Last night we published our Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 review. In it we made a decision to include a factory overclocked GeForce GTX 460 from EVGA (the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW). For those who aren't aware, NVIDIA has allowed a number of its partners to ship GTX 460s at higher than stock clock speeds. A practice that has been done in the past. The cards are available in retail with full warranties.

A number of you responded in the comments to the article very upset that we included the EVGA card. Even going as far to accuse us of caving to NVIDIA's pressure and demands. Ryan and I both felt it was necessary to address this front and center rather than keep the discussion in the comments.

Let's start with the obvious. NVIDIA is more aggressive than AMD with trying to get review sites to use certain games and even make certain GPU comparisons. When NVIDIA pushes, we push back. You don't ever see that here on AnandTech simply because I don't believe this is the place for it. Both sides (correction, all companies) have done nasty things in the past but you come here to read about products, not behind the scenes politics so we've mostly left it out of our reviews.

NVIDIA called asking for us to include overclocked GTX 460s in the 6800 series article. I responded by saying that our first priority is to get the standard clocked cards tested and that if NVIDIA wanted to change the specs of the GTX 460 and guarantee no lower clocked versions would be sold, we would gladly only test the factory overclocked parts. NVIDIA of course didn't change the 460's clocks and we ended the conversation at that. We gave NVIDIA no impression that we would include the card despite their insistence. The decision to include the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW was made on our own entirely.

We don't like including factory overclocked parts in our reviews for reasons we've already mentioned in the article itself. This wasn't a one off made for the purpose of reviewing only, it's available from online vendors and a valid option from a price comparison. Furthermore it presented us with an interesting circumstance where the overclock was large enough to make a significant impact - the 26% overclock pushed the card to a performance level that by all rights could have (and should have) been a new product entirely.

From my standpoint, having more information never hurts. This simply provides another data point for you to use. We put hefty disclaimers in the article when talking about the EVGA card, but I don't see not including a publicly available product in a review as a bad thing. It's not something we typically do, but in this case the race was close enough that we wanted to cover all of our bases. At the end of the day I believe our conclusion did just that:

At $179 buy the 6850. At $239 buy the 6870 for best performance/power. If you want the best overall performance, buy the GTX 470. However, as long as they are available the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW is a good alternative. You get the same warranty you would on a standard GTX 460, but you do sacrifice power consumption for the performance advantage over the 6870.

We were honestly afraid that if we didn't include at least a representative of the factory overclocked GTX 460s that we would get accused of being too favorable to AMD. As always, this is your site - you ultimately end up deciding how we do things around here. So I'm asking all of you to chime in with your thoughts - how would you like to handle these types of situations in the future? Do we never make exceptions even in the case of a great number of factory overclocked cards being available on the market? Do we keep the overclocked comparison to a single page in the review? Or does it not matter?

And if you're worried about this being tied to financial gain: I'll point out that we are one of the only sites to have a clear separation of advertising and editorial (AnandTech, Inc. doesn't employ a single ad sales person, and our 3rd party sales team has no stake in AT and vice versa). The one guarantee that I offer all of our writers here at AnandTech is you never have to worry about where your paycheck is coming from, just make sure you do the best job possible and that your conclusions are defensible.

If we've disappointed you in our decision to include the EVGA FTW in last night's review, I sincerely apologize. At the end of the day we have to maintain your trust and keep you all happy, no one else. We believed it was the right thing to do but if the overwhelming majority of you feel otherwise, please let us know. You have the ability to shape how we do things in the future so please let us know.

Whether you thought it was an issue or not, we'd love to hear from you. I do appreciate you reading the site and I want to make it better for you in the future.

GP

Take care,
Anand

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  • TheMan876 - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    I really appreciated having the OC'd card in there. These articles are around to help us decide what to buy. I keep my options open to the best performer at the price point I want to pay. The more information the better. Thanks for the article Anand and thanks for informing us even of all this behind the scenes stuff. Reply
  • gorobei - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    keep the main review pages at stock clocks for both competitors. Then on a single page overclock the new card and compare with the factory overclocked competitor. At least that way it is a lemon to lime comparison, instead of apple to orange. Reply
  • MrToan - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    I'm a little surprised that anyone got so bent out of shape about that, you went above and beyond mentioning how unfair having an overclocked card is, nobody could have missed that. I'd say just ignore them, probably fanboys making noise, keep up the good work because thats why we show up here, and I had no problem with it. You saw a potential need and tried to address it before it could be asked for, what more could we want?

