Remember, we’ve organized this chart by listing average prices from the lowest on the bottom to the highest on top. At 1920x1080, it appears that CrossFire and SLI performance scales right along with price. Of course, the spread between certain graphics cards is quite close--the most notable example is the GeForce GTX 470 that can be purchased for right around $280, while the 5850s are going for about $260 now.
In general, the lower-end GeForce GTX 400 cards are putting solid pressure on the competing Radeon solutions, and as a result, we've already seen a noticeable Radeon HD 5000 series price drop to keep the AMD cards in line with the competitor’s price/performance ratios.
At 2560x1600, we see a definite performance drop from the Radeon cards in CrossFire. As we mentioned in the benchmarks, at least some of the blame for this can be attributed to the 1 GB frame buffer on Radeon cards while the competing GeForce GTX 470 and GeForce GTX 480 have 1280 MB and 1536MB, respectively, giving them breathing room when it comes to high resolutions mixed with demanding AA settings. In single-card configurations, the Radeons don’t seem to mind the RAM deficit. But in CrossFire, these cards certainly seem to be experiencing some kind of RAM-related bottleneck when pushed hard.
Frankly, there aren’t a lot of 2560x1600 monitors out there in the wild, so this probably isn’t a major concern for most folks. But for gamers planning on a high-resolution 30” monitor or a triple-monitor gaming rig, GeForce GTX 470/480 cards or Eyefinity Edition Radeon cards with 2 GB of RAM will be something to look into.
We hope to revisit the 2560x1600 resolution performance with 2 GB Radeon cards in CrossFire to see if more video RAM clears up the inconsistency. For those of you running 1920x1200 or lower resolutions, there is a lot less to worry about when putting together your hardcore gaming rig.