3x Passive Cards... which one? HD3870, 8800GT, & 9600GT

They make noise, too.

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SilentBen
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3x Passive Cards... which one? HD3870, 8800GT, & 9600GT

Post by SilentBen » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:48 pm

Greetings SPCR,

I have read many postings here and I finally decided to post! I am working on creating a P182 design similar to the many builds listed here. After doing some homework on Newegg and reading about VGA cards, I am determined to find the best solution for a passive video card.

I am not going SLI/Crossfire, I'm a pretty firm believer in a single card. I am Nvidia-biased from my positive experience over the years (TNT ftw!), but, the ATI card listed below has me reconsidering!

Here is my debate:
  • POWERCOLOR AX3870512MD4SC3 Radeon HD 3870 512MB 256-bit GDDR4 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814131089
    @ $197 w/ MiR + Ship

    - My concern is that it appears to dominate from specifications (marketing ploy?) but performance may be less then the others compared. I heard this puppy also uses a 55nm core verses the 8800GTs at 65nm? Any experience with the electrical whine from this?
  • ECS N8800GT-512MX+ GeForce 8800GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814134035
    @ $168 w/ MiR + Ship

    - The specs look wonderful. I may be mistaken, but I think this card outperforms both the 9600GT and HD3870 in benchmarks? This was originally my first choice. The accelro + turbo fan kit make it even MORE attractive!
  • ECS N9600GT-512MX-P GeForce 9600GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814134040
    @ $132 w/ MiR + Ship

    - I think the specs of this card rivaled the HD3870, if not fell behind in certain AA situations? The marketing scheme is playing tricks with me here... yes it is a newer card, but is it that much "worse" or "better" then the 8800GT or HD3870? (I read on SPCR somewhere there is no problem with whine on this, yet.)
So I'm sure you have all been in this dilemma before. The most degree of "stress" the video card will see in my situation would be playing FPS shooters (CoD4, Steam games, maybe Quake, etc.), possible RPG games (WoW, GW, LoTR, etc.), and HD-DVD / Bluray playback to a large HDMI 1080i display.

:roll: PS - I know Powercolor from ages ago... never heard of ECS until these cards though!

-- Or if you have any better recommendations for some 2008 video cards, please let me know! I am willing to pop an accelro on if needed. Trying to keep it under $250.

Thanks!

tehcrazybob
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Post by tehcrazybob » Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:29 pm

You'll want either of the NVidia cards. The 9600 is overall slightly faster than the HD3870, and the 8800gt blows it away completely. The HD3870 also uses the most power at full load. It's got the lowest idle consumption, but if that's an issue you should also look at an HD3850, which is a bit slower than the 9600.

Basically, the 8800gt and 9600gt offer exactly the same performance per dollar. The 8800gt is a bit faster, a bit hotter, and a bit more expensive. Unfortunately, I've heard the ECS 8800gt has some pretty serious coil whine, so you might want to look at a different manufacturer (EVGA).

As for brands, I'd ordinarily recommend EVGA, like I did in my last sentence. They offer a lifetime warranty and don't mind you swapping coolers, and have been nothing but reliable for me. Ordinarily, I'd also advise you to avoid ECS - they have a bad reputation, and have earned it. However, I took a plunge and bought their passive 9600gt, and it's been flawless. No coil whine, either, despite their 8800 having the problem.

So, overall, you should either get an EVGA 8800gt and an S1, or the ECS 9600gt you linked. Both are excellent choices, so base your decision on exactly how much performance you want.

thejamppa
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Post by thejamppa » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:16 pm

It depends test wether 9600 GT is faster or not. In some reviews HD 3870 overshadowed bit the 9600 GT. ECS have been blaimed for coil whine in these forums. Both 8800 GT and 9600 GT Models.

ryboto
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Post by ryboto » Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:09 am

at those prices I'd give a nod to nvidia. You really cant find a cheaper HD3870? I guess there's still a premium on passive ati cards..not sure why.

SilentBen
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Post by SilentBen » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:36 am

I did find some other passive ATI information for the 38xx series, one was the HD3850 by Sapphire. That takes a performance hit compared to the huge HD3870 though!

I think I'm going to stay clear of the ECS brand. I hate to run the risk of getting a low quality product at the cost of convenience (pre-installed accelro, big whoop). Coil whine reminds me of those hearing test machines from grade school... I don't need a video card to test my high frequency hearing abilities!

@Tehcrazybob
- I think your advice about the EVGA and a S1 is the best to pursue, especially considering their warranty. Other postings seem to indicate success stories. Newegg has several great 8800GT's.

