Last night we published our Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 review. In it we made a decision to include a factory overclocked GeForce GTX 460 from EVGA (the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW). For those who aren't aware, NVIDIA has allowed a number of its partners to ship GTX 460s at higher than stock clock speeds. A practice that has been done in the past. The cards are available in retail with full warranties.

A number of you responded in the comments to the article very upset that we included the EVGA card. Even going as far to accuse us of caving to NVIDIA's pressure and demands. Ryan and I both felt it was necessary to address this front and center rather than keep the discussion in the comments.

Let's start with the obvious. NVIDIA is more aggressive than AMD with trying to get review sites to use certain games and even make certain GPU comparisons. When NVIDIA pushes, we push back. You don't ever see that here on AnandTech simply because I don't believe this is the place for it. Both sides (correction, all companies) have done nasty things in the past but you come here to read about products, not behind the scenes politics so we've mostly left it out of our reviews.

NVIDIA called asking for us to include overclocked GTX 460s in the 6800 series article. I responded by saying that our first priority is to get the standard clocked cards tested and that if NVIDIA wanted to change the specs of the GTX 460 and guarantee no lower clocked versions would be sold, we would gladly only test the factory overclocked parts. NVIDIA of course didn't change the 460's clocks and we ended the conversation at that. We gave NVIDIA no impression that we would include the card despite their insistence. The decision to include the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW was made on our own entirely.

We don't like including factory overclocked parts in our reviews for reasons we've already mentioned in the article itself. This wasn't a one off made for the purpose of reviewing only, it's available from online vendors and a valid option from a price comparison. Furthermore it presented us with an interesting circumstance where the overclock was large enough to make a significant impact - the 26% overclock pushed the card to a performance level that by all rights could have (and should have) been a new product entirely.

From my standpoint, having more information never hurts. This simply provides another data point for you to use. We put hefty disclaimers in the article when talking about the EVGA card, but I don't see not including a publicly available product in a review as a bad thing. It's not something we typically do, but in this case the race was close enough that we wanted to cover all of our bases. At the end of the day I believe our conclusion did just that:

At $179 buy the 6850. At $239 buy the 6870 for best performance/power. If you want the best overall performance, buy the GTX 470. However, as long as they are available the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW is a good alternative. You get the same warranty you would on a standard GTX 460, but you do sacrifice power consumption for the performance advantage over the 6870.

We were honestly afraid that if we didn't include at least a representative of the factory overclocked GTX 460s that we would get accused of being too favorable to AMD. As always, this is your site - you ultimately end up deciding how we do things around here. So I'm asking all of you to chime in with your thoughts - how would you like to handle these types of situations in the future? Do we never make exceptions even in the case of a great number of factory overclocked cards being available on the market? Do we keep the overclocked comparison to a single page in the review? Or does it not matter?

And if you're worried about this being tied to financial gain: I'll point out that we are one of the only sites to have a clear separation of advertising and editorial (AnandTech, Inc. doesn't employ a single ad sales person, and our 3rd party sales team has no stake in AT and vice versa). The one guarantee that I offer all of our writers here at AnandTech is you never have to worry about where your paycheck is coming from, just make sure you do the best job possible and that your conclusions are defensible.

If we've disappointed you in our decision to include the EVGA FTW in last night's review, I sincerely apologize. At the end of the day we have to maintain your trust and keep you all happy, no one else. We believed it was the right thing to do but if the overwhelming majority of you feel otherwise, please let us know. You have the ability to shape how we do things in the future so please let us know.

Whether you thought it was an issue or not, we'd love to hear from you. I do appreciate you reading the site and I want to make it better for you in the future.


Take care,

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  • mapesdhs - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    FWIW, Newegg has the FTW in stock now. Are their stock levels accurate? Doesn't look like
    they have that many.

    Scan UK has them now aswell (I asked, they obtained 50), so I've bought two, plus a Platinum
    for my brother's system.

  • lakrids - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    There are factory overclocked HD6800 cards on newegg too now, from various vendors.

    It's such a shame that Anand was too biased to even bother to ask XFX for an early sample of their Black Edition series.
  • krumme - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Congrats, you are in for some good gaming :) - i have a 320M in this laptop. But what the heck, i dont have time for gaming, because i am hammering on this comment section together with Lakrids. ROFL.

    The problem is that we dont know what the stock will be, and neither did anand.

    Looking at the market, its come and go, in small drops. That have been the strategy always. It sells the lower clock version, that is the purpose - its just about maximizing buttom line. So its a smart way of binning and selling your cards if you have yield and variability issues, if you have a strong consumer brand like NV.

    Anand knows must know that issue, but perhaps it was not - say obvious - enough, in the minor details that gone into their arguements.

