My EVGA 9800GTX's step-up period is due to end 07/12/2008. I find myself torn between using the Step-Up to go to a GTX260, or buying a 2nd 9800GTX and running SLI.
On the one hand, I bought the mobo I did so I *could* SLI my graphics card if I wanted to, and I sort of hate not to use the capability when I have it. On the other, I understand that SLI is of limited applicability at certain resolutions, and it is possible my monitor just wouldn't benefit from it.
Heat is probably a nonissue; my case is air-cooled but it's an Antec 900 so lots of airflow, though with what I've heard about the GTX200 heat production...
Power supply probably is a nonissue -- I have a PC Power & Cooling 750 watt power supply. I have sufficient connectors or adapters to hook up a pair of 9800GTX cards. I can't SLI GTX260s or 280s, but 9800GTXs should be fine.
I am slightly concerned with the reputed noise levels of the GTX260.
My debate is whether or not I'd actually see any benefit from SLI, or if I'd be better off with a GTX260. The Step-Up to a 9800GX2 is a little more than I want to spend, though I suppose in a couple of weeks that may change. But would a 9800GX2 be better than a pair of 9800GTXs?
Step-up to a GTX260 would be $100.00, a second 9800GTX card would be $200.00 (though it would mean not losing my graphics card for a week), step-up to a 9800GX2 would be $300.00, which is a little more than I want to spend currently.
For that matter, should I just stick with what I have?
In case my signature with my build info isn't working:
OS - Vista 64
CPU - Q6600
Mobo - EVGA 780i
RAM - 4 gigabytes OCZ Platinum DDR2
Monitor - Samsung 226BW
And no, "buy a new mobo that isn't the nvidia chipset and a 4870" is not an option. Though I admit the thought crossed my mind.
I would think 3-way SLI would be massive overkill on a 1680x1050 monitor with a 9800 or a GTX260. By the time a game comes out that requires that much horsepower it'll be time to replace the CPU.
I don't intend to SLI the 260. I can't imagine what I'd be running that would need that much juice, and if the card is as noisy and hot as the benchmarks suggest, I'd be afraid of cooking something important with two of them. Or keeping the entire apartment complex awake all night long. And I'm not willing to spend that much money at the moment.
Actually, after thinking about it and realizing that the current "new" GTX260 is probably going to be replaced within a few months with something quieter and cooler, a second 9800GTX or waiting another month to step-up to the 9800GX2 when/if the price goes down seems like a better and better plan.
If I were you, I'd wait a bit and see how the 4870 benches out. It might perform well enough to be worthwhile as a single card. If not, I'd buy a second 9800 GTX and SLI the current mobo. That setup should last you for a fairly long time. From the benches I've read so far, I'm just not very impressed with either the 260 GTX or the 280 GTX. Further, if a SLI was chosen with teh 260 or 280, you'd have to get a much bigger PSU.
For what it's worth, I was faced with exact same decision as you, 1680 x 1050 and all. I actually bought a EVGA 9800 GTX SSC as a stopgap card so I could step up to the GTX280 when it came out. Now, however, IMHO it is not worth $300 for the GTX280. It is also not worth the $100 to step up to the GTX260 when for $200 you can SLI another 9800 GTX (which will crush a single GTX260). Add in the fact that both my cards are pre-OC'd and I will be able to OC them to over 800/2000/1200, and the decision is pretty clear. It is certainly not worth $300 to step up to a GX2, as two 9800 GTX's will almost always perform better and is $100 cheaper. This is the one thing you should not do for sure. My second 9800 GTX arrives on Monday. Hope this helps a bit.
"It is also not worth the $100 to step up to the GTX260 when for $200 you can SLI another 9800 GTX (which will crush a single GTX260)."
Yea, this is exactly how I see it. If you have a good single gpu already its more cost effective to SLI it, because there isn't a big enough gap from the 9800 GTX to the GTX260
Like, the only way to more than double the performance of the 9800 GTX, you'd have to SLI 260s or 280s - so its kinda silly.
I think the 260 and 280 are pretty nice cards unlike most people, but they are better for people who have been sitting and waiting for an upgrade for a while - not people who already have 9800GTX/GX2 or a high end 8000 series like the 8800 GTX/Ultra