GPU upgrade path article

Discussion in 'Video Cards and Graphics' started by tential, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    First, if this is already here or this is a really stupid idea just let me know. I've just started looking at PC components again and have a hard time finding what I'm looking for and my knowledge isn't what it used to be.
    -------------------------
    I've yet to see this anywhere yet I think it'd be really nice to have.

    Example:
    You have a GTX 580. You're looking to upgrade to the GTX 680. That's great and all but is it really the best use of your money?
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Prod...3.409.413.412.414.415.416.417.418.419.420.421
    According to this why not? It's faster than the 580 so sure.
    Some numbers to pull away so you don't have to look at a link(From Anandtech Bench):
    Crysis: Warhead 2560x1660
    GTX 680: 31.3
    GTX 580:26
    Metro 2033 2560x1600
    GTX 680: 37
    GTX 580: 27.5

    You get the point obviously.

    But is that the best deal? Well if you have a board, and the room in your case to support SLI, you can compare the GTX 580 SLI to the GTX 680 to decide which choice you'd rather go with. When doing that you get a different view.
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Prod...3.409.413.412.414.415.416.417.418.419.420.421
    Crysis: Warhead 2560x1660
    GTX 680: 31.3
    GTX 580 SLI: 49.2
    Metro 2033 2560x1600
    GTX 680: 37
    GTX 580 SLI: 48.5

    Obviously you all get the point again, and probably everyone here has been doing this type of analysis when making their choices anyway. Futhermore, the GTX 580 mentioned in these benches has the equivalent clocks of the Sparkle GTX 580 with the slowest clocks on newegg (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814187125). It's 310 dollars. The cheapest card that matches the clocks on the GTX 680 in this bench is the PNY GTX 680 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133469) at 410 dollars so you'd be getting a bigger performance boost for 100 less dollars. However, I didn't see much data for mid range cards, and in general I think an article with anandtech analysis would be helpful. I always like doing analysis on price to performance ratio and in this case, strictly speaking performance, it seems adding a second GPU is the better option, but of course with a full on article done maybe once or twice a year, using all the data anandtech already has, it'd be a useful tool for everyone I think.

    I was very excited when I first heard of ATI (back in the day) doing multi GPU and back then they were touting being able to use different GPUs together. That news popped up again more recently, but I still haven't heard much(if you got links on progress to this please share I don't know what to google).

    If this is silly just say it, but I thought this would be a useful article for all of us looking at upgrade paths. If it's a good idea though lets request for it and if not, well I'll sink back into a dark hole =D.
     
    #1 tential, Dec 31, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
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  3. Denithor

    Denithor Diamond Member

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    Upgrading to a second high end card after the next generation of cards is launched is generally not a good value, unless the cost of the older generation cards has plummeted (which has not happened this time around).

    If you look at it, you're going to spend $100 more for less performance, right? At least that's how it looks initially. However, with dual cards comes (more than) twice the power consumption (new generation cards consume less power, plus there's one versus two), more noise (double the fans) and microstutter (google for it or read around the forums here). Also, the next generation cards have significantly higher memory capacity (2-4GB depending on the model versus typically 1.5GB for the older GTX 580), which really translates into a serious advantage in games at higher resolutions and/or with high res texture packs applied.

    Dual cards generally only make sense in two cases: buying two mid-level cards of the current generation to outperform a single high-end card or buying two high-level cards for performance you simply cannot get from a single card setup.

    EDIT: And remember, if you upgrade to a single new generation card, you can sell the older card to reduce the cost of the upgrade.
     
  4. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    First addressing power consumption, Anandtech did an article on this. It's literally an extra 20-40 dollars a year to run your PC 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2668/2
    Lets use system 1 which has a load power consumption of 140 watts (more than a second GPU), and lets say it's running at 8 hours a day 365 days a year at load. We're looking at an extra $37.23 if you live in NC. Surprisingly enough, tests were done with numbers from where you live (granted 4 years ago in 2008).

    Second noise. I agree, noise is a concern and one you would have to factor in no doubt. SLI runs 10 dBs louder on the 580 than a single 680 according to the bench marks on load on Metro 2033.

