Why NVIDIA Did It

To understand the motivation behind NVIDIA's naming and renaming and renaming we have to once again look its approach to GPU design. NVIDIA continued to architect very high end GPUs and allow their technology to, over the course of 9 - 12 months, trickle down to mid range and lower end market segments. AMD stepped in and launched a very competitive performance mainstream part instead of a high end GPU, allowing it to windfall down to lower price points and market segments quicker than NVIDIA could for this generation.

Let's attach some code names shall we?

NVIDIA's flagship, the GT200 GPU used in the GTX 295, 285, 280 and 260, isn't available in a cheaper version yet. AMD's flagship, the RV770, is already more affordable and is available in cheaper versions. NVIDIA has to rely on its last generation GPU, the G92b, to compete in the rest of the market while the lower end GT200 derivatives get ready for production. Rather than continue to ship products with old names to vendors and customers, NVIDIA slaps a new name on an old GPU and hopes to at least provide the appearance of being just as agile and competitive as AMD despite being clearly caught off guard this generation.

Of course, NVIDIA has a case to make. This is their current generation of hardware, and it is practical and useful to maintain a consistent nomenclature so that the general public knows what the product positioning actually is. We agree, only our solution is top to bottom launches in line with new GPU architectures rather than simply changing the name of old parts so that they look shiny and new.

NVIDIA's take on this is also flawed in that it treats customers like idiots and underlines the fundamental issue we have. Do I need a card with a new name on it to believe that it is worthy of my purchase, or can I go read reviews comparing the hardware and learn for myself whether or not any card (regardless of the name) fills my need? Maybe this name change is for people who don't know anything about graphics hardware then. In that case the thing that "sells" the card is the simple fact that NVIDIA has convinced someone that this part is an affordable version of a card from their latest line of products. Saying they need a name change to maintain current naming is essentially admitting that the only reason the name needs to be changed is to mislead uninformed people.

NVIDIA would love to have 40nm GT200 derivatives out today. Until that day comes, we'll get cards that sound like GT200 based products.

Anyway, we haven't previously tested a 1GB 9800 GTX+, and until this announcement their prices haven't been anywhere near reasonable (currently they're up at $200, so the $50 price drop will make a big difference). There is also a slight tweak between the GTS 250 1GB and the 9800 GTX+ 1GB: the memory on the 1GB 9800+ was underclocked by about 9.1%, and the GTS 250 1GB brings clock speed back in line with the 512MB 9800 GTX+. So while the 512MB part doesn't perform any different in any way, we should no longer see any performance degradation in games that don't benefit from memory size but are memory bandwidth sensitive from moving up to 1GB.

Oh, also wide availability won't be until March 10th. Seriously.

Also, not explained until now is the way the new naming scheme will go forward. Now, GTX, GTS, GT and G (as far as we can gather) will indicate performance segment. The number will be the model number and within a performance segment, higher is better. Essentially NVIDIA has swapped the meaning of letters and numbers in their naming. They have also clearly told us that naming will no longer be attached to GPU architecture, but that vendors may somehow still indicate architecture on the box if they so choose. If nothing else, the feature list and specifications will be a guide. Here's to requiring that people read the fine print to know what they're buying.

For What it's Worth

Early last week Charlie over at The Inquirer posted a story saying that a number of reviewers were cut out of the GeForce GTS 250 launch. We felt a bit hurt, by the time the story launched we weren't even asked to be briefed about the GTS 250. Cards had already gone out to other reviewers but we weren't on any lists. Oh, pout.

Magically, a couple of days after Charlie's article we got invited to a NVIDIA briefing and we had a GTS 250 to test. Perhaps NVIDIA was simply uncharacteristically late in briefing us about a new GPU launch. Perhaps NVIDIA was afraid we'd point out that it was nothing more than a 9800 GTX+ that ran a little cooler. Or perhaps we haven't been positive enough about CUDA and PhysX and NVIDIA was trying to punish us.

Who knows what went on at NVIDIA prior to the launch, we're here to review the card, but for what it's worth - thank you Charlie :)

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  • mard - Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - link

    just wondering if anybody knew if the Thermalright HR-03 GTX Rev.A
    would be compatible with the GTS250. if not, what would be another passive cooling option for this card

    thanks
    Reply
  • Core Core - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    I'm glad this review was done, it really has given me more data on which card to buy. I hope it is updated with some more focus on people who have my set of concerns, see below...

    I want a newer HD Ready/DX10/Shader4 card, and it has to work in a SFF case. I have only one dual slot and one 2x6 video card power supply, so i want to choose one of the two 1GB cards from ATI/nVidia (250 vs. 4850).

    Low heat & power & noise are very important to me. I also think dual slot exhaust is needed in my case. Currently, i have a very hot, noisy, power hog (ATI's X1900XTX) that i want to replace.

