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

  • helldrell666 - Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - link

    Stick that fudzilla bench up in your.....
    Fudzilla is the number one nvidia troll site.Put aside, the fugglier nvidia sponored sites, like Hardocp, neoseeker, Driverheaven, Bjorn3d.................And you go on.

    Your one ugly fugly creataure.
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - link

    helldrell666 - then here's another long set of wins for the GTX275 against the 4890 - you can go tell johnjames on pg. 29 to stick all of them up his... since you're so "red" with embarrassment...












    There you go - now I'm sure every one of those sights is filled with green bias, huh , the worst kind...
  • mav3rick - Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - link

    ehehe.. he goes around name calling almost everyone a red rooster.. wonder if he sees himself as the green goblin? :D

    jokes aside.. seriously, why limit yourselves to just one camp?? why be fanboys? just get whatever card which give the most bang for your budget and also your needs. i started out with a Matrox G200 (eheh.. you can basically guess how 'young' i am). This was followed by the NVidia GeForce2 MX. The next upgrade was the Radeon 9500.. plus.. managed to unlock the 4 pipelines to make it the legendary 9700.. what more can you ask for. next came the X1800GTO, again managing to unlock 4 disabled pipelines and it became X1800XL. and before silicondoc calls me a red rooster.. lolz.. my current card is the 8800GT. real great buy with it oc capabilities and longevity..

    currently with the flurry of releases, i'm targeting either the GTX 260+ or the 1GB 4870 as i only have a 22" flat screen. Performance between both cards are comparable. the difference of a few framerates are barely noticeable.. so its down to pricing. Waiting now to see if there are any further reductions :p As for PhysX, it doesnt seem to have really taken off yet.. game developers are not stupid. if they wanna sell more copies, they will have to make sure it works on as many cards as possible.
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, April 24, 2009 - link

    Green Goblin, ahh... many that is ugly...
    Now, one problem with what you said - you definitely should note I don't call everyone a red rooster - just the liars - there are quite a few posts here that make fine points for ati that aren't steeped in bs up to their necks and over their heads.
    You should also note I make the proper POINTS when I post, that prove what is and has been said by this brainwashed crew of red rooster just isn't the truth, period.
    See that's the problem -
    I certainly don't mind one bit if the truth is told, but if you have to lie so often to keep your favorite looking good, well, that's just stupidity besides being dishonest.
    I've made quite a few points the in the box cluckers cannot effectively, fairly, or honestly counter - and the months and months of brainwashing won't unwind right away - but at least it's going into their noggins, and will eat away at the lies, little by little the small voice inside will spank their inner red stepchild into shape.
    Hey, I'm a helpful person. Reality should win.
  • tamalero - Thursday, April 9, 2009 - link

    dont forget the X800GTO2 that could unlock extra pipes to become X850XT
  • Jamahl - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    Oh wait lol no they aren't. If they were they wouldn't have a failing chipset side of their business and revenues down from 1.2bn to 480m in the last quarter.

    They don't have an x86 licence and intel are suing them. How bad do you have to be for intel to sue lol. Oh yeah, on intel - that reminds me, who was it that took the playstation away from Nvidia again? Seeing as we're talking about consoles now, how about we talk about the 50 million wii's sold with ATI graphics inside?

    Fusion is the party of the future and Nvidia aren't invited. To sum up, this desperate little company is going down the tubes and taking all of its clueless fanbois with it. It will be great in the near future when you are all forced to game on ATI graphics lol.
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    January 2008 - and perhaps as bad or worse since then.
    " Without the charge, AMD came close to breaking even in the quarter, listing an operating loss of $9 million. Revenue for Q4 was $1.77 billion, up 8% sequentially and virtually flat compared to Q4 2006. The ATI write-down resulted in a total loss of $3.38 billion for the year, with total non-cash charges adding up to $2.0 billion. 2007 sales were $6.0 billion, up 6$ from 2006. "
    That looks like ATI writedown was 3.38 billion - gee, 2 billion loss for one year.
    Oh well, they can crush nvidia with their tiny core vs nvidia's big core by dropping prices, right ?
    Thanks for nothing but lies, red roosters.
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    Oh and let's not forget the Dubai ownership portion of ati/amd.
    Not trusted for US ports by the American people, but fanboys love it anyway.
  • helldrell666 - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    Yes, whether you believe me or not, it's true.I had had much more driver problems with my 8800gtx than what i have had with my current 4870.

    As for the arabs, they don't own the company.AMD just bought part of it's manufacturing business to the arabic company,ALMUBSDALA.
    And to be more specific, AMD decided to share it's manufacturing business with another "foregin" company because it can't afford the manufacturing costs.

    I don't see anything wrong with that.But in case you don't know, i have to give you some informations about who owns what.
    Did you know that 2 russian "jewish" billionaires, "Naoom Birizofski and Jacob Trotski", own 79% of INTELs shares.

    Did you know that JEWs own all the major technological companies in the WEST. From IBM, Ford, Boeing, Le Stabrolle, Shell..........to ADIDAS, Mercedes, OPEL, NPD Petrochemicals ......

    Put aside the US Media, that is totally owned and controled by jewish businessmen..

    The whole western civilization in it's all glory is getting purchased by jews.So if you think that those Arabs will/have any kind of effect on anything, then your wrong.
    AMD was in big trouble and no other company offered any kind of help.AMD simply wasn't able to keep both it's manufacturing and designing business and make a revenue.
    Now, with their manufacturing business is getting fixed and grown, the company is definitely in a better state.As you know, or maybe don't, the global foundaries is expanding now by building two other fabs in NY and Malta.Beside, they fixed and did a lot to AMDs to fabs in Germany. so what AMd has done is establishing a new manufacturing
    entity, that will provide thousands of jobs for those great minds in both Europe and USA, and will compete efficiently with those Taiwanese manufacturing companies.

    But you, with your stupid little brain, can't recognize all that.you think that your nvidia, that small little company with it's 5000 workers, is more important than anything else.

    What about competition?
    What about innovation?
    what about prices? Are you aware of what the state of the prices of gpu, cpus... or any other products would become without competition?

  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - link

    Here's the other thing, no matter how much you give your opinion on amd/ati, ati lost them billions, and nvidia, even though you pretend otherwise, actually "puts to work" more people than ati making and selling their gpu's, even if they don't have some holding corporation monster over the top of them, bleeding billions as well.
    So, you went into your love for amd, and I guess your love for ati, which according to you "saved the loser" called amd. Like I said, you're more fanboy than one could initially have surmised, and your bias is still bleeding out like mad, not to mention the crazy conspiracy talk.

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