Video Card Upgrade Sweetspot--Any Advice?

I've been mulling over a video card upgrade for the better part of a month now, mostly due to the recent announcement of Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite being bundled with the purchase of an HD 7850 or a HD 7870 (specifically looking at the Gigabyte HD 7870 2 GB on Amazon). I built my PC in 2011, running an Intel 2500K, 8 GB RAM with a Sapphire HD 6870. Should I be considering upgrading to a 7870 to take advantage of the deal being offered or would it be better to wait? I consulted the Tom's Hardware Graphics Card Hierarchy and the proposed upgrade would be three steps higher than my current card, which is the minimum number of steps up from my current card to consider upgrading, at least according to Tom's Hardware.

Am I right to wait this one out until later this year for cheaper pricing, or since AMD is not announcing an new line of cards this year is it the right time to strike? Or should I just save up for a higher level Nvidia card? I've gone back and forth on this, but if anyone has any advice, I'd appreciate it.

Depends on your monitor resolution. If you're going to utilize that 2gb then go for it. I wouldn't necessarily play the waiting game anymore as things are quite drawn out on the pc hardware side of things.

However, if you were going to get both games at launch for sure then knock $100 off the price. $130 for a 7870 sounds great, but only if you were really going to get both games. Otherwise I'd just wait if you're happy.

I am definitely going to get Bioshock Infinite at launch, Tomb Raider is just a bonus. I've noticed that the 6870 is hitting a wall in Borderland 2 and Far Cry 3 on high settings with AA, so my main concern in upgrading is that I won't be able to enjoy Infinite in all of its splendor.

I also have points I was going to use towards it, so it would come out to be very affordable after the points.

Looking at other reviews, it seems that there is a 7870 LE edition that Sapphire makes, would it be worthwhile to get it over the Gigabyte? It looks like it is a 79xx series card clocked down to 7870 standards.

Also, would I need to upgrade my PSU at all? I have a Corsair 650 TX power supply from 2011 along with a standard motherboard, SSD, DVD and HDD for storage. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I shouldn't need to upgrade my PSU at all for the new card?

Having not seen the exact specs of the 7800 series cards as far as power draw and such, I'd still say you won't need to upgrade your PSU. I'm running dual 6950s on a Corsair 650W power supply that's a few years old now and they run great.

Also, yes, the deal is for both games, and it is a very good deal IMHO. I'd say go for it if you can afford it.

You can run any overclock with any single video card with that 650, so you're good.

You still haven't directly answered the resolution question, but if your 6870 is choking, you must be at 1920x1080 or 1200? You'd typically want either a 660Ti or a 6870 at that resolution. A 670 or 7950 will give you a fair bit of extra muscle... not really necessary for most titles, but might potentially be handy later. But then you don't get the game, so that makes them a heck of a lot more expensive. If you're definitely going to buy Bioshock anyway, then the AMD card takes fifty bucks off the price upfront.

Something like this 7950 would be pretty appealing... it's $299 for the card, but you get Crysis 3 and Bioshock. Since you'd be buying Bioshock anyway, that makes it a $250 card, and while it's not as good as its 670 approximate counterpart, it's also about $150 cheaper, which means the 670 is not its true counterpart anymore.

That's a very good card for $250.

edit: oops, they're out of stock on that one. This Sapphire 7950 is $10 more, at $310 ($260 if you deduct fifty bones for Bioshock), but I'm a little confused about the clocking. The $300 Gigabyte has a 'core clock' of 900Mhz. This has that clock set at 850, but then the 'turbo clock' is 925. I'm not sure how to interpret this; I don't know if the Sapphire is faster, or slower.

Oh, and as far as whether to buy now or later -- it seems that graphic cards are slowing advancement a great deal, so it's probably okay to buy now. There's no strong reason to wait; we don't see any particular indication that either manufacturer is likely to shake things up in a big way this year. Any price/performance improvements are most likely to be incremental, rather than dramatic.

Yes, you'll probably be able to get a little faster card for a little less money later in the year, but it's not likely to be a major difference... and you don't have the card while you're waiting.

Oh, and the reason I was kind of nudging you toward the 7950 is twofold; for one thing, that will be a very real upgrade from where you are, where the 7870 isn't as big a boost, and the other thing is that $250 for a card of that caliber is an extremely good value. Assuming Bioshock is a sunk cost, and assuming Crysis has $0 value to you, that's an outstanding price. If you would eventually buy Crysis, then further deduct whatever price you'd pay when you got it.

NVidia's looking pretty expensive right now; their silicon is definitely better, but they're charging a LOT more for it.

Thanks to Malor, garrion, and WipEout for the feedback. Yes, I am playing at 1920x1080 resolution always and would like to get a significant upgrade out of this purchase. After looking things over, I am leaning towards the Sapphire 7950, unless the clock speed being lower than the Gigabyte is an issue (it looks like it clocks up to 925 automatically when needed?). I've had a great experience with my Sapphire 6870 and I've seen some complaints about Gigabyte customer service.

I'm going to try to do a little research more on the Sapphire card tomorrow, if anyone comes across any reasons why I shouldn't go that direction, I'd really appreciate you letting me know.

Also, as an aside, will I have to upgrade my motherboard BIOS for the card? I never upgraded my BIOS on my motherboard, so it is still running the same BIOS when it came from Asus (P8P67-EVO REV 3.0).

Thanks again for all the wisdom, always feel like I learn a ton from everyone each time I ask a question.