    A nVidia GTS250 or ATI 4850 are in my price range and are roughly double the performance i have now, i am connecting to a very large HD Ready display and i want to watch HD movies, game, and compute without problems.

    Your review did not do the ATI 4850 1GB card or go into any details on High Definition 1080p uses, i would like a comparison and review of HDCP, 1080p, and clarity of displayed text on a HD ready test system.

    I'm a total gamer, i watch heaps of HD anime, as well as compute & web browse.
    Reply
  • cactusdog - Sunday, March 22, 2009 - link


    SiliconDoc, you should see a doctor. Instead of blaming everybody else for Nvidia's poor standing in the eyes of the tech community, maybe you should look at why no one likes them....and your own bullying attitude should give you a clue.

    I've read a lot of "fanboy" comments but you take it to a new level. Psychofanboy would be more appropriate for you.

    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - link

    LOL - At least this fella tells the truth, and yet you admit "your idea is the tech community hates them".
    Believe me, I know EXACTLY why, I've seen it all too often, no need for me to find out, mr cryptic with the EPIC FAIL.
    .
    Well, that leaves the SANE PERSON with the conclusion all the little red haters are LYING SACKS OF FUD AND CRAP, and they are near always blabbing out a lie for unfair red advantage, and THEREFORE - buying the nvidia card is the smart thing to do. The more they hate (with their endless stream of lies), the better the nvidia card really is.
    Now, if you don't have an actual counterpoint to the OTHER posts I've made, that destroyed and exposed the 6 months long plus red rooster fanboy fud parrot lines, why then you just go ahead and respond like you did above - because this one absolutely matches yours - PURE SPECULATION with nary a fact in it - just like you, you idiot.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    The problem is even on all the other computer hardware, a naming scheme NEVER tells the avid consumer which one is really better. Same with CARS. Same with kitchen blenders.
    The REALITY of the product only hits the interested public when word actually gets around...when people buy it, reviewers and Consumer Digest take a stab, Tv commenters blab they have one and it's great or it's in the shop - facebook or myspace spreads the news, someone tweets about it...
    THIS is the reality of our computer age !
    In other words, I'm sure everyone wants an easier way out, and wants it all perfectly suited to absolute fairness - but the FACT REMAINS, on EVERYTHING one purchases, without some information far more extensive than the pretty PR ad box and name gives you - YOU WILL EITHER GET SCREWED OR GET LUCKY. PERIOD.
    If you have a really keen eye and some awesome circus sense, you just might make the right call from sight, smell, cover and wording, and placement on the shelves - but then...
    you'd be a wonderous expert with a special gift that could be put to work for pay.
    Face REALITY.
    Reply
  • earthshaker87 - Monday, March 09, 2009 - link

    My 4850 runs better than what these benchmarks say. I recently tested my card in COD: WaW with FRAPS. Im running XPSP3, C2DE8200 2.66, 2GB Kingston Value RAM, ASUS P5K-SE/EPU, MSI R4850(ref clocks and cooler) and got average FPS of 53.36 on same settings as yours. Could it be that Windows XP is the difference? Reply
  • cbm - Friday, March 06, 2009 - link

    How bout testing this on a system that people actually would own at this point in time. Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - link

    They've said this before; they test on the highest end system they can to try and remove all system limitations so the only difference you're seeing in test results come from the GPU's. Instead of the CPU, RAM or HDD. If they tested GTS250 in SLI on a dual core DDR2 system the GPU would be limited by the system, so you wouldn't get accurate results comparing the cards. These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    In other words, with "our systems" with limited cpu, ram, hd's and motherboards, these results especially at the enourmous resolutions and excessive framerates are really overkill and border on meaningless.
    The are meaningless to a large extent until games catch back up with the gpu's, or people catch up with the test beds and monitors.
    So when they, in these reviews, parse a few percentage framerate difference at the high rezz - on the high end rig, on the expensive 30" monitor, then screed out a winner, they are essentially DELUDED.
    It's a winner "for them" while they are at work, mind numbingly whacking away at the hundreds of runs... the few little frames that they have NO CLUE are any different even at high resolutions weren't it for fraps and the pretty yellow numbers on screen.
    Yes, it's a sad day, huh.
    Then, the raging wackos scream about the 1,2,3 maybe 10% difference on the supposedly "one to one" card comparisons - at resolutions and system powers they can only dream of.
    I think that makes it MORE THAN CLEAR that the added value is much more important - what comes with the card, a game, the adapters, the looks, cuda, physx, folding , video conversion, fan type - heat generation - and very important - drivers and stability.
    Well NVIDIA wins those, hands down (save the bundle in some cases). TWIMTBP - and plenty of reasons WHY.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Saturday, March 21, 2009 - link

    I don't necessarily disagree with anything you said, other than saying the tests are meaningless. But you seem to be block headed and not want to listen so here... repetition yeah:
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.

    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    These articles aren't supposed to show you how the cards will perform in your system, they're just supposed to show yo the difference between the cards.
    Reply

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