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.
Last June saw the debut of the Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards with suggested retail prices of $199 and $299, respectively. These new Radeon products offered exceptional performance for the price.
At the time of release the Radeon HD 4850 was set to face off against the GeForce 9800 GTX, which was considerably more expensive. This forced Nvidia to heavily slash the 9800 GTX pricing. Then when the Radeon HD 4870 came along it was able to out gun the GeForce 9800 GX2 in almost every game we tested, and again costed significantly less.
However these are previous generation products for Nvidia now, as the latest weapons in their arsenal include the GeForce GTX 280 and GTX 260 graphics cards. These cards were initially valued at $649 for the GTX 280 and $399 for the GTX 260, making them significantly more expensive than the new Radeon HD 4800 series and from the community's reaction also too expensive to catch anybody's attention.
After a few rounds of benchmarks it became clear that the difference in performance between the Radeon HD 4800 and GeForce GTX 200 series of cards was not too big. Therefore, in an effort to increase sales Nvidia rethought their pricing strategy. The GeForce GTX 280 price was cut by a whopping 62%, as it is now priced at $399. The GeForce GTX 260 pricing also plummeted by 33%, for an estimated retail price of $299, placing it in direct competition with the Radeon HD 4870.
So, 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.