Seeking Graphics Card(s) Solution!

Hello, this is my first post here but I love the forums so far! :D

I have been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out solutions as to how to get 3 monitors working for a while now and have had some success, but I'm also looking to upgrade the performance of my main graphics card for gaming purposes. To give a good background knowledge here's my rig:

- Phenom II 965 Black (Running stock 3.4ghz but have successfully overclocked it with no stability issues to 4.0ghz with a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
- BIOSTAR A870 AM3 AMD 870
- ZOTAC ZT-40503-10L GeForce GTS 450 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit DDR5 PCIe 2.0 x16 (running 2 main monitors, 24" (DVI) and 19" (DVI))
- ZOTAC ZT-50603-10L GeForce GT 520 (Fermi) 1GB 64-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 (running my 46" LCD TV (DVI -> HDMI))

My problem is that after thoroughly searching the web and asking several techs at Fry's, everyone assured me that I would not be able to run 2 different gfx cards with 2 diff GPU's to get 3 monitors to work. They told me I would have to buy an "Eyefinity" card to do 3+ monitors. Well they were wrong. I shelled out $15 just to see, and it worked! The only issue is: I didn't buy a board planning to run 2 gfx cards. The 2 PCIe slots are only 1 PCI slot away from each other. The GTS 450 being a double-slot style card has 70% of it's fan almost completely blocked. I don't like this. It runs a good 5-10 deg C hotter now with the 2nd gfx card in. And I cannot put the GTS 450 in the bottom slot because it won't boot from there, not sure why but I think it has to do with x16 or x4 modes or something. Also, the performance of the 2nd card is very meaningless to me as I won't be playing games on my TV.

Now my options have been:
1. Get a new mobo with the PCIe slots farther apart (between a $80-$120 investment for the board I would probably get)
2. Buy an Eyefinity card (was highly considering the HD 6850 cause I've heard it's a great bang for the buck, and I'm all about the bang for the buck!)
3. Buying 2 milder Eyefinity cards and running them in CrossFireX (and also possibly getting a new board for enough space)
4. Buying another GTS 450 and running in SLI (but would still have an airflow issue to the top card)

Please note that I have no intention of running my games in 5000 x whatever mode on 3 screens at once. I have no interest :) I'm just an engineer and I use a lot of software platforms at once and like things spread out. But I also like to play some pretty gfx intensive games, so I'm looking to get more juice than my GTS 450 is putting out.

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!
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More about seeking graphics card solution
  1. Have you thought of getting an aftermarket cooler for your main card? I ran Crossfire 4850s which were overheating all the time until I got aftermarket coolers. I attached them to the card and temps when down about 15C.

    The 6850 be pretty cool and quiet, but you will have to have one active Display port to DVI adaptor in order to use three monitors.

    Running the 450s in SLI will not work. You will still only be able to run two monitors because your computer will see them as if they are one card.
  2. I have considered an aftermarket cooler for my main card, however there is still a space issue. The vga/gpu coolers out there (air, non-wc) are actually much larger than the stock heatsink/fan on the card and therefore have no chance in hell of fitting.

    I think I will just be grabbing a 6850 sometime soon. Seems to be the best option. The Active DP to DVI just sucks though. Can't believe such a simple device would be $30...

    Edit: I also have been reading that those aftermarket coolers only cool the GPU because the heat pipes come off the GPU block onto the heatsink leaving all of the other modules of the card un-heatsink'ed and therefore improperly cooled. And the card would definitely read that it's running cooler but the majority of the card would actually be hotter, since the temp prope is only on the GPU.
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