PNY GTX 550 Ti 1gb
SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7770 Vapor-X OC Edition
SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6850,
They are pretty much around the same price where I live, and the next lv card is an ASUS 560 TI DirectCU II, which is find way too overkill for the needs of my friend since he just wants to play the Batman games, Skyrim, Dota 2, Diablo 3 and Starcraft II.
I'll pair the card with a i3 2120. And right now I'm still looking for a decent PSU, but I guess anything above 500w will be enough for any of them.
well it depends on what resolution your friend is going to be playing at...of the first three cards the 6850 would yield you the most performance. But if you do want to take it to the next level the 560ti would be agood jump in performance from the 6850...it would be worth it to get the 560ti as long as he is not playing these games at like 1024x768 lol....if its 720p or above I would go for the 560ti
But however, If you can get your hands on a 7850 it would be ideal.
May be more expensive (50USD) than your selected price range, but the cards Sapphire makes have exceptional coolers. Choose one of those, then do a manual overclock and you will get the performance of a stock 7870, for free, with very VERY decent temps. Besides, you double your memory interface to 256-bit, useful for big resolutions and high AA
Link to a 7850 of my choice: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And the i3 will be a perfect match, from my experience, it will not be bottlenecking the card.
He will mostly play Valve titles, which are far more CPU-hungry, so I consider a 560 ti to be way too much, and the non-ti 560 are out of stock in our online shop of choice.
What do you think of going with a 6850 and a i5 2320? Is the difference between the i3 and i5 going to be significant when more games start using more than 2 cores? He's not going to OC so I dunno if it's worth it to pay for a real quad when the i3 is as strong as the first gen i7s when it comes to gaming.
Oh I didn't check on the titles to be played. I just answered the bang per buck in video cards question
Well, IMO the 2 cores/4threads of the i3 will be enough to play those games with reasonable FPS, remember that, even when not overclocked, Intel threads are very efficient, however, if you run into any performance trouble it will definitely be the i3. Look around, try to find some benchies of that i3 and check the max FPS they get, if the bench is with a powerful card, that should tell you the limit of your CPU (im too tired to do that myself now, sorry :S)
Since you cant overclock an i3 so easily, the next step (for me) would be a 2500k, which is not that far when budget comes to matter.