    Anand was lost in trees
  • mapesdhs - Monday, November 1, 2010 - link

    The cards should arrive today. I have to benchmark a couple of Quadro
    FX5500s first though. Some early results from a friend of mine are interesting
    though, comparing to 8800GT SLI and 4890 CF:

    (we've started benching with Unigine and X3TC aswell, data not yet added)

    I thought Scan would run out of the FTWs pretty quick, but they still have
    them in stock. Oh, I noticed 10 on eBay BIN, but they were of course
    grossly overpriced (a massive 30 UKP more than from Scan; who uses eBay
    to buy a new gfx card??).

  • mindless1 - Saturday, October 30, 2010 - link

    So long as it is tested at stock speed as sold, and as warranted, IMO it is fair game to consider it a separate product regardless of having same GPU on it... because ultimately for the purposes of the consumer pubic, while available they have the chocie of buying one.

    It is not a race where it only matters who wins, it is about which products one can buy which will potentially fit their needs. However at the same time, if you include a factory o'c card and it costs more, it would make the article all the more value added if you also tested the max "reasonable" o'c for that card and the same for the factor stock speed card so for those who don't mind running above initial nVidia spec, they know if spending more money gets them anything in particular besides a firmware with a few bits flipped.

    Something else I and some others would like to see is the fastest a card can run and the benchmarks for that speed, even if it requires underclocking, to keep the fan at some low noise level threshold instead of increasing enough in RPM to notice much if left on auto/thermal control instead of locked at a fixed speed. It has been many years since I bought a card with thermally controlled fan where I would accept hearing it ramped up to high RPM. I should add I would find that info most useful if the card remains below 70C GPU temp, knowing how far it might need underclocked to achieve both simultaneously.
  • lakrids - Saturday, October 30, 2010 - link

    It's not fair game when nvidia are the only ones allowed to show off factory overclocked cards.

    Look at the gts 450 review, there should have been factory overclocked 5770 and 5750 cards. but there are none.

    This isn't fair game, it's bias.
  • Ramon Zarat - Saturday, October 30, 2010 - link

    1- The EVGA card should have came from retail, NOT from Nvidia. The credibility of the review is negatively affected, no matter what counterargument you might come up with. Overclocking beyond 850Mhz and power consumption figures are both inevitably favorably affected by cheery picking a GPU. You even go as far as alluding to this very fact, but buried this very important information in the middle of the last page, as if to protect yourself from not mentioning it at all: ''...GPUs capable of running at this voltage are likely coming from the cream of the crop for NVIDIA.'' This very critical information should have been in the very first sentence of the review and in BOLD characters. That might have helped with the credibility.

    2- You should, at the very least, have provided overclocking figures for both the 6870 and 6850 in a separate ''overclocking results'' page. What would have been far better is to include those results in every benchmark. We all know overclocked version of both AMD cards are coming anyway. In fact XFX have already released an overclocked 6850 black edition. And guess what? Kitguru ( /www.kitguru dot net ) already report overclock beyond 1Ghz @ 1.3V with this first batch of silicon!!! We also know that 850Mhz for the 460 is very near the practical limit with air cooling. Then why not push the 6870 and 6850 to their practical limit too? This is where all other arguments fail and suspicions arise...

    I will conclude by saying that price/performance/power ratio is pretty much the absolute rule by which a GPU should be judged. From that perspective, AMD rule absolutely, period. Just overclock the hell out of a cherry picked 6850 and pit it against this infamous EVGA 460 you have in your hand. Then benchmark in SLI and Crossfire for a good measure. We all know who will win the price/performance/power crown, don't we? Yeah, I thought so...

    In the end, all this sound way too much like a not-subtle-enough attempt to damper the launch of the 6850 and 6870. Some kind of smoke screen or diversion to steal AMD's thunder. This cherry picked, overclocked to death EVGA 460 with incredible thermal and power figures had no business in this review without balancing the facts with an overclocked AMD card. Fundamental and very basic journalistic ethic principles have been neglected and I don't like that at all.

    What can we expect from your upcoming Cayman review? Results from cheery picked overclokecked 480 provided by Nvidia?

  • Matrices - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    While I don't doubt the credibility of the site - very professional and clear and high quality material here - I am baffled by the sheer naivete illustrated by accepting a product sample directly from a vendor for inclusion in a review, no less a review of a competing part.

    When you review video cards, you should really use off the shelf parts when possible. I know it's not always possible when you're reviewing the newest thing out there, but for something like this? Yeah, it should be common sense.
  • the_elvino - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    For years I have come to Anandtech to read about new technology and products. After the 6800 Series review, I don't trust the site anymore, even if other sections of the site are not biased. After all, how should I know when the money talks and when to expect a proper review? It's impossible, it just became too obvious now in the case of nVidia but has been going on for a while.

    Which other sites do you recommend for unbiased, balanced reviews (not just graphics cards) which also have the resources to cover a vast amount of products and news/previews and have a presentable layout?

  • Bates777 - Monday, November 1, 2010 - link

    Always thourough, always legitimate.
    They did the 6xxx review a week ago and made a note about what NVIDIA was trying to pull on them too, except they wouldn't go for it unlike AT.

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