instead if I bought this card so I could be assured of not having components crap out due to lack of power and have a bit of breathing room if I chose to do any expanding. As a side note, though, I was originally going to buy the 750 watt anyways; the only reason I wanted to get the 650 watt PSU is because I was going to use it with the 4890, which is no longer available, and it'd save me $20-30 that I was going to put toward a monitor that's also no longer available.

Decisions, decisions...
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Okay, update. Here's my idea: I'm going to buy a single Sapphire 5770 for the time being. It should give me awesome performance in any game I own maxed out, except Crysis, of course. I'll use it by itself for a while, and a few months from now, when prices have inevitably dropped, I'll buy a second 5770 and Crossfire the two of them. Performance scales really nicely when these cards are Crossfired, so it should do quite well! Maybe I can even max out Crysis! Sure, I won't get the instant raw power of the 4850x2, but I would be getting DX11, and I also won't have the noise, heat, or the need to buy a big PSU: Crossfiring two 5770s, according to Sapphire, only needs a 600-watt PSU! All the PSU calculators I've checked out seem to show that the 650-watt Corsair I was thinking of getting would be sufficient. However, I'm still not sure I want to skip the 750-watt, as I'd feel better knowing I have more power than I need than just enough.

What do you guys think? Should I go with this whole "one 5770 now and another one later" plan? And should I just buy the 650-watt Corsair or buy their 750-watt model?

Also, I'm thinking of getting this motherboard. This one's particular southbridge will allow me to potentially unlock two more cores in my Phenom II X2! However, the PCI-E 2.0 slots confuse me: one's a 16x, and the other's only a 4x. What exactly does this mean, and would I be able to use two graphics cards with this mobo? Would the 4x slow anything down or cause any bottlenecks?
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

I say there's nothin' wrong with that plan.
However, be sure to watch availability.
It's best that both cards end up being the same brand. (Ideally, the same, exact, identical model #)
While it's not necessary, it's really a big help.
You could use "any" two 5770s, but it'll never do quite as well as two completely identical cards.

As for that motherboard, basically that second slot isn't running at the full speed of a PCI x16 slot.
Now, to be honest, I don't hardly recall what all that means, other than the simple fact that it's running at the x4 spec.
I do know that the overall speed of that bus is far less than of the x16 slot.
But beyond that, I can't hardly say much, I've never had to use a motherboard like that, because I've always bought ones with full x16 Slots, never a match-up like this; as a result, I've never really looked too much into what it means in regards to performance.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Yeah, I'm definitely going to keep track of that card once I buy one and make sure I can get a second one before they disappear like the 4890 did...

Well, that motherboard is the only one I can find on Newegg that's A.) In my price range; B.), Has two PCI-E 2.0 slots, and C.) can unlock cores in a Phenom II. Unfortunately, the research I've done on the subject seems to say that using two cards in Crossfire means I'll be getting the lowest common denominator in terms of PCI-E 2.0 bandwidth, so I'd only have use of the x4 in both slots regardless of whether one is x16 or not. Lame to the max, and it throws my whole plan out of whack... EDIT: Wait, no, this seems to only happen to specific motherboards. It looks like the Asus mobo I linked to should give me x16 in the first slot and x4 in the second. Performance doesn't seem to suffer too terribly, though it'd be ideal to have x16 in both slots.

What motherboard do you have, and where'd you get it?
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

My motherboard came from Newegg.
It's made for my Quad Core INTEL Processor.
It has 2, Full PCI 16x slots, which I fill with NVIDIA Graphics cards.
It's got pretty colors.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card! Or, TW's PC adventure thread

I like pretty colors. ::3:

Well, unfortunately, it looks like I can either risk bottlenecking my performance in Crossfire with that Asus motherboard, or I can pay a lot more and get guaranteed x16 bandwidth on both slots. For example, I found this MSI motherboard. It looks real nice, has a whopping FOUR PCI-E 2.0 slots, and it can unlock cores in a Phenom II! But... It's so much more expensive... ;_;

Well, I'm glad I'm looking at this stuff now and not later. Gives me more time to make these kind of crucial decisions.
Re: Help me choose a graphics card!

Update again. I'm definitely going for the two 5770s. As for the motherboard, I think I'm gonna get that MSI I linked to. From what I've heard, it's supposed to be a really awesome gaming mobo: Like I mentioned before, I can unlock cores in a Phenom II, I can install very fast RAM, it's supposed to overclock stuff easily, it's got a built-in overclocking dial (which I'll probably never use since I'd be overclocking through the BIOS anyways), and it even has two little LCD POST code displays, so if there's ever an error, I can just look through the window on the side of my case and see what it says!

So, problem solved for now, I guess. Now I just need the money for this stuff.