GeForce GTX 260 with 216 cores Video Card Review

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Introduction

NVIDIA is launching today a new version of GeForce GTX 260 with 216 processors instead of 192 to better compete with Radeon HD 4870. In fact NVIDIA is pitching to reviewing websites that this new GeForce GTX 260 is faster than Radeon HD 4870 for the top latest games released (FarCry 2, Fallout 3, Dead Space, Call of Duty World at War and Left 4 Dead). Let’s see the performance increase brought by this new model and how it is compared to other NVIDIA products and competitors – including Radeon HD 4870, of course.

In our Radeon HD 4870 review we saw that the original GeForce GTX 260 and this ATI video card had the same performance level on most scenarios, with an advantage to Radeon HD 4870 in the games that where a difference between the two cards (the only scenario were GeForce GTX 260 was faster was on Call of Duty 4 at 2560×1600 with image quality settings maxed out). What NVIDIA wants now is to move this advantage to the new GeForce GTX 260.

This new GeForce GTX 260 is identical to its older brother, with the only difference being the number of internal processors (known by several different names, such as “streaming processors,” “SP” or “cores”). Both run at the same clock rates. That is why we are not posting any pictures, as both cards are physically identical.

To make the comparison between the new GeForce GTX 260 with 216 cores and the other video cards we included in this review easier, we compiled the table below comparing the main specs from these cards. If you want to compare the specs of the reviewed video card to any other video card not included in the table below, just take a look at our NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table and on our AMD ATI Chips Comparison Table.

GPU Core Clock Shader Clock Processors Memory Clock Memory Interface Memory Transfer Rate Memory Price
GeForce GTX 280 602 MHz 1,296 MHz 240 1,107 MHz 512-bit 141.7 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3 USD 405 – 460
GeForce GTX 260 (192 cores) 576 MHz 1,242 MHz 192 1,000 MHz 448-bit 112 GB/s 896 MB GDDR3 USD 215 – 220
GeForce GTX 260 (216 cores) 576 MHz 1,242 MHz 216 1,000 MHz 448-bit 112 GB/s 896 MB GDDR3 USD 250 – 295
GeForce 9800 GX2 600 MHz 1,500 MHz 128 1,000 MHz 256-bit 64 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3 USD 285
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 738 MHz 1,836 MHz 128 1,100 MHz 256-bit 70.4 GB/s 512 MB GDDR3 USD 175 – 210
GeForce 9800 GTX 675 MHz 1,688 MHz 128 1,100 MHz 256-bit 70.4 GB/s 512 MB GDDR3 USD 178
Palit GeForce 9800 GT 1 GB 600 MHz 1.5 GHz 112 900 MHz 256-bit 57.6 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3 N/A
Radeon HD 4870 X2 750 MHz 750 MHz 800 900 MHz 256-bit 115.2 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 USD 480 – 530
Radeon HD 4870 750 MHz 750 MHz 800 900 MHz 256-bit 115.2 GB/s 512 MB GDDR5 USD 190 – 290
Radeon HD 4850 X2 625 MHz 625 MHz 800 993 MHz 256-bit 63.5 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3 USD 410
Radeon HD 4850 625 MHz 625 MHz 800 993 MHz 256-bit 63.5 GB/s 512 MB GDDR3 USD 150 – 200
Radeon HD 4830 575 MHz 575 MHz 640 900 MHz 256-bit 57.6 GB/s 512 MB GDDR3 USD 120 – 130
Sapphire Atomic HD 3870 X2 857 MHz 857 MHz 320 927 MHz 256-bit 59.3 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3 N/A
Radeon HD 3870 776 MHz 776 MHz 320 1,125 MHz 256-bit 72 GB/s 512 MB GDDR4 USD 95 – 200

It is important to note that this table reflects the current prices for the listed video cards at Newegg.com, which are lower than the prices we published in other reviews, since prices tend to drop every day.

Some important observations regarding this table:

  • All NVIDIA chips are DirectX 10 (Shader 4.0), while all AMD/ATI chips are DirectX 10.1 (Shader 4.1).
  • The memory clocks listed are the real memory clock. Memory clocks are often advertised as double the figures presented, numbers known as “DDR clock.” Radeon HD 4870 and Radeon HD 4870 X2 use GDDR5 chips, which transfer four data per clock cycle and thus the “DDR clock” for these video cards is four times the value presented on this table (i.e., 3.6 GHz).
  • GeForce 9800 GX2, Radeon HD 3870 X2, Radeon HD 4850 X2 and Radeon HD 4870 X2 have two GPU’s. The numbers on the table represent only one of the chips.
  • All video cards included on our review were running at the chip manufacturer default clock configuration (i.e., no overclocking), except Sapphire Atomic HD 3870 X2. The official core clock for Radeon HD 3870 X2 is 825 MHz, while the official memory clock is 900 MHz. So this card was a little bit overclocked. We couldn’t reduce these clocks to their reference values and since we hadn’t any other Radeon HD 3870 X2 available we included this video card anyway.
  • Prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
  • We couldn’t find Sapphire Atomic HD 3870 X2 for sale. This model will be more expensive than cards from other vendors based on the same GPU because it features water cooling. Just for you to have an idea, prices on the regular Radeon 3870 X2 are quoted between USD 190 and USD 350.
  • We couldn’t find Palit GeForce 9800 GT 1 GB for sale. The model with 512 MB from the same manufacturer is quoted at USD 130.

Before going to our tests let’s recap the main features from GeForce GTX 260 with 216 cores.

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Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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