Need help choosing a new Graphic card

Hello !

Yes, it is another of these topics about choosing a graphic card.

I have a Sapphire x1950Pro that is now 4 years old (I think). But I experience far too much problems within Blender especially with textures.

I am thinking of uprgrading now, and I need a bit of help with things like CUDA, OpenCL etc…

I don’t plan to use Octane (i think) but I’d like to be sure that in a medium future, I’d be able to play with LuxRender for GPU and also Cycles !

If i understand it correctly, nVidia=CUDA, ATI=openCL
Octane needs CUDA, Cycles and Lux can use openCL

Is that true ?
So buying an ATI card kinds of rules out Octane ? Really ? 50% of the market ?

I am thinking of either a HD5750 fanless (100€) or a HD6850 Sapphire for the same price.
Does Blender run fine with these ?

An answer from someone having one 6850 would be so great: I am fed up with these glitches I experience…

Hi Arexma !

On what do you base your judgement (“its much faster than your two cards”)?

I’ve gone through some pages on the web comparing them, and the 5850 is marginaly quicker in games. Is it that much different when working with openCL ?

If I can’t get a400/500 nVidia card, what is the best nVidia option then ? Cause the 200 series isn’t powerful, is it ?

Hey Gwenouille, I don’t want to interrupt, but I’m experiencing the same problems you had in your videos, except I have a Radeon HD 4870 graphics card. When you press P to start the game engine, do your models disappear and only the background color is rendered?

I’m sorry again to interrupt, but I’ve been having this problem since I got Blender months ago, and it seems like absolutely no one else has the same problem I do. It’s virtually impossible to create a game when this keeps happening…

Hi MC,
I really don’t know about the game engine: I almost never play with that.
EDIT: I just tried, and yes, only the background is rendered. But i can’t tell if that’s normal or not !

I’d like to know if that happens on a 6xxx or 5xxx card before i buy one !

May I ask what your setup looks like ?

I have a Q6600, 4 Gigs of ram, this x1950ProUltimate and the rest is irrelevant i think…

If i remember well, there was a way to make some of my problems disappear, using an older driver. But that, in turn, was wrong in other places :frowning:

Well, we seem to have the same symptoms indeed !

I have tried your trick with the game engine (saving, re-launching): same behaviour here.
But something puzzles me: you say:

Radeon X1300/X1550 Series (Radeon HD 4870)
What’s the link between X1300/X1550 and an HD4870 ?
Can you put a link to your card ?
Here is mine:

Oops, I just copied and pasted that. The card itself is the HD4870, but it says the ‘chipset’ is named X1300/X1550- that’s what shows up under the ATI Catalyst Control Center. I’m not exacly sure what that means, though. If it helps, I’ll post everything under it’s specs to see what’s similar between our graphics cards. Here’s mine:

Graphics Software:

Driver Packaging Version 8.561-081201a1-072271C-ATI    
Catalyst® Version     08.12    
Provider        ATI Technologies Inc.    
2D Driver Version    
2D Driver File Path     System/CurrentControlSet/Control/Video/{9C2A39EC-FE92-47F2-A826-58BCA2E28CCF}/0000    
Direct3D Version                     
OpenGL Version                      
Catalyst® Control Center Version    2008.1201.1504.27008    
AIW/VIVO WDM Driver Version    
AIW/VIVO WDM SP Driver Version    

Graphics Hardware:
Primary Adapter        
Graphics Card Manufacturer            Powered by ATI    
Graphics Chipset                           Radeon X1300/X1550 Series      
Device ID                                    7183    
Vendor                                       1002    
Subsystem ID    0302    
Subsystem Vendor ID    1028    
Graphics Bus Capability    PCI Express    
Maximum Bus Setting    PCI Express x16    
BIOS Version    
BIOS Part Number    113-AA67626-107    
BIOS Date    2007/02/08    
Memory Size    256 MB    
Memory Type    DDR2    
Core Clock in MHz    594 MHz    
Memory Clock in MHz    396 MHz    

Here’s a link for the specs too-

OK, to me, it looks like ATI/AMD have done some re-branding.
Looking at your specs, we see that your card runs 256Mo of DDR2 (just like mine), Clocks lower than 600MHz (just like mine).
BIOS date is early 2007 (I bought mine mid-2007 too)
So it is a card from the x1xxx series (x1550, x1300, mine is x1950)


The link you post to a HD 4870 of the newest generation !
It uses GDDR5, is DirectX10 compatible…

So in fact your card is a x1300/x1550: it is pretty much the same age as mine.

Do you have problems with large textures in the UV editor too ?

Hmm- the largest texture I opened in the UV editor was only 512x512, but I’ll try something bigger.

EDIT: Yep, just opened up a huge picture and it just blinks constantly and stretches. We’ve got the same problem, huh?

