Question Recommend me a low to mid level graphics card for "light" gaming (new or used)

Lil'John

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Dec 28, 2013
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I am doing older games like Battletech with Roguetech upgrade(ie memory hog), Shadowrun Returns, and Warhammer 2. I have ZERO interest in FPS games or multiplayer type games. First half of it is kind of a lie since I've broken into Mechwarrior 5:innocent:

My system is a bit on the lower end: I am using an Intel 12100F with 32GB ram. My graphics card is a used to me Asus 1050ti.

I'm kind of brand agnostic for chips but I can't recall that I've ever gone AMD. Same thing with graphics card assembler but I've mostly done ASUS.

So what should I be looking for in the new or used market? I'm considering a budget of ~$250... I might stretch it to $300.
 
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Lil'John

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You should be able to get an AMD 6700xt in the $300 range, new. I wouldn't buy used right now. There's far too many miners dumping their cards now.
I'll bite. What type of issue is miner cards having? My experience with computer stuff is if it lasts the first ~3months, it is good for years.
 
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ZGR

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Oct 26, 2012
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It is a gamble to buy a mining card. I bought a really rough looking 3080 for a good price and it absolutely needs thermal pad replacement.

The 6700XT is a great price and creams the RTX 3060 in Raster.
 

Kaluan

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Jan 4, 2022
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RX 6600 can be found for quite a bit less than $250 in your market. But if you spring for a bit more, 6650XT, 6700 and even some 6700XT on deal can be had for $300 or less. I wouldn't touch RTX 3050 with a pole, 3060 is decent however, but not as great a value vs the Radeon cards mentioned earlier.

Radeon/AMD GPUs also typically perform better with modest CPUs (like your i3) vs GeForce cards of similar graphics power.
 

blckgrffn

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OK, I'll bite - how far off of what you need is that 1050ti? If someone said they needed a card for light gaming but said they had that, I would normally advise... wait.

How far it under performs your needs would impact my recommendation :)

For new cards and no further feedback, the AMD 6600 is my pick atm because it's nearing $200 and offers solid performance and efficiency. From there I'd hit a "great deal" 6700/6700XT - I just got one for $230 locally. Otherwise, I'd hold out for a vanilla 6800 or awesome deal 6800XT - full 16GB cards and the 6800 wins efficiency but the 6800XT is a full performance step up.

If you have to go nvidia, settle for no less than the 3060 12GB and if you want something faster go with a 3080, preferably 12 GB.

Spending north of $400 on an 8GB card right now is terrible investment, imo. The midrange nvidia options are a bunch that I wouldn't touch with a looming refresh on what looks to be vastly superior silicon.
 
Aug 16, 2021
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GTX 1050 Ti is already okay at that, but if you want to play them all at Ultra, RTX 3050/RX 6600 is more than good enough for that. I can understand you wanting to upgrade, but you are in poor position, because what you have is good enough, to bump up performance upgrade would only make sense if it's cheap and low end hardware nowadays isn't cheap new. You can look at used HW, but it's not as simple as just finding card you want, especially on eBay.
 

Leeea

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Apr 3, 2020
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I'll bite. What type of issue is miner cards having? My experience with computer stuff is if it lasts the first ~3months, it is good for years.
Many of the miners did BIOS mods on their cards. Good for mining, but results in instability for everything else. Most miners are not spending the labor to reflash before resale, so the cards tend to be frustrating for the next user.


The miner cards were ran 24/7, most aimed for efficiency. Best efficiency is gained by running the GPUs hot for max temp difference to room air to increase cooling efficiency. This also means most miner GPUs need an immediate thermal pad replacement, and that is more difficult then it sounds. Thermal pads are specced per card, and each pad has its own thickness and hardness spec. They are not interchangeable between cards, or even parts on the same card. Different ones are required for VRMs, GPU, and memory.


Most miner cards were ran 24/7 in hot rooms. It costs money to cool a room, and profitability is about reducing costs. It cost money to clean them of dust, so typically they ran dusty only to be cleaned* before resale. The end result is fans, VRMs, and Caps are near End of Life.

*The cleaning method used for resale damages the thermal pads, and can cause other issues:


There are exceptions to this, where responsible miners took care of their cards. Those are rare, and most miner cards are going to be bad news.
 
