Dual Graphic Cards for 3 to 4 monitors

I am buying my first desktop and I can't seem to find too much information regarding running more than two monitors. I have purchased everything except my graphics cards and I am not sure which one(s) to buy

I have a ASUS mobo with dual PCI-express x16 slots and my end goal is to run three monitors. I have a 24in and a 17in with another 22in or 24in on the way. (Depends on what work orders)

I was wondering if you guys could recommend a graphics card or cards that I could do this on. I am an engineering student so I do a lot of CAD, FEA, and for my job I use photoshop and indesign a bunch. I try to game when I can (I am super excited to be able to play SC2 and Modern Warfare 2), so I would like some power but I am don't need the newest $500 graphics to make me happy. On that note I have between $150-250 to spend on video card(s).

From research I have heard that you can run 3 monitors in three ways, using an ATI eyefinity card (but i hear you have to have a monitor with a displayport, which i don't), dual graphics, or an external device.

I was wondering about the dual graphics. Will any two of the same brand (ATI or NVIDIA) cards work or do they need to be in the same series or do they need to be identical?

I heard that putting two cards together doesn't really double their graphics power, so I have heard of people getting a top of the line card to run as a master and running a less powerful card as a slave just to get the extra monitors. Is that possible? Do I need to SLI or Crossfire them?

Thanks again for all your help and if you can recommend a card, or cards that are within or near my budget I would appreciate it!
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More about dual graphic cards monitors
  1. You should look into buying an HD 6850, which is around $180. You can always buy an active displayport adapter so that you can use all three of your monitors in Eyefinity. Here is one on newegg:

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