Ok, I ordered a 23" 1080P Acer monitor this past Saturday for $149 shipped from Circuit City.com. The only problems?
1) I dont' have a graphics card that can handle any games at that resolution yet (I have a launch 3850 256mb model)
2) I don't know what card to go with (I currently have an Antec BP500U 500W PSU with 18A on 2 +12V rails)
If I buy a card before the year is out, my budget will be roughly ~$250. If I wait until January, then my budget will be considerably more than that (probably double). If I buy a card now, I would most likely go for a 6870, but I don't know if my PSU can handle that (I wouldn't dare try to overclock it). If I wait until January, I could most likely pick up a higher performance 6970/6950 (if they'll even be available by then) and a new PSU. But would that be overkill for my resolution?
I plan on playing games such as:
Team Fortress 2 (not exactly the most graphically intensive game)
Crysis Warhead (this one is going to be the real ball buster of the bunch, at least until I get Crysis 2).
You need a better PSU anyways, so wait. The new ATI cards are to be released very soon. Lets see what we have then.
His PSU should easily handle an HD6870. Antec is a good brand.
You could wait but I would look up benchmarks for the HD6870 at your resolution and see if you like what you see. It's a very capable card for 1080p.
Is the only difference between the 6870 and 6950 the clock speeds? If so, wouldn't it just make more sense to buy a 6850 and overclock it to the speeds of the 6870? Or would my PSU not be able to handle that (I'd need a new PSU for the 6870, mine only has one PCI-E connector).
Besides the clock speeds the HD6850 has 960 shaders vs 1120 on the HD6870. Overclocking the HD6850 is certainly a viable option however and when OCed high enough it should match the performance of a stock HD6870.
BTW you can use the HD6870 on your power supply. You will just need to use a molex to 6 pin PCIe adapter. They often come with the card.
How far can the GTX 460 be OCed, and is it able to be OCed beyond a 6850? I was thinking about getting one of these because I've read that you can OC the heck out of them and increase the performance greatly by doing so. Or would this not be viable with my current PSU?
The GTX 460 would be another good choice. Both the GTX 460 and the HD6850 can OC large amounts but the GTX 460 tends to gain a bit more in terms of actual performance from the OC. This model in particular is very nice deal with the $30 rebate; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It is specifically designed for an extreme overclock and has the best cooling you can buy. Often these cards can get up to around 925mhz+ which is an impressive 37% over the reference speed. Your PSU should handle the card fine.