Mainstream Graphics Card Roundup

GeForce GTX 260: Small Price, Big Performance

ATI rules the markets where buyers seek high performance with maximum AA from small cards and a killer combination of low power consumption and good 3D frame rates (particularly for the Radeon HD 4670 and HD 4770 models). Nvidia rules when it comes to overall performance, and has carved out a great market niche with its GeForce GTX 260 card. The new and improved version with 216 shader processors (SPs) costs about $50 more than the older model with 192 SPs.

Great base-level pricing for the GeForce GTX 260 makes it tough for companies like Zotac to position its custom GeForce GTS 250 with 1 GB of graphics RAM, because the older GeForce GTX 260 runs faster and costs close to the same. The Radeon HD 4850 with 1 GB needn’t fear the competition either, because its performance falls below that of the GeForce GTS 250 and more graphics RAM really matters only for higher resolutions with AA enabled (which itself affects only a handful of games). Its biggest advantage is a low price point of about $135. Against the Zotac GTX 260 with 216 SPs, neither of the custom cards from HIS nor Sapphire gain much ground, even if differences in performance are minimal. Simply put: the GeForce card costs between $35 and $110 less, and gives Zotac a buying advantage. Despite a reference cooler, this card is comfortably quiet and delivers good performance at a decent price.

In conclusion, let’s compare the two ATI Radeon HD 4870 cards. Here, Sapphire comes out ahead, because its card incorporates quieter cooling, offers 2 GB of graphics RAM instead of only one, and costs around $235. The lone advantage to HIS is its competent overclocking, which delivers about 3.5% better performance than the Sapphire model.

  • ColMirage
    Great article! Good to see a large variery of old and new.
  • Why do you keep on including the last remnant test when it's obvious that there is a problem with the ati cards? Therefore the overall results are biased and it's unfair to ati and to the foes who jump directly to the conclusion.

    Also when you say *quote* "DirectX 10 crashed at 8x AA and the game and screen went black. Switch to DirectX 9 instead, and the game works at 8x AA and offers frame rates up to 50% higher" *unquote* for HAWX didn't you mean "ati cards were a lot faster that nvidia ones using DirectX 10 thanks to DirectX 10.1 and that was unacceptable. Hence the switch to DirectX 9 instead, and the game works at 8x AA and offers frame rates up to 50% higher for nvidia and ati is fcked again, close one guys".

    I am not an ati fanboy but I think TH has got its tongue sticked up a juicy green @ss.
  • cinergy
    Tino is putting again a big geforce ad. No mention of recent HUGE Radeon price cuts (eg. Radeon HD 4890 goes for $199.99 - 10$ mail rebate in newegg, and 4850 should go at 99$). And HAWX is again benchmarked without dx10.1 setting because of such crappy results for ATI. And not even a mention such technology exist in the game!
  • NuclearShadow
    I think its highly unfair that you would put The Last Remnant in as a benchmark. The game simply hates ATI cards and if you included that game when it came to making a conclusion then I think your intentionally being biased.

    Also I'm not sure why your holding the 260 as the best choice. The Zotac one you even picture is priced at $175 at newegg while the HIS 4850 1GB is like $115 at newegg. Sure the 260 outperforms it but when you take that price difference and look at the performance the 4850 1GB is certainly attractive. The 250 1GB lowest price on newegg is $140 and Zotac's costs $154.99 and if you compared the 4850 1GB to it using your own charts you would see the major killer of the sum of fps is largely effected by The Last Remnant.

    Speaking of Zotac I noticed that for some reason whenever they are mentioned they get a major ass kissing. While they make good products its clear that there is a bias here. You even picture the Zotac 260 and even gave it the ability to be selected on your own little comparison charts and look what you get when you compare it to normal 260 216sps,1173.html?prod=on&prod=on The exact same results and for some reason you deemed it necessary to list it individually as if it were special.

    Next time how about giving a real conclusion instead of a advertisement. Comparing a $115 card to a $175 and pushing Zotac down our throats makes it damn obvious what your doing.
  • scrumworks
    Wow! Tom's just cant let nvidia go. ATI clearly has price-performance advantage now. No Last Remnant benchs are gonna change it.
  • Summer Leigh Castle
    I'm not an expert but the article felt like Toms was trying too hard... just a "little" bias here.
  • d0gr0ck
    That's o
  • da bahstid
    Tino must have missed that whole thing a few months back where educated readers decided they weren't going to tolerate such ridiculously biased conclusions. There's only a $5 difference in price between the His 4870 and Zotac 260 on Newegg as I write this (nothing like Tino's claim that the Zotac has a >$35 advantage), and the performance of the two came within 0.5% of each other...DESPITE two extremely pro-NVidia slanted tests (Last Remnant and Hawx).

    I actually encourage keeping the Last Remnant test because ATI shouldn't get breaks for poor drivers (or inadequate collaboration with developers), but by that same token if NVidia loses out on lack of 10.1 support that result absolutely needs to be included. TH was actually starting to look credible again, it must have taken you guys months of seriously attentive work and comprehensive benchmarking to regain that...what in the world are you guys thinking starting up this tripe again?
  • Ramar
    I agree, the last remnant is stupid. Everyone with an ATI card knows they probably can't play it. Funny, considering it was developed for a console with an ATI chip.

    Let's do some simple math here to prove if ATI really has the price to performance advantage.

    I'll use far cry 2 because I think it's a very fair description of DirectX10 power, "WIMTBP" be damned.

    Top range, GTX 295 vs 4870X2, there's a performance difference on par with their respective prices, especially in the highest res and AA/AF setting.

    Higher-mid, 4890 vs GTX 275. Again, the performance percentage is very close to the twenty dollar difference between cards, and exceeded in nvidia's side at the highest res.

    High-mid, 4870 vs GTX 260 216, even on Left 4 Dead, a source engine game favoring ati, the 260 comes out on par. This is a tie, really. But don't kid yourself into thinking the 4850 is any kind of match for the 260.

    Mid-range, 4850 vs...well, if you take a GTS 250, they're very evenly matched. If you REALLY want a 9800GT for the same price, well, sucks to have an IQ of 50.

    Also factor in the growing use of Physx and ATI doesn't make a very compelling argument. Prices are matched frustratingly well and the only real "killer deal" is a 4850x2 for slightly over $200.

    Know that I like ATI and I'm not saying they're bad cards, I'm just saying they're only on par with Nvidia's offerings, not above them.

    Just remember that DirectX11 will be in full swing in around six months and none of this will matter anyway.
  • d0gr0ck
    I don't know what you did to get those TLR benches on the ATI cards. On a single HD 4870 (512MB reference style) card I easily got the playable 60fps at 1680x1050 at high settings + medium shadows. Once I upgraded to crossfire the framerate blows past 60fps on all high settings. Slowdown only occurs when the game effects churn out an inordinate amount of lighting/shadow effects. I use an old X38/E8500 combo to game on, so by all means you should be getting better results than I do.