(1) Gaming, not sure what kinds of games yet as I havent gamed properly in at least 5 years.
(2) Low noise is important (and secondarily, heat/power consumption)
(3) Planning to SLI/Crossfire maybe a year or two down the line when this build starts to fizzle
Advantages/Disadvantages of each choice -- my reading says generally SLI scales better than Xfire. However, it's near impossible to find a good SLI board supporting AMD cpus, and apparently there is no support for them any longer? On the other hand, going with the 5850's MB above gives me USB3, which is a nice plus. Framerate-wise, it seems they're both roughly the same in reviews?
Price point - essentially what those components above cost + PS (already have a large atx case).
This is a review of the MSI GTX460 Hawk. The 5850 wins in 3 of the tested games, but the Hawk wins in 4 of them: COD Modern Warfare 2, Far Cry 2, Crysis Warhead, Resident Evil 5, and ties in Metro 2033.