In my build my budget for the video card is $260. I was looking at the options and was wondering if I would get better performance with two 550 Ti's in SLI or a single HD6950. I'm going to use this build primarily for gaming. Thanks in advance.
Actually I was just looking a little more and it looks like an HD7850 also runs about $260. Would one of those be better than two 550 Ti's that are SLI?
I can't say on the Nvidia side as I have not used them since the HD3850 but I am very happy with my Sapphire HD 6950. I had a Nvidia 560 in my Intel rig but because of driver problems I put it back in the box and got another 6950 for that rig to.
My Sapphire HD 6950 has no problems with any game I have played you would not go wrong getting it.
The 550 Ti will be a tiny bit faster. Probably just a couple FPS in most games.
On the other hand, a pair of 550 Tis use a lot more power than a 6950, and will require a better power supply. Micro stuttering is also a potential issue with the SLI setup, and not all games respond well to SLI right after release.
You also get a relatively cheap upgrade path with the 6950, as you can add a second for CF later, while upgrading from the 550 Ti SLI setup will require buying a much more expensive card. If you're not planning on upgrading in the next year or two, though, that's not much of an issue.
Basically, I don't think it's worth it to SLI low end cards to get a 5% performance advantage over a single mid-range card that costs the same.