Final Words

NVIDIA is competitive at this new price point of $250 depending on what resolution you look at. We also see some improvement from NVIDIA's new 185 series driver and get a new feature to play with in the form of Ambient Occlusion. We did look at PhysX and CUDA again, and, while we may be interested in what is made possible by them, there is still a stark lack of compelling content that takes advantage of these technologies. We can't recommend prioritizing PhysX and CUDA over performance, and performance is where a GPU needs to compete. Luckily for NVIDIA, the GTX 275 does.

The fact that its worst-case performance is still better than the GTX 260 core 216 and in the best case, it can hit that of the GTX 280 was a plus for the GTX 275. It often posted performance more in line with its bigger brothers than a $50+ cheaper part. This is pretty sweet for a $250 card, especially as many games these days rely very heavily on shader performance. The GeForce GTX 275 is a good fit for this price point, and is a good option. But then there's the Radeon HD 4890.

The 4890, basically a tweaked and overclocked 4870, does improve performance over the 4870 1GB and puts up good competition for the GTX 275. On a pure performance level the 4890 and GTX 275 trade blows at different resolutions. The 4890 tends to look better at lower resolutions while the GTX 275 is more competitive at high resolutions. At 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200 the 4890 is nearly undefeated. At 2560 x 1600, it seems to be pretty much a wash between the two cards.

At the same time, there are other questions, like that of availability. With these parts performing so similarly, and price being pretty well equal, the fact that AMD parts can be bought starting today and we have to wait for the NVIDIA parts is an advantage for AMD. However, we have to factor in the fact that AMD driver support doesn't have the best track record as of late for new game titles. Add in the fact that NVIDIA's developer relations seem more effective than AMD's could mean more titles that run better on NVIDIA hardware in the future. So what to go with? Really it depends on what resolutions you're targeting and what the prices end up being. If you've got a 30" display then either card will work, it's just up to your preference and the items we talked about earlier. If you've got a 24" or smaller display (1920x1200 or below), then the Radeon HD 4890 is the card for you.

AMD tells us that most retailers will feature mail in rebates of $20, a program which was apparently underwritten by AMD. Could AMD have worried they weren't coming in at high enough performance late in the game and decided to try and throw an extra incentive in there? Either way, not everyone likes a mail in rebate. I much prefer the instant variety and mail-in-rebate offers do not make decisions for me. We still compare products based on their MSRP (which is likely the price they'll be back at once the rebate goes away). This is true for both AMD and NVIDIA parts.

There will also be overclocked variants of the GTX 275 to compete with the overclocked variants from AMD. The overclock on the AMD hardware is fairly modest, but does make a difference and the same holds true for the GTX 275 products in early testing. We'll have to take a look at how such parts compare in the future along with SLI and CrossFire.  In the meantime, we have another interesting battle at the $250 price point.

Power Consumption


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  • johnjames - Monday, May 18, 2009 - link

    I don't get it, I started reading this review and decided to get a 4890, then I read the following reviews:


    And they all state the GTX 275 gives a lot more fps in all games bar Grid.
  • genetix - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    This is actually really funny you mention multiple sites. Since it's pretty hard to find an site these days which actually doesn't review/preview without sponsors. Meaning lean to one side to other is pretty simplistic just need to review right games and voila either can win. Lol, looking ATI videos damn those are so well selected that damn.

    We are definedly getting back to 80s where games where made to GPU. Not to all. The funny thing is even our so trusted Benchmarks like any Futuremark production fakes the results of GPUs. Their so called ORB is pretty far from reality what the hardware is really capable.
  • Asianman - Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - link

    most of those use either NV biased games or most likely didn't upgrade the 4890's drivers. All reviews show that 4890 loses its initial advantage at higher resolutions, and the fact that it is now much cheaper. Take your pick, you'd get good value either way. Reply
  • Patrick Wolf - Sunday, August 02, 2009 - link

    Well the 4890 isn't exactly kicking the 275's butt here.

