Video card upgrade questions

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Chen
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Video card upgrade questions

Postby Chen » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:42 pm UTC

So I'm looking to upgrade my video card but I'm not sure my PC can handle the newer ones. I'm currently running a Radeon 6850. I'm looking to upgrade to something like a Radeon R9 280. I have some concerns though:

1) Size. The old card seems to take up two slots worth of space in the tower but it apparently about 3 inches shorter than the old card. The only thing it looks like will get in the way is the hard drive, and that can be moved lower. Is there anything else size wise that should be considered? If it doesn't physically interfere with anything in my case (after I move the hard drive) would it be ok or is there other things I need to consider (cooling area or something?)

2) Power. I have a 600W power supply which should be sufficient for this new card I believe. However the old 6850 has two 6 pin power connectors and the new one is apparently one 6 pin and one 8 pin. Looking in my case I didn't SEE any 8 pin connectors. Is that something that has to do with the power supply itself? Or the motherboard? Is there some way to convert one of my existing 6 pin connectors into an 8 pin? Or would I need a new power supply/motherboard that has the appropriate cable?

3) Cooling. This kinda goes with number one. Even if the new card does fit into the case, Im wondering if there are any cooling issues if it's a "tight" fit? Do more modern cards need extra cooling or is that only if you're planning on overclocking them?

KnightExemplar
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Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:58 pm UTC

Re: Video card upgrade questions

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:50 pm UTC

You should have posted this in the "Hardware" forum. But I got ya :-)

Chen wrote:So I'm looking to upgrade my video card but I'm not sure my PC can handle the newer ones. I'm currently running a Radeon 6850. I'm looking to upgrade to something like a Radeon R9 280. I have some concerns though


R9 280 is a rebranded 7950. The new generation of GPUs don't make it easy to see which are "old tech" vs "new tech".

The "new tech" within the AMD series is R9 290x, R9 290, R9 285, and R7 260x. That's it. These all have been released in 2013, and an update is rumored to be coming out in early 2015 if you can wait for it. If you can't, GPU prices are down making it an exciting time to buy a GPU.

(NVidia did a similar thing with their 6xx line to 7xx line of cards. Rebranded old 600 cards as if they were "new". Whatever...)

The R9 280 (aka rebranded 7950) and R9 280x (aka rebranded 7970) are both extremely good cards in their own right, but they won't support FreeSync Monitors when they come out March 2015. I think its worth buying the newer line of cards (R9 285), despite the price/performance bonuses of buying the older card (R9 280 aka 7950).

1) Size. The old card seems to take up two slots worth of space in the tower but it apparently about 3 inches shorter than the old card. The only thing it looks like will get in the way is the hard drive, and that can be moved lower. Is there anything else size wise that should be considered? If it doesn't physically interfere with anything in my case (after I move the hard drive) would it be ok or is there other things I need to consider (cooling area or something?)


Assuming the worst (R9 290x, which is massive), assume that the card is slightly longer than the motherboard. If you have SATA cables on the end, you'll want to convert them to the flat right-angled SATA cables. You'll also want clearance slightly longer than the motherboard.

Most motherboards are designed for these massive cards though. You should be fine from a motherboard perspective (with the right-angled SATA connectors, which can fit "under" the GPU). Cheap cases on the other hand sometimes screw this up with their hard drive placement.

2) Power. I have a 600W power supply which should be sufficient for this new card I believe. However the old 6850 has two 6 pin power connectors and the new one is apparently one 6 pin and one 8 pin. Looking in my case I didn't SEE any 8 pin connectors. Is that something that has to do with the power supply itself? Or the motherboard? Is there some way to convert one of my existing 6 pin connectors into an 8 pin? Or would I need a new power supply/motherboard that has the appropriate cable?


Some 6-pin cables are 6/8 pin cables.

Image

500W PSUs usually have one 6-pin connector (left), and one 6/8pin connector (right).

600W PSUs almost definitely have the 6/8-pin. But... if you can't find it, you'd only need to upgrade the PSU. The Motherboard has nothing to do with this power issue.

Check the ends of your 6-pin connectors, look for the one with an extra 2pins just dangling off to the side. That's your 8-pin connector.

3) Cooling. This kinda goes with number one. Even if the new card does fit into the case, Im wondering if there are any cooling issues if it's a "tight" fit? Do more modern cards need extra cooling or is that only if you're planning on overclocking them?


In general... modern cards use less power than older ones.

However, the 6850 is only a mid-tier card, and high-powered top-tier cards are cheaper than ever. Chances are, you're gonna buy a high-powered top-tier card (if you're buying within a month or so).

If you end up getting a R9 290x or even R9 285, it will use more power and require more cooling than the 6850. But these newer cards are far faster, and use much less energy than the top of the line 6970 from that generation. In fact, the R9 290x uses less power, is cheaper, and is faster than the 6970. That's the advantage of buying the newest line of GPUs.

