Craig: I'm definitely not looking to spend that much up front. I'd probably be more interested in buying the 970 now and buying a second one later should I move to 4k gaming since I don't currently have a 4k monitor, or even a 2k for that matter. Wishful thinking
Plus, the 970 has some of the nice new tech to help future proof it some.
BK: You're right, the 780Ti and the R9 290 are similar in performance, but the 970 seems to be nearly as powerful as the 780 (if not more powerful in several instances) and its far more efficient for less money. Unless there is a price drop that comes in the next 2 weeks or sooner then I doubt the 780 would be something I'd be looking at too closely. I'm pretty sold on the 970 architecture, especially since it supports HDMI 2.0 and has the other future proofing features. I imagine adding a second one to SLi would be a good upgrade a 6 months down the road or so if I end up getting a 4k display.
The problem now lies in which brand to purchase. EVGA was initially my first choice, but I've read quite a few reviews that suggest the cooler is cheap/flimsy and loud, and its output connections are not nearly as good as the reference output (only 1 DP instead of 3). The Gigabyte is the only card I've seen that has the 3 DP connections but the card is...wait for it...15.9" long! That wouldn't fit in my case unless I removed the HDD cage, and I've got 4 drives in the bays so I'd have to buy 4 5.25" adapters or buy a new case. While I'm not 100% against a new case, that'd be a lot of extra money that I don't really need to spend - money that I'd rather save for a second 970 or a beautiful display ;D