APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: within a week or two BUDGET RANGE: $150 - $250 After Rebates (preferrably on the lower end if possible but willing to go to the top of the range if the extra $$$ is worth it)
USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Play StarCraft II at full settings, web/graphic design using Adobe CS5 Suite and occasionally basic video editing using Premiere Pro CS5. Would like to have the ability to possibly do some more gaming w/ current FPS games
CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512 MB DDR3 and Antec EarthWatts EA-650 GREEN 650W
OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: Windows 7 Home Premium x64, Intel i3 530 @ 2.90 GHz, Gigabyte P55A-UD3, 4 GB DDR3, RAID 0 with OCZ Vertex 2 60 GB x 2, Antec 900 Case, Dual Samsung BX2331 23" LED Backlight LCD Monitors
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, Frys.com, MicroCenter.com (live near Fry's & Microcenter for in-store pickup) COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: Have been looking for an open box or re-certified card on NewEgg so I can get more bang out of my budget, but that's not a necessity
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (definitely willing to try - haven't overclocked i3 yet but I'd be glad to try if it was recommended)
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (haven't used either of these setups yet)
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920 x 1080 (Dual Monitors)
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I posted a thread about a year ago trying to upgrade from the same card, got some great advice, but the card I ordered was DOA so returned it w/ no hassle and have put off the upgrade until now. Finally bought StarCraft II last week and would like to start playing it at full settings.
From the last thread, I was told that GeForce cards tend to work better w/ Blizzard games than Radeon cards. At the same time, a 3 monitor setup would be a nice option in the future but this isn't vital as I don't see doing it anytime in the near future. A year down the road since the last thread with SC2 having been out for awhile, is this advice still valid that I should go w/ a GeForce card over a Radeon for SC2?
Lastly, will my CPU slow down the game at all? I really haven't had a need to upgarde past the i3 since I have no current issues w/ speed. However, getting back into gaming, I'm not sure how good the i3 will be, but at the same time, SC2 doesn't seem to be as demanding as some of the very current FPS games. I'd also be happy to venture into some overclocking if that would help at all.
If you get a 2gb 6950 then you'll have plenty of GPU power for SC2 at 1080p. After that, you CPU sill be the holdup. SC2 runs 1 massive thread that will max out one core one almost anyone's CPU during a big battle (2500k at ~4.4+ GHz unbinds GPU) and a bunch of little threads that can be run anywhere. If you can get your CPU to 4.0GHz, it will perform about where a stock 2500k does, and you'll notice a huge performance increase.
That card looks great. The 6850s wouldn't really struggle, and depending on how you like your games to look they might do just fine. If you're going to wait up to two weeks to buy, you should take the HD 7000 series into consideration. Official specs and release date TBA Monday. The new 7870/50 are going to be released, hopefully sometime this month, and will outperform the current gen 6970/50 by a good bit, if the preview specs are to be believed.