I am working on a new build. The current plan has to come in around $1000 (Including a 22-24inch monitor) so I am limited in a few ways. I am fairly settled on an i5 system. The current plan is to go with the EVGA P55 FTW for its broad overclocking features etc. and save money on phase one of the build by using what will eventually become a dedicated PhysX board as the primary graphics card until either: I have the money for a GTX 285 or nVidia releases a comparable DX11 card.
My question for the community is what nVidia card would folks recommend as an affordable intermediary card that can then be converted to a full-time PhysX card sometime down the line.
I am also willing to take suggestions for other mobo and CPU options, but those are the ones that I have settled on at this point. Specifically, the Phenom 955 falls in at a good price point, but I have done zero research on AMD mobos as of yet.
In your price range, an AMD system will provide more bang for the buck than an i5 system. If interested in going this route, you might start a new thread in the New System Build sub-forum. It and the General Homebuild sub-forum have several stickees with information on configuring a system and some component recommendations. If you choose to go that route, first review this stickee:
With regard to the Gaming-to-later-be-Physx card - what is your budget? It basically determines what level to be at as generally each faster card will give better performance - both for gaming now and Physx later.
Here is a link to a recent THG review comparing Physx on several graphics cards. Almost hidden in a paragraph in the conclusions is this statement:
The good news here is that a GeForce GT 220 can be had for as little as $65 online, and as a dedicated PhysX card, it will guarantee that the High PhysX setting won't bottleneck performance. Even at 1920x1200, the GT 220 produced a minimum frame rate of 36 FPS as a dedicated PhysX card. Using more expensive solutions as dedicated PhysX processors didn't produce appreciably higher frame rates, so the GeForce GT 220 is a real PhysX champion for the price.
Based on that, you can just get the GT220 now for Physx later (although I would go a little higher for futureproofing and insurance) - and anything more powerful must be justified based on what level you want to game now while waiting for a better card later.
So we are back to the basic question - what is the budget for the card?
Of course, you can also then just look at the THG review of cards and select the fastest nVidia card that fits your budget:
It sounds like you might be in the neighborhood of the GTS 250 or GTX260.
With your interest in Physx, you might also consider waiting for the next nVidia card release expected in Q1 2010 which should be a major release in response to ATI's 5000 series and might have some further improvements related to Physx. Of course prices might be a little high at first, but still might be worth getting; prices for older cards might also drop significantly.
Thanks for the very thorough response. I am working on a post for the new build forum, but still composing... lot of links. At the moment I shifted my thoughts to go for an i7 920 build with the ASRock extreme board and REALLY skimp on other parts in the primary phase of the build. Mainly I want a roomy case, full featured mobo, nice CPU and beefy PSU that the rest of the system can slowly grow into.
I would say the total cost is going to come in close to 1200 with my ideal gfx card cost being less than 100. I wish that the best card for the money feature covered the DX10.1 nvidia cards a bit more thoroughly but eventually I guess...
I am aiming for the eVGA superclocked version of the 240 gts as my future PhysX card since it should work on my 3rd PCIe slot even after I fill the first two with some new nvidia goodies in mid-2010. I am hoping that I might see more improvement with that card since it is a DX10.1, and the fact that it doesn't steal a 6 or 8 pin from my 850W black widow is a help too (since I think that thing will only handle two major PCIe cards, probably not 3). Again, thanks for the excellent response and I hope to chat more as I get closer to (ahem!) Dell sending me my freaking refund check! Never again I say! Never again!