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 07, 2009 - link

    Another red rooster who cannot argue with the facts and the truth, and doesn't want them known.
    Perhaps you'd notice, I didn't comment right away when the STORIED review came out, you FOOL.
    I came days later, and made my comments after you had your bs fest of lies, so I don't expect a lot of responders, you DUMMY.
    But you're here, and your response is calling for DEATH.
    Now, if anyone needs to be banned, YOU DO.
    Futhermore, I really don't care if you're here, and have enjoyed some of your posts, but the fact remains, where I have absolutely FACTUALLY retued your BS in some of your posts, you have no response - other than, your own personal rage.
    I'll be glad to see how you can defend yourself, but you obviously cannot.
    Go ahead, there's 22 pages, and I've pointed out your lies several times. Have at it. Good luck, just calling for DEATH, and spewing "ban him!" while carrying your torch of lies is just what I expect from someone who doesn't care what bs they spew.
    You already claimed you can't understand - LOL - of course you can't, you'd have to straighten out yourself and your lies then.
    Good luck doing that.
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    LOL - the folding was crap forever on ati, and now it's slower.
    We know the release date for both cards, and the nvidia is already listed on the egg dude.
    When you're a raging red rooster, nothing matters to you but lying for the 2 billion dollar loser - ati.
  • sidk47 - Friday, April 03, 2009 - link

    You cannot argue with facts and the fact of the matter is that you can't help the world find a cure for cancer or Alzheimer's by buying an ATI!
    So those of you with an Internet connection, should buy an NVidia and fold@home all the time to help make the world a better place!
    Take that ATI and your associated fanboys!
  • x86 64 - Sunday, April 05, 2009 - link

    Folding at home is a total waste and is just an excuse to be smug and think you're special, so there to both of you.

    "Oh I'm going to save the world by buying overpriced hardware and letting some university use it for studying the human genome. I'm such a humanitarian."

    Please, you can justify your over indulgence any way you want but it still doesn't cover up the fact that you're trying to justify sitting on your asses instead of doing some real community work to help change the world.

    Folding@home = Too fat and too lazy to really make an effort.
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    Uhh, dude, they're doing it at college, on like triple TESLA machines with the "supercomputer" motherboards - so you know, go get an education and start whining about unbelievable game framerates - that's what's really going on -
    Professor cuda machine checker " What happened ? "
    Gamer students " Oh, uhh, well it crashed again it was a Crysis, I mean uh, no crisis, last night and it took us about 5 hours to to reset the awesome TESLA cards. We'll come in tonight to keep an eye on it, and clean up the pizza boxes and lock up again professor."
    " Very well."
  • LeonRa - Saturday, April 04, 2009 - link

    Well, since you cannot argue with facts, it's a fact you are a stupid fanboy who doesn't know anything! Check your facts before you post something like that. It is a fact that you can do f@h with an ATI card, as I have been doing it for some time now. So STFU and go spill your hatred somewhere else! Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, April 07, 2009 - link

    You're not being honest there. A while back ati either couldn't do it all ( no port ) - or it was so pathetic - they had to make a new port - I know they did the latter, and as far having a long stretch where it wasn't available, or just not used much since it was so pathetically slow in compariosn, the fella has the right idea.
    Furthermore, unless something has recently changed significantly, the ati port is still WAY slower than the Nvidia for folding.
    So anyway, nice try, but telling the truth might actually be something the red rooster crew should start practicing .... or perhaps not, considering lying a whole heckuva lot might make those 2 billion dollar ati loses into "sales" that make "overall a profit" a reality...
    On the other hand, if people continuously notice the lying by the red fans, they might gravitate to the competition, for obvious reasons.
    So, honesty, or more bs ? I think I know what you'll choose.
  • marraco - Friday, April 03, 2009 - link

    I hope to see benchmarks with ATI in charge of graphics, and a Geforce in charge of PhysX.

    ... kind of SLI/crossfire betwen ATIs and Geforces :)

    A value-added of the geforces, is that, once you buy a new card, the old can unload Physics from the new card. Nice. I hate wasting old hardare.

    On other side, most of the games on PhysX nvidia list don't relly work with GPGPU PhysX. Only with the old AGEIA cards.

    Sadly, Crisys and Far Cry don't use PhysX. Only Havoc. And AMD still don't support it in hardware.
  • spinportal - Friday, April 03, 2009 - link

    No mention of the death of the HD 4850X2 as the HD4890 trashes the power consumption, price, availability, speed and OC-ability. No mention of advantage of DX10.1 and the games available. Hey, even bad news is good news sometimes by spotlighting. What is really missing is the bang for buck quality (bucks spent for performance increase), and talk about price depression for the HD 4870 1GB model by 10$ to 15$ with $50 step increments.
    4850 (125)[20.9] 4870 (185)[27.9] 4890 (235)[31.7]
    4870X2 (400)[35.0]
    Nvidia is cramping its own style:
    250 (150)[21.8] 260-216-55 (180)[27] 275 (250?)[31.3]
    280 (290)[30.9] 285 (340)[32.8]
    The GTX280 is dead now, overpriced for those trying to sneak into SLI. The GTX260 is overlapped with Core216 55nm you'd want to get, but Joe Consumer might mistakenly get the other 2 prior versions to clean out old inventory. The GTX285's price is not justified but more power to nVidia if they get the consumer's buck.
    Gladly, by the low temps the dual slot blowback is voiding hot air properly so the vendors are finally manufacturing cards with common sense.
    Too bad we have gone the way with power hungry beastly cards needing two 6-pins.
    Also, too bad the effects of AF and 0x00, 2xAA, 4xAA and 8xMSAA modes are not investigated. It would be interesting to see how saturated the units get as AF and AA gets bumped and what are the best modes for nVidia and AMD.
    Oh, nice blurb for nVidia's shadow enhancement, but ATi/AMD's tesselation enhancement is as much as a hit or miss feature. Will AMD have an tech edge when DX11 tesselation cometh?
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    Hmm, that said, Derek might be crying, since he couldn't stop crowing about that 4850x2 last review - oh boy, you know - I guess he had the heads up and ati told him what card he needed to help push...
    You know how things are.
    Anyway, good observation.

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