USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming - WoW, CoD:BOps, Crysis 2, JC2
CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: No current GPU ( just built the system specs below ).. PSU is a Corsair HX Series CMPSU-750HX
OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: Corsair Graphite Series 600T case, AMD Phenom II x6 1055T, ASUS M4A88TD-V Evo/USB3, 8GB Corsair XMS3 (4x2GB), Corsair H50 Hydro CPU cooler, ASUS Xonar Xense Soundcard, Corsair HX Series CMPSU-750HX
PARTS PREFERENCES: I would like to use ATI/AMD for Crossfire down the road, but I am a novice when it comes to choosing GPUs. Is SLi or Crossfire worth it? My MoBo only supports Crossfire and not SLi. This is partially why I am stuck on decision making. I don't want to be stuck down the road wanting to Crossfire cards, and have a GTX 460 sitting on the shelf that I can't get rid of.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe ( as stated above )
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 on 2 monitors
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I would like to achieve the goal of great gaming experience, with higher frame rates than my previous system which had a Radeon HD4670, and at the same time be sure that if I go HD6950 that the money is worth it in the long run, but I am skeptical after looking at some of the benchmark comparisons I reviewed against other GPUs in its bracket, it seemed to rank a bit low. A longer warranty would be nice, but not necessary. So far I am leaning towards the GTX 460 2GB and saving money, and being okay for now. Would like opinions from those more experienced with GPUs.
At reference speeds, the 6950 will be significantly faster, maybe by 25%. The comparison is basically a mid-range older generation card, the GTX 460, versus a high-end new generation card, the 6950. Now, if you were interested in saving money, the GTX 460 is cheaper and does come with two free games. If you overclock it, you will be able to cut the performance advantage of the stock 6950 down to about 8%.
If saving money is the goal, then you could consider the 1 GB version of the GTX 460, which would cost much less, ~$170 or $50 less than the 2 GB version you listed. 2 GB won't really be necessary as your resolution is relatively low.
Another option would be to get the 6950, then flash the BIOS to turn it into a 6970, but that costs $290 for the 6950. It would preserve the option of going Crossfire in tthe future.
The final option, which you haven't listed, is to get a GTX 560. At your resolution, it will beat a 6950, and if you get one with a nice factory overclock (or overclock yourself), it will also beat a 6970 (or 6950 modded to a 6970). The GTX 560's go for just about the same price as the EVGA GTX 460 2 GB you listed. The lowest price GTX 560 on Newegg is $230, and most are around $250.
So when it comes to GB, a higher # is going to support higher resolution better and that seems to pretty much be it from what you are telling me. If so, then I will most likely pick up the GTX 560 SuperClocked from EVGA. I am comfortable with my current resolution, and in fact, my game settings are around the 1440 mark. In the end the 6950 would be the same price after Mail in rebate, but I don't find it necessary to Crossfire 2x2GB considering the information that you have provided for me. I could spend $250 and be set for a number of years it seems.
Thanks everyone for the insight, as stated in my original post, I am a novice when it comes to GPUs.. I will be going with the EVGA SuperClocked GTX 560. Seems to fit my budget, save $30, and get a couple free games
nice one, enjoy your system. just a note about 6 core amd phenoms, you may experience worse performance in some games than a 4 core cpu. dont know why but you can fix that by changing processor affinity to 4 cores....suggest you read up on it if the system seems slow when you get it together.