I've read reviews for 8800gt's and 9800gt's etc... and I still don't feel like I have the knowledge to make a decent decision on this. Any constructive input is appreciated. I would like to go SLI sometime in the future. Looking to spend around 100 bucks.
Also, I will be upgrading to a Phenom quad core in the next 6-8 months.
If you're only willing to spend $100, your options are kinda limited. The 9800gt is probably the only decent card in that price range. It performs about the same as the 8800gt (because it's the same card) and is cheaper.
Lets just say I went a little higher, 150 - 175... I don't want/need top of the line, but I do enjoy the prospect of future expandability
At that price range you could score an HD4850, preferably one with a custom cooler. Or a 9800GTX (maybe even a "+" version) if you're set on NVIDIA.
I just spent ~$210 ($239.99 + shipping - $40 MIR) on a factory overclocked GTX260 and it is hellafast. Crysis performance in particular is much improved over my old 8800GT. I don't know how that fits into this thread, I just though I'd let you know .
i won't make a suggestion on video cards, but please switch to the 64bit opsys so your other components and software can take advantage of it.
It's off topic, but there's a point being made here. 64bit will allow you to use all 4GB of RAM you plan to put into your system. Vista 32bit won't use the entire 4GB.
As far as the 8800GT and 9800GT goes. They are the same graphics chipset, and performance between the two is nearly identical. The 9800GT has the advantage of being the newer generation, and I think might have the latest Shader Model ability.
I run an 8800GTS (G92 512MB version) that's a little bit of an upgrade from the 8800GT. I do quite fine with games at 1440x900 resolution. It plays Crysis on High/Very High settings (note not the Ultra High), plays Assassin's Creed very well, Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, etc.
If you want to go a step up though, you want to look at the 9800GTX or an ATI based HD4850 (which is generally accepted as the best overall bang for your buck).
9600gso<9600gt<4670<9800gt<4850 are about how the performance goes. Of coarse this is without OC'ing anything.
Personally I'd opt for a cheaper 790gx mobo over the M2n32 mobo you selected and use the $100 savings and get the 4850 or even the 4870, depending on the PSU that your going to use.
The 9800GT has the advantage of being the newer generation, and I think might have the latest Shader Model ability.
Nope, the 9800GT is 100% identical to the 8800GT. Both of them only go up to DX10/SM4.0 (i.e. they lack DX10.1/SM4.1 support). Some of the 9800GTs (the ones that support HybridPower) are 55nm and as a result may overclock a bit better and consume less power, but even those at stock settings are functionally equal to the 8800GT. Don't you just love NVIDIA's naming system
Both the 9800/8800GT and HD4850 are good cards at their respective price points. If you're willing to spend the extra the 4850 is worth it. If you're on a tight budget the 9800GT is still a great choice.