I'm currently in the middle of shopping for parts for a new gaming rig I plan on putting together soon. I haven't been keeping up (unfortunately) with the latest technologies, so I've had to do a lot of research. Despite my efforts I still can't seem to come to a decision about what GPU best fits my needs.
Initially the computer will only run one video card, however I plan on adding another one later, which makes Crossfire and SLI big factors. Therefore I am willing to take a small performance hit if one of the two cards performs better in SLI or Crossfire, or if a card made by the same company (nVidia or ATi) will be a better choice later on. After spending many hours looking at benchmarks and reviews, my choice comes down to these two cards:
nVidia GeForce GTX 260 Core 216
ATi Radeon HD 4870 (1GB)
What I need to know is which card will best suit my needs given the fact that I will later be adding on another card to do SLI or Crossfire. I'm willing to take a small performance deficiency if one card will perform better than the other when I add on an extra GPU. So please, I don't need to know which card is necessarily better by itself, but which is a better investment for future-proofing my system given that I will run dual cards down the road.
Depending on which card I decide on, I may switch to whatever superior card (by the same company) becomes cheaper in the future. So if I were to choose the 4870 now, I may upgrade to the 4870x2 later on down the road, and likewise if I chose the GTX 260, I may upgrade to whatever nVidia card becomes cheaper later on. Of course this upgrade will be done long after I've been using 2 cards.
So can anyone help me decide which card best suits my needs? The decision is between these two cards, and these two cards only. Also, I know this is the GPU board, but if you recommend a card, could you give me a recommendation as to what motherboard might suit my purposes as well (if you can)?
Tom's just did a new benchmark review on video cards. I would strongly suggest looking at the data here. They have SLI card setups and such in there. (though they tested the GTX 260 & not the GTX 260 core 216 which is faster).
2. Do you plan to OC? And also what case do you plan to use if doing SLI/CrossFire?
Yes, I plan to OC. The case I'm looking at is the Antec Nine Hundred, unless a better case at around the same price ($100-150) can be recommended. I'd also like to add that I plan on buying a 22'' monitor eventually, and I will be using filters like AA, though I probably won't be going crazy with it.
I'd like to keep the card as close to $300 as possible. I'd like to keep the entire computer as close to $1000 as possible, but no more than $1300.
I'm completely willing to look at other boards. These were just two I picked out because they were recommended to me. Like I said, what motherboard I use depends on what card I pick. If I pick a nVidia card, I'll want a good SLI motherboard. If I pick an ATi card, I'll want a good Crossfire board. The only criteria I have is that it has to be able to use DDR2 800 and be compatible with that CPU I posted. So it's important that I know which of the two cards I should use. I want it to be future-proof. I was even considering getting the 4870 (1GB) just because I would then buy a Crossfire motherboard and then later switch to 4870x2 CF later. I'm looking more at the future than I am at the present right now, so that's a factor.
That's assuming I would go with a Radeon card, though. I still haven't been able to make a decision yet as to which card I want. What's holding me back a bit is whether or not it will be more worth it in the long term to invest in a Crossfire motherboard or a SLI motherboard. Regardless of which card I buy, I will eventually buy another one and run the two together. What I'd like to know is which would be a more future-proof investment considering the better cards like the GTX280 and 4870x2 and their dual-card capabilities. The plan I'd like to have is to buy one motherboard, and simply have to switch out the cards (and maybe the power supply) rather than having to replace everything once the upper-echelon cards become affordable.
Also, what about PhysX? Is it much of a reason to get a nVidia card over an ATi card?
Well, if there isn't a really big reason why I should take another look at the GTX 260 Core 216, I think I'm going to go with the Radeon HD 4870 (1GB) GPU accompanied by the ASUS Rampage Formula X48. Thanks for all of your input and help.