I'm not really sure why we have NDAs on these products anymore. Before we even got our Radeon HD 4890, before we were even briefed on it, NVIDIA contacted us and told us that if we were working on a review to wait. NVIDIA wanted to send us something special.

Then in the middle of our Radeon HD 4890 briefing what do we see but a reference to a GeForce GTX 275 in the slides. We hadn't even laid hands on the 275, but AMD knew what it was and where it was going to be priced.

If you asked NVIDIA what the Radeon HD 4890 was, you'd probably hear something like "an overclocked 4870". If you asked AMD what the GeForce GTX 275 was, you'd probably get "half of a GTX 295".

The truth of the matter is that neither one of these cards is particularly new, they are both a balance of processors, memory, and clock speeds at a new price point.

As the prices on the cards that already offered a very good value fell, higher end and dual GPU cards remained priced significantly higher. This created a gap in pricing between about $190 and $300. AMD and NVIDIA saw this as an opportunity to release cards that fell within this spectrum, and they are battling intensely over price. Both companies withheld final pricing information until the very last minute. In fact, when I started writing this intro (Wednesday morning) I still had no idea what the prices for these parts would actually be.

Now we know that both the Radeon HD 4890 and the GeForce GTX 275 will be priced at $250. This has historically been a pricing sweet spot, offering a very good balance of performance and cost before we start to see hugely diminishing returns on our investments. What we hope for here is a significant performance bump from the GTX 260 core 216 and Radeon HD 4870 1GB class of performance. We'll wait till we get to the benchmarks to reveal if that's what we actually get and whether we should just stick with what's good enough.

At a high level, here's what we're looking at:

  GTX 285 GTX 275 GTX 260 Core 216 GTS 250 / 9800 GTX+
Stream Processors 240 240 216 128
Texture Address / Filtering 80 / 80 80 / 80 72/72 64 / 64
ROPs 32 28 28 16
Core Clock 648MHz 633MHz 576MHz 738MHz
Shader Clock 1476MHz 1404MHz 1242MHz 1836MHz
Memory Clock 1242MHz 1134MHz 999MHz 1100MHz
Memory Bus Width 512-bit 448-bit 448-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB 896MB 896MB 512MB
Transistor Count 1.4B 1.4B 1.4B 754M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point $360 ~$250 $205 $140

 

  ATI Radeon HD 4890 ATI Radeon HD 4870 ATI Radeon HD 4850
Stream Processors 800 800 800
Texture Units 40 40 40
ROPs 16 16 16
Core Clock 850MHz 750MHz 625MHz
Memory Clock 975MHz (3900MHz data rate) GDDR5 900MHz (3600MHz data rate) GDDR5 993MHz (1986MHz data rate) GDDR3
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB 1GB 512MB
Transistor Count 959M 956M 956M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point ~$250 ~$200 $150

 

We suspect that this will be quite an interesting battle and we might have some surprises on our hands. NVIDIA has been talking about their new drivers which will be released to the public early Thursday morning. These new drivers offer some performance improvements across the board as well as some cool new features. Because it's been a while since we talked about it, we will also explore PhysX and CUDA in a bit more depth than we usually do in GPU reviews.

We do want to bring up availability. This will be a hard launch for AMD but not for NVIDIA (though some European retailers should have the GTX 275 on sale this week). As for AMD, we've seen plenty of retail samples from AMD partners and we expect good availability starting today. If this ends up not being the case, we will certainly update the article to reflect that later. NVIDIA won't have availability until the middle of the month (we are hearing April 14th).

NVIDIA hasn't been hitting their launches as hard lately, and we've gotten on them about that in past reviews. This time, we're not going to be as hard on them for it. The fact of the matter is that they've got a competitive part coming out in a time frame that is very near the launch of an AMD part at the same price point. We are very interested in not getting back to the "old days" where we had paper launched parts that only ended up being seen in the pages of hardware review sites, but we certainly understand the need for companies to get their side of the story out there when launches are sufficiently close to one another. And we're certainly not going to fault anyone for that. Not being available for purchase is it's own problem.

From the summer of 2008 to today we've seen one of most heated and exciting battles in the history of the GPU. NVIDIA and AMD have been pushing back and forth with differing features, good baseline performance with strengths in different areas, and incredible pricing battles in the most popular market segments. While AMD and NVIDIA fight with all their strength to win customers, the real beneficiary has consistently been the end user. And we certainly feel this launch is no exception. If you've got $250 to spend on graphics and were wondering whether you should save up for the GTX 285 or save money and grab a sub-$200 part, your worries are over. There is now a card for you. And it is good.