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Furious_Styles

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Jan 17, 2019
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Many of the miners did BIOS mods on their cards. Good for mining, but results in instability for everything else. Most miners are not spending the labor to reflash before resale, so the cards tend to be frustrating for the next user.


The miner cards were ran 24/7, most aimed for efficiency. Best efficiency is gained by running the GPUs hot for max temp difference with outside air to increase cooling efficiency. This also means most miner GPUs need an immediate thermal pad replacement, and that is more difficult then it sounds. Thermal pads are specced per card, and each pad has its own thickness and hardness spec. They are not interchangeable between cards, or even parts on the same card. Different ones are required for VRMs, GPU, and memory.


Most miner cards were ran 24/7 in hot rooms. It costs money to cool a room, and profitability is about reducing costs. It cost money to clean them of dust, so typically they ran dusty only to be cleaned* before resale. The end result is fans, VRMs, and Caps are near End of Life.

*The cleaning method used for resale damages the thermal pads, and can cause other issues:


There are exceptions to this, where responsible miners took care of their cards. Those are rare, and most miner cards are going to be bad news.
I'm not sure why they would require a thermal pad replacement. Also well taken care of cards that were mined on isn't very rare. Most people tried to keep their cards in good working order because it's the asset that's making them money.

That said I wouldn't buy any cards from China or Vietnam either.
 

Lil'John

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Dec 28, 2013
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Thanks for the feedback so far and the explanation on "risk" for mining cards. If I were getting used, I would be going "local" to me(ie in USA). The 1050ti was used when I bought it and is doing fine.

The BIOS change is interesting. Out of curiosity, is it a display disabling change?
You realize that the average miner card is going 100% for who knows how many days. Do you really want to take the risk?
As I noted, my experience with computer hardware is that if it works for more than 10 days new, it will easily beat the warranty by a long shot. This is based upon starting back with an 8088:eek:

I don't mind getting "older" hardware if it beats out new hardware for the price.

OK, I'll bite - how far off of what you need is that 1050ti? If someone said they needed a card for light gaming but said they had that, I would normally advise... wait.

How far it under performs your needs would impact my recommendation :)
I am trying for a "balanced" computer build. To me, it doesn't make sense to toss a best money can buy graphics card on this system.

I'll see if I can get a screen shot of how "bad" it is doing in Mechwarrior 5. It doesn't appear to be stuttering but it does have some overly heavy pixelation when I put it into nightvision mode. Granted, I'm running full screen on a 3840x2160 monitor with high settings, TXAA, etc. Not full on maximum but not low settings.
 
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Aug 16, 2021
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This is not true. Miners run their GPUs as cool as reasonable, both to increase longevity, as well as lower power usage, and thus operating costs.
Doesn't change much, when 1 year of mining equals at least 5 years of normal use. Those things run 24/7 and that's a lot of hours. No matter how cool they run, you just simply have wear and tear from high usage.
 
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VirtualLarry

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Doesn't change much, when 1 year of mining equals at least 5 years of normal use. Those things run 24/7 and that's a lot of hours. No matter how cool they run, you just simply have wear and tear from high usage.
This isn't true either, as I have documented elsewhere.

Especially when gaming is 10x harder on a card than mining.

The only thing hard on cards that mining does is fan lifespan, and fans are easily replaced for $20 off of ebay.
 
Aug 16, 2021
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This isn't true either, as I have documented elsewhere.

Especially when gaming is 10x harder on a card than mining.

The only thing hard on cards that mining does is fan lifespan, and fans are easily replaced for $20 off of ebay.
What you say is not true either as electromigration affects every cards the same. Yes, you prolong card's life if you undervolt it, but it's dwarfed by the fact that you use it 24/7. Also gaming isn't even close to 10x harder than mining, at best 10-20% harder if not usually less demanding on HW. Finally, fans often last way longer than expected and failures of them are quite rare. I still have ~13-14 year old Scythe sleeve bearing fan that was used a lot and it's still functional, I also have original Athlon 64 (s754) stock cooler with stock fan that was used for 14 years, still works fine. I also have ATi x800 XT PE and Pro, both with original fans, but Pro needed reoiling to reduce weird noise. My gran's laptop is 12 year old, fan still works perfectly fine. My university had some Pentium 3 machines, CPU fans were stock as well as PSU fans, all functional too. Meanwhile, the rest of GPU's components fail much sooner, particularly GPU itself, VRAM ,VRMs (caps and other components, but caps usually first), ball joints (especially fast for almost any high end card, after 5-6 years, many of them start to fail).
Also 20 dollars for GPU fans? Way too much! You can find decent PC fans for 4 dollars each, but even that is almost too expensive for sub 100 USD GPUs.
 

