The Cards and The Test

In the AMD department, we received two cards. One was an overclocked part from HIS and the other was a stock clocked part from ASUS. Guess which one AMD sent us for the review. No, it's no problem, we're used to it. This is what happens when we get cards from NVIDIA all the time. They argue and argue for the inclusion of overclocked numbers in GPU reviews when it's their GPU we're looking at. Of course when the tables are turned so are the opinions. We sincerely appreciate ASUS sending us this card and we used it for our tests in this article. The original intent of trying to get a hold of two cards was to run CrossFire numbers, but we only have one GTX 275 and we would prefer to wait until we can compare the two to get into that angle.

The ASUS card also includes a utility called Voltage Tweaker that allows gamers to increase some voltages on their hardware to help improve overclocking. We didn't have the chance to play with the feature ourselves, but more control is always a nice feature to have.

For the Radeon HD 4890 our hardware specs are pretty simple. Take a 4870 1GB and overclock it. Crank the core up 100 MHz to 850 MHz and the memory clock up 75 MHz to 975 MHz. That's the Radeon HD 4890 in a nutshell. However, to reach these clock levels, AMD revised the core by adding decoupling capacitors, new timing algorithms, and altered the ASIC power distribution for enhanced operation.  These slight changes increased the transistor count from 956M to 959M. Otherwise, the core features/specifications (texture units, ROPs, z/stencil) remain the same as the HD4850/HD4870 series.

Most vendors will also be selling overclocked variants that run the core at 900 MHz. AMD would like to treat these overclocked parts like they are a separate entity altogether. But we will continue to treat these parts as enhancements of the stock version whether they come from NVIDIA or AMD. In our eyes, the difference between, say, an XFX GTX 275 and an XFX GTX 275 XXX is XFX's call; the latter is their part enhancing the stock version. We aren't going to look at the XFX 4890 and the XFX 4890 XXX any differently. In doing reviews of vendor's cards, we'll consider overclocked performance closely, but for a GPU launch, we will be focusing on the baseline version of the card.

On the NVIDIA side, we received a reference version of the GTX 275. It looks similar to the design of the other GT200 based hardware.

Under the hood here is the same setup as half of a GTX 295 but with higher clock speeds. That means that the GTX 275 has the memory amount and bandwidth of the GTX 260 (448-bit wide bus), but the shader count of the GTX 280 (240 SPs). On top of that, the GTX 275 posts clock speeds closer to the GTX 285 than the GTX 280. Core clock is up 31 MHz from a GTX 280 to 633 MHz, shader clock is up 108 MHz to 1404 MHz, and memory clock is also up 108 MHz to 2322. Which means that in shader limited cases we should see performance closer to the GTX 285 and in bandwicth limited cases we'll still be faster than the GTX 216 because of the clock speed boost across the board.

Rather than just an overclock of a pre-existing card, this is a blending of two configurations combined with an overclock from the two configurations from which it was born. And sure, it's also half a GTX 295, and that is convenient for NVIDIA. It's not just that it's different, it's that this setup should have a lot to offer especially in games that aren't bandwidth limited.

That wraps it up for the cards we're focusing on today. Here's our test system, which is the same as for our GTS 250 article except for the addition of a couple drivers.

The Test

Test Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-965 3.2GHz
Motherboard ASUS Rampage II Extreme X58
Video Cards ATI Radeon HD 4890
ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
ATI Radeon HD 4850
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 core 216
Video Drivers Catalyst 8.12 hotfix, 9.4 Beta for HD 4890
ForceWare 185.65
Hard Drive Intel X25-M 80GB SSD
RAM 6 x 1GB DDR3-1066 7-7-7-20
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
PSU PC Power & Cooling Turbo Cool 1200W
New Drivers From NVIDIA Change The Landscape The New $250 Price Point: Radeon HD 4890 vs. GeForce GTX 275


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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