As we wrote in an earlier review, the announcement of the ATI Radeon HD 4890 proved to be a piece of very bad news for Nvidia because ATI unveiled a graphics card that was comparable to the GeForce GTX 285 in performance but was offered at a lower price. Nvidia had to react somehow just after as it had improved its G200-based solutions by transitioning the graphics core to a thinner tech process and simplifying the PCBs.
The Radeon HD 4890 release meant that Nvidia would not be able to have a rest. The new product from the opposing camp proved to be so good that it could challenge the single-GPU flagship of the GeForce series while coming at a lower recommended price. Reducing the price of the GeForce GTX 285 even lower would not make sense even from a technical standpoint. The 512-bit memory bus prevented the G200/G200b-based products from switching to a simpler and cheaper PCB.
The solution is obvious if you recall the GeForce GTX 260 that was made by cutting down the GeForce GTX 280 and later reincarnated as GeForce GTX 260 Core 216. The main difference of that card was that it did not use the full width of the memory bus. Early models of GeForce GTX 260 were based on the full-featured PCB from GeForce GTX 280 but came with 14 instead of 16 memory chips, but later on the card acquired a new PCB design with a 448-bit bus instead of a 512-bit one.
Nvidia already had such a product at the moment the Radeon HD 4890 was announced but it could not match ATI’s new solution in terms of speed. The only opportunity was to increase the number of active shader and texture processors and Nvidia did that. That’s the background behind the release of the GeForce GTX 275 which, by Nvidia’s plans, is going to fill in the empty niche between the GeForce GTX 285 and GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 and to compete with the Radeon HD 4890 in both performance and price.
As you can see, the new card equals the GeForce GTX 285 in the configuration of the computing and texture-mapping subunits of the G200b chip: 240 and 80 active subunits of these two types, respectively. And it also equals the GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 in the configuration of RBEs and memory controllers. The GPU and memory clock rates are increased relative to the latter card’s: from 576/1242 to 633/1404MHz and from 1000 (2000) to 1134 (2268) MHz, respectively. This makes the GeForce GTX 275 closer to the flagship GeForce model and brings a promise of comparable performance because the RBE subsystem does not limit the frame rate in most of today’s games whereas the 448-bit memory bus provides sufficiently high bandwidth even for high display resolutions with full-screen antialiasing.
The GeForce GTX 275 comes at a recommended price of $229-249 and is competitive to the Radeon HD 4890 in this respect. Officially released on April 2 the card began to be mass-shipped only on April 14. Nvidia must have had some problems with production facilities and had to return to the paper announcement tactic.
We have got a few such cards by now and are going to check out how the GeForce GTX 275 compares with the Radeon HD 4890. The first GeForce GTX 275 to be discussed comes from Nvidia’s loyal partner BFG Technologies. It is called BFG GeForce GTX 275 OC.