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


View All Comments

  • lk7900 - Monday, April 27, 2009 - link

    Can you please die? Prefearbly by getting crushed to death, or by getting your face cut to shreds with a

    I hope that you get curb-stomped, f ucking retard

    Shut the *beep* up f aggot, before you get your face bashed in and cut
    to ribbons, and your throat slit.


    I wish you a truly painful, bloody, gory, and agonizing death, *beep*
  • joeysfb - Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - link

    Hahaha! An eye for an eye. Guess the table has turned. AMD used to be in a needy position... taking it from left..right..center and back from players like Nvidia. Reply
  • joeysfb - Monday, April 13, 2009 - link

    Good job AnandTech!!, really like your behind the scene commentary. Reply
  • araczynski - Saturday, April 11, 2009 - link

    so far my overclocked 4850 crossfire setup has been keeping me happy, i'll come back into the market when the 5000 series rolls out and i upgrade my rig in general. Reply
  • ChemicalAffinity - Thursday, April 9, 2009 - link

    Can someone ban this guy? I mean seriously. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, April 24, 2009 - link

    Are you on drugs, is that why you don't understand or have a single counterpoint ?
    Come on, come up with at least one that refutes my endless stream of corrections to the lies you've lived with for months.
    No ?
    Ban the truth instead ?
    Yeah, that wouldn't help you.
  • Ananke - Thursday, April 9, 2009 - link

    I had 4850, 4870-1Gb, 260-216 and 280-Overclocked. Ran on 24" 1900*1200 - Crysis and Warhead, FarCry2, GTA4, Stalker ....whatever else you can imagnine...

    My experience:

    Radeons are hot and noisier. You HAVE to increase the fan speed and it is audible. Image quality in games is very good though. Especially Crysis was better looking with the Radeons. Bullet tracing and sunshine effects were spectacular...GTX 280 on max everything in Crysis was also very beautiful. However that card gets HOT, so you would be better off with 285. I didn't like the image quality of Radeons in movies , but maybe my settings were not good. 4850 is definitely not the money, too hot for my test.

    So, 4870 or 4890 1 Gb is definitely worth buying, performance is on par with 285 on 1900*1200 - Crysis was 27-41 FPS with standart Radeon 4870, and 31-45 with 280 OC 615 MHz.

    IF 285 price is $250, that would be the best buy. If it costs more is NOT worth the money, unless you really want bigger and quiter card. Performance wise is the same as Radeon 4890, which now costs 229 and can be overclocked. I did overclock the GTX280 and 285, which doesnt show any performance change, I guess they are constrained by memory bandwidth?

    So, honestly, for the money Radeon 4890 for $229 is the better choice. IF you find 4870 1Gb for $169 is worth considering also. The 896MB on the Nvidias is a constraint, I would not reccomend anything but 285, but that is expensive.

  • Truenofan - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    woops. i meant arctic cooling S1 Rev2. Reply
  • Truenofan - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    i don't get whats going on with silicon. but i enjoy my 4870. it works best at my resolution(1920x1200) and it costed less than the 275 with the ac-1. runs very chilly(45C idle 57C load oc'ed). i dont need phys-x or an application to do video encoding that costs extra adding to the total cost of the video card. gaming is its sole purpose to me and it does that extremely well.

    180 + 80 dollars for the video applications costs more than what my 4870 ran me and it completely outclasses at stock speeds it let alone a 275(260) or 280(270) which mine still costed less than. now you can get a 4870 for what the 260 runs. wheres the logic in that? just so you can run a few games with physx that aren't even that good? to do some video encoding? i'll stick with my lower cost 4870.
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    I see, now your 4870 completely outclasses even the 280. LOL
    Your 4870 is matched with the 260, not the 275, and not the 280.
    You don't have anything but another set of lies, so it's not something about you determining "my problem", or you "not knowing what it is", but it is rather the obvious lies required for you to "express your opinion". Maybe you should read my responses for the 20 some pages, and tell me why any of the 20 plus solid points that destroy the lies of the reds, are incorrect ? You think you might try it ? I mean we have a lot more than just YOUR OPINION,, false as you presented it, to determine, what is correct. For instance:
    Now, not even your 4870 overclocked XXX can beat the GTX260 GLH. In your MIND, though, it does, huh....? lol
    Too bad, for you. I, unlike you, know what your problem is, and that is exactly what should bother you, about me.

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