The introduction of the new graphics card series from Nvidia and AMD’s graphics department ATI was a success in many respects. First, it changed our notions about graphics card performance. Second, there were price cuts concerning previous-generation graphics hardware. And third, the competition between the two main market players became tougher.
In fact, ATI and Nvidia did not compete in the same price sectors after the release of the GeForce 8800 GTX. They positioned their graphics cards differently, making it harder for the customer to make his choice. Few people base their shopping choice on the evasive price/quality ratio and few people know what they really need, but many of us believe in brands and model ranges. So, purchasing a graphics card was not easy for many users and this situation was especially unpleasant for AMD.
It changed dramatically with the Radeon HD 4800 release. ATI’s products became competitive to Nvidia’s, making Nvidia revise the pricing of its top- and premium-class solutions GeForce GTX 260 and 280.
Even more importantly, the Radeon HD 4800 series made many companies reconsider their attitude towards ATI’s products as well as relationships with Nvidia. For example, Gainward announced it would launch its HD 4850 and HD 4870 based cards, and ASK Technology, the owner of InnoVision Multimedia, created a new brand especially for its Radeon-based cards: Force3D.
This is all most important for AMD/ATI and Nvidia, but what about the end-user who wants to buy a high-quality product that would meet his ever-growing requirements? A few years ago 30-inch monitors with a resolution of 2560x1600 pixels were not only expensive but also required a very specific graphics subsystem consisting of two or even four GPUs to deliver high speed in video games. Today, 30-inch monitors are far more affordable and popular but installing a multi-GPU graphics subsystem in order to play at 2560x1600 still seems unhandy for many users.
Today, we will see if $300 graphics cards can deliver a playable frame rate in popular games at a resolution of 2560x1600 and with 4x FSAA (where possible). We’ll also describe the Radeon HD 4870 as it comes from the new Force3D brand.