Need advice on ATI vs Nvidia + Specific questions

I want to build a computer from scratch, and one of the hardest smart decisions to make is, what video card? I think what if what I am looking for can be answered by someone who knows more than I do might help. I did not find any clear and cut answers I was looking for when browsing for information myself.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within 1 week - 3 months. Sooner the better

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Starcraft 2, all other usage will be general applications (microsoft office, web surfacing, etc.)


OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: Haven't fully decided on motherboard or CPU yet. I was thinkin the AMD Phenom 2 quad core systems [3.0 ghz or higher] (possibly six core? I think it would be overkill) and the asus crosshair 4 formula motherboard. If not I would probably choose some intel I7 CPU and an equivalent intel motherboard or better.

OVERCLOCKING: I don't think I would want to overclock my video cards - I am interested in crossifire or SLI (dual video cards) but i have specific questions about it that would determine if i really wanted this to happen or not

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Max resolution on a 19inch lcd monitor? that 1920X1200?

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Mostly I'm looking to compare the ATI 5xxx and 6xxx series with the Nvidia 400 and 500 series. ATI vs ATI/Nvidia vs Nvidia and ATI vs Nvidia.

Price is somewhat of a factor but I'm mostly concerned with the balance of these things

1.) which of these cards has the least heating issues, or possibility of dying.
2.) I guess performance for the money - read that article about feb 11 best cards for the money, but it doesn't factor in the other concerns.
3.) Who provides better support and specifically better and consistent driver updates with smoother installation/less problems in that area
4.) in crossfire or SLI situations is it possible to split the load between the 2 cards to prevent overheating and or stressing of one card. is it Better to have 1 card with better individual performance, than say 2 cards that are slightly less in performance if standalone?
5.) what exactly is in lamest terms, core clock and memory clock. If the rest of the hardware was outstanding enough (i.e. motherboard, Cpu, Ram etc.) is the video card the weakest link/limiting factor.
6.) If you know from personal experience from playing Starcraft 2, which has the least problems with that game.
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More about need advice nvidia specific questions
  1. 1. nVidia card generally uses more electricity than ATI cards. Potentially that means it also produces more heat. A good heatsink should effectively cool the video card though.

    2. Based on my prior video card purchases, I seem to prefer ATI over nVidia due to a) performance, b) price and c) lower power consumption.

    3. nVidia generally offers better drivers.

    4. I prefer a single powerful card solution. Not all games support XFire or SLI. A single card generally means less issues with drivers.

    5. The higher the clock speed, the faster the video card is. However, this also depends on the GPU's architecture which dictates how efficiently it can handle instructions. Some games favor ATI while others favor nVidia. As an analogy, a 3.0GHz Pentuim D (dual core CPU) will get ripped to shreds by a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo CPU.

    6. I don't play SC2.

    nVidia cards performs better in SC2 with anti-aliasing on at 8x, while ATI cards perform better with AA off.
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