I'm considering getting a new video card. Either an ATI 4870 or a Nvidia GTX 260 since they are roughly the same price/performance, though there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
My personal pros for the 4870 are:
* Better overall performance.
* Not as loud.
* Future Havok support.
* ? May be able to run PhysX/CUDA to some degree.
* It's been awhile since I last used an ATI card (X1900 XT) and the drivers demonstrated a lack of functionality that I need / like.
* Less memory which may play a larger role in the coming months or year.
For the GTX260:
* More memory.
* PhysX/CUDA (I believe in the future of Physic in gaming regardless of branding and find some CUDA things interesting but I could use my current Nvidia card for that, I imagine).
* Drivers that I know provide the functionality I need/want and how I want it.
* Not as high of performance.
* Louders (which I hate, but I can always get after market).
My question to ATI owners with the 4870 cards are regarding the drivers and how it functions and what features are available now. At the time I used them, they were a bit lacking in several areas.
1. Can you effectively force AA in games with HDR that do not support AA normally? My prior experience was, no, except for Oblivion Chuck drivers, but that was a long time ago.
2. Do game specific settings (profiles) automatically load up with the game now? My prior experience was, no.
3. Do the aspect ratio / scaling functions work now with widescreen monitors? My prior experience was, no. The Center/1:1 ratio did not function properly with 16:10 or 16:9 monitors. Though my monitor does have the option for this so it's not a huge deal, sometimes the drivers can interfere with it.
The first two are core issues for me. I play everything with at least 2x AA if not more so being able to force AA in HDR titles that do not have that option built in is nice. I play a mixture of older and cutting edge games so being able to have automatically applied driver settings for each title is key when the base performance levels are so different (an older game you can easily play with everything on and 8x AA/16xAF, a recent title you need to to be more reasonable).
My prior experience with ATI was positive, although the drivers weren't perfect but we all know the release of the 8800 GTX was just pure dominance for over a year. In making my purchase decision, between these two closely matched cards the drivers may be the deciding factor for me.
1. Yes + 8xAA (24xcfaa) is 99% free performance wise, 4x(12xcfaa), to me, shows no performance difference than off. Guess that would depend on how demanding the programs are your trying to use though. My experience is with urban terror and X3 reunion.
2. Haven't tried, but is easy to create many different profiles and load any of them with a right click on the taskbar.
3. I'm running a 24" monitor at 1900x1200 and have no issues. I played around a little with resolutions when i first got the card and it displayed them all fine, and even weird custom ones in UrT(urban terror) where u make up the numbers.
From my personal reading i think the 4870 is closer to rivaling the gtx 280 and beats the 260 hands down in any application not crysis. And for the price of a 280 u pretty much can get 2 4870s in crossfire. If I was you i'd wait for the 4870X2 to come out and run with that.