NVIDIA is just killing it these days with SLI performance. It was only a few years ago that SLI was giving issues to the point with some games seeing performance go backwards. Today 90%+ performance gains over a single card are present since they've gotten the drivers running so well.
What has also made SLI so important is that it's a requirement for Surround Gaming. While a con compared to ATI's Eyefinity setup, the SLI setup means we don't have to have a DisplayPort monitor or need a DisplayPort Active Adapter. You combine this with the fact that SLI scaling is so good Surround Vision could well be the gamer's choice for multi monitor gaming.
Overall the GTX 460 in SLI is just amazing; the performance is huge but NVIDIA have done to the GTX 480 what they did to the GTX 465 and GTX 470 with this model. They may have shot themselves in the foot as the GTX 460 in SLI shouldn't be cheaper than a single GTX 480 while at the same time faster. We're talking around 20% cheaper.
You combine this with the fact that a single GTX 480 can't run a three monitor setup and the GTX 480 begins to look worse and worse every day. We've said before that this is where the money is and NVIDIA are just killing it in the mid range sector. I'm not going to call the GTX 480 a failure because it's not; it's the fastest single GPU video card on the market. However, I think that it's safe to say the model didn't scare ATI one bit. Yes it was faster, but it was also more expensive.
Looking look at the HD 5870, the price is slightly under that of this setup we're looking at today. Now I'm comparing the cheapest HD 5870 to more expensive GTX 460s but let's give ATI this one. For less than 10% more this setup demolishes the HD 5870. You can run three monitors off the one ATI card, but who cares? SLI might be a requirement for Surround Gaming but you've got it here.
NVIDIA has just come in on ATI's blind side, and now they can't afford to wait long before releasing new models. The last thing ATI needs is their 9 months of success to be used to fund the next 9 months of failure.
NVIDIA has brought it! The GTX 480 and HD 5870 went 10 rounds and they both scored the same as one was better value and the other was faster. The GTX 460 has come in and knocked out a number of ATI models in the 5th round, and today the GTX 460 brought its twin brother and knocked out ATI in the first 30 seconds. It's on!