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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  • johnjames - Monday, May 18, 2009 - link

    I don't get it, I started reading this review and decided to get a 4890, then I read the following reviews:


    [url]http://www.driverheaven.net/reviews.php?reviewid=7...[/url]
    [url]http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/graphics/2009/04/...[/url]
    [url]http://www.bjorn3d.com/read.php?cID=1539&pageI...[/url]
    [url]http://www.dailytech.com/422009+Daily+Hardware+Rev...[/url]
    [url]http://www.guru3d.com/article/geforce-gtx-275-revi...[/url]
    [url]http://www.legitreviews.com/article/944/15/[/url]
    [url]http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/nvidia_3d_...[/url]
    [url]http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canu...[/url]
    [url]http://hothardware.com/Articles/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX...[/url]
    [url]http://www.engadget.com/2009/04/02/nvidia-gtx-275-...[/url]
    [url]http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/nvidia_gtx...[/url]
    [url]http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=684&type=...[/url]

    And they all state the GTX 275 gives a lot more fps in all games bar Grid.
    Reply
  • genetix - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    This is actually really funny you mention multiple sites. Since it's pretty hard to find an site these days which actually doesn't review/preview without sponsors. Meaning lean to one side to other is pretty simplistic just need to review right games and voila either can win. Lol, looking ATI videos damn those are so well selected that damn.

    We are definedly getting back to 80s where games where made to GPU. Not to all. The funny thing is even our so trusted Benchmarks like any Futuremark production fakes the results of GPUs. Their so called ORB is pretty far from reality what the hardware is really capable.
    Reply
  • Asianman - Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - link

    most of those use either NV biased games or most likely didn't upgrade the 4890's drivers. All reviews show that 4890 loses its initial advantage at higher resolutions, and the fact that it is now much cheaper. Take your pick, you'd get good value either way. Reply
  • Patrick Wolf - Sunday, August 02, 2009 - link

    Well the 4890 isn't exactly kicking the 275's butt here.

    Let me break it down:
    Age of Conan: 0-3 fps difference. It's a wash
    CoD: WaW: 275 is at or above 60 fps on all resolutions, beats 4890 at 2560. 275 wins.
    Crysis Warhead: 0-2 fps difference. It's a wash.
    Fallout 3: 4890 wins.
    Far Cry 2: 0-2 fps difference. It's a wash.
    Left 4 Dead: Again, 275 is at or above 60 fps on all resolutions, beats 4890 at 2560. 275 wins.
    Grid: 4890 wins.

    That's 2 for nvidia, 2 for ATI. And on COD, Crysis, Far Cry, and L4D the 4890 wins at 1680 and 1920, then at 2560 the 275 suddenly pulls ahead? That's supposed to make sense? Not to mention both drivers used were beta. And the 185.65 drivers have been pulled from nvidia's archives.
    Reply
  • pinguw - Friday, April 17, 2009 - link

    yes, you said the one that is getting the benefit are the end user, but I think you have a short vision, because when things getting cheapper means we have more chance to get lower quality product. for example, the GTX260 that I bought several month a go, I can see that the image was worse than the 8800GTS that I had 2 years. At beggining I thought it was a defect so I changed other one and other brand and had the same result. so I say, instead of fighting for price, why dont they just make a better product?? lowering the price would just get our product worse and worse, like most of the product sold in US are now made in China... and then everybody are complaining about the product is bad... that is poisoned etc, what a joke what do you expect when the price go down? the answer is easy to get right? So I would suggest you stopping saing the one is getting the benefit are the users, what a brainless comment
    Reply
  • joeysfb - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    Something is not right here, are you linking the lowering of product quality to ficere competition???

    That's why people read reviews, comments from Neweggs, Amazons... to find out the user experience before buying a desired product...

    Almost everythings is made in china now...like it or not.
    Reply
  • 8KCABrett - Thursday, April 16, 2009 - link

    Those of us that buy the latest hardware to fly our flight sims have been pretty much left to using the outdated Tom's Hardware charts (which still show the 8800GTS being the fastest card around). I would love to know how the Q9650s and i7s are doing in FSX since the service packs, and it would be great to learn if the GTX 260/280s and now the refreshes are still slower than an 8800GTS in those sims. . .not to mention the abysmal performance of ATI cards! Has anyone found such a review anywhere?


    Reply
  • joeysfb - Friday, April 17, 2009 - link

    just stick to 8800GTS then (money saved)... besides there not many sim titles these days. Reply
  • BikeDude - Friday, April 17, 2009 - link

    Stick with the 8800GTS?

    I do not think you realize the problem. A year ago, FSX ate all the hardware you could throw at it.

    FSX is a very difficult animal to feed.

    It loves fast CPUs, but it also needs a fast GPU. Unfortunately, as was pointed out, there exists few recent comparisons. It is not easy figuring out the correct hw balance for FSX, since few includes it in a review.

    Comparing dozens of FPS games is pointless. They perform similar. There are some small differences, but to evaluate a given card, you don't have to review that many games. FSX however poses some unique challenges, and deserves some attention.

    Oh... I'd also like to know which of these cards will play nicely with HD video.
    Reply
  • 8KCABrett - Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - link

    Well, every now and then I like to have a little shooter fun, and the GTS is certainly lagging behind in the new titles.

    I'm currently beta testing a new sim and it really utilizes the GPU which is nice to see, but my 8800GTS limits me quite a lot, and it's also nicely multi-threaded. I decided it's time to update my system, and really have nothing to guide me. Is ATI still really weak in sims? Have the GTX 280s gotten any better with the recent drivers? What about SP2 in FSX? I just don't have any source of this info, and I've looked everywhere for a legit source.

    I've got a GTX 285 on the way and will just end up doing my own testing since that's apparently the only way to get the info.

    There are hundreds of review sites out there posting these same four or five titles in their benchmarks and not a single one that includes any of the flight sims, even the new releases. I know sims are a niche market, but flight simmers are left to test for themselves, and they use what is perhaps one of the more demanding titles out there! My complaint isn't directed at Anandtech per se, I favor this site and have seen and appreciated the helpfulness of Gary Key time and again, especially over at the Abit forums, I just wish that Anandtech could employ their testing discipline in titles that really do need a legit place to evaluate them. It could really be a benefit to many people that really aren't catered to at all currently.

    OK. . .back to lurking.
    Reply

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