    Third, regarding the memory performance. I really can't address that because I dunno. However, I'd just use the benchmarks I posted. Clicking on the 580 SLI vs 680 link you can see that even at the highest resolutions, the benefit of adding another 580 is more than buying a new 680 (which is what we're comparing).

    I hope this answers the questions you said, but I think the noise complaint would be the only one you'd have to justify. Do I want to add 10-40 FPS (depending on the game and resolution) and raise my minimum frame rates in games from 20-25 in some games at very high resolutions to 40? Or do I care more about noise?

    Edit: To clarify, I'm not justifying a 580 SLI vs upgrade vs a 680 upgrade. I really couldn't care less as I don't actually own a 580 to begin with. I'm just wondering if the community as a whole would be interested in a once a year upgrade path from anandtech and see if we could possibly get that. The 700 series and 8000 series are coming out and some people upgrade every year/2years and being able to see whether you should A) possibly opt for a dual GPU or B) hop on the new architecture, even if it's slower for other types of benefits, would be an interesting read. Or in your case, would you wanna add another 7870, or opt for a new 8870.
     
    #3 tential, Dec 31, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  5. KingFatty

    KingFatty Diamond Member

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    I think the point being made is there would be no question here, it's always the same answer - sell your old card and upgrade to the single new card.

    I really don't see any scenario where you'd go dual GPU, except for the two cases Denithor pointed out above.

    Maybe you can help us understand what you mean... are you saying there would be some other good scenario that would apply to most users for going dual GPU when you have an existing old card? Perhaps if the market changes and old cards become suddenly much cheaper? As pointed out above, old cards haven't plummeted in price so you sell your old card for cash toward new card, instead of paying that relatively high price to go dual GPU.
     
  6. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    When originally writing this, I forgot that people sell their old cards so I hadn't considered that. I guess that would go into the article too.
    In the case I was talking about, comparing an additional 580 vs a new 680, adding an additional 580 clearly adds much more performance than buying a new 680.

    If you want to talk about selling used video cards then I'm not sure. Maybe in theory you could sell your used video card but I'm not actually sure how that works in practice. An example would be going onto the forums right now and trying to sell/purchase a GTX 580. On newegg the price is 300, on craigslist only 1 seller has it below 500 dollars, on here the asking price is 250 dollars. I don't think those will actually be sold as I dunno about you, but I expect a little more than a 50 dollar discount to buy something used, especially when I can get it refurbished.

    I'm lost as to how the scenario I presented in the OP though is necessarily bad? In that case, ignoring noise and talking pure performance, and factoring in the extra 30 dollars it will take to run a GTX 580, adding an additional GTX 580 adds more performance by at least 10 FPS, and a raises the minimum frame rate by a lot more, in every single game over buying a new GTX 680. Unless you aren't actually clicking the links, you kind of need to do that to get the full picture as I posted a small sample of the large amount of numbers on those links.

    This quote right here agrees right there that you're paying 100 dollars more for less performance but then talks about power consumption, which I addressed showing an article from here stating that you'd pay an extra 30 dollars a year. So maybe you'd be paying 70 dollars less. And then the memory capacity affecting higher resolutions, but you can just click both benchmark links to see that even at the highest resolutions, your minimum FPS goes up a large amount, are your average FPS goes up by at least 10-20 FPS when we're talking about Crysis and Metro (which is 20% or more roughly for those two games). Since there aren't many other games that taxed the GTX 680 or 580 on those links there really isn't much else that'd be relevant for this.

    Noise was the only real factor, at least I thought. Am I missing something?
     
    #5 tential, Jan 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  7. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    Sorry, no one really explained this to me and I'm still lost. Why is it bad from a purely performance standpoint (ignoring noise since that's subjective), to upgrade your set up from a GTX 580, to a SLI GTX 580, over a single GTX 680? Trying to understand this since I'll be wanting to upgrade my PC frequently once I build a new one this spring.
     
