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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 896MB

What does it offer for 399 USD?

June 26, 2008



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Conclusions

What have we got here? The new card fares in between the 9800 GTX and the GTX 280, that is Lower Hi-End. It's interesting to note that NVIDIA changed its prices these days, probably fearing the RADEON HD 48xx. And now the 9800 GTX must come down to $200 (recommended price), $229 will be charged for the overclocked 9800 GTX - 9800 GTX+. We assume that the difference between this card and the GTX 260 will be even smaller. And the latter costs 399 USD! Do you see what I mean? - it's too high a price for the GTX 260. It must be lower by one hundred dollars.

It's just that in the heat of competition with new AMD products NVIDIA simply forgot about the abyss between the GTX 260/280 and previous flagships, which are gone to the Middle sector (there is a big difference between 200-229 USD and 399 USD). If they dropped prices for the 9800 family, they'll have to do the same for the GTX 260, and then for the 280. It will be painful, because these cards have only recently appeared in stores, their primary costs are high, and the yield of effective GPUs is not very high (shortage of GTX cards in the beginning of sales indicates that), prices are raised deliberately to lower the demand... However, the demand itself probably won't be very high because of competing products from AMD. Besides, the GTX 260 does not outperform the 9800 GTX very much in some games. To say nothing of the 9800 GTX+ (test results of this card will be included in our i3DSpeed).

On the whole, the company was right to roll out the GTX 260, because this card fits the market segment between the 9800 GTX and the GTX 280 perfectly. It held true as far as the price of the 9800 GTX was 299 USD. But now it dropped by $100. And this has a severe impact on the GTX 260 with its price tag of $399. The company will have to drop prices for this card as well. But will NVIDIA do it? - We'll wait and see.

What concerns a comparison of the GTX 260 and the 3870 X2, we prefer the former here. Even though the latter is victorious in some tests. It's because a single-GPU card is always a better choice than a dual-GPU card with Achilles' heel of CF/SLI (when everything depends on optimizations in drivers and software).

The main conclusion is as follows: the GTX 260 card has demonstrated decent performance, but in the light of the latest changes in the market its price is too high. Perhaps some of our readers will get down to this article, when the prices are already much lower, and the GTX 260 gets all preference points. It's quite possible. This product can potentially become a very popular card.

To find more information about performance of various cards, please visit our monthly special i3DSpeed.

Afterword

A few words about our benchmarks.

In our updated article about FRAPS, we have illustrated how crude and inaccurate tests with this utility are. Testers do not have other tools, except for benchmarks built into games.

This article and its first part explain that it's sometimes possible to test games with integrated and identically looped demos. Although this implies lots of potential errors, since measurement accuracy depends on a given tester: whether he starts/stops FRAPS in time or does it too late/early.

But I have run across situations, when demo load changes abruptly in the very beginning or end. So a half-second delay in starting/stopping the utility changes the average FPS by 15-20%. That's not a measurement error anymore - such a test is a total waste of time. One time you delay the test, another time you start it too early (not intentionally, of course), and you end up with absolutely different performance results.

But even that's not the most important thing. The fact is, there are almost no games with built-in demos anymore. So, testers are forced to use a method that we deem totally unacceptable. They measure gaming performance by walking a straight line from the a starting point in a scene to a selected destination (the nearest fence, tree, etc.).

We all understand that it's impossible to navigate to a finish spot in precisely the same route with different cards and in different resolutions. Besides, such games always introduce random elements into a scene, and objects may be placed slightly differently on the same scene.

Unfortunately, websites that publish a huge number of tests do not always reveal their test methods for each game (except for those with built-in benchmarks).

So, we believe that it's better to offer a limited number of game tests, but each will be crystal clear, accurate and showing actual differences between graphics cards.


We express gratitude to
NVIDIA Russia
for the provided graphics card.

PSU provided by TAGAN,
Monitor provided by NVIDIA.

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