At A Glance
Good performance for a midrange card, especially in shader-heavy apps.
Less memory bandwidth than the 4870.
When Nvidia unveiled its G200 GPU, we were immediately drawn to the shiny, speedy GeForce GTX 280. Why wouldn’t we be? With high core and memory clocks and 240 stream processors to churn through the toughest shaders, it was sexy and fast. We were less excited about the 260, which sported 192 stream processors and slower clocks speeds but cost about $100 less than the 280 (at the time). Since then, ATI has released its R700-based Radeon 4870, which outperforms the original 260 but costs the same amount.
And that’s where the Core 216 edition of the 260 GTX comes in. With the same stock clock speeds but 24 more shader processors than the original, the new version of the 260 GTX delivers comparable performance to the 4870 at a similar price. The speeds and feeds are about the same as the original 260’s, although EVGA clocked this card’s core at 626MHz (up from 576MHz stock) and includes 896MB of GDDR3 running on a 448-bit bus at 1053MHz (stock is 999MHz).
Aside from the additional shader processors, the Core 216 version of the GTX 260 is identical to the original. The card features all the video decoding and playback power of the GTX 280, including hardware-accelerated H.264 decoding to accelerate Blu-ray playback. Performance was about what we expected; the card delivered scores that were slower than a GeForce GTX 280’s but slightly faster than the 4870’s in shader-intensive games such as Crysis. We’re seeing significantly better performance with both Nvidia and ATI cards after recent driver releases, so we’ve rebenchmarked both the 4870 and GeForce GTX 280 to maintain an even playing field.
We’ve seen this card for less than $300 online already, which puts it firmly in the midrange category. You can find 512MB Radeon 4870 HDs, which are slightly faster, for less money online, but the GTX 260’s extra memory will likely help the card do better than the 512MB Radeons with games released in coming years. Of course, the 1GB 4870 boards are available for about $300, but unfortunately, we don’t have one in the Lab for comparison.