    Let me break it down:
    Age of Conan: 0-3 fps difference. It's a wash
    CoD: WaW: 275 is at or above 60 fps on all resolutions, beats 4890 at 2560. 275 wins.
    Crysis Warhead: 0-2 fps difference. It's a wash.
    Fallout 3: 4890 wins.
    Far Cry 2: 0-2 fps difference. It's a wash.
    Left 4 Dead: Again, 275 is at or above 60 fps on all resolutions, beats 4890 at 2560. 275 wins.
    Grid: 4890 wins.

    That's 2 for nvidia, 2 for ATI. And on COD, Crysis, Far Cry, and L4D the 4890 wins at 1680 and 1920, then at 2560 the 275 suddenly pulls ahead? That's supposed to make sense? Not to mention both drivers used were beta. And the 185.65 drivers have been pulled from nvidia's archives.
  • pinguw - Friday, April 17, 2009 - link

    yes, you said the one that is getting the benefit are the end user, but I think you have a short vision, because when things getting cheapper means we have more chance to get lower quality product. for example, the GTX260 that I bought several month a go, I can see that the image was worse than the 8800GTS that I had 2 years. At beggining I thought it was a defect so I changed other one and other brand and had the same result. so I say, instead of fighting for price, why dont they just make a better product?? lowering the price would just get our product worse and worse, like most of the product sold in US are now made in China... and then everybody are complaining about the product is bad... that is poisoned etc, what a joke what do you expect when the price go down? the answer is easy to get right? So I would suggest you stopping saing the one is getting the benefit are the users, what a brainless comment
  • joeysfb - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    Something is not right here, are you linking the lowering of product quality to ficere competition???

    That's why people read reviews, comments from Neweggs, Amazons... to find out the user experience before buying a desired product...

    Almost everythings is made in china it or not.
  • 8KCABrett - Thursday, April 16, 2009 - link

    Those of us that buy the latest hardware to fly our flight sims have been pretty much left to using the outdated Tom's Hardware charts (which still show the 8800GTS being the fastest card around). I would love to know how the Q9650s and i7s are doing in FSX since the service packs, and it would be great to learn if the GTX 260/280s and now the refreshes are still slower than an 8800GTS in those sims. . .not to mention the abysmal performance of ATI cards! Has anyone found such a review anywhere?

  • joeysfb - Friday, April 17, 2009 - link

    just stick to 8800GTS then (money saved)... besides there not many sim titles these days. Reply
  • BikeDude - Friday, April 17, 2009 - link

    Stick with the 8800GTS?

    I do not think you realize the problem. A year ago, FSX ate all the hardware you could throw at it.

    FSX is a very difficult animal to feed.

    It loves fast CPUs, but it also needs a fast GPU. Unfortunately, as was pointed out, there exists few recent comparisons. It is not easy figuring out the correct hw balance for FSX, since few includes it in a review.

    Comparing dozens of FPS games is pointless. They perform similar. There are some small differences, but to evaluate a given card, you don't have to review that many games. FSX however poses some unique challenges, and deserves some attention.

    Oh... I'd also like to know which of these cards will play nicely with HD video.
  • 8KCABrett - Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - link

    Well, every now and then I like to have a little shooter fun, and the GTS is certainly lagging behind in the new titles.

    I'm currently beta testing a new sim and it really utilizes the GPU which is nice to see, but my 8800GTS limits me quite a lot, and it's also nicely multi-threaded. I decided it's time to update my system, and really have nothing to guide me. Is ATI still really weak in sims? Have the GTX 280s gotten any better with the recent drivers? What about SP2 in FSX? I just don't have any source of this info, and I've looked everywhere for a legit source.

    I've got a GTX 285 on the way and will just end up doing my own testing since that's apparently the only way to get the info.

    There are hundreds of review sites out there posting these same four or five titles in their benchmarks and not a single one that includes any of the flight sims, even the new releases. I know sims are a niche market, but flight simmers are left to test for themselves, and they use what is perhaps one of the more demanding titles out there! My complaint isn't directed at Anandtech per se, I favor this site and have seen and appreciated the helpfulness of Gary Key time and again, especially over at the Abit forums, I just wish that Anandtech could employ their testing discipline in titles that really do need a legit place to evaluate them. It could really be a benefit to many people that really aren't catered to at all currently.

    OK. . .back to lurking.

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