My wife recently got me a 30" Achieva Shimian 2560x1440 monitor. Now, I understand that my e8400 is starting to show it's age, and that many GPUs will be bottlenecked by it, especially in titles that make use of 4 cores. But I am trying to hold off on a full PC upgrade until Haswell releases next year.
My old monitor was a lowly 1680x1050 powered by a HD 4870 512MB (still love this card btw!). I would desperately like to take advantage of this monitor now, and know that I would need at the minimum a 1GB ram GPU to run it, as my frames increase drastically going from 1440p down to 1080p with my 4870. I'm looking to run Guild Wars 2 and Borderlands 2 for the time being.
So here is the question:
What would be a good card to last me approximately 1 year (I'd probably upgrade the GPU again when Haswell releases), and not be bottlenecked by my CPU and allow me to run at 1440p? I do not mind medium settings and 0xAA, I really just want to play at the monitor's native 1440p. I do not mind using a card from a previous generation either, unless you believe it'd be more advantageous to grab a current gen GPU and continue to use it for another year after Haswell releases.
How much money do you want to spend? The 7950 is a very nice performer for 1440p for the money, but I can't tell if you're looking for a more budget-oriented card or not.
At 1440p, you probably aren't going to be too bottlenecked by your CPU unless you pick up a GTX 670/HD 7970 or better, as the graphics load is so demanding at that resolution. You probably want a card with at least 2GB vram, by the way.
Not knowing your desired budget, I'd recommend picking up a 7950 and then selling it when you upgrade again in 12-18 months.
If you are sure you only want the card for a year, you could try picking up a used GTX 570 off ebay or something - might be able to find a good deal.
These were actually 2 of the options I was considering. If I were to only spend around $100-200, then I would replace the card in a year. If I were to drop $300-400 then I would be keeping the card for around 2 years. If something like a 7950 would not be bottlenecked significantly then I would rather pick it up if it'll give me a noticeably better experience at 1440p then a 570 would with my C2D.
If I were to go the 7950 route, would getting a 670 be a better bet at $50 more, at this resolution, as again I would be using a card in this range for approximately 2 years, with Haskell during the 2nd year.