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GeForce GTX 260/280 versus Radeon HD 4850/4870

By Julio Franco · 10 replies
Aug 11, 2008
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  1. Gamers looking to purchase a new generation graphics card today have quite a few options available ranging in price from $180 to $450. Indeed, it's a great time to upgrade.

    At least for now, Nvidia's only answer to the Radeon HD 4850 is the GeForce 9800 GTX+ which is an overclocked 9800 GTX. ATI on the other hand has nothing as expensive as the GeForce GTX 280 on offer, though that is only until the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is released, and that is right around the corner. But as things stand today, the Radeon HD 4870 and GeForce GTX 260 are the only cards that match up in terms of pricing, while the GTX 280 is significantly more expensive, and the Radeon HD 4850 is a bit cheaper.

    Our preliminary testing shows that the GeForce GTX 280 is the most powerful graphics card money can buy you right now, but exactly how much more powerful is it than the Radeon HD 4870? Then there is the Radeon HD 4850 which is our value card of choice. And while we know it can beat the GeForce 9800 GTX hands down, how much slower is it than the GeForce GTX 260 exactly?

    Today we hope to answer these questions for you by comparing these four new graphics cards in a head to head battle.

    Read the full review at:

    Please leave your feedback here. Thanks!
  2. Captain828

    Captain828 TS Guru Posts: 289   +15

    good comparison, but no OCing?

    also, no noise decibel comparison...

    from what i've read, the GTX260 is better than the HD4870 when OCed...

    also, the direct competitor of the HD4850 is the 9800GTX+... not the GTX260
  3. fullmetalvegan

    fullmetalvegan TS Enthusiast Posts: 122

    Yeah it is, the GTX 260 can surpass the GTX 280 with a little overclocking. The GTX respond very well to overclocking.

    Also, comparing the GTX 260 to the HD4850 is a little unfair, 260 is more on par with 4870. the 9800 GTX+ is the comparison to the 4850. =D

    I just bought a GTX+ to overclock and tide me over till the 55nm GTX 200 arrive.
  4. Captain828

    Captain828 TS Guru Posts: 289   +15

    i've never heard a 260 beat a 280... perhaps with High-end air cooling on the 260 or a decent wc kit

    offtopic: lol, I edited my first comment adding that the "4850 vs 260 comparison ain't fare" right after you posted... but I saw your post after I refreshed
  5. fullmetalvegan

    fullmetalvegan TS Enthusiast Posts: 122

    look up the Zotac 260 AMP Edition, which is an overclocked GTX 260. Beats the 280.

    Yes you'd need an after market cooler to overclock it high enough to beat it, when I refer to overclocking I don't mean with stock cooling, those things are usually pretty terrible for overclocking. =]

    For example my HD4850 (Which I hate with a passion, worse card i've ever owned, 64-bit drivers wise, switching to GTX+ as mentioned above) was at 80 celcius stock cooler, Thermalright HR-03 GT dropped it to 30 celcius, allows plenty of overclocking room. Similiar scenario to the GTX 200, you get value for money being able to drop temperature that much to allow overclocking room.

    and lol. =P
  6. Captain828

    Captain828 TS Guru Posts: 289   +15

    i bet a GTX+ and a HR-03 GT is the best combo

    this review confirms my suspicions about GTX260 OCing... it gets really close to the 280, but still doesn't beat it; thought i'm certain an HR-03 GT might do the trick...

    also, thermalright has leaked on their site the existence of the HR-03 GTX (for GT200 cards)... can't wait for that + a GT200b card :cool:
  7. fullmetalvegan

    fullmetalvegan TS Enthusiast Posts: 122

    Sorry, not the Zotac. The eVGA 260 FTW Edition, as shown on Overclockers Club benchmark (http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/evga_gtx260/6.htm) has the GTX 260 beating the GTX 280. It would also all reflect on what other hardware you have I assume.

