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Conclusion

GeForce GTS 250: Nvidia's G92 Strikes Again
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Nvidia’s new GeForce GTS 250 isn’t really new at all. It’s the same GeForce GTX 9800+ that already took its share of licks in the press for centering on the same architecture as the GeForce 8800 GT. But it was a damn good architecture, which explains why it’s making yet another appearance under a “re-aligned” naming convention.

Besides, why should Nvidia have to design something completely new based on the large, expensive GT200, just to say it has a mainstream card that runs as fast as its old GTX 9800+? When AMD is able to usurp the G92 architecture at a more aggressive price point, Nvidia will be compelled to answer back, just as it did with massive price cuts when AMD shocked the market with its Radeon HD 4870 last year.

Price and performance are relative figures, folks. A GeForce GTX 280 at $649 is a bargain if you're an affluent enthusiast and the fastest competing card is a Radeon HD 3870. But a $299 Radeon HD 4870 turns that outlook upside down. The same holds true at the mainstream. Fault Nvidia for "re-branding" hardware if you will. It's hardly a secret that the GTS 250 centers on G92, though, and reading one review–any review–will provide you with the card's vital stats, if nothing else.

The Real Story

With that out of the way, let's talk prices. The least-expensive GeForce GTX 9800+ boards we were able to find two days before the GTS 250 was set to launch cost $144. The least-expensive Radeon HD 4870 and 4850 cards were $164 and $139, respectively. Thus, the GTX 9800+ is priced right between the two AMD boards.

Lo and behold, it also performs right in the middle of the Radeon HD 4870 and 4850 cards. Of course, that was BFG's overclocked OC Edition board in our benchmark tests, which might cost a couple of bucks more, but is expected to still fall squarely between the two Radeons. 

Should GeForce GTS 250 cards start trickling out at prices that exceed AMD's 512 MB Radeon HD 4870, the answer seems clear: stick to the AMD board. However, if the GTS 250 cards are, in fact, serving as direct replacements for the GTX 9800+ (without any sort of price hike), the "re-aligned" GTS 250 boards do have a place in Nvidia's mid-range lineup. Moreover, if prices go the other way and undercut AMD's Radeon HD 4850, the higher-performing GeForce GTS 250 would be our favored mainstream solution. For what it's worth, Nvidia is targeting $149, which is roughly in line with the outgoing GTX 9800+ and right where we'd expect a competitive market to peg the board.

We've already covered the new card's performance as it pertains to AMD's Radeons. But it seems fairly certain, given our benchmark results, that the small overclock and extra 512 MB of GDDR3 memory don't really affect the card's standing against its predecessor until the resolution/detail settings are taxing beyond the point of playable frame rates anyway. For the most part, it isn't worth paying more money for the extra 512 MB–in which case, the 512 MB GeForce GTS 250 might be a better buy at $129.

Update: As is seemingly inevitable on the eve of one vendor's launch, the other announces plans to cut prices. AMD has just confirmed reductions on all Radeon HD 4800-class GPUs. At the time of writing, though, the price tags on page two of this piece are accurate, not counting mail-in rebates (which change as often as the base prices themselves). AMD is clearly looking to line its Radeon HD 4870 512 MB up against the GeForce GTS 250. But for now, at least, the Nvidia board still falls roughly in between AMD's two fastest 512 MB single-GPU cards.

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Top Comments
  • 18 Hide
    johnbilicki , March 3, 2009 7:16 AM
    "so long as performance goes up or sideways as price goes down, we don’t see an issue with the reintroduction of proven technology"

    ...which (in the context it has been applied) is the same as saying we don't mind nVidia renaming an 8800GT to a 9800GT and then a 9800GT to a whatever 2xx series...and so on and so forth. My point is simple: nVidia is pulling an extremely sleazy marketing scheme on consumers by renaming existing models. If you goof admit it and get on with life; that's why I appreciated the fact that when the first generation of Phenoms were botched AMD gracefully renamed unaffected quads with a 50 (IE 9650 instead of 9600). Trying to remember all the different names of the exact same model is like dealing with someone who IM's you from five different screen names, eventually you just end up blocking them out.
  • 13 Hide
    curnel_D , March 3, 2009 8:13 AM
    Chris, it's a decent article, but why in the world would you use 512mb models in everyting aside from the 250 and 260. If you would have shown the 1gb 4870, along with a 1gb 9800+, it would have showed a clearer picture of how the 250 is identical to the 9800+/9800/8800GT.

    Meh.

    And there are MASSIVE rumours saying that Nvidia is hand-picking the review models sent to reviewers, even confirmed by HardOCP. Addressing that in this article would have been great.
  • 12 Hide
    curnel_D , March 3, 2009 11:59 AM
    ProximonWell, caveat emptor. If the average consumer can't be bothered to google up a benchmark and just assumes a new name equals a better GPU, then they get what they deserve.A dual slot cooled video card that is just slower than a 4850 could be a good thing if they work the price low enough.

