5850 CF or a single new card...

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So, my Radeon HD 5850 is starting to feel a bit inadequate for my needs. I'm looking to upgrade very soon but I can't decide which would be the optimal choice:
Another 5850 for Crossfire or a GTX 570 / Radeon HD 6970.

A 5850 CF setup would offer greater performance than a 570 / 6970. I could get another 5850 for quite a low price too. But I've been reading some threads on various sites and people are often recommending to get a single card, even though it's more costly and doesn't have as much raw power. I guess this is because of the possible problems of Crossfire like microstutter or games that lack support for two GPUs.
So would it be wiser to get a single 570 / 6970 and possibly add another one later (better scaling than 58xx)?
 

qbanb8582

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Another 5850 may not be a bad idea. Especially if you get a good deal one.

I would personally wait til the 7000s series cards get released. And see where they stack up against the 6000s in single and multi gpu setups.
 

jamhamm

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i was on the same side of the street as you - for about $100 i pulled the trigger on a 5850 - i'll have it soon [had to ship from hawaii to kansas...]

as soon as i get it setup i'll do some gaming and let you know what i come up with - the main game i want to test is metro 2033 - cause with a single 5850 i couldn't run that game smoothly at max everything @ 1080p

so i'll know soon if it was worth a $100 investment
 

qbanb8582

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I think you'll be satisfied with two 5850s. I run two 5870s and also ran a 5870 with 5850 CF and it wasn't bad.

I was actually surprised the boost performance in Deus EX and Metro 2033. I think it will at a minimum keep you going until the next generation cards come out.
 

Mad Lion

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I just snagged a 5850 for 80 shipped.

Two of them should be pretty amazing.
 

bjornb17

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Another 5850 may not be a bad idea. Especially if you get a good deal one.

I would personally wait til the 7000s series cards get released. And see where they stack up against the 6000s in single and multi gpu setups.

In all the years I've been on this forum, when someone asks a question like this, i always see comments that say "well wait until the next one comes out and see how it is." It is a vicious never-ending cycle.

To OP, i say just buy the card :D
 

Mad Lion

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No shit, just buy the card. If you've got the money, and it's been at least one generation, just go for it.

I'm about to go from a Q6600 @ 3.3 with a 4870 to a 5850, and I'm psyched.

Incremental is my plan, always has been. Waiting never pays off... you sit around with old hardware looking for that "HUGE" improvement, but then spend way too much money on it.
 

bastage

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IMHO 1 card better then CF if doing it all at the same time.. If you already have a CF Card then adding another is better cost per $ then buying a single faster card.
 

fanboy

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They will acted like a HD5970 and run about the same.. the HD5970 is still very fast and handles BF 3 with no issue.. i myself use to own a CX5850 setup but i switched to a HD6950 2Gb card for more vram.
 

GotNoRice

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You should be happy with 2x 5850. There is nothing to fear about crossfire.
 
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Well, now I'm really leaning towards getting another 5850.
But do ALL modern games have support for two GPUs? For example, isn't GTA IV one such game where just a single card is utilized? Would this mean that I would get the exact performance of only a single 5850 in such a game? The game that I look forward to playing the most is Skyrim and I want to be able to run it adequately with several graphics mods. It would really be exasperating if it didn't have good support for a Crossfire configuration.
 

GotNoRice

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Well, now I'm really leaning towards getting another 5850.
But do ALL modern games have support for two GPUs? For example, isn't GTA IV one such game where just a single card is utilized? Would this mean that I would get the exact performance of only a single 5850 in such a game? The game that I look forward to playing the most is Skyrim and I want to be able to run it adequately with several graphics mods. It would really be exasperating if it didn't have good support for a Crossfire configuration.

It's very rare for a game to not work with at least 2 GPUs. Most games work fine all the way up to 4 GPUs, but even the ones that won't will still generally work with at least 2 GPUs.
 

jhokie

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Skyrim likely will eventually have solid support for Crossfire but it may not happen the day the game drops. You just have to be willing to tweak or possibly wait for updated drivers to be released.
 

cannondale06

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as per usual the OP mentioned NOTHING about his other specs and no one even bothered to ask...
 
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as per usual the OP mentioned NOTHING about his other specs and no one even bothered to ask...

Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
CPU: i5 2500K 4.5Ghz
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB DDR3-1600
Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
Monitor: HP ZR24W 24" 1920x1200
 

cannondale06

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and psu?

I would probably just go with another 5850 if you can find one cheap. a gtx570 or 6970 are pretty pricey if you do not find a good deal and will only be about 35-40% faster overall than what you have. not that 40% is bad but for a nearly $300 gpu upgrade its not very good.
 
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The PSU is a Corsair TX850W.

Well, I don't know if the available 5850s are considered cheap or not. The cheapest one is about 130€ (~180$), used. I guess I could sell mine for about the same price so that would lessen the 570's / 6970's price.
 

cannondale06

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The PSU is a Corsair TX850W.

