CPU: Q9450 @ 3.8 ghz
RAM: Corsair Dominator @ 1066 (Synced with CPU)
HDD: 2 Raptors RAID 0 + 1.5 TB Seagate
Mobo: EVGA Tri SLI 780i
PSU: Corsair 1000HX
Cooling Method: Thermaltake Bigwater Cooling w950
VGA: 3 x's 285 GTX
Monitor size 24" 1920x1200 (Sent in for warranty) Currently running a 2004/5 Sony 17" 1280x1024 till I get it back.
Now here is my story, I went to a store (canadacomputers) and picked up a 5870 Sapphire. Ran well, I liked how much power I could get out of one card and how much space I had extra.
Now then, what I was unimpressed with was the OC potential, seeing as I was more use to the 4890 and 285s potential. I managed to get the Core from 850 mhz stock to 925 (to be fair 920) if I budget it up to 930 mhz it did it would static out, might have been luck of the draw, or maybe I'm expecting too much from this 2.4 billion transistor beast.
Obviously I took it back, and got money back for it (lost 10% restocking, but atleast I put my mind to rest). Now then, its been about a week later, and I'm thinking I need a CPU upgrade, but at the same time I dunno if I should just wait for the GT 300s to come out and build the system then.
Now I would like some opinions, just because so many nice games are coming out, and I'm almost done mid terms
1- Stay as is for now
2- Grab the 5870 again, and upgrade system to i7 for CrossX in future
3- Wait till the 300s come out and see what card I should get then
Personally, I would keep the rig that you have right now. It should work well in for the games that are coming out in the next few months. Info on the g300's probably will surface soon, and then you could make a more informed decision. Sli performance would probably be better with the i7, but you would need to completely overhaul the system. (new mobo, ram, heatsink, cpu, etc.) I'm gonna wait for the g300's then make my decision based on the reviews. (coincidentally, I have the exact same system as you, except I have tri sli gtx 260's instead of 285's.) Also, my cooling is just on air, but my temperatures are fine.
No need to upgrade yet, unless you are looking for some DX10.1+ or Audio or multi-monitor goodness. Save the money an hop on a Via train to Montreal and spend the money the right way !!
Right now your rig would be fine, upgrading to the i7 or multiple HD5K would be a boost, but nothing significant yet compared to what you already have that's over-reaching.
As for the overclocking, I would expect better results as time goes on an there are more chips to sift out for better bin distribution, at which point the whole red vs green solutions become clearer in a more mature gaming future.
Even if you could OC just over 1Ghz, I don't see much 'need' to upgrade, but there's always the want/desire.