APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Purchasing next Friday (August 10th 2012). Budget of $500 - $550 not including shipping or tax. Rebates are fine, but not a huge consideration in final purchase.
USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: I am a huge gamer, and will want to max out Skyrim, BF3, Borderlands 2 (when its out). FPS is a huge consideration. I am really going for a GTX 680 because it appears to at the minimum get about 70 frames in Skyrim. I will try and run most of these games at max, but will lower the settings so I can achieve a smooth 60 fps.
CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: Currently I have a 950 watt silencer Mk II PSU, and two MSI twin Frozr 6950's 2gb's of RAM each.
OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: CPU is a i5 2500k overclocked to 4.3ghz, mobo is an asus P8Z68 Deluxe Gen 3 with four PCie 3.0 slots. HDD is a 1TB Hitachi. 12 Gb's Corsair Vengeance 1600mhz overclock DDR3. CPU is cooled by an H80 so I could theoretically overclock more, but I don't see a need.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I prefer newegg to buy my components. In fact I will probably only buy the video card from newegg. And I will only buy from the US.
PARTS PREFERENCES: Only looking for a Nvidia card, over the years I have had too many problems with drivers and ATI/AMD to want another one. I will consider cards from Gigabyte, EVGA, PNY, Sapphire, XFX, MSI, Asus
OVERCLOCKING: I will overclock, so i would prefer cards that can take it easier, and it is a pretty big possibility I will do SLI in the future but not now.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920 x 1080
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I would really love to run Skyrim at near or max settings with a surplus of frames over 60. Benchmarks of the 680 seem to show an average of 80+fps at max settings in skyrim, but in a real life scenario I don't know I will get those results. And to clarify with my twin 6950's you would think (at least I would) that I should get 60fps constantly but I don't. On average I get 30-40 FPS. I have tried all drivers, and rolled back, tried beta drivers and nothing works as I would expect. I do get decent frames in BF3 though, usually only going down to about 50 on large open maps with 64 players.
But the biggest thing for me would be maxing skyrim (or coming close, by maybe leaving off AA and getting smooth 60 fps).
Considering the above because the nVidia chip OC itself based on thermals and power consumption. With an aftermarket fan my thinking is it will run cooler and may OC itself higher. Plus I am pretty sure this is the binned chip being sold here.
Considering this EVGA card as well because I do like reference coolers. Mainly for the fact that they don't put hot air in my case. Though I have a phantom full tower with good airflow so heat shouldn't be a huge issue anyways. That said, my fear here is that reference coolers typically do not cool very well, and the card will run warm 80 degrees plus, and won't OC as much as it could. As far as looks go this one has a sexy back-plate.
So that's it. This is my first post after having lurked these forums for years. I have made a lot of mistakes in terms of components over the years and wasted money as a result, and for once I want to be right in my purchase. So with maximum FPS in mind I ask this community for help, and experience. I would mostly appreciate advice from people who have the 680 and what their personnel experiences are but all input is welcome.
Awwww you shouldn't be biased against AMD cards . But just as a side note, Sapphire and XFX don't make nVidia cards.
Really I am pretty sure I saw at least an XFX card? Oh well, and I am not biased against ATI cards, my first GPU's were ATI cards. The GPU's I am using now are ATI, but the problem I have is that their drivers are terrible. It seems with every release, it gets a little better in one area and a whole lot worse in another. Now I'm not saying nVidia has stellar drivers, but at least with nVidia I know I will get the base performance advertised with or without fantastic drivers behind em.
@Kamen, thanks for the suggestion, I should have mentioned in the original post I am very much against Zotac however
Last card I bought from em was DOA, and they wouldn't let me send it in for a replacement even though I was well within the first thirty days of purchase. The person I spoke to on the phone blamed me in saying "I could have broken it when installing it". SO I called newegg and sent it back and got my money back. Gotta love newegg.