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GeForce GTS 250: Nvidia's G92 Strikes Again

GeForce GTS 250: Nvidia's G92 Strikes Again
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Last year was full of ups and downs in the graphics market. First, Nvidia unveiled its GT200 graphics processor and a pair of boards centering on the chip. It wiped the floor with everything else out there—not exactly difficult given AMD’s mid-range Radeon HD 3800-series, which had already been trumped.

Then AMD pulled a rabbit out of its hat, launching the RV770 GPU and two boards based on that piece of silicon. The fastest Radeon HD 4870 wasn’t quite quick enough to best the fastest Nvidia chip, but it was fast enough that everyone knew the dual-processor Radeon HD 4870 X2 AMD had pre-announced during the launch would put the underdog on top.

Since then, AMD has been busy populating its lineup with mainstream and entry-level boards based on derivative architectures. The Radeon HD 4830 has turned into the least-expensive performance offering. The Radeon HD 4670 and 4650 form the meat of AMD’s mid-range lineup. And the Radeon HD 4500-/4300-series boards make up the entry-level.

Nvidia has responded to AMD’s challenge in a number of different ways. At the high-end, it launched its own dual-GPU card, the GeForce GTX 295. In the middle of its performance line, a less-handicapped GeForce GTX 260 with 216 shader processors gets the jump on AMD’s Radeon HD 4850 (and indeed the 4870 with 512 MB of memory, as you’ll see in the benchmarks here). And a 55 nm replacement for the GT200 yields the company’s latest GeForce GTX 285.

Of course, then there’s Nvidia’s emphasis on its value-adds: CUDA, PhysX, and 3D Vision, all enabled through the company’s software drivers. While we’d consider the trio of technologies to still be in their early stages of mainstream adoption, they’re all still technically advantages. AMD is working out the kinks in its Stream video encoder, doesn’t offer any sort of physics acceleration, and has been oddly quiet about its partnership with 3D monitor-maker iZ3D, which as we revealed at this year’s CES, gives you the same experience on AMD or Nvidia graphics hardware.

In Need Of A Mainstream Answer

While it’d seem to have all of its bases covered, we have to imagine that the massive 55 nm GT200 GPU is still far too large (read: expensive) to work into a card any cheaper than the GeForce GTX 260, leaving Nvidia without a suitable successor to the aging G92, a chip that’s nearly a year and a half old.

Fortunately for Nvidia, that relatively-geriatric architecture was designed and executed well enough, carrying over from a 65 nm process down to 55 nm. Even today, it’s able to do more than just compete against the RV770-based lineup from AMD—a fact proven by today’s GeForce GTS 250 launch.

But while the new board’s name might sound like something new wedged in between the GTX 260/285 and older GeForce 9800-series boards, the truth of the matter is that it’s G92 reborn. More specifically, it’s the GeForce GTX 9800+, a die-shrunk version of the GeForce GTX 9800, which was already a slightly-overclocked re-introduction of the GeForce 8800 GTS.

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  • 2 Hide
    jennyh , 3 March 2009 15:52
    You would have to be stupid to buy one of these with the 4870 going to be the same price.

    Why don't you tell the full story like the 512mb version will be worse than the 4850 just like it was when it was called the 9800gtx+.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 4 March 2009 01:42
    Good review but how big are these Graphic's Cards
  • 0 Hide
    Belinda , 4 March 2009 04:00
    Nvidia seem to have gone mad this past 18 months with so many slightly different cards while ATI seem to have gone 4850,4870 and then the different builders just adding OC on the end while shipping with slight differences to the standard design.
    I with they would just go series 8 V1, V2 etc.
    You could be reading a list of Nvidia cards and versions and think PTO was a new card at the bottom of the page.
  • 0 Hide
    jennyh , 4 March 2009 05:11
    Here is a much better review

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3523

    Maybe toms got a really good card from Nvidia but according to anand the 4850 is still a better card.
  • 0 Hide
    wild9 , 4 March 2009 06:05
    A few price comparisons..

    US vs. UK prices*

    Radeon 4830: $89 vs $133 (+50%)
    Radeon 4850: $139 vs $191 (+38%)
    Radeon 4870: $164 vs $253 (+55%)

    Geforce GTX 9800+: $144 vs $249 (+74%)
    Geforce GTS 250: $149 vs ??
    Geforce GTX 260: $229 vs $314 (+37%)

    * Inclusive of VAT.
  • 1 Hide
    kulwant , 4 March 2009 17:31
    why compare a 1GB nVidia card against a 512MB ATI one?
  • 0 Hide
    Vokofpolisiekar , 4 March 2009 18:51
    Wild9A few price comparisons..US vs. UK prices* Radeon 4830: $89 vs $133 (+50%) Radeon 4850: $139 vs $191 (+38%) Radeon 4870: $164 vs $253 (+55%)Geforce GTX 9800+: $144 vs $249 (+74%) Geforce GTS 250: $149 vs ?? Geforce GTX 260: $229 vs $314 (+37%)* Inclusive of VAT.

