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 - Monday, April 6, 2009 - link

    So he just told you why he's gettting NVidia, and the little red fanboy in you couldn't stand it. You recommend taking steps that void the warranty, but why should you care - then you blabber about a 4850, but he already noted the 260 - and finally you let the last word in you could barely bring your red rooster self to say GTS250 - as in you might as well get it.... if you have to - 'cept he was already looking above that.
    You red ragers just have to spew about your crap card to people who already seemingly decided they don't want it. Why is that ?
    You gonna offer him red cuda, red physx, red vreveal, red badaboom, red forced game profiles, red forced dual gpu ? ANY OF THAT ?
    NO -
    you tell him to HACK a red piece of crap to make it reasonable. LOL
    What a shame.
    Hey, maybe he can hack the buzzing fan on it , too ?
  • helldrell666 - Monday, April 6, 2009 - link

    What the hell are you talking about?
    Im not a fan boy of any of those big companies that don't give a shit about me.
    I have used both nvidia and ATI, and both produce great graphics cards.

    I had a 8800gtx before my current 4870, and i had and athlon x2 6400+ before my current core i7 920.I go with whoever has the product with the best price.

  • SiliconDoc - Monday, April 6, 2009 - link

    No, you are a fanboy and you are exposed. Deal with it. Reply
  • helldrell666 - Monday, April 6, 2009 - link

    It's you, who the fanboy is.You're trying hard to show the advantages of nvidia cards over the ATI cards, and guess what, you fail.

    And i don't give a rat ass about CUDA.Im a gamer, and what matters to me is the card's gaming performance and the features that enhance my my gaming experience "which is what 99.9% of who buy those cards care for", Like physx, which is a true con for nvidia cards.But physx isn't supported on most games, and the physx effects that nvidia is trying to promote can be easily processed on a decent sub 300$ cpu by enahncing the on cpu physx performance via a driver/software that could utilize all cpu cores and utiliz the cpu processing power in a better way.

    Ohh wait.ATI has DX10.1 and tessellation which nvidia doesn't have, and thanks to your nvidia, we didn't get much games that support
    DX10.1, and we didn't get any game that supports tessellation which is a geometry accelerating technique that can accelerate geometry processing by up to 4 times using the same amount of floating points aka. processing power.If tessellation, which is included in ATI cards APIs since the Hd2000 series days, was used in those demanding games like crysis and stalker, we would've been able to play them using sub 300$ graphics solutions.Put aside the DX10.1 features like the aa enhancement.....and the GRS color detector that allows the gpu to use more accurate color degree for a texel using a more advanced texturing algorithm compared to the tri/bi-linear buffering teqnique used in nvidia's illegal uncompleted DX10 API.

  • SiliconDoc - Monday, April 6, 2009 - link

    rofl - the long list of your imaginary hatreds against nvidia - you FREAK fanboy.
    The problem being, that just like some lying retard, you blame ati's epic failure with tessalation on who ? ROFL NVIDIA.
    Sorry bub, you're another one who is INSANE.
    You won't face what IS - you want something that isn't - wasn't - or won't be - so keep on WHINING forever, looney tuner.
    In the mean time, nvidia users outnumber you, enjoy the large amount of added benefits, and don't have a 2 billion dollar loss hanging over their heads - with a company that might collapse in bankruptcy - and lose support of the already problematci drivers.
    You bought the wrong thing, now you have a hundred could be would be if and an's and garbage can complaints that have nothing to do with reality and how it actually is.
    Fantasy red rooster fanboy.
    LOL - it's amazing.
  • helldrell666 - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    Freak fanboy......? Hatred....? Are you serious...or ....?

    I don't hate any company because i have no reason to.I blame nvidia for not allowing those few developed games companies to include those great features in these very few modern demanding games.
    Accelerating physx processing using the gpu is a great idea, but is it worth it?
    Is the cpu realy unable to keep up with the gpu in games due to it's slow physx processing ability?
    Are those primitive physx effects realy that heavy n a modern quad core cpu?
    These are questions that you should ask yourself before trolling for the idea.

    And i have to remind you that ATI has coded Havok physx effects in
    OPEN-CL programming language, which in case you don't know, is standard langauage compared to nvidia CUDA, which is based on some kind of c programming codes.

    Talking about the drivers, i haven't had problems with my 4870 on MY Vista 64bit OS, compared to my old 8800gtx that almost brought me a heart attack.

    As for your beloved nvidia, we need nvidia as much as we need AMD and INTEL to keep the competetition alive, which in its turn will keep innovations going and adjust the prices.

    Ohh... and thanx to the red camp, we can get a decent graphics card for less than 300$.so have some respect for them.

    as for you, i wonder how old you are, cuz you don't seem to have a mature logic.
  • tamalero - Monday, April 20, 2009 - link

    dont worry, this guy clearly as mental issues, a nvidia paid troll. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    Yeah, sure. Just like any red rooster, you never had a problem with ati drivers, but nvidia drove you nearly to a heart attack, but I have problems with logic or detecting a red rooster fanboy blabberer ! ROFL
    Dude, you keep digging your own hole deeper.
    Then you try the immature assault - another losing proposition.
    YOU'RE WHINING about nvidia and yeah, you do blame them, and after going on like a lunatic about wanting offload to the cpu, you admit it might not work - yes I read your asinine quadcore offload blabberings, too, and your bloody ragging about nvidia "not letting" your insane fantasy occur - purportedly to advantage ati (not like you're banking on intel graphics).
    So red rooster, keep crowing, and never face the reality that is, and carry that chip for all your imiginary grievances of what should be or, what you say could have been.
    In the mean time, know you are marked, and I know who and what you are, and I'm sure you'll have further whining and wailing about what nvidia did or didn't do for ati. LOL
    Logic ? ROFLMAO
    " I, almost had a heart attack " said the sissy. lol " But I'm an objective person with logic ". roflmao
  • Jamahl - Monday, April 6, 2009 - link

    Wow what a stunning pile of crap i've just read.

    ATI's can fold, guess what it's downloaded via CCC.

    ATI has open source cloth physx, stream and avivo which pisses all over that trash nvidia call 'purevideo' or whatever.

    But best of all, you can ACTUALLY BUY A 4890 whereas the 275 only exists in the Nvidia fanbois tiny little green with envy minds.
  • The0ne - Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - link

    If you haven't noticed, SiliconDoc is basically ignored in all his responses. Be wise and do that same. He'll eventually kill himself :) Reply

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