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

  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    Hey, you're the one with the lies and the cover-ups for ATI, and now the anti-semitic conspiracy theories.
    Even with all the spewing you've got going there, you couldn't just say " ati is really the one who lost money, not nvidia with the GT200".
    Oh well, it's more important to spread FUD and now, conspiracy against "Jews".
    Amazing. I had no idea the rabbit hole goes that deeply. rofl
  • helldrell666 - Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - link

    Check for yourself.It's not a conspiracy, these are facts.
    In fact, the 4800 series cards are the most successful generations of cards ATI ever produced.The 4890 that measures about half the size of the gtx285, beats the later in most games at full HD resolutions.

    Btw, where are you from?
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, April 24, 2009 - link

    I guess you forgot about the pci mach64, and dummy there in between doesn't have a clue what that is.
    Let's see, another lie you told - ati is huge blah blah blah nvidia only 5,000 jobs...
    3 billion, 4 billion 3.5 billion SALES WITH PROFITS !
    VERY BAD NUMBERS FOR AMD (ati only being a portion far less than half)

    Now tell me about employment or jobs ? Is that in the communist inflation reprint economy that costs us taxpayers trillions - the fantasy world where CONSTANT billion dollar losses on just a billion dollar company is "sustainable" ?

    But in your inaginary world filled with HATRED and LIES, it's just the opposite... isn't it.
    How pathetic.

  • tamalero - Thursday, April 9, 2009 - link

    I dont know, the 9700-9800 from ATI were amazing as well. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    You cite "the last quarter", but of course only a fool would use that as a future indicator concerning quality and viability of the company. It's another pathetic attempt, fella. Global downturn means nothing to you, and you FAILED to cite the ati numbers, the two quarters in question, so you really have no point. You must have been afraid to tell the truth ?
    If Nvidia has one low quarter in the midst of massive global downturn, while ati had at least 9 quarters where they suffered losses in a row, who is really in danger of playing on the "competitors" chip ?
    You see, that's WHY the ati red roosters had to SCREAM endlessly about nvidia's GT200 die size - because THE WHOLE TIME BEHIND THE SCENES OF THEIR FLAPPING RED ROOSTER BEAKS - THEIR BELOEVED ATI WAS LOSING BILLIONS....
    See bub, that's what has been going on for far too long.
    It's really sad and sick, that people can't be HONEST.
    All the red roosters had to do was say " hey buy ati, they're in financial trouble and have been, we all want competition to continue so let's pitch in, because the brands are about equivalent. "
    See, that would have been honest and respectable and manly.
    Instead the raging red roosters lied and covered up and FALSELY ACCUSED their competition of imaginary losses while their little toy was bleeding half to death - like little lying brats, they couldn't help but spew in the midst of IMMENSE BILLION DOLLAR losses for ati, how the gt200 was "hurting nvidia" and how "ati could crsuh them" with PRICE DROPS -. lol - man alive i'm telling you - all those know it all red rooster jerks - it was and is still amazing.
    That's fine, just be aware that it --- has been pathetic behavior.
  • Jamahl - Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - link

    Actually, you were the one throwing around $billion losses and FAILED to mention Nvidia's own horrible financial situation. Did you say anything about the global downturn while ranting like a fanatic on AMD's losses?

    What was it you were saying about HONESTY again? Yes, in caps.

    Nvidia hasn't had one low quarter - they've lost 2/3rds of their share value in a year. That doesn't happen in one quarter, same as it didn't happen to AMD in one quarter either.

    Nvidia are a horrible little company who hold back progress, and more and more people are wising up to their methods. Articles like this on Anand show what they are like. Nvidia CANNOT COMPETE with ATI on performance so instead they bribe with more cash than ATI use on R&D, and those that don't accept the bribes get cajoled or threatened instead.

    All the while sad sycophants like you are banging on about PhysX and cuda as if they make a difference to anyone. What does make a difference is their pathetic rebadging of ancient tech, catching out the people who don't know any better.


    That just proves how far ahead the r700 is vs the g200b. ATI put money in research in order to improve the experience, while Nvidia put money into bribes in an attempt to hold onto whatever slender lead they have. It's only a financial lead, in tech terms ATI are a country mile ahead and only the worst Nvidia fanboi cant see that.

