Single vs. dual graphics card?

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by Gavster, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. Gavster

    Gavster
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    Hi all,

    I've had a quick search of the forum and couldn't find an answer to this question.

    My plan is to build a HTPC some time in the not-too-distant future and I've been thinking about graphics card performance. The PC will be driving a 1080p LCD panel and will obviously be used for watching TV/DVD/etc.

    But I also want to use it for some gaming. Now, I realise I need quite a beany card to drive that resolution but was wondering whether 2 mid-range cards linked together would outperform a high-end card?

    In other words, could 2 mid-range cards be purchased for less money than a high-end card and yet have similar performance?

    Any takers?

    Gav
     
  2. badbob

    badbob
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    I'd rather choose a single faster card, then two lower end models. If you're getting them both at the same time. SLI isn't 2x as fast, also dependant on the game supporting SLI.

    I think a single 8800GTX will be fine. I've played games at native on my 1920x1080 with single X1900XT and superb frame rate, Flat Out 2, Half Life 2, with highest settings and 4X AA and 16X AF. In Oblivion also ran at native with playable framerate just disabled AA. Normally run at 1680x1080 and very little difference.
     
  3. CGizzi

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    Im gonna watch this space as Ive been woundering that also, been out of the game for a few years & not too sure of whats best these days.

    My threory however goes like this though I may be wrong:

    Buy a sinlge SLI compatable card today ( as much as the budget allows ) and when things are starting to slow down or the card drops to an acceptable price pick up another to keeps things running smoothly.
     
  4. badbob

    badbob
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    Two problems to that

    1) More heat, higher power consumption and noise in dual card system
    2) Dual card isn't supported in all games (Nvidia) and least ATI have advantage here all games in Crossfire will work
    3) By the time you might add a second card it's possible a single newer gen card will outperfom yours in SLI/Crossfire

    I have X1900XT, a a single 8800GTS doesn't beat X1900XT crossfire though, a 8800GTX I believe will. Cost of a X1900XT Mastercard around £100. So I guess not too bad, as 8800GTX will cost more than £100, if selling off my X1900XT.

    Might look into a second X1900XT sometime...I guess also depend on resolution, if gaming at a lower res dual card doesn't seem to pull away, it does at higher res, compared to the single card attempting to do the same res/detail settings.
     
  5. Tejstar

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    I agree with the above. Personally I would always go for the most expensive single card I could afford. I've always thought SLI/Crossfire combo's are a waste of money, although there are many that swear by them.
     
  6. Gavster

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    badbob, thanks for those very valid points.

    Thermal management was something I hadn't yet considered. The system wants to be whisper quiet so extra cooling for a second card would potentially be a no-no.

    I hadn't realised the SLI needed to be supported by the games (I would probably go for an nVidia chipset over an ATI).

    I suspected that the performance of dual cards wouldn't be equivalent to exactly twice the processing power.

    My feeling is to splash out on a single card that's capable of delivering my current requirements with perhaps some head room for future-proofing. This will also have the added benefit of simplifying the internals of the box, improving airflow and requiring less cooling.

    Seems like the way to go. I think this card is potentially going to be the single most expensive item in the box. :D
     
  7. Dragy2k

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    fast single card with aftermarket cooling if case will allow other wise it will sound like concorde on take off and melt a hole in ur laminated flooring!:suicide:
     
  8. Razor

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    1 x 8800GTX will handle 1080p gaming with ease. :)

    I always spend the most on the graphics card. Approx £400 gets you the top end gpu.
     
  9. Dragy2k

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    ive not played with the gtx so not sure how loud / quiet they are.....there are aftermarket coolers out for them too heatpipe design that allows for a slow quiet fan to be attached dropping heat and noise to a minimum......but it all depends on ur case size!
     
  10. Razor

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    No need for an aftermarket cooler for the GTX they run totally silent. :)
     
  11. Decadent Fool

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    Do you need to play bang up to date games?

    While for htpc use my 2600HD Pro 512mb is still having teething problems, I fired up Oblivion and boy was it sweet; full detail, AA, @ 1360 x 768
     
  12. Gavster

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    Hey guys, thanks for the feedback ... very useful.:smashin:

    In answer to your question, Fool, oh yes! Currently following HL2 (have ep2 on pre-order from Play :D) and games like Crysis will be high on my list. I'm very shortly to order a 40" 1080p LCD so I reckon games like these will look out of this world on a panel like that.

    Have had a quick look at the nVidia 8800 cards on dabs and there's quite a range. I won't be buying for a few months so I guess the price will drop by then anyway.
     
  13. Tejstar

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    In which case you may want to wait for the G92 cards which are the new range of Nvidia cards that are planned to launch. Recent rumours suggest that these will be the 8700 cards, i.e. sit in between 8600 and 8800.
     
  14. Decadent Fool

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    ...er...that's Decadent Fool, thankyou very much :D

    I always try and avoid keeping up with gpu's, as they're out of date in a month; so I satisfy myself with buying a lower spec (cheaper) card and playing awesome games from a few months/couple of years ago :)
     
  15. Gavster

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    Noted! ;)

    That's one approach I guess. In fact, there is a simple pleasure to be had revisiting old games (that originally couldn't be played with all the settings maxed out) and playing them with a new card that's more than capable of delivering maximum quality.

    To be honest, I'd probably go for the top of the range (up to a point - even my sensibilities have a limit when it comes to spending a number of hundreds of pounds on a gfx card :)) ... I have no specific budget. My approach would be to spend a little more and know that I'd get a card that's gonna cut the mouseturd rather than struggling with a half measure.
     
  16. Razor

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    The 8800GTX has been the top card for a year. Top cards are only replaced once a year. Also top cards also last for at least a good two years gaming wise with settings on full.
     
  17. Decadent Fool

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    Mmm...not wanting to argue, but how would that apply in a vista dx10 world, on a card only a few months old? I suppose it's just a driver issue then.

    I really don't follow the gpu wars much, I just buy what I need, but I'm interested in hearing other opinions; it always seems (to me) to be an upgrade game every 6 months :)
     
  18. Razor

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    No arguing needed. :) Just how it has worked out for me and I have been doing this for years now (not saying that you havent) since the voodoo days.

    DX10 cards were out last year.

    The X1900XTX can still play games at full and that is a fairly old card now. :)
     
  19. Decadent Fool

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    Last year? Aha, I thought they were (relatively) new to the scene. Like I said, I don't keep up with these things :D

    I still remember the 4mb voodoo monster cards, and the 2 that you could link together; 16mb I think they were. Ah, the good old days of opengl or direct3d flavours :D
     
  20. Razor

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    No problem mate. :)

    Those were the days. 2d cards were also needed. I am so glad it has moved on from that. :)
     
  21. Decadent Fool

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    I remember getting a 512k vga card, and being chuffed :rotfl:
     

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