I'm mostly trying to build a computer to manage most games released this year on High (and not necessarily Ultra). I'm mostly playing Planetside 2 and Guild Wars 2 but I also play Borderlands 2/L4D2/BF3 and in the near future DmC: Devil May Cry, Bioshock: Infinite, Mass Effect 3, Mettro 2033, Farcry 3 and etc.
Can they be overclocked (for the FTW model, can the OC be tweaked)? Will I need an aftermarket fan if I decide to overclock them?
Do AMD have reliable products? I've never used them before.
Do you suggest factory OCed or manually OCing for someone who has never OCed before?
i personally would go with the 7970, i really dont understand the FTW edition cards half the time, they get so close in cost to the next card in the line up that you might as well go a bit further to get it.
also for overclocking purposes you could get a stock 7970 and have more head room to overclock where a FTW card would already be overclocked and lease head room to play with.
unfortunatly i dont have a specific 7970 to recommend due to limit internet acces at work to do some research for you.
GTX 670 would be more than sufficient. It'll run all the games you just posted on ultra. At 1920x1080. I would only recommend Radeon 7970 if you were to play at higher resolutions.
I would recommend the ASUS GTX 670 DC II. It's the most silent GTX 670 there is and the cooler is great. It has a reworked PCB so not the reference PCB as any other GTX 670 is using, which is supposed to lower the power consumption and give more durability. It comes with a backplate too, which will give more stable overclocking capability and protect the PCB.
EVGA GPUs with reference cooling solutions are not as effective as "open" cooling solutions. The reference cooling options tend to run hotter, but will exhaust the heat out of the back of the PC. Which is attractvice when using a small form factor case or a case with bad airflow, if you got a decent midi-tower ATX case, then there is no reason buying a GPU with a reference cooler on it.
In this review and comparison you'll see that the GTX 670 by ASUS is getting kind of hot. It's because it's the TOP edition, which isn't sold anymore. So the temperature and noise will be lower on the regular ASUS GTX 670 DC II.
"The GeForce GTX 670 is a battle-hardened contender. Offering performance slightly below the Radeon HD 7970 and a lower price to match, this was one of our favorite cards right when it launched. It remains a cool, quiet, and attractive option today."
"We really like AMD's Radeon HD 7970. There's really no reason to pay extra for a similar-performing GeForce GTX 680 unless its 55 W-lower thermal ceiling is necessary in your small form factor enclosure. In that case, spending more for better efficiency is something we can get behind."