Single Status Update
With the help of Huy Pham, I was finally able to put together a pretty good rig. It took a while and a trip up to Huy's house since I couldn't put in the CPU without fucking it up, but I think it was worth it. I'm also going to add in a second graphics card a little later.
Windows 7 64-bit
4 GBs of RAM
AMD Phenom II X4965 Processor 3.4 GHz
ATI Radeon HD 4850 (two of them soon)
and finally M4A89GTD motherboard
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At $180 you would've been better off with a single 5770. Or buying a pair of used 4870s. A single 5770 is just slightly under a 4890 in terms of performance. Along with less heat, less power consumption, and Direct X 11.
For $180, the optimal graphics processing is a pair of used 4870s indeed, but you also run into difficulties of dealing with online strangers coupled with potential hardware reliability issues. The money saved versus security is essentially up to the individual to decide.
A single 5770 is nowhere near as powerful as a pair of 4850's, and DX11 is irrelevant in the purchasing decision at this point, since none of the GPU's out there are powerful enough to handle much tesselation, and the notable games that uses it are counted on fingers, with minimal tesselation to the point of unnoticable. In other words, DX11, like DX10 at the time of its release, will have to wait until hardware catches up to be employed effectively.
As for the heat and power consumption, if anyone's seen the Antec gaming cases, they are essentially wind tunnels that can blow away their entire air volume in seconds. The amount of money saved by switching to a less power-hungry card is not signficant enough to warrant that big of hit in performance.
I see what your saying. I've been thinking about replacing my 512mb 4870 with a 5770 for a while. But I can score another 512mb 4870 for alot less. Then I can get all gitty about performance and having two of them crossfiring. For 5770 $ I can add two and have the most pointless yet simultaneously awesome tri-fire rig that only runs shit at 1680X1050. But I think 750Watt wouldn't cut it for 3 and I can barely shoehorn 1 4870 inside it with the PCIE connectors plugged in.