    Yeah those are my thoughts exactly, Thermalright heatsinks are really good for dropping the temperature, and with NVIDIA's good integrity with overclocking, I should be able to pull some good FPS. Once the 55nm GTX 200 arrive with the lower temperatures, I'll be slapping the HR-03 GTX on a GTX 280 and overclocking that one. =]

    I got a HR-03 GT sitting in my closet waiting for the GTX+ to arrive. lol.

    EDIT: Saw your HR-03 GTX comment, yeah I e-mailed them about it, they said it should launch world-wide at some point in August, which is now, so maybe by the end?
  8. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,247   +1,268

    You should have read the review and how we set up the comparison first. Quoting a paragraph from the introduction:

    We are quite aware of the target and price differences but for someone who wants to buy a new card today it will be extremely useful to see how the cards compare in real life gaming benchmarks and with that in hand, make a decision regardless of how the manufacturers target their products.
  9. rampage347

    rampage347 TS Rookie

    Wow, I can understand the need to market an item for a company or sponsor but something has to be said about this article and how completely unbalanced it actually is.

    First of all, the article needs to compare apples to apples and Oranges to Oranges.

    The GTX 280 is near $200 dollars more in price than the 4870 in the article and not even the same class in fact it has fully 1 Gig of memory to use for textures vs the 4870 that was used in the benchmark which only has 512Mb.

    OH Also btw the GTX 280 is the fastest clocked of the 280 line, why not use just the GT 280??? Wow lets race a ferrari against a stock civic si, no contest.

    Match the cards correctly the GT280 and the GT 260 vs the 4870 both with same video memory or don't do a comparison at all because they are not even in the same class a stock 4870 vs a GTX 280??? WTH...

    Second, the memory difference alone when comparing the 2 cards at 1900 + resolutions completely scews the results in the 280's favour.

    So do the test with the stock 4870 1gig vs the GTX 280 1gig and watch that fps rate be matched if not beaten by the 4870... by 2 or 3 fps easily.
    Better yet take the 4870 XOC 1gig vs the GTX280 and watch the GTX 280 lose horribly by 30fps+ easily....

    Third even if the stock 4870 1gig posts fps lower by 5 or 10 fps overall than the GTX 280 1gig you then have to look at; is the extra 200 dollars really worth 10fps?


    Please for the sake of the non-insane and market savvy post an article that at least is a fair example of 2 equally matched video cards on all aspects of hardware and not a card that fully has 1/2 the available video memory and then knowingly post results in the higher resolutions that the Vcard with less memory is not going to be able to perform well in.

    Thats just ethically unsound.

  10. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,247   +1,268

    I will make this short considering your comments are way out of place. You did not consider the date when this article was published.

    At the time those were the best cards both ATI and Nvidia offered. Their pricing structure and strategy has been changed a lot since then. So whatever were your comments, those could make sense today but when we tested and wrote this article, we had no magic ball to make such predictions.

    The performance differences between these cards have not changed as much as the rest of the stuff however, so you can still tell what makes sense buying and what not based on today's prices. Our most recent coverage only lacks the GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 which adds about 10% of performance on top of the original. Then for newer tests you can check out:

    Force3D Radeon HD 4870 Black Edition review
    Crysis Warhead performance in-depth
    Diamond Radeon HD 4870 X2 review
  11. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,996   +2,456

    Honestly I cannot believe that I am responding to that post but for some reason I am. The real problem here is that you read the title of the article, looked at the performance graphs and moved on. Therefore you have no idea what was discussed in the article or where we were even coming from. I know that you didn’t read the article based on the ridiculous comments, you simply couldn’t have.

    This article was more focused on value rather than performance but all you saw were the performance graphs. Also as Julio pointed out this article was published before we could get our hands on a 1GB Radeon HD 4870, though given our comments this would have changed very little as we compared the value of the Radeon HD 4870 and the GeForce GTX 260. This was in no way a performance comparison between the Radeon HD 4870 and the GeForce GTX 280, we compared them strictly in terms of value.

    Next time you feel the need to comment on something don’t be so bloody lazy, READ! Looking at the pictures doesn’t give you the fully story.

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