Well, I don't know if the available 5850s are considered cheap or not. The cheapest one is about 130€ (~180$), used. I guess I could sell mine for about the same price so that would lessen the 570's / 6970's price.
yeah for that price just get a 570 or 6970 and sell your 5850. I got my gtx560 for $260 after rebate and it came with the new Batman game so maybe you can fine a decent deal like that.
 

dukerjames

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The PSU is a Corsair TX850W.

Well, I don't know if the available 5850s are considered cheap or not. The cheapest one is about 130€ (~180$), used. I guess I could sell mine for about the same price so that would lessen the 570's / 6970's price.

I recently upgraded my 5850 crossfire setup to a single 5970, there's almost no real world improvements as 5970 has lower clockrates. 5850 crossfire OC should be almost as good as a 6990 stock as long as you aren't hitting the 1GB memory bottleneck.

The ongoing price for a used 5850 should be no more than $150, I know because I'm selling my XFX 5850 for $139 in the FS forums, shameless plug :p but I'm from the states though.
 

IAMEVIL

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Don't bother. Wait for the 28nm cards and upgrade to those. A single 5850 slightly oced runs BF3 fine on ultra without msaa.
 

samuelmorris

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Well, at 1680x1050 it might. Realistically though you'd be pushing pretty terrible frame rates at Ultra.
 
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Don't bother. Wait for the 28nm cards and upgrade to those. A single 5850 slightly oced runs BF3 fine on ultra without msaa.

From what I've understood, the higher end 28nm cards won't be coming this year. (?)
I don't feel like waiting very long.
 

samuelmorris

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Indeed, they'll be at least 3 months away for the HD7800 series, closer to 5-6 for the HD7900 I suspect, and that actually assumes they'll be populous enough to actually be able to buy them at release...
 

IAMEVIL

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Well, at 1680x1050 it might. Realistically though you'd be pushing pretty terrible frame rates at Ultra.

Well I am running ultra without MSAA and it almost never drop below 60fps in a multiplayer match. Now this at 1680x1080 but 1920x1080 should not be too far off. This is with a modestly overclocked 5850.
 

samuelmorris

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When you say 'almost never', I assume this is in <10 man servers, and you never look at the frame rate counter when explosions happen nearby, because the HD5850 is not powerful enough for a solid 60fps at Ultra in 1680x1050, nowhere near it, even without MSAA.
 

IAMEVIL

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When you say 'almost never', I assume this is in <10 man servers, and you never look at the frame rate counter when explosions happen nearby, because the HD5850 is not powerful enough for a solid 60fps at Ultra in 1680x1050, nowhere near it, even without MSAA.

Its a 32p server. Though looking at my AB log again you are right it does drop to the 50s at times. But avg is well above 60fps. At 1920x1080 he should still play fine averaging 50-60fps.
 

samuelmorris

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Even if you gain 50% extra frame rate from having deferred AA turned off (which seems to be about what I got), an HD5850 at 1680x1050 should be dipping down to the low 30s for a minimum frame rate, and average about 50. If you're seeing substantially higher than that, either you aren't playing the more stressful aspects of the game (most notably looking down a sniper scope at objects a long distance away, and seeing a large explosion in front of you [it's the dust effect you're after, not the explosion itself]), you're using lower settings than all Ultra minus deferred AA, or your overclock is considerably more than 'slight'.
 

IAMEVIL

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Even if you gain 50% extra frame rate from having deferred AA turned off (which seems to be about what I got), an HD5850 at 1680x1050 should be dipping down to the low 30s for a minimum frame rate, and average about 50. If you're seeing substantially higher than that, either you aren't playing the more stressful aspects of the game (most notably looking down a sniper scope at objects a long distance away, and seeing a large explosion in front of you [it's the dust effect you're after, not the explosion itself]), you're using lower settings than all Ultra minus deferred AA, or your overclock is considerably more than 'slight'.

This is just after a 64p game on caspian border. All ultra except no msaa and motion blur. My overclock is considered mild as there are people who clocks theirs over 1Ghz, Frankly this game just isnt that hard to run wihout MSAA. I use post AA medium and it still looks smooth.

6296319127_092eb93b55_z.jpg
 

samuelmorris

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FXAA Medium vs high and no motion blur presumably accounts for a lot of the difference then. That's a much higher frame rate than you'd see on all-ultra, even without the MSAA.
 

jober1

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Be careful if you get another one, I crossfired 2 5850's but I bought the first one when they came out and purchased the other one like 2 months ago. The first one was a reference board, the second was not, and was of a later revision. They worked great with my AM3 board, but when I upgraded to sandybridge and got a z68 I had bad compatibility issues and gave up on them.

I ended up going with a GTX580 instead, 2 5850's are every bit as powerful (just lacking a bit when it comes to tesselation) but too many problems for me. I believe it was due to being different revisions though. I was super happy with their performance on my AM3 board.

I don't know much about it, but if you can get the same revision I would totally recommend it. I didn't notice any stutter, and with the AM3 board I had real good compatibility. You should definitely download RadeonPro if you do it, it allows you to tweak stuff and force different crossfire profiles if they don't work right.

