I've been out of the computer wagon since geforce 9800 came out, so I'm not 100% on what I should do with these new cards (Like which stand up how well against which for price and yadda yadda). I tried looking on my own but I just don't seem to know enough to make an educated decision.
I went into a local computer store and the card the guy recommended was like $400 and basically told me I shouldn't get anything else because of how it will stand to the test of time or something.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Not too picky but sometime this month. Maybe after the 15th if not soon.
BUDGET RANGE: ~$200 after rebates please
USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
-Gaming (I'll usually have an MMO like WoW or Warhammer Online, but I'd like to play games like
Borderlands and Oblivion at higher settings)
-College work (word, excel and powerpoint)
CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: Nvidia Geforce 7600gs silent x2 and OKIA-550 power supply (at the time of writing this I'm not actually next to my computer to open it, so if that's not enough info lemme know)
OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: Athalon 64 x2 Dual Core 4200+ 2.21 ghz, Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe MoBo , 2gb RAM, I don't know if this'll matter but I have 2 fans, a 13cm and a smaller, average, one)
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: None, but if I had to choose I'd do newegg.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States
PARTS PREFERENCES: None
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024 I might be changing monitors, though.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I've noticed these two cards do shadows TERRIBLY but can run very high amounts of textures without a problem. If I recell correctly newegg used to tell you how many pixel and texture pipelines the card had but I haven't been able to find out if they still do. If anybody would like to explain a little more to help me learn what pipelines actually are and how to look out for them or whatnot that would be awesome.
I'm going to get another 2gb maybe 4gb and upgrade my processor before the end of the year, in case that topic comes up
Basically what kind of card you should get depends on the resolution of your monitor because a higher resolution means the card has to do more work to render the frames. So you really need to make up your mind about the monitor situation before picking out a card. For your current monitor a card in the $80-120 range will do very well but if you are going to upgrade to a 1920x1080 monitor in the foreseeable future then I suggest a card in the $180-250 area. You may want to stick with Nvidia cards as your motherboard is SLI. If you are going to stick with your current monitor a GTS 450 would be excellent for that resolution and if you are going to upgrade then a GTX 460 1gb is a good choice for your budget.
Your current processor is pretty weak for today's games but fortunately your motherboard can use AM3 processors(95w or below it seems) with the latest BIOS update from ASUS so you can upgrade without rebuilding the computer with a new board. Even an Athlon II x2 would be a nice upgrade but if you can afford it($120+) then a Phenom II x4 would be the way to go.