Graphics Cards Guide

What's the Right Price - A Trio of GeForce GTX 260

What's the Right Price - A Trio of GeForce GTX 260



Of Price Cuts and Lower Revenues

Of Price Cuts and Lower Revenues

It took Apple slightly more than two months to slash the price of the original iPhone last year, prompting numerous complaints from disgruntled customers. Steve Jobs even had to offer a US$100 store credit to placate early adopters. The same has happened with NVIDIA, though for a different reason: its new GeForce GTX 200 GPUs are finding themselves priced out of the market by cheaper Radeon HD 4800 cards from rival ATI.

Barely a month after its debut, NVIDIA has slashed the price of its flagship GeForce GTX 280 by US$200, from US$649 to US$449. The price of the GTX 260 has also fallen from US$399 to US$299. Of course not all retailers have adjusted the prices that quickly but our search showed that you can definitely buy some of these GPUs at the revised prices now online.

The price cuts and NVIDIA's own recent admission that revenues may be lower for the second quarter showed that besides its other issues (related to some of its mobile graphics chipsets), NVIDIA may have seriously underestimated the performance and value of ATI's Radeon HD 4800 series. Now that the numbers are out (and it's hard to argue with the price and performance of these new ATI cards), NVIDIA can no longer dictate the market and be forced to compete like they haven't really had to for the past two GPU generations.

The price cuts have also made the GeForce GTX 260 more viable in the market. Previously, we had seen how it was matched and sometimes surpassed by the Radeon HD 4870 in benchmarks. With the new price of US$299 roughly equal to the retail price of the Radeon HD 4870, we could have an interesting tussle in this price range. Therefore we have gathered a few GeForce GTX 260 retail cards that have arrived in our labs and checked them out again. Two of these cards are also overclocked, with consequently higher price tags.

Before we get to introducing them, let us briefly refresh your knowledge of the present generation of GPUs from ATI and NVIDIA:

Latest ATI/NVIDIA GPUs Compared
Model NVIDA GeForce GTX 260 896MB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 1GB Radeon HD 4870 512MB Radeon HD 4850 512MB
Core Code GT200 GT200 RV770 RV770
Transistor Count 1400 million 1400 million 965 million 965 million
Manufacturing Process 65nm 65nm 55nm 55nm
Core Clock 576MHz 602MHz 750MHz 625MHz
Stream Processors 192 Stream Processors 240 Stream Processors 800 Stream processing units 800 Stream processing units
Stream Processor Clock 1242MHz 1296MHz 750MHz 625MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units 64 80 40 40
Raster Operator units (ROP) 28 32 16 16
Memory Clock 1998MHz GDDR3 2214MHz GDDR3 3600MHz GDDR5 2000MHz GDDR3
DDR Memory Bus 448-bit 512-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 111.9GB/s 141.7GB/s 115.2GB/s 64GB/s
PCI Express Interface PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16
Molex Power Connectors 2 x 6-pin Yes (6-pin, 8-pin) 2 x 6-pin 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology Yes (SLI) Yes (SLI) Yes (CrossFireX) Yes (CrossFireX)
DVI Output Support 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link
HDCP Output Support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Street Price ~US$299 - 359 ~US$449 ~US$299 - 305 ~US$189