I don't know if it will work or not:
Newegg EVGA 8800GT Product List:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... rce+8800GT

I'd love to stick the EVGA 01G-P3-N816-AR GeForce 8800GT AKIMBO 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail into the setup with an S1 with a slipstream. The 1GB of RAM is a pretty great selling factor for me. It is a 600mhz clock, not OC, so hopefully it still runs comparable to the 512mb version.

If it is or is not recommended, please let me know and please post why. I'm looking to purchase everything shortly. I may post my final "wishlist" on the other forum for a final lookover.

Thank you again for your time and responses!

AmberClad
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Post by AmberClad » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:26 am

SilentBen wrote:I think I'm going to stay clear of the ECS brand. I hate to run the risk of getting a low quality product at the cost of convenience (pre-installed accelro, big whoop).
Yeah, the foremost problem in my mind with getting either of the ECS cards is that ECS has a very poor reputation among enthusiasts, whether deservedly or not. Now, I can't really speak as to whether that reputation is correct or not since I've never used one of their motherboards or video cards. The problem I'm getting at is that when it comes time to sell that card when you're looking to upgrade, you'll have a hard time finding a willing buyer, since most people prefer XFX, EVGA, and BFG. The ASUS/MSI/Gigabyte/Foxconn branded ones are a step down as far as brand preference for a lot of people. ECS is way down at the bottom I tend to think.

Now, if you plan on keeping that card (as in you'll hand it down to a secondary rig when it's past its prime), I'd say go for it.

tehcrazybob
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Post by tehcrazybob » Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:52 pm

AmberClad wrote:Yeah, the foremost problem in my mind with getting either of the ECS cards is that ECS has a very poor reputation among enthusiasts, whether deservedly or not....
...Now, if you plan on keeping that card (as in you'll hand it down to a secondary rig when it's past its prime), I'd say go for it.
Their reputation is definitely earned. Back in the depths of time, when L2 cache was on the motherboard, ECS (under a different name) grew famous for installing fake cache chips. More recently, a few years ago I was forced to replace two consecutive ECS motherboards. The first one failed just out of warranty, and I replaced it with a second, having few options and not knowing their reputation at that time. The new one was barely functional on arrival (worked fine unless the system clock was correct) so I returned it for a different brand.

Then again, their reputation mostly concerns their in-house designs. It's much harder to screw up a reference video card design. And yes, they managed to get coil whine out of their 8800gt. However, despite all I know of ECS, I decided to get the passive 9600gt. I honestly can't find fault with it. There's no coil whine, the S2 is well-installed, and the performance is what it should be. And it has a 1-year warranty through Newegg (ECS is strangely silent about their warranty, so I'm not counting on it).

However, if you have the money, the EVGA option is absolutely worth it. I wouldn't put anything made by ECS in a computer I was building for someone else. I'm willing to deal with it if my cheapness causes a failure, but I'm not going to subject someone non-technical to that just to save $20.

SilentBen
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Post by SilentBen » Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:44 pm

This sounds like pretty sound advice. $20 isn't going to kill me, plus I will probably learn something by swapping the heatsink on the card, and get a better solution!

Any knowledge about the EVGA 1GB vs the basic single-slot cooled 512MB?

I'm willing to shell more $ for the 1GB if it's of any value.

Thanks again!

tehcrazybob
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Post by tehcrazybob » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:18 pm

The 8800gt isn't powerful enough to use a full gb of RAM. You'd get better price/performance ratio from a 512mb 8800gts, although that's a lot of heat to deal with in a silent system.

You're best off getting the 512mb version of the 8800gt.

HueyCobra
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Post by HueyCobra » Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:17 am

The Tech Report concluded:
The Tech Report wrote:If you're looking at running a single GeForce 8800 GT, the card's default 512MB memory size is easily the best. Doubling the onboard memory to 1GB may make for interesting marketing, but it doesn't improve performance a lick with the games and resolutions we tested ... The benefits of 1GB of video memory are also a bust for GeForce 8800 GT SLI configurations, at least at resolutions up to 1920x1440.

Cistron
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Re: 3x Passive Cards... which one? HD3870, 8800GT, & 960

Post by Cistron » Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:09 am

SilentBen wrote:- My concern is that it appears to dominate from specifications (marketing ploy?) but performance may be less then the others compared. I heard this puppy also uses a 55nm core verses the 8800GTs at 65nm? Any experience with the electrical whine from this?
I have the card and it does kind of intermittently whine when I stress it with ATItool, which I did not notice in any real-life stressing. Up to now I didn't know that was due to the transitor size. However, in idle is wonderfully quiet and with a 120mm fan blowing lightly onto the cooler, temperatures are as low as 35°C and never go beyond 65°C under stress.

