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Spec me a Graphics card?

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Hi, my current card is an MSI R6450, which people can probably moan at me for in terms of gaming performance, which is why I need a new one, budget is probably less than £100 because it's going to be my answer to the "what do you want for your birthday?" question that usually drives me mad. Don't mind Nvidia or AMD but needs to be good without being bottlenecked by a 960t at 3.6 Ghz/ 4Ghz with new cooler. Any ideas?
 
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Please forgive me if I am a bit out of touch (not looked at modern graphics cards for a bit) - but for £100 the best new cards available are the GTX 650 or HD 7770 (here is a review that shows the peformance of both of these cards as well as many others - though I should point out that the GTX 650 and GTX 650 Ti are very different cards, even though the names are almost the same)

That said, if you can afford the extra a HD 7850 1GB (~£135) will give you a good deal more performance.

If you really want to stick to a maximum £100 budget then you may want to consider buying a second-hand card - as you will be able to get something considerably more powerful for your money than a HD 7770/GTX 650 (for example GTX 460, GTX 470, GTX 560, GTX 560 Ti, HD 6850, HD 6870 can be had second hand for under £100). Though the downside are potential lack of warranty and relatively high noise/heat outputs (due to more powerful cards and slightly less efficient, older tech)


May I ask what PSU you are running?
 
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Associate
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PSU: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-032-OP
is that ok for decent cards?
Sorry about the next bit, new to dealing with graphics cards
Is there any advantage to running two weaker cards in sli/xfire or is a single card going to be a better bet?
The 7770 and GTX 650 also appear to be running at higher clocks than the 7850, is the 7850s advantage purely because of processing cores?
Other question, would it be a good idea to fit a better cooler to the one that I go with?
 
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Most here would stay the hell away from own brand PSU's.

Any one of these, plus a few others would sort you nicely.
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-013-PP&groupid=701&catid=123&subcat=2179
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-056-OC&groupid=701&catid=123&subcat=1098
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-048-CS&groupid=701&catid=123&subcat=1084
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-053-CS&groupid=701&catid=123&subcat=1084

Single card if you can.
7850 will kill both of those cards with a hard stare :D
You won't need a new cooler unless you're pushing your OC's hard and/or the stock cooler is crap.
 
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Soldato
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For what you want to do that PSU will probably be OK - it does have two PCIE power cables after all. But compared to 750W PSUs from reputable PSU manufacturers this "OCUK" unit does look underspecified and low priced (which tends to indicate lower quality).

For any of the cards I mentioned above, it will probably be fine.

That said, if you haven't already bought it then don't buy that OCUK one - there are much better quality PSUs for similar money. The ones Uncle Petey mentioned are great - I would also suggest this one.

Is there any advantage to running two weaker cards in sli/xfire or is a single card going to be a better bet?

As for running two card in SLI/CF instead of a single card - the general consensus is that you are best to get a better single card than two slower cards. Since in the 2 card case you are at the mercy of SLI/CF scaling, driver updates and possibly microstutter. Plus running two lower-end cards tends to use more power, create more heat/noise and restrict upgradability compared to running a single higher-end card.

Also, at this budget (£50 per card maximum) you won't be able to afford much of a gaming card if buying new (this seems to be the best) - so second hand would be your only practical option.

So overall I would recommend sticking with a single card.

The 7770 and GTX 650 also appear to be running at higher clocks than the 7850, is the 7850s advantage purely because of processing cores?

Yes, the HD 7850 is running at a lower core clockspeed than the HD 7770 (860Mhz vs 1050MHz), however the HD 7850 has many more steam processors than the HD 7700 (1024 vs 640) - hence the 7850 performs much better in all tests.

The Nvidia GTX 650 uses a completely different architecture than the AMD HD 7000 series so you can't do an apples-to-apple comparison just looking at things like stream processor count and core clockspeed. Instead you need to look at real-world tests (such as the anandtech link in my first post which compares many cards in many gaming tests) to compare the performance of Nvidia cards with AMD cards.

Other question, would it be a good idea to fit a better cooler to the one that I go with?

It really depends on which card you want to go for - if it is a HD 7770, GTX 650 or one of the other cards that comes with a nice cooler anyway then I would be tempted to stick with the cooler that comes with it and only consider changing it after living with it for a while. However, if you go for a relatively hot/old card (like a GTX 470) then an aftermarket cooler is a very good idea.
 
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Soldato
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Why, are they really so bad, my one works well enough, is there really such a massive difference?
Also, how would this stand up to the 7850?

With the latest AMD drivers, probably not awesomely well :)
As for the PSU, mileage varies but if you want a bit more peace of mind, it's worth getting something reputable.
Besides, you have no need for 750w :) My OC'd rig with 10 fans probably doesn't even need 650w.
 
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As Uncle Petey says, the new AMD drivers do seem to help a bit.

However, with the older drivers that exact EVGA GTX 650 Ti SSC card was tested against a HD 7850 1GB in this review and the 7850 still did pretty darn well. Personally I would go with the HD 7850 1GB (or ideally find the extra £20 and get the 2GB version).
 
Associate
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Fair enough, already got the psu, been running it for a while, other than improving performance in higher resolutions, what does the extra vram help with? with my current monitor, I can't go above 1280x1024, so higher resolutions won't be needed until this screen dies. would it be worth spending more to get an MSI version of the card, for afterburner, or do HIS have a comparable application?
 
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7850 1gb is perfect for you at that res. Maybe slight overkill perhaps? Get a 2gb if you plan to get a new 1080p monitor.
Afterburner can be used with any brand.
 
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Yea, the VRAM allows you to run games smoother at higher resolutions and turn the eye candy up further at the higher resolutions.

As your monitor only supports 1280x1024 then I wouldn't suggest spending any extra on a 2GB card - instead save that money and perhaps put it towards a new, higher resolution monitor.

All brand cards work with the MSI afterburner software - so you don't need to restrict yourself to MSI cards on account of that. That said, considering you can get the MSI version of the card for the same money now and it is clocked higher - then you may as well go MSI anyway.

However, I must emphasise that at a 1280x1024 resolution even the GTX 650/HD 7770 option is overkill and spending £35 more on a 7850 would just be wasted. Therefore, I would recommend only get the HD 7850 if you are pretty sure you will be upgrading your monitor relatively soon.
 
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I'll ugrade the screen when I have the cash, for now I just need a card that can cope with higher resolution, and that will allow decent gaming performance, I presume that any of these would trounce my current card? If it's overkill, what does too much power do with graphics cards?
 
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That makes sense - either of the mentioned options (HD 7700, HD 7850, GTX 560) are good options that will be much faster than your current card (we are talking of ~10x the performance) and allow you to drive a higher resolution display in the future.

Too much graphics power just means that it will render many more frames per second than your monitor can display. This just means performance is wasted while you still pay for the electricity and have to deal with the noise/heat (there should be no negative consequence for running a high end graphics card at a relatively low resolution). Though I guess you could impose a frame limiter to prevent this - but I don't think that always works out too well.
 
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Given how rarely I would get more than 75fps normally anyway, I'm not sure it will be much of a problem, especially as I can always underclock the card if it goes too menatal on a small screen. Thinking about it, if I get 370fps on minecraft with my current spec, what on earth will happen with the 7850?
 
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