Short version: I have an $800 dollar budget for a single GPU/single monitor configuration. What's my best bet?
Long version: I'm doing a new gaming build to upgrade from my ancient Core 2 Duo machine. I'm happy with my parts list, but I find myself going back and forth which GPU & Monitor I want.
I'm interested in a single card, single monitor setup. I'm just not a fan of the multiple monitors. I've also done Crossfire/SLI in the past. When it works, it's amazing - but microstuttering/driver issues and the other downsides of multi-GPU configurations have turned me off. I'm not really interested in overclocking a video card either (though I'm not opposed to buying factory overclocked). I'd like to keep it simple.
My original plan was to get a Korean import 2560x1440 monitor and a beefy card to run, but I don't know if this is feasible and it raises a lot of questions for me. Will a single GPU be able to run games (current and over the next few years) at 2560x1440 with high settings and maintain a playable framerate? If not, how bad will 1920x1080 look on a 27 inch monitor? If I'm decided on one monitor/GPU, would I be better off getting a 23/24 inch and gaming at 1920x1080 to make sure my framerates don't suffer? Either way, which GPU? I've always been an "AMD guy", but I've been increasingly fed up with AMD driver issues in the past and had promised myself I'd buy Nvidia next, but now I'm not sure what to do with how impressive folks say the 7970 is.
That's a link to a review of the Ghz edition (which has the reference one in the benchmarks as well) as reviewed at 2560x1600 at playable framerates (over 40 for bf3 with 4xAA). So since it's less resolution, it should be around the same or slightly better frame rates.
Overclocking is easy with CCC or MSI anyway, so I wouldn't be adverse to it. You can easilly bump up the reference and test it. But with the new 12.11 beta drivers, at 1080p with ultra presets, I get 60fps constant (mostly) with v-sync enabled.
1) The Korean monitors are prone to problems. You can Google that, but my advice is spend about $300 on a good Samsung that:
a) has a low refresh rate rated for gamin,
b) gets great customer reviews,
c) is about 23" and 1920x1080
b) Can I game at 2560x1440?
Not an issue. You can set the resolution to anything you want. I have a GTX680/i7-3770K/16GB DDR3 setup but I still use 1920x1080 for many games simply because 2560x1440 looks basically identical but with a 30% performance (frame rate) hit.
Games like Diablo 3 are the exception and run best at 2560x1440 due to the small text that looks sharper at high res.
3) What card?
Normally I'd recommend a GTX670 or GTX680. However, it may be worth looking into an AMD HD7970 or HD7950 with the "Don't Settle" thing from AMD that can net you two or three good games as well with their cards.
Buy 7970 Ghz edition if you want to be on the safe side in the next few years. I returned the 7870 last night so that I could install my 7970. And for what, just so I can play Witcher 2 on Ultra mode, but still cannot set texture sampling to VERY LARGE. Now what, do I need a 7990 too? Simply ridiculous. I feel like these games are made to beat the crap outta all the video cards.
Get 7870 unless you have extra cash and want those extra frames get GTX680 or 7970. There are so many opinions on which one is best so this is entirely up to you. The 7970 is still offering 3 free games Sleeping Dog, Far Cry 3, and Hitman Absolution, and 20% on the new MOH Warfighter (which many people bitch about bc it is boring). The 680 doesn't have any perks right now.
I played all the following games in MAX settings with my 7870 (without OC)
Darksiders I and II
These games below are on 1 setting below MAX. But know this, you can barely detect any differences. But if you play Skyrim, surely but barely you can see some differences if all you want to do is to stand around and appreciate how nice the trees and the flowers look, left alone the sky, the mountain, the fog of air in the bushes. In BF3 and COD, you will die in less than 5 seconds, so you won't even have time to look at the differences between Ultra and Good settings.
You can turn on max settings on these 3 games but if there are frags and many people are on the same screen, the games will lag, in BF3 and COD, this means instant death lol.
Thanks for the input fellas. The GTX680 and 7970 Ghz are both appealing. I've been reading that the 7970 pulls ahead at higher resolution (2560x1440 and up for multi monitor), and the bonus of free games is always good, but the 680 is still a damn good card. I guess it's bigger for me to decide on a monitor/resolution first. I think if I end up going the Korean import route I'll pair it with a 7970, and if I go 1920x1080 I'll follow up on my promise of going Nvidia this time around.
@cortright: There's a bit of a trend going on right now of people buying 27" Korean import monitors on ebay for $300-350. It's basically a risk/reward system. They're beautiful 2560x1440 monitors on the cheap, but with a poor build quality and if you have issues a return/exchange/refund to a Korean ebay marketer can be problematic.
Thanks again. Time to slam my head into the wall on whether I want to risk the korean import or go with a solid 23-24 inch samsung or maybe the ultrasharp.