I really want to upgrade to a better card, but I have a limited budget. I don't want to spend more than $200 ($100-$175) for a new card, but I want an upgrade that is actually worth it.
I want a card that I will see an actual difference in performance. I currently play BF:BC2 most of the time with other new games tossed in every now and then. I'd really like to stick with a 256-bit interface, I believe the performance gains are noticeable against 128-bit cards? I may be wrong, been awhile since I've done in-depth research.
Intel C2D E6550 @ 3.1Ghz
Gigabyte EP45-UD3R rev. 1.1
4GB DDR2 800 - out of a Dell (yuck!!)
2x 80GB WD Raptor (one for OS other for Games)
1x 1TB Storage Drive
eVGA 8800GTS 640MB (G80)
There is absolutely Zero reason to buy a 4xxx series card at this time. There simply aren't any advantages to it (including price). What you're looking for within your budget would be the 5770. Grab an OC version or one that will OC well.
The 5770 is on par, slightly better than a 4870. I used to have the 8800 GTS 640 and upgraded to a 4870 and man it was night and day. 5770 will give you the same experience and if you have Win 7 you can even use the DX11 path (bonus performance on DX10 titles). I don't know what res you play at but anything under 1920x1080 and this will do great.
Yeah for $200 you could go for a 4890 even though it is a last gen card. If you prefer a 5000 series you could get a 5770 and overclock the thing and get the 4890 performance.
The 5830 is a wierd card and is priced way to high, starting at $240. Its big and uses more power than a 5850 and performs a bit better than a 5770. Technically a 5770 OCed would be a far better value. However, the 4890 is still a good buy right now if you don't mind only haveing DX10.1 support.
I have 2 buddies that got 5770's with the standard ATI phoenix cooler(the full length cooler), which is actually not as good as the little stock cooler they changed to from the 5750's. They both have pretty decent OC's on their cards. The one buddy is pretty aggressive and has it at just under 1GHz. With the MSI cooler, which I think is the best one on a 5770, I can't imagine you would have much issue getting it up there.
Also, look at using the MSI afterburner utility. I use it and it works on ALOT of cards from all brands and many models. I use it on my 5870, and well actually my 8800 that is my replacement card because I had to send the 5870 back. But its a good tool to use.