I am going to be purchasing the components for my first custom rig in the next 7-10 days. *So excited * This system will be used for both gaming (while recording with FRAPS/Dxtory) and video editing/photoshop equally (I run two gaming channels on YouTube). Here are my future system specs:
i7 2600k (I will OC)
Asus P8Z68 Deluxe Mobo / Rev3
16 GB Corsair Vengeance Ram 1600Mhz
Corsair H100 CPU Cooler
Corsair 800D Case
Corsair GT 120GB SSD
2 x 2TB Western Digital Caviar Black HDD
Corsair 850W Professional Series PSU
3 x Asus 23" LCD Monitors 1920x1080 (2 for PC - 1 XBOX 360)
The last thing I need to decide is the GPU(s). Here are the cards I am interested in:
EVGA GTX 560 Ti OC 1GB (SLI) vs. EVGA GTX 580 1.5 GB
I know this is a popular setup and comparison and I have done a lot of research (bench scores and specs). I'd like to get some feedback from those who have each of these setups with respect to real world performance:
What games are you playing and what FPS do normally attain (while single and multi-monitor gaming)?
What problems or issues should I be aware of with an SLI setup versus a single card?
Are you happy with your purchase or would you go another direction?
I would go for a single faster card. With newwer games you will have to wait for drivers to mature for the SLI plus in future if you want to upgrade you can add another card and not limit yourself with the slots
When building a powerful computer, gaming or other, you quickly reach a point of diminishing returns. IMHO, adding multiple GPUs falls into this catagory. If you can afford to have bragging rights then go for it but for my money, I think I enjoy my games as much as you.
I would actually forgo the water cooling option and opt for a air cooled solution. Unless you are trying to do extreme OC on the 2600 air cooled solutions will be fine.
I would roll that savings into upgrading your video card to a 7970. When you are about to spend 450+ on a sli or single card setup it is hard to recommend any current gen offering when you have AMD's latest tech on the street and Nvidia's just around the corner.
I've had zero issues with SLI; driver or otherwise. SLI is definitely not a bad option. I dumped my crossfire setup about a year ago because of monthly driver issues and never looked back. Nothing with SLI has made me ever second-guess this decision. I've seriously not run into any issues.
Cryosis00 makes a good point. You could wait until the next gen is released, though if I were to build today, I'd grab up a 580 and just get another when demand for the next gen forces the prices down. 1 580 is plenty for just about everything out there. I operated with one 580 for around two weeks and it was spectacular, but I wanted to find out if all multi-card setups had similar issues to those I had with my crossfire setup. Fortunately, I found the higher cost of Nvidia cards equates to rock-solid performance; hardware and driver. I know I sound like a fan boy, but personal experience has pushed me in that direction. Now if Nvidia stops pumping out quality drivers, I'd consider looking at AMD again. For some reason, I don't see anything like that happening anytime soon. What I learned from my experience: Not all multi-GPU setups are equal. But I digress...
2 560 ti's is not a shabby option by any means, but I think you should get as much as you can out of a single card within your budget and grab another whenever you can in the future. The 580 is a fantastic current-gen Nvidia card. The reason I would not recommend the 7970 - thinking forward- is because of my personal experience with crossfire and drivers.
On the other hand, if you want to game across your 3 new screens right away, you'll need the two 560s. If that's not the plan, don't worry about it.
Also, everything about your build is solid. Good choices.
I have zero issues too with SLI, but I do recommend the GTX 580 option. Less heat, less noise, less problems (a game that doesn't scales properly for example), and that way you leave a open path for a future upgrade, like buying another GTX 580 (maybe a used one for chunk less).
Since you gaming at 2 monitors there's no restritictions about it (my only commentary would be that working at 2 monitors is GREAT, but gaming REALLY sucks.. game at 1 monitor only please.. crosshair at bezels not nice).
And at 1 monitor the GTX 580 should be more than enough. (Unless you want ubersampling at witcher 2)