Yes same exactly…

I think we can come to the same conclusion then: Graphic card to the trashcan !
I have done lots of work on 4000x4000 textures lately (or so…) and it was a bloody nightmare with all that crappy display !

If i buy a graphic card, tomorrow, you’ll be left completely alone with that problem: let us buy new cards, OK ?

Yeah, but which card are you planning to get? I wanted to stick with ATI only because I thought nVidia’s cards with the same capabilities are way more expensive. And I can’t get one on such short notice, either- If I decide to get one now, I probably won’t get it for at least a week or so.

EDIT: Does the 5850 work with dual monitors? I just saw a review for it that said something about not supporting them…

I try to help you guys out as good and as short as I can:

Multiple Displays:
The Sapphire 5850
I talked about supports Eyefinity and supports 3 Screens (1DVI,1HDMI,1*DP) - For what I read there is one HDMI>DVI adapter included, if you want to connect 3 screens, one has to have display port support.
Technical Datasheet
Price Comparison for Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 Extreme

For high resolution texture work you might want to grab a card with 2GB vram, which unfortunately is quite more expensive.

The Nvidia padadox:
The fastest sane 200 series card is the 285, which costs 200 Euro while the GTX560TI costs 190 Euro and is almost twice as fast - in DX. In OpenGL the 285 is ~4x faster.
So, unless you need CUDA/3DVision/Tesselation, Nvidia currently is NO option for Blender.
Only if you got the big budget, then you can buy for instance a Quadro2000 (~400 Euro) it would be fast in OpenGL and capable of CUDA. Seems too convinient for Nvidias Quadro sales to be a coincidence?
(Sidenote: Tesselation is also good with the Radeon HD69XX based on the Cayman chip)

Radeon graphical glitches:
Opposed to the general believe, the problem is neither with Linux, nor with Blender, the problem is the Radeon drivers. Since the HD5800 series and the new drivers that came with the Cypress chip the issues should be gone for the most part. The AF still is flickering compared to Nvidia, while the Radeon´s AA is far superior to Nvidia.

For the Radeon cards and my conclusion about speed:
Unfortunately there are virtually no pure OpenGL benchmarks for cards, but usually (unless nvidia cripples the cards scnr) the OpenGL performance is not far off the DX performance. I guess you´ll have to wait until IDsoftware releases RAGE to get OpenGL benchmarks again. Also consulting CG magazines doesn´t help, because there they either test FireGL or Quadro(FX).However:
the 5850/5870 are based on the Cypress XT chip.
the 6850/6870 are based on the Barts XT chip.
The Barts XT chip basically is a Cypress chip on a smaller die, with a bit better performance:watt ratio as sales argument to increase AMD´s profit. There have been minor modifications and improvements in the architecture but thats about it. It´s a “refresh”
So, benchmarked over several games and applications you get a performance-rating:

GTX580    - 400 Euro - 100%
HD5870/2G - 220 Euro -  77%
HD5870/1G - 170 Euro -  77%
HD6870/1G - 160 Euro -  71%
HD5850/1G - 145 Euro -  66%
HD6850/1G - 130 Euro -  61%

And the Sapphire card:
HD5850/1G - 110 Euro -  77%

From the 6850 to the 5870 we speak of ~10-20fps difference in games with ~80-90fps or ~5-7fps difference in games with ~30fps.
Not hard to see that the 6800 series is unattractive and that the Sapphire Extreme has the best performance/price ratio.

Furthermore you should be able to OC the Sapphire 5850 to 5870 performance quite easy. I can´t say it for sure, I haven´t got mine yet, but it´s said that the card has a free voltage controller, so OC, or UC for the energysavers should be a cakewalk. (note that most 5800 cards have locked voltage controllers in the second revision or with non reference cooling solutions) And don´t be afraid to OC a card nowadays, it´s no rocket science nor bad for the card - it´s rather good practice.

The Radeon HD6900 series - the ugly duckling:
This card seems like an emergency card to compete with nvidia.
In DX the Nvidia 500 series is far superior to all AMD cards so they had to come up with something to compete quickly. They simply made the Caymen XT chip without many thoughts. The cards run with 930+ MHz (1GHz is the magic number for GPUs) on its limits. The chip is huge, so they had to kick up the voltage to a degree where it is on it´s limits too. Both those factors make the cards: loud, hot and barely OC able. They are at the limit and basically now AMD has cards that are exactly what they made fun of when Nvidia introduced the GeForce400 cards. On top of that the fastest AMD (6970) costs 275 Euro and is not as good as the GeForce GTX570 (which is OC-able, cooler and more silent) and costs 270 Euro.


AMD´s last two generations (6800, 6900) aren´t attractive products and Nvidia produced OpenGL crippled cards.
An impossible situation.

