I'd like some advice on which GPU to pick for a new PC I'm building.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Between October-December.
USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, CAD apps (AutoCAD 2D/3D, 3D Studio), FL Studio, web browsing.
CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: ECS Geforce 9600GT 2GB, Cooler Master Silent Pro M 850w 80PLUS Bronze certified (recently purchased PSU).
OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: (soon to be built): i5 2500k (prolly working at 4.4ghz) with a Cooler Master Hyper N520, Gigabyte Z68X-UD4-B3, 2x4GB G.Skill SNIPER. CASE: Cooler Master Centurion 590, air cooling (7 case fans, 4 in, 3 out).
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg/amazon
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA (I'll just import or find a relative on my country)
PARTS PREFERENCES: NVIDIA (only), EVGA/MSI/ASUS
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (slight GPU OC, or not at all if it comes pre-OC'ed)
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (in the near future if I really need it)
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1360x768 (standard 720p HDTV. No plans for a new one right now)
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Budget is in-between the GTX 550 Ti and the GTX 560 Ti. Not really aiming for a single GTX 570 because it'll be a letdown at my current display size.
My main concern is that getting a 560Ti would be overkill for 1360x768. Yes, my PSU can handle a 560Ti SLI (though seems like barely) system, though I'm currently looking for the best "bang for the buck", including future SLI capability (then again, in case I really need that extra horsepower). Heck, I'd even consider getting a 550 Ti at once if that's the case.
My second concern is between the 550 and the rest of cards. 192-bit vs 256-bit. Any noticeable difference between those bus sizes, especially at my current display size? Of course, taking aside the CUDA core difference between those 3.
Then again. Budget is for single cards right now, but there may be an exception for the 550 Ti (time will tell).
In terms of gaming, I'm not like "Oh look how detailed that grass blade looks!", but I do enjoy some nice graphs, so I'd be aiming for max/near to max settings on BF3, LOTRO, Metro 2033 and future releases while keeping at least 40+ FPS.
At your resolution the 560Ti is overkill for most games, with the 550Ti usually being sufficient for most titles. If you do want to max out Metro 2033 or Battlefield 3 at 40+FPS you probably will want to get the 560Ti, as those games can be quite demanding, much more than the vast majority of titles, you also won't have to upgrade your GPU for quite some time unless you upgrade to a higher resolution display.
As far as the memory bus goes, 192 bit is okay for the 550Ti's performance bracket. A 550Ti with a 256 bit memory bus wouldn't really perform better, as the GPU itself would be more of a bottleneck than memory bandwidth. The larger memory bus is more beneficial with the higher end GPUs like the 560Ti.
I wouldn't bother doing an SLI setup with 2 550Ti. Dual GPU setups consume a lot more power, generate more heat, and you are more likely to run into hardware and driver problems. Some games can have issues with dual GPU setups as well. Usually SLI is only worthwhile with higher end cards like the 560Ti or above, and only if you are playing at a very high resolution or on multiple monitors where you really need the extra GPU horsepower to run games well.