I'm not a heavy gamer (read: no plans to multi-GPU), but have successfully played COD-MW3 (single player only) on my current rig, enjoy playing Civ 5 (which chugs a bit), and I'm currently fooling around with Just Cause 2 and Borderlands.
Budget: ~$100 CAD
I'm not averse to spending a bit more for some improvement in performance and longevity, but understand that my CPU will be the bottleneck with newer games anyways.
I CANNOT afford to upgrade mobo & CPU at this time. I will eventually build a new rig, maybe next year, but too many cost pressures at the moment.
I wouldn't mind something a bit cooler, less power to help with summer temps in my south-facing home office and electricity bills, but figure that most new cards should be a bit better on these fronts anyways.
I really just need something to get me back up and running and make me feel that my purchase and money isn't totally throwaway.
Also: might consider overclocking my E8400, but haven't really looked into it.
Any and all recommendations/suggestions are much appreciated.
Well, for about 100 CAD, you MIGHT be able to snatch a 7770, if not, it'll have to be a 7750. If you are not a heavy gamer, the 7750 should serve you fine, but keep an eye out for deep discount deals on the 7770, they are frequently found <120 dollars.
Or perhaps you can try fixing the fan on the 9800GT ?
An AMD 7750 or possibly 7770 can be had for about $125-135. I have also seen Nvidia 550 for about $125 as well. I have seen 9800 GT still around for about $90-100 but for the few extra $$ these other cards can move over to your next build, whenever that is.
You are right, it is a little confusing by pricing. Essentially, the 6770 is faster across the range of games and benchmarks, but the 7750 is a newer and more power efficient card, and thus AMD is charging the full retail price (more or less) on the 7750, while the 6770 is actually TWO generations older, and thus being cleared of remaining stock at retailers. Those End Of Life sales can get really cheap and beneficial for you or me.
Just go with what most here have already suggested. The 7770 is only just below the performance of a older gtx460 256bit edition and a typical gtx460 is about 20% faster than two 9800gt 1gb in sli. Still got two 9800gt 1gb running in another rig and a 8800gt put away.
Thanks, going to hit a few bricks-and-mortar stores today to see if there's any deals to be had; otherwise, I'll probably go for that PowerColor HD 7750. 7770 performance gains look tempting, but <$100 next-day looks better than >$125 later this week.