Originally Posted by SkippyWatford
Exactly - If I had to buy new graphics cards today with no possibility of waiting, I would actually buy a 7970 (probably 2 for CF). Sure you'll lose out a little today with games that don't need more than 2Gb, but not by anything significant. But in 2 years time those with 2Gb 680s in SLI will be hitting a brick wall and you'd be laughing at them. Maybe less than 2 years, even.
In a perfect world, you could ideally compare video cards linearly on a 1:1 basis. However, the reality of it is it is much more complicated than that. VRAM capacity, while important (for large resolutions, with high levels of AA, and third party HD texture packs/mods), is but one facet of a video card purchasing decision.
Looking at [H]ardOCP's real world testing, the GTX 680 SLI setup, even with its smaller 2GB of VRAM, came out on top for the most part over the larger 7970 CFX setup:
And this is with the stigma that Eyefinity/Surround resolutions absolutely "require" the highest amount of VRAM possible. Not to mention these are release drivers at that, compared to the supposedly mature AMD drivers.
Having played with, and still constantly playing with, a variety of monitor configurations (single 1200p monitor, triple 1200p Surround, single 1440p monitor), I can tell you that the VRAM "concern" is a little overstated.
Yes, I sometimes do have to compromise a few settings to maintain 60 fps with my 1.5GB 580's in Surround (particularly AA and SSAO/HBAO with more recent games), but even on a single 1440p monitor 2X-4X AA (assuming I need to lower it at all) is perfectly acceptable with all other settings maxed, which is more than 1.5 times as many pixels as 1080p. This is besides the fact that there seems to be negligible differences between my 1.5GB 580 and the 3GB flavor:
The Fermi's are more likely to run out of raw processing power, well before a VRAM "brick wall" is reached. In my experience, I noticed a healthy performance increase when I used to have Tri-SLI 580's a few months ago, even though it is still only 1.5GB of VRAM at my Surround resolution of 5760x1200 or 3600x1920, which reaffirms my thoughts.
Besides, reducing a couple of settings for the occasional system intensive game in a large resolution environment is nothing game-breaking, which I think a lot of the times the message is conveyed as such - "either go all out or bust". For a single 1080p monitor, not everyone can afford the sort of overkill in VRAM, and certainly not everyone will even notice the difference.
For what it's worth, those who need the power (aka. Eyefinity/Surround users) are unlikely to keep their 2GB 680's for much longer than the next flagship release; not necessarily because of the VRAM, but because of the need for more raw power. Thus, by the time the games actually do *require* more VRAM, they will have already upgraded in anticipation of it. Those who don't need the power (and especially the extra VRAM), will not miss a single thing unless they intentionally
tried with third party texture packs/mods and/or upgraded monitors.