Good luck
 

IAMEVIL

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Be careful if you get another one, I crossfired 2 5850's but I bought the first one when they came out and purchased the other one like 2 months ago. The first one was a reference board, the second was not, and was of a later revision. They worked great with my AM3 board, but when I upgraded to sandybridge and got a z68 I had bad compatibility issues and gave up on them.

I ended up going with a GTX580 instead, 2 5850's are every bit as powerful (just lacking a bit when it comes to tesselation) but too many problems for me. I believe it was due to being different revisions though. I was super happy with their performance on my AM3 board.

I don't know much about it, but if you can get the same revision I would totally recommend it. I didn't notice any stutter, and with the AM3 board I had real good compatibility. You should definitely download RadeonPro if you do it, it allows you to tweak stuff and force different crossfire profiles if they don't work right.

Good luck

What do you mean by compatibility issues? Poor scaling? Refuse to crossfire? Please elaborate.
 

jober1

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When I bought a second 5850 to put in crossfire, it originally worked fine with my AM3 board. When I upgraded to a Z68, Windows suddenly only recognized one card. I could take off the crossfire bridge, and it would see them both again. I tried a new crossfire bridge, but no luck. When I switched the cards around it seemed to work ok, Windows recognized them both in crossfire, they ran nice and everything. I then started to experience periodic crashes in games that never used to crash (this was a fresh windows install, I no longer experience crashes now that I switched to a GTX580).

I know both cards are fine individually, I think the problems I had are due to different revisions of cards. They had different stock voltages, and were purchased new about 2-21/2 years apart.

I recently read an article (can't remember where) in which the reviewer said, you can use 2 cards in crossfire of different revisions, but it is not worth the trouble. I believe this coincides with my experience, and would only recommend a crossfire setup with 2 cards of the same revision. When they worked, they were fast and is totally worth it for the price of a second card, if it works right.
 

Daggah

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I upgraded from a Q6600 and one 5850 to an i5 2500K and a CF setup, and I gotta say, 2x 5850s are pretty fast. I actually had to take one out because I had to replace the fan, and I could tell a difference in the games that were pretty well optimized for CF. On the other hand, I couldn't tell much of a difference in Rift, but then I read that Rift doesn't work well with Crossfire anyway.

I'd say if you can get a good deal on a second 5850, do it. It'll definitely hold you over until the next generation comes out (I never felt like the 6950s/6970s/560s/etc were enough of an upgrade to justify the purchase.)
 

samuelmorris

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When I bought a second 5850 to put in crossfire, it originally worked fine with my AM3 board. When I upgraded to a Z68, Windows suddenly only recognized one card. I could take off the crossfire bridge, and it would see them both again. I tried a new crossfire bridge, but no luck. When I switched the cards around it seemed to work ok, Windows recognized them both in crossfire, they ran nice and everything. I then started to experience periodic crashes in games that never used to crash (this was a fresh windows install, I no longer experience crashes now that I switched to a GTX580).

I know both cards are fine individually, I think the problems I had are due to different revisions of cards. They had different stock voltages, and were purchased new about 2-21/2 years apart.

I recently read an article (can't remember where) in which the reviewer said, you can use 2 cards in crossfire of different revisions, but it is not worth the trouble. I believe this coincides with my experience, and would only recommend a crossfire setup with 2 cards of the same revision. When they worked, they were fast and is totally worth it for the price of a second card, if it works right.

I've not seen this anywhere before. Sounds like you could have had a problem with the board you upgraded to.
 

jober1

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I've not seen this anywhere before. Sounds like you could have had a problem with the board you upgraded to.

I admit, that is possible. Originally that's what I thought, however when I switched the cards around it seemed to be working decent. I just had a few random crashes, maybe once every 4 hours on some games. I really didn't want to send the board back just to find out. I have in fact read that different revisions can be trouble though, wish I could find the quote sorry.

I do know that originally you could not even crossfire different versions, this was fixed later, so there must be a little something there. Whether or not this was my issue, can't say for sure...

To me it made sense that my AM3 board would be more compatible with a crossfire solution. In the future, personally, I will match card versions if I can when I crossfire/sli just to be safe.
 

AnubisPrime

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I was just faced with the same dilemma - I just upgraded from a C2D E8400 @ 4.4 to a 2500k setup. Old rig had a single 5850. Weighing the options, I decided I needed a boost in performance but felt like my money would be wasted on this generation of cards.

I picked up 2 more 5850's off ebay, one for 120 and one for 105. Going to run trifire in an evga p67 ftw. If I don't run into compatibility issues it should curb stomp anything else I could have had for ~220$.
 

burningrave101

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The ongoing price for a used 5850 should be no more than $150, I know because I'm selling my XFX 5850 for $139 in the FS forums, shameless plug :p but I'm from the states though.

Yeah there are some pretty good deals going on for a 5850 now since the Bitcoin craze has died down. Here a couple of months ago a used one was easily going for $180-$200+.

And while we're throwing out shameless plugs I actually just put up a listing myself in the FS section the other day for some brand new unopened HIS 5850 Turbo's which are factory overclocked at 465/1450 for $150 shipped if anyone wants to hit me up :).
 
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samuelmorris

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Yeah I mean his specific board, not the model in question, or the Z68 chipset overall.
 
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