My advice:
For Budget:for Blender, OpenCL: Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 Extreme
for Blender, OpenCL, Gaming: Radeon HD 5870
If you got money:for Blender, OpenCL, CUDA: Quadro 2000
What I am doing:
Like I said, I ordered a Sapphire 5850 and I am confident that it works together with a GeForce in a system as long as screens are connected. Latest Linux distributions and Windows 7 support to have more than one display driver installed. I had a talk over at the Octane forum and at least it´s possible to run OpenCL on a mixed system. I read that also CUDA is no Problem. If you don´t have screens, dummy DVI connecters do the trick.
So I´ll use the GTX470 in my system for CUDA and gaming, the HD5850 for Blender and the 5850+GTX470 for OpenCL. Seems overkill, but really, both cards together are 250-300 Euro, used even cheaper, and my GTX470 runs stable with 800MHz(Reference 600MHz) without touching the voltage. That takes it somewhere between GTX570 and GTX580, close to the GTX580 for ~150-170 Euro. You need an aftermarket cooler for that though.
If I don´t get the cards to run within one system properly, I´ll get an AMDx6 with mainboard and 8GB DDR3 and put it in one of my spare systems with the Radeon as Blender/OpenCL/CPU raytrace system, and keep the Intel/GeForce system for CUDA and gaming.
It is still cheaper than buying a 400 euro quadro.
As soon as I got my card and tried to run them under Linux and Windows I´ll report my findings.

Very nice summary !

However, I don’t quite get your rejection of the HD6850: it is price-wise and pewrformance-wise almost on par with the HD5850 (and they come with 2 DVI, quite important for me)

I don’t care about CUDA and I want good performance within Blender (openCL). I might well try SmallLux and Cycles one day. So it is ATI for me…

I could also choose that one:

VERY power-effective, 2DVIs, reasonnable power and completely silent.

I don´t diffusely reject it, but compared to the Sapphire :wink:
The Sapphire 5850 is faster than the 6850 and cheaper. For that particular reason I reject it over the Sapphire.
Compared to the generic 5850 they are ~15 Euro apart and 6% in performance, where the 6850 as successor is slower. A very strange product IMO but not bad if you really have to look after the 15 Euro due to a tight budget.

The 5750 is cheap and slow.
The 5770 still made it in the chart I got here on place 20 with a performance rating of 45%
I can only guess on the 5750´s performance, but I also don´t have a real knowledge about stripped down budget cards - which the 5700 series is.

As for dual DVI, many to most cards only have 1 DVI left, and replace the second DVI with 2 HDMI or display ports.
The HDMI out are compatible with DVI, and many cards got an adaptor in the pack already to connect a DVI jack to the HDMI connector of the card.

OK arexma !
I guess it will all boil down to the particular bargain I could find…
I love the 5750, but it is not powerful, that’s true. (Well, my x1950 isn’t neither ! Even a 5750 would be a massive improvement !)

Thanks for your time !

BTW, if you are in Wien, I envy you ! I used to live there and loved it.

Graz, 200km SSW of Vienna, Styria’s capital, second largest city in Austria (by population - by area it´s my birthtown: Villach)
I live here for over 10 years now and I like it more than Vienna. It´s more personal and less violent despite it´s size.
But usually home is where you live :wink:

I say you get the Nvidia quadro 6000.

Haha, yes ! I’d love to get one, but not to BUY one !

@ Arexma: Oh yes, Graz. Lovely city ! And Styria left me a magnificent impression !
I live in France now, but my wife and children are austrian: we might well move over there some day.

But we digress !
I can’t wait for a new card !

@ arexma- Wow, thanks for the breakdown. I think I’ll go for the Sapphire 5850. It has 1GB of RAM, right? That’s way better than the 256MB on my current one. Also, my two monitors have two different connections (I’m assuming one is HDMI and the other is DVI), so they should work without having to buy other adapters.

EDIT: I just did a quick Google search of Sapphire 5850, and the pictures in the shopping tab vary. What does the real one look like?

Hello everybody.

Last week I bought an Acer laptop with a nVidia 540M to use in Linux - Blender. It has Optimus technology… NOT SUPORTED IN LINUX. nVidia doesn’t plan to develop its driver, it’s crazy (
I have to get it back and now, they are offering to me some HP: dv6-3160us and an Envy 14-1110nr. They have the same graphic card: ATI Radeon Mobility HD 5650.

The main purpose of this laptop is BGE ( in Ubuntu. Before I get the Acer back and get the HP, I have to be sure that this machine willl work for what I want.

I read all this thread and I think any of these computers is not a bad choose… but I want your opinion.


PD: you are discuss about spending €100 - €400… let me tell you that I live in Argentina. Any of these computers costs U$S 1.500 for me… and remember that our money is really devaluated: U$S1 = $4. I will spend $6.000 for one laptop. Think about it when you think spending €200 more or €200 less…!

Hey arexma, I was planning to get the Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 Extreme soon, but I searched it on Google and came up with 20 different cards- all with the exact same names, but varying prices and looks. Could you by any chance provide a part number or a more specific model?