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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

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Final thoughts and ratings

There comes a time when we review not one but two graphics cards that we find incredibly tough to recommend. This is one of those times.

Despite the still-able underlying architecture, both the Inno3D GeForce GTX 260 OC and GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4870 1GB suffer from falling prices on other high-end alternatives. With the Radeon HD 4850 X2 and GeForce GTX 280 dropping dramatically in price over the past weeks, any lesser card needs to drastically re-think its price point in order to sustain validity in a challenging economic climate.

Today, a GeForce GTX 280 can be had for £260, and a Radeon HD 4850 X2 for £250. Cards lower down the performance ladder need to quickly fall in price in order to make any sense at all. As a result, custom cards that provide pre-overclocked frequencies or alternate cooling are priced such that they're almost, well, pointless.

GIGABYTE's Radeon HD 4870 is a well-cooled take on AMD's reference design, but the implementation of the Zalman fan could be better. With no thermostatic control, the fan is unnecessarily loud at all times, somewhat defeating the purpose of a custom-cooled variation. Add to that the default clock speeds, higher asking price of £236 and a lacklustre bundle and you start to scratch your head in wondering why?

Inno3D's GeForce GTX 260 OC is in a similar situation. Although its bundle is well stocked, and its out-the-box speeds well overclocked, the card is difficult to find - it's only available to pre-order from Ebuyer.com and we've had trouble locating it anywhere else. At £245, though, it's overpriced and will once again raise eyebrows. When a far-quicker and notably-cooler Radeon HD 4850 X2 can be had for an extra £5, it's simply impossible to justify the Inno3D card.

Still, performance from both cards is decent at 1,920x1,200 and more than adequate for most gamers. Should either card drop to around the £200 mark - and they need to do so quickly, we feel - they may once again find meaning. At present, if spending under £250, we'd buy Sapphire's Radeon HD 4850 X2 without thinking twice.

HEXUS Rating

HEXUS.net scores products out of 100%, taking into account technology, implementation, stability, performance, value, customer care and desirability. A score for an average-rated product is a meaningful ‘50%’, and not ‘90%’, which is common practice for a great many other publications.

We consider any product score above '50%' as a safe buy. The higher the score, the higher the recommendation from HEXUS to buy. Simple, straightforward buying advice.

56%

Inno3D GeForce GTX 260 OC


52%

GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4870 1GB

 

HEXUS Where2Buy

The Inno3D GeForce GTX 260 OC can be purchased on pre-order from Ebuyer.com at a cost of £244.78.

The GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4870 1GB can be purchased on pre-order from Scan.co.uk at a cost of £236.29*.

*As always, UK-based HEXUS.community discussion forum members will benefit from the SCAN2HEXUS Free Shipping initiative, which will save you a further few pounds plus also top-notch, priority customer service and technical support backed up by the SCANcare@HEXUS forum.

HEXUS Right2Reply

At HEXUS, we invite the companies whose products we test to comment on our articles. If any company representatives for the products reviewed choose to respond, we'll publish their commentary here verbatim.



HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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At 1,920x1,200, the GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4870 1GB performs some 25 per cent slower than Inno3D's GeForce GTX 280 OC. Note, also, that this is using AMD's yet-to-be-publicly-released Catalyst 9.1 beta drivers.

Where's hurleybird to eat his words?
Damn, wish I had a spare £250 lying around, wonder what the market will be like around August, should finally have some money to burn then :)
my initial musings on this review are varied.

A: Bloody good comparison guy's bang on the money as ever.

B: CoD4 players will be GAGGING for a 4850x2, so these two are tricky pricing

C: If I were Zalman I'd be a tad embarrased about a company making my product so… loud! Zalman were the Guru's of Quiet and Efficient. I know that heatsink does a good job, but this whole ATI 4850/4870 fan speed thing has drawn on for too long now. Without a review like this, how woud you know whether you're gonna be buying an ear-splitter or not? I've got some experience with 260's and they are a tad warm, but they're quiet and dont seem to mind being warm.

D: Power drain at tick-over, ie not gaming, and the nVidia boys have blown that ATI set up out of the water. Many many gaming rigs are used for surfing/homework/video too. To have a high power drawn is just plain wrong. 4870 uses 34w more at idle that a 260

40 hours work (non gaming) per week, 52 weeks per year = 2080 hours x 34watts more than a 260 = 70kwh per year. Paying around 15 p per kwh = £10 per year extra in electricity at tickover , PLUS the xtra gaming draw over a 260. Might as well save that tenner and spend it on something else!
All right, lemme see here…. Overclocked products are always sold with a premium. Real enthousiasts' buy the vanilla thing and OCL it, as most OCL products are reflashed vanilla versions, apart from the reflash no real difference with the vanilla product. So the OCL moniker is extra change for the retailer.

Second: I find it strange that in a lot of reviews the horsepower of a card is measured with a game instead of a real GPGPU application that very much can compare apples ( AMD ) with apples ( NV ) on a GPU level. We are benching a GPU, right ? Not a game.

So with this in mind I would like to recommend all reviewers to use programs like barsfw to evenly measure CPUs and GPU combos, wattage and reflect the outcome of those programs to games so you can see where the cpu/gpu/ppu ratio kicks in or out.

Some PhysX comparison would be fine with me also… hi AMD :angst:

Thank you for your time. :)
The 4850 X2 is a good looking card at this price point and looking likely to be my next card, I stumbled accross a Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 1024MB for £166.74 inc VAT at overclockers if anyone is interested, it's on a this week only deal so today may be the last day but a big saving over the Gigabyte version.

twobombs
Second: I find it strange that in a lot of reviews the horsepower of a card is measured with a game instead of a real GPGPU application that very much can compare apples ( AMD ) with apples ( NV ) on a GPU level. We are benching a GPU, right ? Not a game.

So with this in mind I would like to recommend all reviewers to use programs like barsfw to evenly measure CPUs and GPU combos, wattage and reflect the outcome of those programs to games so you can see where the cpu/gpu/ppu ratio kicks in or out.

Some PhysX comparison would be fine with me also… hi AMD :angst:

Thank you for your time. :)

People buy expensive graphics cards for games, so I can't see anything better than a game to guage it's performance, If anything I think Hexus should add a few more games in to vary the results more.

By barsfw are you talking about a program called BarsWF?, to my knowledge (after a quick Google search) this program is a MD5 cracking tool that utilises the GPU power?, If so what use is it to the average user in a card review and does it run on AMD hardware or just Nvidia?