I haven't upgraded this PC at all since I purchased it in May 2009.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Whenever the best time to buy is before holiday 2011 games hit
BUDGET RANGE: $450 before rebates
USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: I'll be playing everything from Source engine games to attempting to max out BF3 and Skyrim if possible.
CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: Factory OC'd Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4890 and Corsair 650TX 650W PSU
OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS:
Intel i7 920 yet to be OC'd
6 gigs OCZ Ram
Antec 900 w/ Cooler Master V8 cooling
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg/Amazon
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S
PARTS PREFERENCES: Prefer, yet not limited to, ATI Sapphire cards
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm running a single display and would like to at least come close to maxing out newer games. I'm not sure what my other limiting factors are other than that I obviously need to spend more time overclocking my CPU, but I can never seem to get it stable enough. Other upgrade options or advice would be helpful!
Currently looking at the 6970, but I'm not sure whether that or a lower card like the 6950 in crossfire would be better. I'm not interested in something that would be high maintenance so a single GPU may be better for me. I may also hold out for a 7000 series card if that is expected to release this year.
If you live near a microcenter, an i7-960 is running around $180. Just something to consider.
I'd recommend a GTX 570. I wouldn't recommend gearing up for a crossfire build due to consistent driver issues with crossfire setups. I can tell you SLI does not have these issues. I've had both crossfire and SLI setups within the last few months.
Anyway, I would say that if you need to upgrade before seeing what the 7 series brings then a 6970 would be the way to go. Games have not been getting that much more taxing of late but having seen some tech demo's it could just turn out that the 2GB of memory on the 6970 stands you in good stead over the single GB on the 570.
As it stands its not an issue, i just like to have 1 eye on the future, we used to say 512 was fine for everything at one point