  8. Greenlepricon

    Greenlepricon Senior member

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    1) temperature
    2) power + electricity bill
    3) microstutter
    4) drivers
    5) price (potentially)

    In terms of pure framerates, sli or crossfire will get you better results than a single card of the next generation (generally). One problem is you run into temperature and power concerns. If your rig is prepared for this then it's not a problem. You may also run into a problem with microstutter, as explained here. For me this isn't a problem, but I tend not to run dual gpu's so there isn't really much reason I would see it. Also if you like to overclock, you probably won't get as high stable overclocks from two or more gpu's, since they'll overclock to the lowest. That's not really a problem but it's not really that fun. You'll also be adding to your power bill, whereas upgrading to a 670/680 will lower that bill by a bit. Driver optimization can also be a problem since companies like to give the best experience to the most popular setups, which are single gpu systems. You are less likely to run into problems with one card in most games, and rarely there are some major glitches and problems associated with using more than one card.

    One last thing is the price. When you might get $200+ for an old gpu by selling it, you'll be paying an extra $200 or $300 to upgrade to the next generation. This is the same price, if not a little cheaper than buying that second gpu, without any of the aforementioned problems. You'll get better power usage and a reasonable upgrade by most standards. Unless you're running some serious games or programs, one gpu is usually the better option.

    If you can find a cheap card to run next to your existing one, it's probably worth it. Generally newer hardware is better.
     
  9. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    Well like I said, I already factored in the powerbill. Just read the post above quoting the anandtech article.

    As for overclocking, even considering you OC the GTX 680 you still wouldn't outperform two GTX 580s. I don't have those benches readily available but I mean, it's pretty obvious.

    The Price? We just discussed the price and it's about 70 dollars cheaper once you factor in the powerbill.

    As for resale? That's one thing I guess I did want to know about is how easy is it to resale a top of the line last generation graphics card? I only saw one thread of someone selling a GTX 580 on this forum in 10 pages. Very few people are actually looking at last generation top of the line used graphics cards. I dunno if it's really likely that you can sell them but I guess you guys can educate me on that more.

    Explain to me the microstutter though. I could have sworn that other threads I read on here (I just started reading recently), have ways to fix micro stutter or limit it's appearance.

    I hadn't thought about drivers, but it seems most new games support SLI and crossfire so I didn't really look at it.

    The only real thing I didn't think of was resale though, and whether your powersupply could support SLI, but if it couldn't then clearly the cost of also having to add in additional powersupply would make upgrading to a single GTX 680 a better choice. With resale though how easy is it to sell an old top of the line graphics card? Just looking at ebay, craigslist, and this forums sale section, it doesn't seem too easy.
     
  10. Bman123

    Bman123 Diamond Member

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    It's real easy to sell a top of the line last gen card to someone. Some people want to save money and still get really good performance so they buy used. I almost always buy used video cards, the last new one I bought was a 8800gt
     
  11. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    Where would I typically buy/sell last gen graphics cards?

    Craigslist was mostly a ghost town or overypriced, and so was here. Ebay's buyitnow had all cards listed above prices that are new so am I just looking in the wrong place?
     
  12. Eureka

    Eureka Diamond Member

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    Adding a second top of the line GPU of a previous generation will be faster than one of the current generation. However, much less headache with a single card, and if you can't use the extra performance in a dual card setup, then you might as well sell your current card and go for a single one.

    Yes, there is a huge market for used cards. The thing is, people generally won't dump a top of the line card for half-price for a card in the next generation (580 to 680). Generally people will wait for a two-generation upgrade. You'll see a lot of 570s for sale though. And if you go to ebay, you'll see a lot more 580s and 570s. Here at AT you have people who will wait longer for upgrades, so it will skew your used market results.

    AT actually isn't that big of a FS/FT market, in my experience. There's a couple of other forums with much bigger markets (and sells a lot faster).
     
  13. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    Ya I saw a lot of 580s on ebay but the prices (I only checked buy it now) were ridiculous. Many were higher than current retail prices.

    Your post makes more sense though. The way people were replying, it sounded like they really thought upgrading to a single GTX 680 would be faster than a SLI GTX 580.

    I guess I just need to look into this resale market further. How easy is it though to do the typical thing of upgrading after 2 generations and reselling your card like most people would? I would assume that is what I would do too. I probably wouldn't upgrade every year but every 2 years definitely.
     
