After much anticipation, AMD launched its Radeon HD 6900 series earlier this month. Many were hoping the new HD 6970 would compete against the GeForce GTX 580, potentially forcing Nvidia to cut prices. With a retail price below the competition's flagship, the slower HD 6970 should take over the GTX 570 instead.
In some ways, this is better news for the consumer mass, as the Radeon HD 6970 is a far more realistic product at $ 369 for most gamers than the GeForce GTX 580 at $ 499. The HD 6970 held its own in our test and compared to the GeForce GTX 570 the result could not have been better. Both graphics cards delivered the same experience at 1920 x 1200, while the HD 6970 was slightly faster at 2560 x 1600.
If the $ 350-380 price tag is too hard to justify, the Radeon HD 6870 and GeForce GTX 460 are cheaper alternatives in the $ 200-240 range, though they're a bit slower.
The previous generation Radeon HD 5870 offers a fraction more performance at around $ 280. Meanwhile, Nvidia is still selling the (not very efficient, but fast) GeForce GTX 470 for around $ 249, which makes the Radeon HD 5870 a tough best seller these days.
As a result, there's a $ 100 price gap between the $ 250 GeForce GTX 470 and the $ 350 GeForce GTX 570 with no real competition – at least until AMD sells its new Radeon HD 6950 graphics card for $ 299 brought the market. At this price point, the Radeon HD 6950 has no direct competition, but we'll watch closely how it compares to the GTX 470 and 570 and whether it makes more sense to downsize or enlarge them to get better value.