  • SiliconDoc - Friday, April 24, 2009 - link

    " That just proves how far ahead the r700 is vs the g200b."
    That rv700 can't compete AT ALL with the GT200 UNLESS it has DDR5 on it.
    That is a FACT. That is REALITY.
    Without DDR5 it is the full core 4850 that competes with the "old technology" at the DDR3 level on both cards, the 4850 and the 9800 series and flavors.
    That's the truth, YOU LIAR.
    Case closed, no takebacks, no uncrossing your fingers, no removing your red raging horns - like - forever.
    The r700 CAANOT COMPETE WITH THE GT200 - unless DDR5 is added as an advantage for the r700 which actually competes with the g80/g92/g92b.
    NOW, if you screamed and schreeched DDR5 is awesome and ati rocks because they used it, I wouldn't disagree or call you the liar you are.
    Got it son ?
    Figure it out, or go take a college class in logic, and skip the communist training if you possibly can. Might get an estrogen emotion reduction as well while you're at it.
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, April 24, 2009 - link

    Check the five year stock charts before you keep lying, and then as far as your idiotic rant about nvidia, it just goes to show there is no such thing as a fair performance comparison from you people, you will lie your red rooster rooter butts off because you have a big twisted insane hatred for Nvidia, based upon some communist like rage that profit is a sin, and money in the industry is BAD, except PEOPLE get paid with all that money you claim NV throws around. lol
    Dude, you're a red rooster rager, look in the mirror and face it, snce you can't face the facts otherwise. Embrace it, and own it.
    Don't be a liar, instead - or rather if all you're going to do is lie, at least admit it - you're body painted red, no matter what.
    The really serious issue is ati has a really bad continuous loss, and might go under.
    However, I can understand you communist like raging red roosters screaming for more price drops as you declare the much better off financially NVidia the one "to be destroyed", and demand more price drops, as you scream "profiteering".
    Well, the basic fact is plain and apparent, ati had to lose 2 billion dollars to provide their competitive price, and ati purchasers are sitting on that loss, their gain, huh.
    Like I said, if Obama and co. give ati/amd a couple billion in everyones taxes, it might work out ok, otherwise bankruptcy is looming - or some massive new investor relations are required.
    Either way, you people don't tell the truth, and that of course is the point, over and over again.
  • JNo - Saturday, April 4, 2009 - link

    Well having trawled through all 16 pages of comments I have to say that as much as power & temp benches, I really want NOISE benchmarks. Yes power usually comes at the expense of noise and although I'm primarily a gamer, I hate fan noise too.

    I happen to have a 8800GT which was great value when it first came out but it becomes a whirlwind in most games and it drives me crazy, breaks the immersion and only in ear headphones help.

    When the scores are this close, I err on the side of silence and (from other sites) it sounds like the GTX275 is noticably quieter than the 4890 under load.

    Also, the GTX275 may suck up more juice under load but it is also the same amount more economical when idle and as I spend way less than 50% of my computer time gaming, that is much more useful to me...

    Agree that PhysX is overhyped promises at the moment. So, for sound and power efficiency, I think the GTX275 just sways the vote *for me*. And it can overclock a bit even if the impression I'm getting is not quite as much as the 4890.

    Then again, here in the UK the prices are different. The new parts are £200+ and that's 33% more than the GTX260 55nm core216 which can be had for only £150 now and is only a little less powerful than the GTX275 and will surely last fine till the DX11 parts come out... choices... choices...
  • helldrell666 - Saturday, April 4, 2009 - link

    You can edit your vga bios using the radeon bios editor v1.12, which is the one im using now on my 4870, and adjust the frequencies in different modes.By downlcocking your radeon card in idle mode, you can get it operate properly in idle mode without sucking so much power.you can use ATI tray tools also for the same purpose.

    As for the noise, i definitely recommend you to wait a little bit until the non-reference cards get released.

    According to some sites, AMD is going to release its DX11 cards in Q3 this year, so if your planning to upgrade, you'd better consider waiting a little bit and get a far better card than the current available ones.

    From my personal experience, a 4870 1gig is more than enough to play most current games at 24" resolutions with all the setts on their highest including the eye candy.......except for Crysis and Stalker clear sky....If you have a smaller monitor than mine, than you might as well consider a 4850 or a gts250....


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