VirtualLarry

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What you say is not true either as electromigration affects every cards the same. Yes, you prolong card's life if you undervolt it, but it's dwarfed by the fact that you use it 24/7. Also gaming isn't even close to 10x harder than mining, at best 10-20% harder if not usually less demanding on HW. Finally, fans often last way longer than expected and failures of them are quite rare. I still have ~13-14 year old Scythe sleeve bearing fan that was used a lot and it's still functional, I also have original Athlon 64 (s754) stock cooler with stock fan that was used for 14 years, still works fine. I also have ATi x800 XT PE and Pro, both with original fans, but Pro needed reoiling to reduce weird noise. My gran's laptop is 12 year old, fan still works perfectly fine. My university had some Pentium 3 machines, CPU fans were stock as well as PSU fans, all functional too. Meanwhile, the rest of GPU's components fail much sooner, particularly GPU itself, VRAM ,VRMs (caps and other components, but caps usually first), ball joints (especially fast for almost any high end card, after 5-6 years, many of them start to fail).
First of all, electromigration is a function of time, temperature, and power usage. In mining, the smart miners try to hit their efficiency "sweet spot", which means lower temps and power levels than gamers, who often do the opposite, and overclock. Remember that "New World" game that was burning up 3090s? Mining certainly wasn't doing that, or you would have heard about it in the news instead.

Second, you mention "ball joints", which I assume that you are referring to the BGA solder bumps used to affix the GPU package to the PCB Assy. Thermal stress is what damages those. Which gaming sees a lot of, due to the fact that the GPU loads is highly variable during gaming, but mostly constant (and thus lower thermal stress, less heating / cooling cycles) for mining.
 

Mopetar

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This is not true. Miners run their GPUs as cool as reasonable, both to increase longevity, as well as lower power usage, and thus operating costs.
They'll underclock the cores, but they might overclock the memory if they're mining something like ETH since that will give them a boost.

Doesn't change much, when 1 year of mining equals at least 5 years of normal use. Those things run 24/7 and that's a lot of hours. No matter how cool they run, you just simply have wear and tear from high usage.
Most electronics have a bathtub curve for failure rate. If it was being used for mining for a year it's pretty likely it would have failed during that time. Once they get beyond that earlier failure period the likelihood of failure goes down considerably until it gets extremely old. Posters here have all kinds of old tech that still runs fine despite being over a decade old and well past the useful lifespan of the hardware because the performance isn't up to today's standards.
 

igor_kavinski

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Thermal stress is what damages those. Which gaming sees a lot of, due to the fact that the GPU loads is highly variable during gaming, but mostly constant (and thus lower thermal stress, less heating / cooling cycles) for mining.
I think you sold some of your mining cards. What did you do to restore them, other than repasting the heatsink and reflashing the BIOS? Fans didn't need to be changed? Heard any complaints from any of the buyers?
 
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igor_kavinski

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Granted, I'm running full screen on a 3840x2160 monitor with high settings, TXAA, etc. Not full on maximum but not low settings.
If you run it on a mid-end to high-end 4K TV, they can usually upscale 1080p to 4K without discernible quality loss. That way, you could turn your settings to max and reduce the load on your GPU.
 
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VirtualLarry

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Aug 25, 2001
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I think you sold some of your mining cards. What did you do to restore them, other than repasting the heatsink and reflashing the BIOS? Fans didn't need to be changed? Heard any complaints from any of the buyers?
I only sold some of my recently-purchased, barely-mined on cards. They were in, AFAIK, perfect shape.

I haven't sold any "dusty, crusty" mining cards that have been in the mines for some time.

I don't flash alternate mining BIOSes, I like to keep them pristine, for when I pass them on.
 

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