  14. Denithor

    Denithor Diamond Member

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    Okay, let me clarify what I said above.

    In a lot of games, SLI/CF of two previous generation top model cards will destroy a single current generation top model card. However, this distinctly does not hold true in cases where the previous model cards have insufficient VRAM to adequately buffer the frames being rendered.

    I'm having a hard time finding exact examples with the cards in question but did find a chart showing the phenomenon I'm referring to: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/graphics/2012/10/09/nvidia-geforce-gtx-650-ti-review/7 . Take a look at the last chart on the page, specifically at the 650 Ti 2GB card versus the 650 Ti 1GB card (1GB card clocked higher). This is a triple monitor setup running Skyrim with the high res texture pack applied. Note how the 2GB card has nearly three times the minimum FPS of the 1GB card? That's because the 1GB card simply cannot hold all the data it needs to render the frames correctly and it is forced to use system RAM instead (much, much slower - resulting in a drastic reduction in performance). Now, imagine this happened to you with a dual GTX 580 setup. You wouldn't be exactly ecstatic, would you?

    Granted, this likely applies to about 0.1% of gamers out there. But we have already had one guy here on the forum in this exact situation (poor performance in multi-monitor Skyrim with high res textures) asking specifically if adding a second GTX 580 to his setup would fix his stuttering. So it definitely can happen.

    If you game @ 1080p and have no intent to go higher AND can get a good deal on a 580 it may give you a better experience than a single 680. But definitely do your background research on microstutter before you go dual cards.
     
    #13 Denithor, Jan 2, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  15. Denithor

    Denithor Diamond Member

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    And, as an addendum, to address selling a used video card - there aren't too many for sale on the forums here because people won't overpay for them. Most people will list on other forums with higher selling volumes and/or eBay. Think about it - if all other GTX 580s are overpriced there and you list yours for $200-225, how long will it take for someone to snap it up?
     
  16. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    Ok, I can see that, but at that point both are also unplayable anyway. They both have similar FPS at lower resolutions until the triple monitor set up. I'm guessing though that the 1 GB version isn't as smooth though.

    I was looking more at moving forward too as I'm looking at getting back into PC gaming. It'd be nice to see more past generation info when doing a roundup and recommendations for the year, but I'm guessing due to testbeds and games being tested being different, so it makes it hard to decide whether it's really worth it since PC gaming can be really expensive. Well, at least more expensive than console gaming.

    I'm guessing that moving forward we won't see many cards below 2-3 GB of VRAM. I see your point with the VRAM though and I definitely wouldn't be doing this with the last generation or this generation but maybe moving forward when I'm picking up a card with 3 GB of VRAM, I really think CF/SLI would be a much more viable upgrade path in many scenarios after this next generation of cards over picking up the newest and greatest, and I was just hoping anandtech would start doing a yearly review on those types of upgrade paths so that us users had comparable benchmarks. It'd probably have to be over a much smaller suite of games, and include less resolutions, but I think it'd be useful in the coming years.

    On a side note, jesus christ I've been away for awhile. I never would have guessed people would be approaching 5 ghz OCs on quadcores this easily. I was wondering what the cost of the test bed was in that review and that definitely makes me excited to graduate and get a new PC. Things have changed a lot, I'm still learning hahaha.
     
  17. KentState

    KentState Diamond Member

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    Please let me know where I can sell my GTX 580. It's just sitting in the box with all the other parts of years past. Personally, I went to a 7970 Ghz due to not wanting to screw around with SLI, plus the new card came with 3 free games. If I can sell it, then it's almost a wash considering I've gotten a years use out of it.
     
  18. stormkroe

    stormkroe Golden Member

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    I just wanted to point out another potential downside to last gen sli vs current.
    Say you have card A. A year has passed and now card B is out. You decide to double up on card A. Another year passes and card C comes out, but it's actually the same performance as your double A setup, so no reason to 'side-grade'. Finally another year goes by and card D comes out and obliviates your double A setup. You decide to upgrade finally, but your 3 year old cards are now worth the price of a Happymeal, no way to offset the price of the new flagship.
    I know this is extreme and cycles aren't always a year, but you get the point.
    Just something else to consider.