New Drivers From NVIDIA Change The Landscape
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  • Hauk - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    Congrats ATI, the 4890 is a strong performer! So much chatter about what constitutes rebadging; at the end of the day it's performance that matters. 4890 does a great job for the money.

    The GTX 275 performs well but lacks excitement IMO. Nothing surprising or exciting; we've already seen a 240 shader enabled gpu on a 260 style interface (x2). If anything, the 285 receives strong competition from both 4890 and 275. Makes little sense to remain at it's price point. It's price should be $300.

    Times are tight. Cheers to competition...
    Reply
  • slickr - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    I can't believe how biased anandtech has become.
    I've checked all other review sites and in all the GTX275 was winning by a pretty big margin, here it actually looses to the HD4890.

    Now I'm not a fanboy for either, I've had 2 nvidia graphic cards and 2 ATI cards, the current one is ATI, but this bias thing can't go un-noticed.

    Some investigators must be summoned to deal with anandtech, this has been going for quite a while now.
    Reply
  • z3R0C00L - Friday, April 03, 2009 - link

    I see the difference.. those "other reviews" used the Catalyst 9.3 drivers.

    Anandtech, HardOCP and Firingsquad used the new 9.4 Beta drivers.

    No bias on Anandtech's part. Rather a bias from those other sites who used the new nVIDIA BETA driver but not the ATi one that has proper support for the 4890.
    Reply
  • B3an - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    I dont normally take notice of comments like this on here, but it does seem a little like it. It's as if NV have pissed off Anandtech with there dirty tactics (understandable), and Anandtech are being a little bias because of this. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    I've looked at three reviews (FiringSquad, THG, and HardOCP - also Xbitlabs, but they didn't have the GTX 275 in their results). I'm not quite sure what horribly biased and inaccurate results we're supposed to have, as most of the tests are quite similar to ours. Two sites - HardOCP and FiringSquad - essentially end up as a tie. THG favors the 275, at least at lower resolutions and without 4xAA, but then several of the games they test we didn't use, and vice versa. (The 4970 also beats the 275 there if you run 4xAA 2560x1600.)

    Obviously, we had a lengthy rant on CUDA and PhysX and discussed the usefulness of those features (conclusion: meh), but with all the marketing in that area it was something that was begging to be done. Pricing, availability, and drivers are still areas you need to look at, but it's really a very close race.

    If you have reviews that show very different results than what I'm seeing, post the name of the site rather than making vague claims like, "I've checked all other review sites and in all the GTX275 was winning by a pretty big margin, here it actually looses to the HD4890."
    Reply
  • SkullOne - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    That's different then what I've seen. I dunno what sites you visit but all of the ones I've been to show them just about neck and neck or the 4890 just edging out the 275.

    Personally I give the edge to the 4890 due to it's high overclockability.
    Reply
  • SkullOne - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    That's different then what I've seen. I dunno what sites you visit but all of the ones I've been to show them just about neck and neck or the 4890 just edging out the 275.

    Personally I give the edge to the 4890 due to it's high overclockability.
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    p=2 As we can clearly see, in the cards we *r*ested
    p=11 particles are one of the most difficult things to do on the CPU *thanks*

    Drivers? test table says 8.12 hotfix but we're at 9.3/9.4 now...
    Reply
  • Yojimbo - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    First you say you aren't concerned about the 4890 being a rebadge because at the end of the day it's performance that matters, and then you said the GTX 275 lacks excitement because "we've already seen a 140 shader enabled gpu on a 260 style interface (x2)," whatever the significance of already seeing that is.

    Aren't these contradictory statements?
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Thursday, April 23, 2009 - link

    Of course it's contradictory, it's a red rooster statement. Then the 3m they use to just crank a few more mhz is the rework.. LOL
    Pay homage to the red and hate green and spew accordingly with as many lies as possible or you won't fit in here - been like that for quite some time. Be smug and arrogant about it, too, and never amdit your massive errors - that's how to do it.
    Make sure you whine about nvidia and say you hate them in as many ways as possible, as well - be absolutely insane mostly, that's what works - like screaming they can take down nvidia when the red rooster shop has been losing a billion a year on a billion in sales.
    Be an opposite man.
    Of course it's contradictory. Duhh.. they're insane man - they are GONERS.
    Reply

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