1GB versions of the 8800GT are absolutely useless! I've read tests and there is zero difference in performance to the 512MB versions. I guess the 8800GT can't sustain the resolutions where 1GB might come in handy. (edit: memo to myself - should read all posts before repeating statements)

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Post by CA_Steve » Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:24 am

A lot of this is overkill information without knowing your monitor's resolution.

The resolution will determine what price to pay for a given level of gaming performance.

SilentBen
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Post by SilentBen » Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:13 am

I have also done some additional research, and CA_Steve is probably right on the money. The 1GB version of the card only proves beneficial at this point and time if you're driving higher resolutions, but even then, it is marginal improvement.

For me, I will probably never exceed 1600x1200 on my desktop. I checked and most of my gaming settings are 1280x1024 right now.

Playing computer games on a 37" LCD (1920x1080) just doesn't seem like a good idea to me, maybe for video playback only.

I think I'm on a last call..
EVGA 512-P3-N801-AR GeForce 8800GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814130318

and of course...
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 w/ a Scythe Slipstream

Any last suggestions?

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Post by CA_Steve » Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:50 am

Now that I know the rez, I'll weigh in.

At 1600 x 1200, the sweet spot is 512MB of RAM for the 256bit memory interface.

gaming: nearly identical performance between the 8800GT and the 9600GT. 8800GT is maybe 1-3% faster.

power: The 9600GT wins hands down. 12W less in idle, 30W less in load.

price: $30 less for the 9600GT.

Since you are going to be replacing the cooling, you s/b able to run the fan at slower rpm for the 9600gt than the 8800GT = less noise.

Finally, if you ever do decide to jump to a much higher rez screen, adding a 2nd 9600GT for SLI at $130 is a really cheap way to go.

I love this article on Techreport as it shows a lot of useful permutations.

Brands: lifetime warranty is always a good thing. Have never owned EVGA, I like XFX.

SilentBen
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Post by SilentBen » Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:19 am

That link is amazing! I had no idea the power consumption went down that much. I'd imagine it would be easier to cool then, making another wonderful point.

I'm not very diehard about loosing a few FPS. I'd rather shave off the temperature instead and load. I'd get upset to lose a lot of FPS to sacrifice temperature, but there has to be an equal medium somewhere.

Back to my drawing board! Now I have the 9600GT on my mind.

tehcrazybob
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Post by tehcrazybob » Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:47 pm

At that resolution, I completely agree with what's been said. I've got my 9600gt at 1600x1200, and it's great.

Get an EVGA 9600gt, and you can save a few more dollars by getting an S2 instead of S1 - the S1 is overkill for the heat output from a 9600.

Edit: If you liked that link, you'll also enjoy this one: http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/forums.asp?s=2&c=7&t=9354

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Post by JLee » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:15 pm

ati 3870 go

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Post by HueyCobra » Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:29 am

tehcrazybob wrote:Get an EVGA 9600gt, and you can save a few more dollars by getting an S2 instead of S1 - the S1 is overkill for the heat output from a 9600.
Indeed, as seen on the S2-equipped ECS N9600GT-512MX-P in the original post.
tehcrazybob wrote:Edit: If you liked that link, you'll also enjoy this one: http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/forums.asp?s=2&c=7&t=9354
And there's a (less up-to-date) graph in the VGA card power dissipation thread.

SilentBen
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Post by SilentBen » Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:48 am

Thank you all for your advice. I think I'm going to try out the basic EVGA 9600GT with Accelero S1. I want the S1 for future upgrades and I'm fine with a little passive overkill ;-).

As stated, I have posted my complete "future" build. Please feel free to shed your SPCR advice on the new thread also. Please click the below!

viewtopic.php?t=47714

Thank you again!

FreeBaGeL
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oops

Post by FreeBaGeL » Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:42 pm

EDIT: oops, wrong thread.
Last edited by FreeBaGeL on Sun Apr 27, 2008 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: My 8800GT is driving me nuts and I need to shut it up...

Post by ryboto » Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:45 pm

FreeBaGeL wrote: I've been reading around here and come across the Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 w/ a Scythe Slipstream, which is passively cooled.
What do you mean by this?? Adding a fan to a cooler removes the option to call the cooler a "passive" cooling device. I have seen numerous reports on the web of users cooling an 8800gt or HD3870 with a fanless Accelero S1.

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