I would really recommend an MSI Lightning 290x. I agree with your point of VRAM of 3.5 not being a major issue, but the MSI Lightning rendition of the 290x just kicks ass and is hands down the best iteration of the 290x that you can get. I would get the Lighting version of the 290x any day of the week over a 970. With regards to potentially upgrading to the 980; I think that unless you're gonna be playing really, really demanding games that you won't notice the negligible performance difference. A couple things you might wanna look for in the next couple of months is the 300 series release and the 980ti release. Those could prove to be compelling options.