But how crucial is having one of these brand of cards??
Very crucial when it comes to non-reference 680's. I only put EVGA as a consideration to due their reputation. If your card fails under warranty, they will replace it with something of equal value or better and they also support overclocking. MSI has one of the best coolers on the market if not the best with ASUS right behind. I personally chose the 680 Lightning from MSI due to the high quality of materials that are used on the card to support overclocking and longevity. ASUS has a great design as well but a lot of people would argue that its any quieter than the TwinFrozr cooler that MSI uses. I can vouch for the MSI card running a few degrees cooler than the ASUS card (friend of mine has the ASUS).