vacancies advertise contact news tip The Vault
facebook rss twitter

Review: Inno3D GeForce GTX 260 OC vs. Gigabyte Radeon HD 4870: the aftermath

by Parm Mann on 27 January 2009, 12:57 2.8

Tags: GeForce GTX 260 OC, Radeon HD 4870 1024MB (Cat 9.3), Gigabyte (TPE:2376), AMD (NYSE:AMD), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), Inno3D, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaqqs

Add to My Vault: x

HEXUS.bang4buck, temps, power-draw, overclocking

In a rough-and-ready assessment of the cards' bang per buck, we've aggregated the 1,920x1,200 frame-rates for four games, normalised them* and taken account of the cards' prices.

But there are more provisos than we'd care to shake a stick at. We could have chosen to test different games, the cards' prices could have been derived from other sources and pricing tends to fluctuate daily.

Consequently, the table and graph below highlight a metric that should only be used as a yardstick for evaluating comparative performance with price factored in. Other architectural benefits are not covered, obviously.

Graphics cards XFX GeForce GTX 280
1,024MB
Inno3D GeForce GTX 260 OC
898MB
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
2,048MB
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4870
1,024MB
Actual aggregate marks at 1,920x1,200 314.57 283.52 373.91
265.43
Aggregate marks, normalised*, at 1,920x1,200 277.28 261.76 306.96
243.67
Current pricing, including VAT £261.37 £244.78 £249.96 £236.29
HEXUS.bang4buck score at 1,920x1,200 1.06 1.07 1.23 1.03
Acceptable frame rate (av. 60fps) at 1,920x1,200 Yes No (Far Cry 2) Yes No (Far Cry 2, Company of Heroes)

* the normalisation refers to taking playable frame rate into account. Should a card benchmark at over 60 frames per second in any one game, the extra fps count as half. Similarly, should a card benchmark lower, say at 40fps, we deduct half the difference from its average frame rate and the desired 60fps, giving it a HEXUS.bang4buck score of 30 marks. The minimum allowable frame rate is 20fps but that scores zero.

** estimated pricing.

As an example, should a card score 120fps we treat it as 90fps as only half the frame rate above 60fps is counted for the HEXUS.bang4buck - this is the formula: (120-((120-60)/2)). Similarly, should it score 30fps, we count it as only 15fps: (30+((30-60)/2)).

HEXUS.bang4buck analysis

You probably don't need our bang4buck figures to work this one out. For a little extra cost, Sapphire's Radeon HD 4850 X2 offers far-greater performance, hence the highest HEXUS.bang4buck score out of our quartet of cards.

If £250 is your budget, there's little need to look elsewhere. Inno3D's GeForce GTX 260 OC and GIGABYTE's Radeon HD 4870 1GB offer decent enough performance, but they need to quickly come down to around £200 to make any sense.

Temperature musings

We perform our testing on an open test-bed with a 120mm fan simulating case airflow.

Graphics cards XFX GeForce GTX 280
1,024MB
Inno3D GeForce GTX 260 OC
896MB
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
2,048MB
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4870
1,024MB
Ambient temperature 21.5°C 19.7°C 22°C 21°C
Idle temperature 47°C 47°C 42.5°C 38.5°C
Load temperature 74°C 70°C 62.5°C 56.5°C
Ambient-to-load delta 52.5°C 50.3°C 40.5°C 35.5°C

GIGABYTE's Radeon HD 4870 1GB has lagged slightly behind in terms of outright performance when put up against Inno3D's GeForce GTX 260 OC, but it's a clear winner in the temperature stakes. Zalman's VF830 is doing a grand job of dissipating heat, making GIGABYTE's card far-and-away the coolest when idle or under load. There's a catch, mind you, in that the GIGABYTE card is unfortunately loud at all times thanks to its fan not being thermostatically controlled.

We hate to keep kissing the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2's rear end, but it's worth noting that the better-performing card stays exceptionally cool when idle or under load. The two 65nm NVIDIA cards are notably hottest, but run relatively quiet when idle.

Power-draw

Graphics cards XFX GeForce GTX 280
1,024MB
Inno3D GeForce GTX 260 OC
896MB
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
2,048MB
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4870
1,024MB
Idle draw 107W 107W 138W 141W
Load draw 260W 233W 275W 216W

Measuring power-draw at the mains by running 3DMark06's Canyon test at 1,920x1,200 4xAA 16xAF, we see both NVIDIA cards consume less power when idle. Under load, the Radeon HD 4870 shows its efficiency and, as expected, the dual-GPU Radeon HD 4850 X2 leads the field by eating up some 275W of juice.

GeForce GTX 285 consumes notably less power than a pre-overclocked GeForce GTX 280. That lower power draw and reduced load temperature should bode well for:

Overclocking

Seeing as GIGABYTE's Radeon HD 4870 1GB ships with default frequencies and very decent operating temperatures, we'd expect ample overclocking headroom. We were able to easy crank up GPU and memory frequencies to 790MHz and an effective 4,300MHz, respectively. We feel we could easily go higher, but AMD's Overdrive utility is limited to the aforementioned max frequencies. Nonetheless, with the achievable overclock, we witnessed an increase of five frames per second when running Enemy Territory: Quake Wars at 1,920x1,200.

Despite being pre-overclocked, there's still room to manoeuvre with Inno3D's GeForce GTX 260 OC. Our man in the labs managed to raise GPU frequency from 620MHz to 707MHz, and memory from an effective 2,100MHz to 2,560MHz. That healthy bump sees Enemy Territory: Quake Wars at 1,920x1,200 rise from an average of 79 frames per second to a GeForce GTX 280-beating 91 frames per second.