If you could find a GTX 470 for sub $300 (sorry, I'm in the UK so have no idea) that would also be great, and perhaps a 5870? Those or a 6870 (which is indeed awesome) would all be solid recommendations.
It's time to upgrade my ageing nVdia 8800GT. I've been looking at the Palit SONIC PLATINUM nVIDIA GTX 460 Geforce 1GB card, and wondering if there are any better alternatives.
I would recomend XFX HD6850/6870(XFX=Great Customer service+LIFETIME WARRANTY), I have a XFX HD6850 and it ROCKS , only require x1 6pin power connector(450Watt PSU or greater),they easily OC to HD6870 performance, and Not to mention 68xx performance will get better, use less power, lower temps, DX11, MLAA
look at this chart! the 6850 in CF are Neck to Neck with the HD5970 2GB and 68xx don't have official drivers yet till the release of catalyst 10.12 some time this month. But as you can see the GTX460 is tied with the HD6850, your choice really I have always been a ATI guy
Gtx 470 can be had for around 220 after mail in rebate, making it a great deal, plus the possibility for tri sli, while tri crossfire has many bugs at this point. the radeon 6000 series scales very well, but the gtx 470 will beat the performance single handedly and can overclock pretty well. The 6870s take less power and create less heat, so it would be good if you have a simple power supply around 550 watts and a case with not too much cooling. I personally would have to go with the 470s and as time goes on do sli, and when their even cheaper get a third and beast it and be future proof for the next 4-5 years. You could also wait for nvidias release of keplar based chips this year, it will be 3rd quater of 2011 and will be about 4 times he performance per watt, so what that means is either basically the 400 series with 4 times more power, or a 400 series with 1/4th of the heat and power draw, or a combination of both. Anyways I'm waiting for the keplar release, but may get a used gtx 470 for the time being as an upgrade from my radeon 5770. ATI at this point has limited driver support compared to Nvidia and the nvidia drivers keep on getting better. Hope that helps you
P.S Dont get a 460 in hopes of tri sling for cheap, they wont tri sli, they only do dual like most Crossfire cards.
Hmm, if your motherboard only has SLI capabilities then the 470 is a clear win. With a capable power supply (if yours is a good 750 or 800) then that is plenty for SLI. The 470 scales pretty well in SLI, in some cases nearly 100%. Basically that means roughly doubling your performance.
I wouldn't worry too much about tri-SLI, you're very likely to run into issues with 3 GPUs, and in addition your CPU will inevitably bottleneck with 3 such powerful cards.
So for a future investment, I'd get the 470 and enjoy great performance until they drop a little in price in the future and a second one becomes affordable.