2) Also, if the range of GPU-intensive games I play don't go beyond say, BF3 or the like, will a 1GB version of 7850 suffice just for the next one year? I will not be playing past 1080p (i5-2500K, 8GB ram) and I don't need everything on ULTRA+AA/AF, just want 60 FPS on decent quality.
The 7870 is not a greatly better or faster card than the 7850, it is at the very best 10% faster clock for clock and generally overclocks a little higher as it has two 6 pin power lines vs one on the 7850, giving it more room.
but the 7850 will get to 1150 / 1400, at that its easily fast enough to play BF3 on Ultra Preset @ 1080P.
But don't get the 1GB version, that is not enough vRAM to ultra BF3 @ 1080P, you should be looking at the 2GB version.
Thanks for the quick reply, you helped me make my decision! I guess I will go with the 2GB if it can run BF3 OC'd! Even though I don't even play BF3 lol
However, could you elaborate on my first question a little more? And does anyone know anything about the 2GB card I posted? I'm not familiar at all with PowerColor but it's the only card within my budget. Does it compare with stock XFX/Sapphire/etc, if at all?