OK, so currently I have two XFX HD 6870's and are looking to upgrade because they can't run Battlefield 3 on Ultra and the cross-fire set up is producing quite a lot of heat and noise. Also the waiting for a week or month or so for new games to properly support it is annoying as well. So I'm looking for a card thats around $400 USD (Max of 500 but I don't want to spend that much unless I'd notice a decent jump in performance). I don't really care if its AMD or nVidia I'm just looking to get the most performance for the money and ideally a quiet, cool running card.
For the people who own or have owned these cards what are your opinions on them? Pros and Cons? Also to conform with the forum post about this I'm from the United States and my preferred site of purchase is newegg other sites wouldn't be a problem if they have a better deal though. The main point of upgrading is to play Battlefield 3 (Ultra) on 1080p without major hiccups and it being smooth, and hopefully, future games without much issue.
My Current Set-Up
ASRock 870 EXTREME3
750-TX Corsair 750 W PSU
AMD Phenom(tm) II X4 955 BE
12 GB DDR3 1600 MHz
Cross-Fire XFX 6870s
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit (6.1, Build 7601) Service Pack 1
23.6" (1920x1080) ASUS Monitor
Let me break the bad news to you...none of the existing cards you listed will bring you a noticeable increase in performance. They may increase frame rates 10-15fps....but that's not worth the extra money.
I own 2x 6970s on 1 system and 1x 6970 on another...both run bf3 on ultra at 1080p without issues. The 1x6970 system can run everything on ultra..but MSAA has to stay off...only then can it do 55-60fps on average. And I can tell you that MSAA does almost nothing in bf3...there is another aliasing that can be set to high...FXAA is the technical name..that is all you need..and it should get you smooth gameplay.
Frankly, your bigger issue isn't the 2x6870s....its the CPU...you need a 2500k and you need to overclock it to 4.5ghz (very easy and safe). None of the AMD processors right now can beat a 2500k once its overclocked to 4.5ghz. Infact there are plenty of people who can run bf3 on ultra with that cpu and 2x6870s.
Now if you want to wait for ivy bridge it will be 20% quicker than 2500k for a similar price..that doesn't mean gaming will see that increase but it might see a little. But really 2500k is plenty for all games..and you can get some great deals right now..if you have a microcenter nearby then you can get a 2500k+a really good motherboard for $250-$300. Get a CM 212+ cooler for $25 and overclock it to 4.5ghz.