    I see a lot of people putting respect down here, not sure if thats the norm, but..

    Respect!
    MrToan
    Reply
  • moretoys - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    The only issue I have is if one overclocked card is included, every card included should be compared overclocked and at standard speeds. And they should be the standard clock cards, not hand picked ones sold over msrp because of binning.
    I would be ok to mention there are binned versions with simlar performance, but these should not be the primary cards in the comparison, it can mislead someone into expecting to buy any 460, overclocking, and getting same perfrmance. (not saying they couldm't, but not a guarentee)
    Now if you had binned cards fom both manufactures, different story.
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    As you say, overclocked versions come and go, and there is often no guarantee that the overclock will be the same. And as you pointed out, the charts will end up being a mess, one version is 10mhz one way or another. So my question is, if you have a policy, why not stick with it? So is this policy still in place or not? It makes your site seem wishy washy and disingenuous to tell the reader why you don't do something, they go right ahead and do it. Especially given that the reason seems to be Nvidia was pushing the overclocked versions "hard".

    My problem is, how do we know that the overclocked cards are not limited time units? Are these speed binned chips and in the future they won't be available? Is there long term reliability issues with these versions? At the very least, I feel these things should be addressed in the reviews.

    So given you had a policy in place not to allow overclocked versions in reviews, my basic question would be, what has changed to make you change your mind? And in fairness, seeing you did allow the higher clocked cards in this review, in the future, you must also allow any overclocked versions. I think you just invited problems for yourself. AMD or Nvidia might ship you an uber clocked, hand picked, limited run card. You won't have any way of knowing if the card will be available for as long as the regular models.
    Reply
  • Quantumboredom - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    While I have nothing in principle against overclocked cards, there are a few things that don't sit well with me in this case.

    1. "As a matter of editorial policy we do not include overclocked cards on general reviews". In this case it seems like you went against your own policy because Nvidia was prodding you and sent you a card. If Nvidia hadn't contacted you, and they hadn't sent you the card, would you have decided to include it on your own? I get the impression the answer is no, but I may be wrong.

    2. Is it realistic for ~25% OC parts to be able to compete in volume against the stock HD68xx cards? I have no idea, but if not then this is just a shitty way to steal AMD's thunder. I guess the coming months will show to what extent the high overclocked cards can keep competing.

    All in all I don't really like the way this case looks, but at least you are upfront about what you are doing.
    Reply
  • Touche - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    I think it was a very bad move and OC'd 460 had no place there. If you want to include OC'd cards, be it factory or not, you should do so in a separate article. In no time, there will be factory OC'd 6800 cards. That will be a good time to compare.

    There were factory OC'd card before, yet this is the first review you chose to include one. By that logic, you could've included all sorts of factory OC'd 4xx and 5xxx cards.

    Even tomshardware handled it better:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-6870...

    This left a really bad taste for many of us. I'm not a fanboy of either company. I own as many Nvidia's cards as ATI's, same with Intel/AMD.
    Reply
  • Bull Dog - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    I personally didn't see a problem. You bent over backward explaining why you did what you did and your reasoning has merit.

    Don't make it a habit, but for one off occasions such as this. I'm ok with it.

    That said: NVIDIA make a higher clocked SKU and get it over with. Backhanded moves like this, only hurts your customers in the end.
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    "Don't make it a habit, but for one off occasions such as this. I'm ok with it."

    That's not a fair way to do reviews. You either always allow them, or never. And seeing it was done once, it has to be allowed from here on in. Either that, or go back and change the review. Although that doesn't really help, the cat is out of the bag.

    What if next time vendor X has a version with a very high overclock. Don't include that because this was a "one off occasion"? That's not a respectable way to do product reviews.
    Reply
  • pillo-kun - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    I dont really understand why people complain about it. If it is out on the market why not include it just to show what to expect of it/similar products. Not everyone is an ocer so if they can buy a preclocked card so why not... thanx for the best hardware site ever, been reading here scince 1999 or somehing :) Reply

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