Some issues with CrossFire, streaming, performance, maybe OC questions

I built this PC earlier this year (Jan/Feb), with the intention of using it for streaming (as in, playing games like Heroes of Newerth and StarCraft 2 and streaming it to or and decided that it would be effective to purchase two 6850s to CrossFire for this machine (used for gaming). After building the PC, successfully bridging/setting up CrossFire, etc., I enjoyed my new computer..... For about a month. Then I noticed my PC was running hot, about 80 Celsius. Further testing and diagnosing showed that my PC seemed to not be drawing from the second card AT ALL (the second card was reading as running at 0% and 0 degrees Celsius). So my first question is, is that normal for CrossFired GPUs?

While I poked around for answers, I ran some tests and found that my computer was running HoN and SC2 better on a singular card than on CrossFire, but that my streaming performance had dipped. This, of course, made no sense to me, especially if the second card wasn't actually carrying any of the workload. My GPU, not overclocked, the singular 6850, runs cool at ~50 Celcius while just gaming (not streaming). Problem is, my FPS drops so low while streaming that the game becomes unplayable.

I'd, ideally, like to keep my two CrossFired cards, for multiple reasons. One, the more obvious, is that I'd get to not spend additional money for a new card. Two, the less obvious, is that I feel I have a much better chance of getting into current (and future) Betas if I continue using a CrossFired setup, as you'd think companies would like to test their games on CrossFired machines.

I use XSplit to stream to Twitch.TV, and I know plenty of other people that stream at a higher quality than I do, yet I have a much more powerful PC. As far as I know, my XSplit settings are just fine (I actually gave my exact setups to many of the people I'm talking about). What could possibly cause this?

To put things into perspective -- I can play Heroes of Newerth on 1920x1080 at 125 FPS, but once I turn XSplit on, I dip down to 15-30 FPS (and it constantly feels like ~20, despite Fraps marking it at 28). I can't play as well as I'd like to on 20 FPS (it cripples my gameplay), and 720p looks terrible on most games (because of interface and cursor scaling, namely).

So what should I do? What can I try? Should I try overclocking my GPUs once I re-CrossFire them?

MB: ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel
CPU: Intel Core i7 950 @3.07GHz (8 CPUs), ~3.1 GHz 1366
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600 (PC3 12800)
PS: 650W CoolerMaster GX Series RS650
GPU: XFX HD-685X-ZNDC 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16
HD: Seagate Barracuda LP ST32000542AS 2TB 5900 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

I'm still not even entirely certain all of these parts are properly compatible, especially after experiencing the issues I have.

Something else to note: I have a Solid State Drive that I haven't installed yet, as we bought the wrong one. It's a full-size Desktop (SATA), and we got a laptop SSD (Micro-SATA), so we got the equipment required to convert it (Micro-SATA-to-SATA cable, etc.), but haven't installed it yet, mostly out of trepidation. Will a micro-SATA SSD work just fine if converted, or should we actually go out of our way to get an actual SATA SSD before bothering with upgrading it? I'm not bothered by the prospect of formatting my primary HD (I have externals to back everything up), but I don't want to go through the trouble if it doesn't work the way an SSD should.

SSD: (Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAA064MAG-1G1 1.8" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD))

Speaking of issues, my computer has a REALLY difficult time booting up. It doesn't take long to actually reach Windows, but for the first 10 or so minutes of a boot/reboot, the PC absolutely CRAWLS through the simplest of tasks (like opening My Documents or an mp3). Would installing the SSD alleviate that? I've always suspected that my hard drive was probably a huge chink in my PC's proverbial armor.

Any and all advice towards an adequate resolution to, pretty much, any and all of these issues would be unbelievably appreciated, as I've been trying (and failing) to gather information about this for months now, and have found frustration at every end.

If you'd prefer helping hands-on, rather than through the forums, you can PM me your Skype and I'll add you there. Thanks to everyone in advance.
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More about some issues crossfire streaming performance questions
  1. This maybe a stupid question, but have you downloaded the Drivers for crossfire and set everything up? Or did you just dump another card in and attach the crossfire bridge?
  2. I uninstalled the previously-existing drivers, shut down the PC, installed the second, CrossFired card, then reinstalled the drivers accordingly. I did the same thing when I uninstalled the second card.
  3. It seems I have either a dead PCI slot (my second slot) or a bad CrossFire Interconnector Bridge, as I tried to CrossFire the cards again, and upon bootup, got BSOD twice. So I switched the formerly-second card into the first slot and it's working just fine. Looks like I'll be buying a new GPU (single this time, because I'm honestly tired of dealing with the baggage that comes with running multi-GPU) and I'll, very soon, have two 6850s for sale. :/

    Anyone have any input for my other issues?
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