I am not willing to spend much over $300, I'd like to be under $325. I do like to game at high settings and I do alot of HD video editing. I also run dual-monitors (I have heard that SLI and multi monitors causes problems). I will be buying an AMD 955 Phenom II 3.4 GHz along with this and the necessary Gigabyte motherboard and some G.SKILL ram (DDR3 1600).
I have looked at all the benchmarks and comparisons available on this website for the 9800s and 200s. Seen Here. I have also read all of the SLI/Crossfire FAQ stickied to these forums, which suggest that a single card would be better in most cases.
The SLI 9800s beat the 275 GTX (somewhat in my price range) by quite a bit in every test except Far Cry 2 FPS, but I have been told different things by many people. People on other forums said go with the single card and someone at a very knowledgeable computer store that I have gone to for questions repeatedly said that the SLI option would be better. I thought I'd better ask once more.
2 9800 GTXs would be about the same, maybe a bit faster, than the GTX 285. The only single card in your price range that would be faster is the 5850, but it wouldn't be faster by much. Though on the other hand it will use far less power, produce far less heat, and it has DX1 so I would go with the 5850.
Damn. Now I'm getting more confused because I had pretty much decided on Nvidia, as that is what I'm using now and have had trouble with ATI cards. I had not planned to spend more than $270 on a graphics card.
Do not worry about the company the performance will be the same, its just the warranty and cooler that is different. Sapphire make good cards.
Like I said you do not have to get the 5850 if you do not have the funds, you havent even told us your full specification so I am unsure your rig can even run it will without bottlenecks.
If you was happy with the GTX 260s performance you'd be happy with the 5770. Also consider the ATI 4890 its faster than both and is relatively cheap too.
Its getting late, I will answer the rest of your questions tomorrow afternoon
The new Radeon HD 5850 has some definite advantages over a pair of GeForce GTX 260s in SLI or a pair of Radeon HD 5770s in CrossFire. It doesn't need a CrossFire-compatible motherboard, it uses a lot less power thanks to its 40nm manufacturing process, and it sports DirectX 11 capabilities (plus Eyefinity).
Now what there not telling you is the 5850 has alot of untapped power at hand and anything you see the 5870 doing in gpu core speed the 5850 can do it also because it's the same gpu other then what was disabled.. so it can also reach 1000Mhz core speed as there are afew people running there cards like that and is already as powerful as HD4870 Crossfire/260GTX Sli before you crank it up ..