All of these new cards will automatically throttle themselves if you have heat issues. Which means, the cooling problem automatically takes care of itself (at a performance penalty). I suggest buying the cards, running Furmark (worst-case scenario benchmark), and then buying case fans as needed. Further, if you buy a card with a good cooler on it, you'll be fine no matter what.

The R9 290x and R9 290 had some heat issues. But they have been resolved with double-fan setups. As long as you buy a custom cooler, you'll be fine. I'm running the XFX DD on a R9 290x and my case can keep it cool. (But I needed to buy some additional case fans to prevent it from throttling). Still, even with the thermal throttling, this card handles Witcher 2 on ultra settings at 1080p. So I wouldn't worry too much about it.

The XFX DD R9 285 is a great cooler on a decent mid-tier graphics card. Although, the XFX R9 290 is a better card at a better price point (with the custom fans already in place), in case you want an up-sell. Once you factor in the fact that Civilization Beyond Earth is free on the R9 290 (but not on the R9 285), I think the game more than makes up for the value. Let alone the 2x faster GDDR5 and 150% more shaders and higher clock.

BTW: A buddy of mine is running the MSI R9 290 (it was cheaper than the XFX when he bought it) on a 500W PSU. Your 600W PSU should be fine.
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Chen
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Location: Montreal

Re: Video card upgrade questions

Postby Chen » Mon Nov 24, 2014 4:25 pm UTC

Damn that was a nice comprehensive reply. Guess I'll check out the power cables a bit more thoroughly and check the end of the motherboard to see if there's proper clearance. Thanks!

KnightExemplar
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Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:58 pm UTC

Re: Video card upgrade questions

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:38 pm UTC

Holy crap, the prices are all wrong now. Don't buy those cards. Buy other ones. You're goal is ~$270 for R9 290 and $330 for R9 290x.

Newegg has a deal for R9 290x at $300 right now. But who knows how long that will last...
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Chen
Posts: 5277
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:53 pm UTC
Location: Montreal

Re: Video card upgrade questions

Postby Chen » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:36 pm UTC

Yeah I noticed prices changing and such pretty rapidly. I'm thinking I may just wait til next year anyways and see if a new set come out. If anything it should just drop the prices of the older one. That or I may just wait til mid/end next year and just get a whole new system built, since it's probably about that time anyways.

Regardless, thanks for the input!

KnightExemplar
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Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:58 pm UTC

Re: Video card upgrade questions

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:17 pm UTC

The new set is most definitely coming out next year. The factory that makes AMD's chips basically confirmed that they've taped out AMD's GPU of the next generation as of July 2014. Synapse Design makes chips for... AMD, among other people. A 500mm^2 die is massive, there's only two companies who's make a graphics chip that big: NVidia or AMD. But Synapse design works only for one of them.

I've only got a basic understanding of what a "tape out" is... but the basics is its a point in the manufacturing process "of no return". Its when a chip design is submitted to the factory for mass production. That said, the chip still needs to be manufactured, then distributed to video card manufacturers (such as Asus, MSI, XFX, Sapphire), then distributed to Retailers, and then stockpiled before it's released. It can take 6 months to 12 months for all that to happen, so the next generation AMD stuff will be out sometime in February to July in 2015.

I haven't seen as many leaks of NVidia, but the rumors are that the 9xx series is still to come, including higher-end stuff than the GTX 980. Apparently, the R9 3xx Series (aka Pirate Islands) has some kick-ass performance specs... something like 30% faster than the R9 290x while using 80W less than the R9 290x.

All rumors of course, so take this information with a grain of salt. But it has been over a year since AMD has released a new generation of chips. Releasing something next year would mark roughly the 2-years of the R9 2xx series, so that'd be right on schedule for an update.

Just don't expect any deals on those new GPUs. You generally only get $$$ deals when a card has been out for months or more. New cards almost always sell at a premium. AMD's high end has historically been $500+, and the new R9 390x is getting a liquid-cooler... increasing the cost of the card.
First Strike +1/+1 and Indestructible.

Chen
Posts: 5277
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:53 pm UTC
Location: Montreal

Re: Video card upgrade questions

Postby Chen » Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:25 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Just don't expect any deals on those new GPUs. You generally only get $$$ deals when a card has been out for months or more. New cards almost always sell at a premium. AMD's high end has historically been $500+, and the new R9 390x is getting a liquid-cooler... increasing the cost of the card.


Oh yeah I didn't expect a deal on the new cards. However when the newer ones come out it tends to drive the prices on then older ones down a tad. Considering my 6850 has lasted a solid 4 years now, I suspect even if don't buy a high end one next year, whatever I do buy will last a good while.


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