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when is 2 video cards better than 1?
jackthelad Offline
#1 Posted : Saturday, 7 July 2012 6:08:38 a.m.(UTC)
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hi. still researching my gaming PC bulid.

Just wondered if anyone had any opinions on the difference between 1 top-end graphics card vs 2 lower-spec ones in cross-fire or SLI setup, for similar money.

eg. 1 x HD Radeon 7970 card or 2 x HD Radeon 7850 cards cross-fired. Which would you choose and why?

thanks heaps.
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Craig Offline
#2 Posted : Saturday, 7 July 2012 5:09:27 p.m.(UTC)
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I would always choose the one single faster card over the two slower cards. This is mostly for 2 reasons. First is SLI and or Crossfire doesn't scale 100% in games. Some games don't scale any better than one card. Secondly if you buy the faster single card now, you can always get a second when or if you will need it and prices do come down. So go the route of a single 7970 for now as it is a beast of a card and i know you'd be more than happy.
cronicash Offline
#3 Posted : Sunday, 8 July 2012 12:42:50 p.m.(UTC)
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+1^^

Two cards generally will use more power, drivers are often temperamental at times. For multi screen resolutions i would opt for dual cards.
More heat to dissipate, often getting suffocated by other pcie components (sound cards, wireless ...)
master_nz Offline
#4 Posted : Monday, 9 July 2012 2:08:17 a.m.(UTC)
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Using your example between the 7970 or 7850 CF, i would go for the single 7970. The 7970 performs about ~60% better than a single 7850 card; you can always add a second card later down the track when the card drops in price; you need a motherboard/PSU/case that can support SLI/CF; least driver issues; reduce heat/noise/power use; better technology, the gtx 6xx series supports 3+ monitors on a single card; its cheaper then 2 low end cards.

The down side is that 7970 may not not have enough grunt to play games at max settings at really high resolutions (2560x1600) or power muilt-monitor displays (2d/3d surround). The 7850 CF will out perform the 7970 (expect about ~80% boost when adding a second card). There is no upgrade path, adding a 3rd card will greatly reduced returns. Also you lose bragging rights.

So you must consider what resolutions your gaming at. If you just going to be playing at 1080p then a single high end card was be more then enough, SLI/CF was be over kill. When you start considering gaming at 1600p or even 5760x1080 then you going to need more than one card and you may also consider getting cards with higher vram.

So get 2 6850 if you gaming at res above 1080p (and have the budget)or a single 7970 will be more then enough. I wouldn't even consider buying the 7850 cards unless you don't plan to upgrade(7850 produces higher fps then 7970) and/or your on a tight budget. Oh the 7970 cards apparently overclock like a beast and can out perform a gtx 670.


I use to run a single gtx 570 at 2560x1600; while it can run all current games i found that it had problems in some games with max settings (batman, max payne) so i upgraded to 2 gtx 670 cards and also brought myself another 2 23" dell monitors for 2D surround. Was it worth it? maybe. Spending $1500 on 2 pieces of hardware (then adding more monitors) is a bit insane, considering you could build another decent rig for $2000. But the upside is gaming at that res really pushing the cards to the max and also having more monitors increases productivity. Now the bad news is that i got a $550 left over card which i only brought about 3 months ago and a awesome 30" dell monitor sitting in storage.
1 user thanked master_nz for this useful post.
jackthelad on 10/07/2012(UTC)
jackthelad Offline
#5 Posted : Tuesday, 10 July 2012 11:04:22 a.m.(UTC)
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thanks guys. good info!
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