    Yes, I agree with that totally if we're talking about the demographic these forums target. But that's absolutely absurd if you count everyone.

    The "average joe" is usually a hobby gamer who has a full time job, if not two, a wife, kids, generally lower pay compared to the white colar IT job market, and just doesnt have the time for all of the 'homework'. And even then, alot of people still wouldnt know what those benchmarks mean, or even where to find them on google if they know what the word benchmark means at all.

    It'd be the same if Ford released a new Mustang called Mustang GTX250. But in reality, it was identical to the Mustang GT with a different name and better tires. Ford would catch all kinds of hell for it, which is exactly why they dont do it.

    But Nvidia apparently think's they're above the average consumer, and hopes to get a one-up on them to get rid of all of their oversupplied chips.

    Dont sell yourself short, but dont give these companies credibility for doing what they're doing. Nvidia has been very anti-consumer lately, and they shouldnt get any reason to excuse it.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , March 3, 2009 6:17 AM
    i wonder what would be the stand of 4850 and 4870 with 1gb frame buffer
  • 9 Hide
    thepinkpanther , March 3, 2009 6:53 AM
    when the GTX4xx series i guess nvidia will launch the g92 refresh yet again, this time as an entry level graphics card.
  • 3 Hide
    xx12amanxx , March 3, 2009 7:00 AM
    Hmm no mention of the slower model's Nvidia is going to push instead of these cherry picked Oced model's.I heard these Oced model's were just for reviewers and that most of these cards will actually be slower model's with even less performance.
  • 18 Hide
    johnbilicki , March 3, 2009 7:16 AM
    "so long as performance goes up or sideways as price goes down, we don’t see an issue with the reintroduction of proven technology"

    ...which (in the context it has been applied) is the same as saying we don't mind nVidia renaming an 8800GT to a 9800GT and then a 9800GT to a whatever 2xx series...and so on and so forth. My point is simple: nVidia is pulling an extremely sleazy marketing scheme on consumers by renaming existing models. If you goof admit it and get on with life; that's why I appreciated the fact that when the first generation of Phenoms were botched AMD gracefully renamed unaffected quads with a 50 (IE 9650 instead of 9600). Trying to remember all the different names of the exact same model is like dealing with someone who IM's you from five different screen names, eventually you just end up blocking them out.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 3, 2009 7:20 AM
    Good review, but i missed the noise and heat comparative
  • 8 Hide
    cangelini , March 3, 2009 7:31 AM
    xx12amanxxHmm no mention of the slower model's Nvidia is going to push instead of these cherry picked Oced model's.I heard these Oced model's were just for reviewers and that most of these cards will actually be slower model's with even less performance.


    Cherry picked? It's a retail product.
  • 13 Hide
    curnel_D , March 3, 2009 8:13 AM
    Chris, it's a decent article, but why in the world would you use 512mb models in everyting aside from the 250 and 260. If you would have shown the 1gb 4870, along with a 1gb 9800+, it would have showed a clearer picture of how the 250 is identical to the 9800+/9800/8800GT.

    Meh.

    And there are MASSIVE rumours saying that Nvidia is hand-picking the review models sent to reviewers, even confirmed by HardOCP. Addressing that in this article would have been great.
  • -8 Hide
    sohei , March 3, 2009 10:24 AM
    i think Nvidia want's to marry this card with us ...love with force is not possible ...we need a new "woman" from nvidia not other clothes ...Nvidia has enough experience with clothes ...they should enter in fashion business like Microsoft
  • 2 Hide
    vaskodogama , March 3, 2009 10:34 AM
    huh, anyway, I don't like the naming of GT200 cards anyway! AMD's got better price, and naming scheme!
    thepinkpantherwhen the GTX4xx series i guess nvidia will launch the g92 refresh yet again, this time as an entry level graphics card.

    I Agree!
  • 10 Hide
    nerrawg , March 3, 2009 11:01 AM
    Conclusion in this article finally gets to the point, after having compared OCed cards against vanilla. Good article - yet "The Real Story" might be missing out on a few more valid points.

    1. All of the AMD 4800 cards can be easily overclocked, especially the cheap 4830 which often OCs over 700 Mhz on its GPU clock. This will effect the value evaluation, because the 9800+/250 is gonna have to OC pretty well to match it bang for buck, and seeing as the tested cards are already OCed, well I really wonder if it has that headroom?

    2. 4850s and particularly 4870s come in much hotter versions than the vanilla flavors - ex. sapphire toxic etc. The prices of these models will be important to consider.

