NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216: Competition for the 4870by Anand Lal Shimpi & Derek Wilson on September 16, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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We tested seven games. AMD and NVIDIA split it, each winning three of them and virtually tied in the seventh. I hate to disappoint those looking for a one sided fight here, but this one is a wash. NVIDIA would want to point out that CUDA and PhysX are significant advantages that would put the Core 216 over the top but honestly there's no compelling application for either (much like the arguments for Havok and DirectX 10.1 from the AMD camp).
Our recommendation here is to first see if either card happens to run a game you care about better than the other, but if not then just buy whatever is cheaper. Today that would be the Radeon HD 4870, currently it's very tough to find stock-clocked Core 216s and those are priced above $300; even if we could find availability at $279, the 4870 is still cheaper. Until the price comes down, the Radeon HD 4870 still remains our pick at the $250 - $300 pricepoint. While NVIDIA has closed the performance gap, the part they used still maintains a price gap.
NVIDIA says they will have availability on the silicon but that only two manufacturers are going to have parts out of the gate on this, which does give us pause. If the GTX 260 had been originally released with 9 TPCs (216 SPs), then it would have been a better competitor to the Radeon HD 4870 and we wouldn't need this slight tweak of a readjusted part. It doesn't generally deliver near it's 12.5% maximum theoretical performance improvement, and really seems like its only a thinly attempt to win at a couple more benchmarks than usual.
Yes it does that, and yes the consumer does benefit even if the benefit is ever so slight. But what none of us benefit from is an over abundance of parts released at nearly the same price point with nearly the same name and nearly the same specs. NVIDIA really needs to stop this trend. ATI tried this a few generations ago, but thankfully (at least since the AMD merger) they seem to have cleaned up their act a bit. There is no reason to have a continuum of hardware with increasingly complex naming as the gaps between parts are filled in.
What we need is less confusion in the market place and a focus on fairly pricing competitive hardware. Trying to get around supply and demand by cluttering up the market with different parts that have similar names and slightly different pricing isn't a consumer friendly way to go.