After much anticipation AMD launched their Radeon HD 6900 series earlier this month. Many hoped that the new HD 6970 would go head to head with the GeForce GTX 580, possibly forcing Nvidia to make price cuts. However with a retail price that was undercutting the competition's flagship board, the slower HD 6970 was destined to take on the GTX 570 instead.
In a sense this is better news for the mass of consumers, as the Radeon HD 6970 is a far more realistic product for most gamers at $369 than the GeForce GTX 580 is at $499. The HD 6970 held its own in our review and when compared to the GeForce GTX 570 the result couldn't have been any tighter. Both graphics cards delivered the same experience at 1920x1200, while the HD 6970 was slightly faster at 2560x1600.
The previous generation Radeon HD 5870 offers a fraction more performance at around $280. Meanwhile, Nvidia is still offering the (not very efficient but speedy) GeForce GTX 470 for around $249, which makes the Radeon HD 5870 a tough sell these days.
Therefore, between the GeForce GTX 470 at $250 and the GeForce GTX 570 at $350 there is a $100 price gap with no real contenders -- at least until AMD launched their new $299 Radeon HD 6950 graphics card. At this price point, the Radeon HD 6950 has no direct competition, but we'll be keeping a close eye on how it compares to the GTX 470 and 570 and whether it makes more sense to scale down or up to get better value.