    3. The G92 architecture is from what I have seen sketchy performance wise in SLI compared to the 4800 series in Crossfire. I am not sure of this, but I would be cautious of using a G92 card if you where planning on using a multicard setup, atleast from the tests I have seen. It would be interesting to see direct tests between a GTX 250 SLI and 4830/4850 CF setup. I'd put my money on the CF solution and I'd love to be proved wrong for Nvidia's sake.
  • -4 Hide
    Proximon , March 3, 2009 11:34 AM
    Well, caveat emptor. If the average consumer can't be bothered to google up a benchmark and just assumes a new name equals a better GPU, then they get what they deserve.

    A dual slot cooled video card that is just slower than a 4850 could be a good thing if they work the price low enough.
  • 2 Hide
    trinix , March 3, 2009 11:50 AM
    Not everyone is a tech person, they'll ask friends and family about performance and the tech person in the family might prefer the nvidia or the ati card and recommend that one over the better one.

    Also at shops the knowledge isn't always better. I've seen people behind the counter, who don't know the difference between ddr1 and ddr2 memory and will just tell you they don't have it.

    Rebranding is evil, but if that's the way Nvidia can keep making money and stay alive, I'd rather have that than the solo reign of Ati.
  • 12 Hide
    curnel_D , March 3, 2009 11:59 AM
    ProximonWell, caveat emptor. If the average consumer can't be bothered to google up a benchmark and just assumes a new name equals a better GPU, then they get what they deserve.A dual slot cooled video card that is just slower than a 4850 could be a good thing if they work the price low enough.

    Yes, I agree with that totally if we're talking about the demographic these forums target. But that's absolutely absurd if you count everyone.

    The "average joe" is usually a hobby gamer who has a full time job, if not two, a wife, kids, generally lower pay compared to the white colar IT job market, and just doesnt have the time for all of the 'homework'. And even then, alot of people still wouldnt know what those benchmarks mean, or even where to find them on google if they know what the word benchmark means at all.

    It'd be the same if Ford released a new Mustang called Mustang GTX250. But in reality, it was identical to the Mustang GT with a different name and better tires. Ford would catch all kinds of hell for it, which is exactly why they dont do it.

    But Nvidia apparently think's they're above the average consumer, and hopes to get a one-up on them to get rid of all of their oversupplied chips.

    Dont sell yourself short, but dont give these companies credibility for doing what they're doing. Nvidia has been very anti-consumer lately, and they shouldnt get any reason to excuse it.
  • 3 Hide
    jeverson , March 3, 2009 12:03 PM
    I'm just curious... When nVidia launched the 9800+ you were able to SLI it with the regular 9800 series. Does this mean you will be able to SLI the GTX 250 cards with either a 9800 or 9800+? Would be nice to know.
  • 5 Hide
    Pei-chen , March 3, 2009 12:30 PM
    Chris, you should really consider sending Kevin, Tuan and Jane to training. Kevin and Tuan can't keep facts straight and Jane is simply blogging.

    Using GTS 250 as example, Kevin and Tuan reported that 250 is using 512 bit memory bus. I almost went over to Anand to check the spec. before clicking on this article.
  • 3 Hide
    nerrawg , March 3, 2009 12:43 PM
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Nvidia-GTS250-Twintech,7150.html

    As stated above, found it at the bottom of article, 512 bit is listed as only difference between 9800+ and 250 - but its not in this article - I trust Chris on this one

  • -2 Hide
    Pei-chen , March 3, 2009 1:08 PM
    xx12amanxxHmm no mention of the slower model's Nvidia is going to push instead of these cherry picked Oced model's.I heard these Oced model's were just for reviewers and that most of these cards will actually be slower model's with even less performance.


    Curnel_D…. And there are MASSIVE rumours saying that Nvidia is hand-picking the review models sent to reviewers, even confirmed by HardOCP. Addressing that in this article would have been great.

    Are you two idiots? GTS 250 is the same as 9800+ GTX. If Nvidia can sell retail 9800+ at 738MHz why would they need to cherry pick GTS 250 at the same clock?

    If every GTS 250 is running at 850MHz vs 738 on 9800+ you can say Nvidia is binning better chip for 250 but they are running at the same speed.
  • 0 Hide
    curnel_D , March 3, 2009 1:10 PM
    Pei-chenChris, you should really consider sending Kevin, Tuan and Jane to training. Kevin and Tuan can't keep facts straight and Jane is simply blogging.Using GTS 250 as example, Kevin and Tuan reported that 250 is using 512 bit memory bus. I almost went over to Anand to check the spec. before clicking on this article.

    I actually prefer jane over kevin and tuan both. She might be blogging, but most of the time it's interesting, and never misleading or downright untrue.

    Both Kevin and Tuan are total morons IMO. Are they college kids doing a practicum or something? Because there's no way they actually have any journalism credibility. They're even the laughing-stock of other forums on a consistant basis.
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