    Sickening isn't it? Heaven knows what happens to the price when it leaves the American shores...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 4 March 2009 22:54
    Anybody ever gone on a shopping trip to America? EG can you get these prices on the street, in shops? I would go just to say "bad luck, old boy" to GWB..but if I can get a Gfx card for 66% of the price too (4850) then ..YAnksville FTW!
  • 0 Hide
    Amazonwarrior , 5 March 2009 00:46
    VokofpolisiekarSickening isn't it? Heaven knows what happens to the price when it leaves the American shores...

    You should see what it does when it gets to Germany, then! :,(
  • 0 Hide
    gen0cide , 5 March 2009 04:06
    Blame the governments. Nvidia Cards aren't made in the US, their made in China, and since import taxes into the EU from the east are stupid, not to mention they could be coming in via the US (more tax)and your looking at a minimum 40% price increase.
  • 0 Hide
    skeptic_27 , 5 March 2009 15:11
    Why dont you test with the stock GTS 250 and 260, Or OC versions of all cards tested?
    Most consumers wont be buying the OC versions anyway. When they can get a better gpu for the same price. This is especially the case with the GTS250. Why by a rebranded 9800 oc when you can get a stock 260 for the same price.
  • 0 Hide
    Dashkatt , 5 March 2009 20:43
    Nvidia continues to flounder as they re-work their old products in a desperate attempt to compete at any level with AMD. This should be a great lesson not only in building a great video card but in marketing as well. AMD took a better product, made it much more affordable and rammed it down Nvidia's throat. This "new" GTS is indeed putting lipstick on a pig.
  • 1 Hide
    Solitaire , 6 March 2009 03:59
    Terrible article. Not only is nVidia pulling a fast one but Toms is helping them. Again. I thought the 'tards that nVidia had in their back pocket had been thrown off the site, but I was wrong. In Ireland (and possibly the UK too) a STOCK GTS250 is equivalent to a stock HD4850 1GB, and a STOCK GTX260+1 is rougly equivalent to a no-frills HD4850X2 or a very heavily OCd HD4870 1GB. So why does Toms persist in pitting an OCd GTS250 against a much cheaper HD4850 and a massively OCd GTX260+ against a stock HD4870 which over here would be around HALF the price? (try running that thing against two of those HD4870s in CF!) There's a very simple reason why Toms did this. Money talks.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 9 March 2009 07:16
    how is it that Anandtech's article claims the GTS250 as having lower idle and load power consumption compared to the 9800gtx+ but in Toms article it is the same.
    What about a comparison on power consumption with EVGA's custom cooler version of 9800gtx+ which also only requires one 6 pin power connector
    http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=34549&vpn=512-P3-N879-AR&manufacture=eVGA&promoid=1015
  • 0 Hide
    hassaqbear , 9 March 2009 13:32
    how is it that Anandtech's article claims the GTS250 as having lower idle and load power consumption compared to the 9800gtx+ but in Toms article it is the same.
    What about a comparison on power consumption with EVGA's custom cooler version of 9800gtx+ which also only requires one 6 pin power connector
    http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=34549&vpn=512-P3-N879-AR&manufacture=eVGA&promoid=1015
  • 0 Hide
    z999 , 11 March 2009 16:01
    these test are really biased towards nVidia. you use OCed cards and compare them to reference designs, i bet that if you used a TOP version of the 4870/50 the results would've shown that the GTX+ and the 250 are'nt competitive.
  • 0 Hide
    Sewje , 11 March 2009 23:34
    What is the point in testing a re-badged card, the performance hasn't changed from when it was first released like a gazillion years ago. Roll on next gen cards already if there are any...
  • 1 Hide
    plasmastorm , 20 March 2009 19:27
    Bring on the day when they find their spine and write a review that just shows the good and bad points of both cards tested and leave it to the reader to decide.

    Where's the integrity gone? Oh wait, it left when the site got redesigned.

    Besides what others have said about a OC'd card tested against stock why don't they just do the sensible thing...

    Test the cards from reference designs so you can see the potential of the raw hardware, not the gimmicky crap that partner companies slap on the product after they get it.