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As we start looking at the real-world tests, it’s immediately apparent that two Radeon HD 5870s at $800 offer more performance than one Radeon HD 5970 at $600. In turn, that Radeon HD 5970 at $600 keeps its nose in front of two Radeon HD 5850s at $600.
The Radeon HD 5970 maintains a minor lead over two Radeon HD 5850s in CrossFire once anti-aliasing is applied.
Suddenly, the recent price increase on 5850 cards makes a lot more sense. At $249, a pair of Radeon HD 5850s would offer compellingly-close performance for $100 less than a Radeon HD 5970. At $300 a pop, however, it makes a lot more sense to spend $600 on a Radeon HD 5970.
Once again, the 5970 puts a significant gap between itself and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 295. It’s even able to smoke a pair of GeForce GTX 285s, which run about $370 a piece ($740 in SLI).