It was about this time last month that Nvidia launched the mighty GeForce GTX 580, securing once again their right to claim ownership of the world's fastest GPU. The flagship card demonstrated blistering fast performance in the 13 games we tested, as it was on average 22% faster than the GTX 480, and as much as 46% faster than the Radeon HD 5870.

When breaking down the GeForce GTX 580 in terms of cost and performance the card still made sense despite its high asking price of $500. Keeping in mind the performance margins we just mentioned it was easy to justify the 11% markup when compared to the GeForce GTX 480. On the other hand, the card was a significant 47% more expensive than the Radeon HD 5870, but then again the performance gain was of a similar figure.

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 580 may be the current king of the hill, but this could change before the end of the year when AMD launches their new Radeon HD 6900 series. AMD was originally expected to deliver its Cayman XT and Pro-based Radeon HD 6970 and 6950 graphics cards sometime during November, but they have postponed their arrival until mid-December for undisclosed reasons. If you don't mind holding off a few short weeks, the wait could be worth some savings or potentially more performance for the same dollars, depending on what AMD has reserved for us.

With the real high-end battle still to take place Nvidia is not sitting around waiting for AMD to strike back. Instead, they are getting ready to release their second GF110-based product. The GeForce GTX 570 should be hitting shelves shortly, featuring similar specifications to that of the GTX 480 but with a lower price at around $350.

As the GeForce GTX 470 was to the GTX 480, the GTX 570 is a cut down version of the recently released GTX 580. Thermals and operating efficiency will remain much the same, as will the features. What has changed is the core configuration, operating frequencies, and memory bus width, all of which have been slightly reduced.

The GeForce GTX 570 is likely targeting the yet to be released AMD Radeon HD 6950 - which we still know little about. The Radeon HD 6870, which is slightly slower than the older 5870 in most games, costs just $250 and is therefore in a completely different price bracket. The latter will probably come up against the GeForce GTX 560 when Nvidia releases this card early next year. For now, though, let's take a closer look at the GeForce GTX 570 in our hands and find out how well it performs.