Also, as an aside, will I have to upgrade my motherboard BIOS for the card?

Usually, no. BIOS upgrades are usually to fix problems with how it's initializing motherboard hardware, or with microcode updates for newer CPUs.

It's not impossible that you would need to update your motherboard BIOS to fix problems with a new video card, but it's pretty unlikely, since your existing one is already working.

My 5870 was a Sapphire "VaporX" (quieter cooler) version, and I really liked it.

I went ahead and ordered the Sapphire 7950. Reviews overall were strong for it and after my Amazon points and everything it comes out to around $80 (including Bioshock Infinite), which is a pretty excellent deal. Thanks again for the good counsel.

Apollo0507 wrote:

I went ahead and ordered the Sapphire 7950. Reviews overall were strong for it and after my Amazon points and everything it comes out to around $80 (including Bioshock Infinite), which is a pretty excellent deal. Thanks again for the good counsel.

Thats a pretty amazing deal...

TheGameguru wrote:
Apollo0507 wrote:

I went ahead and ordered the Sapphire 7950. Reviews overall were strong for it and after my Amazon points and everything it comes out to around $80 (including Bioshock Infinite), which is a pretty excellent deal. Thanks again for the good counsel.

Thats a pretty amazing deal...

I am a big fan of the Amazon Rewards Visa, that is all I can say. I did subtract the value of Bioshock Infinite from the total, so in reality, it cost $140 (my girlfriend would calculate it that way instead of including the value of the free game). I'm not really into Crysis, so if anyone buys a 7800 series card and wants to trade Tomb Raider for Crysis 3, I'm interested.

Apollo0507 wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
Apollo0507 wrote:

I went ahead and ordered the Sapphire 7950. Reviews overall were strong for it and after my Amazon points and everything it comes out to around $80 (including Bioshock Infinite), which is a pretty excellent deal. Thanks again for the good counsel.

Thats a pretty amazing deal...

I am a big fan of the Amazon Rewards Visa, that is all I can say. I did subtract the value of Bioshock Infinite from the total, so in reality, it cost $140 (my girlfriend would calculate it that way instead of including the value of the free game). I'm not really into Crysis, so if anyone buys a 7800 series card and wants to trade Tomb Raider for Crysis 3, I'm interested.

yeah I would have loved to see AMD give you a pick 2 from 3 games choice with these bundles.. I get the thinking.. the more capable cards got Crysis 3 to show off your new GPU.. rather than TR..but I can imagine most gamers would have preferred TR

Hmm...I'm considering upgrading from a GTS250, and that 7870 looks pretty appealing. Yeah, the 7950 would be a better card, but it's also more expensive, and since I'm coming from a lower-end card, should be a solid upgrade. I'm also definitely interested in both Tomb Raider and Bioshock, but totally indifferent to Crysis.

Now I just need to decide if I have the extra money to spend right now, and whether it'll physically fit in my current case. Mine's a Dell that's on the smaller side, so it'd have to fit until I do a full rebuild within the next year or so.

TheGameguru wrote:
Apollo0507 wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
Apollo0507 wrote:

I went ahead and ordered the Sapphire 7950. Reviews overall were strong for it and after my Amazon points and everything it comes out to around $80 (including Bioshock Infinite), which is a pretty excellent deal. Thanks again for the good counsel.

Thats a pretty amazing deal...

I am a big fan of the Amazon Rewards Visa, that is all I can say. I did subtract the value of Bioshock Infinite from the total, so in reality, it cost $140 (my girlfriend would calculate it that way instead of including the value of the free game). I'm not really into Crysis, so if anyone buys a 7800 series card and wants to trade Tomb Raider for Crysis 3, I'm interested.

yeah I would have loved to see AMD give you a pick 2 from 3 games choice with these bundles.. I get the thinking.. the more capable cards got Crysis 3 to show off your new GPU.. rather than TR..but I can imagine most gamers would have preferred TR

I got my TR key through today. Apparently AMD were having technical problems (were sending out bad keys for some bundles) that they're working through.

Apollo0507 wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
Apollo0507 wrote:

I went ahead and ordered the Sapphire 7950. Reviews overall were strong for it and after my Amazon points and everything it comes out to around $80 (including Bioshock Infinite), which is a pretty excellent deal. Thanks again for the good counsel.

Thats a pretty amazing deal...

I am a big fan of the Amazon Rewards Visa, that is all I can say. I did subtract the value of Bioshock Infinite from the total, so in reality, it cost $140 (my girlfriend would calculate it that way instead of including the value of the free game). I'm not really into Crysis, so if anyone buys a 7800 series card and wants to trade Tomb Raider for Crysis 3, I'm interested.

Not sure if you were interested in selling your 6870, but I saw over in another thread that oilypenguin is looking to pick another one of those up. You might be able to sell to him and cut the cost of that card down even further.

tundra wrote:

Not sure if you were interested in selling your 6870, but I saw over in another thread that oilypenguin is looking to pick another one of those up. You might be able to sell to him and cut the cost of that card down even further.

Thanks for the heads up, oilpenguin and I are in contact regarding my old 6870.

The new 7950 is great, only thing is that I think it is pushing more heat into my case causing my case fans to work more and one of them is a little noisy. Other than that, it'd be fantastic. This may force me to face my silly fear of breaking things and cause me to upgrade my CPU cooler off stock to a Hyper 212 or something similar.

Thanks again to all for the sound advice.