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Summary

Although it is but slightly faster than the Radeon HD 4870 and GeForce 9800 GX2, the GeForce GTX 280 can be viewed as the fastest single graphics card in the price category of $499 because the GeForce 9800 GX2 doesn’t always deliver its maximum performance and doesn’t support multi-monitor configurations.

It is yet unclear at what official price the Radeon HD 4870 X2 will come out. It cannot be far cheaper than two Radeon HD 4870 cards. Most likely it will be in a higher price category, especially its version with GDDR5 memory. That’s why it would be interesting to compare the GeForce GTX 280 with a couple of Radeon HD 4850 cards working in a CrossFireX tandem. The GeForce GTX 280 will remain the best of single graphics cards for a while yet, even though it is not an undisputed overall winner as Nvidia had wanted it to be.

The new solution will find its customer. Not all people are fond of the multi-GPU concept, particularly because a dual-chip card may not show its full potential in some applications. The GeForce GTX 280 will be the best choice for such gamers. You can also use it in a 3-way SLI configuration to achieve unrivalled performance (in supported games). And still, the GeForce GTX 280 is not as superior a solution as the legendary GeForce 8800 GTX was, for example.

The GeForce GTX 260 is a good product but it is somewhat slower than the Radeon HD 4870. This struggle may lead to price cuts for both models, which is going to be good for the end user.

So, Nvidia’s new solutions are far from a breakthrough as their results in the new-generation games, Call of Juarez and especially Crysis, suggest. We are now waiting for the Radeon HD 4870 X2. Perhaps it will be this kind of a breakthrough.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 Summary

Highs:

  • Best performance among single graphics cards;
  • Wide range of supported FSAA modes;
  • Minimal effect of enabled FSAA on performance;
  • Excellent quality of anisotropic filtering;
  • 240 shader processors, 80 texturing units, 32 RBE
  • 1024MB of video memory with 512-bit access bus;
  • Hardware HD-video decoding support;
  • S/PDIF sound over HDMI;
  • No compatibility issues with existing mainboards.

Lows:

  • No performance breakthrough;
  • Performance shift towards TMU and RBE;
  • No DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support;
  • Incomplete support of VC-1 decoding;
  • No integrated sound core;
  • High power consumption;
  • High noise.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 Summary

Highs:

  • Wide range of supported FSAA modes;
  • Minimal effect of enabled FSAA on performance;
  • Excellent quality of anisotropic filtering;
  • 192 shader processors, 64 texturing units, 28 RBE
  • 896MB of video memory with 448-bit access bus;
  • Hardware HD-video decoding support;
  • S/PDIF sound over HDMI;
  • No compatibility issues with existing mainboards.

Lows:

  • Yields to ATI Radeon HD 4870 in most games;
  • Performance shift towards TMU and RBE;
  • Computational part too limited;
  • No DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support;
  • Incomplete support of VC-1 decoding;
  • No integrated sound core;
  • High noise.
 
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