Need some help here guys.
I've been an ATI user since the 9800 pro days, but have built many systems for friends using Nvidia cards, especially during the 8800 era.
I'm building a PC and I've already bought and assembled my case, PSU, Mobo, CPU, and RAM
So far it's Thermaltake Speedo Full Tower, Thermaltake 875W Toughpower XT (single 12 v rail @ 72 amps), Asus P6T V2 Deluxe, Corsair XMS3 PC1600 DDR3 3x2 GB, and Intel Core i7 930 socket 1366. Also got a Thermaltake Frio CPU cooler.
I'm stuck on the graphics. Price is important, and power is obviously important since I've already got a PSU. I bought the PSU and case together and saved $140 buying through newegg with instant savings and bundled savings.
I've built a PC so far for a friend with the standard clocked 5870 back in January which was great. I know I can get an HD5870 for $400 and the GTX 480 for about $520, maybe $500. I don't need OC editions of either, not wasting the money I can OC myself.
I plan on using SLI/Xfire in the near future, I will get a second card around X-mas time. While I know the Fermi out performs the 5870 by about 10% (15% in some DX11) the cost/power is the catcher if I'm getting 2 cards. I know my PSU can handle 2 Fermis and atleast 2 HD 5870s.
The kicker is, with the price/power ratio I can either get 2 GTX480s, or 2 5870s & 1 5850 for tri x-fire. Both deals would come to about $1000, give or take a few bucks. Heat isn't an issue, so long as the cards are reasonable. I'll have adequate cooling in the case, I just don't want my GPUs so constantly sit at 90c under load with my cooling solutions which are going to be quite beefy.
There's also rumor that ATI is coming out with HD6xxx cards in November? That's something important. I don't know if they'll be good (might be what the ati 3xxx was to the 2xxx / nvidia 9000 vs 8000). Regardless, that would atleast drive the price down of the 5xxx series which would be insane. I don't know if those rumors have any truth what so ever though.
It's a win win either way. I'm not looking for fanboy opinions, I'm looking for peoples experiences with SLI vs Crossfire, number crunching with price vs performance, and overall experience with the software drivers. I lack some Nvidia insight, so that would help. Also some insight into this 6xxx rumor and rumors regarding the possibilities of a GTX 485 (or whatever a dual GTX480 would be).
On a side note, my monitor is a 23.5 incher (or something) @ 1080x1920 via HDMI. I have a second one one the way so Eyefinity/Nvidia 3D is a possibility. Don't really care which I'm not big into 3D gaming but good multi-monitor support would be nice.