Nvidia was a little unprepared last year when ATI unveiled an impressive line of graphics processors that were not only fast but were also very competitively priced.
Nvidia was then forced to slash the prices of its then-leading GeForce GTX products. But it didn't stop there, for the rest of the year the name of the game undercut each other's prices, one game I must add was very beneficial to consumers.
And that's how last year ended when Nvidia used its older GeForce 9 series to hold its own in the mainstream, leaving the newer GTX technology for high-performance graphics. In the meantime, ATI launched a number of interesting products that were part of the Radeon 4800 line. That included the Radeon HD 4870 X2, a dual GPU graphics card that ripped the power crown out of Nvidia's hands, even though ATI didn't charge peanuts for this board at $ 550 + apiece.
By gluing two Radeon HD 4870 1GB cards together, ATI created a graphics processing monster that, when supported with the right drivers, was by far the fastest single card solution gamers could get their hands on. Since its release in August last year, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 has been running virtually unhindered. Now, about 5 months later, it looks like this is about to change.
The dual-GPU graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 has 1792 MB of memory, which is equivalent to the storage capacity of two GeForce GTX 260 cards. Unlike the Radeon HD 4870 X2, which are literally two Radeon HD 4870 products glued together, the GeForce GTX 295 appears to be more of a hybrid that shares the specs of the GeForce GTX 260 and 280 products.
The GeForce GTX 295 has the same core, memory and shader clock speeds as the GeForce GTX 260. However, the core configuration is more similar to that of a GeForce GTX 280, with each of the two GPUs containing 240 SPUs and 80 TAUs (texture) and 28 ROPs (Rasterization Operator Units).
That's why we have an incredibly fast graphics card here that can more than compete with the Radeon HD 4870 X2.
The pricing discussion will be tough for the next several weeks when you consider that GeForce GTX 295 boards are now retailing at ~ $ 500, with price reductions on competing products following accordingly. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 appears to sell for ~ $ 450, which is roughly the equivalent of buying a pair of Radeon HD 4870 1GB cards. The prices for the GeForce GTX 280, on the other hand, have dropped dramatically from $ 450 to $ 500 a few weeks ago to under $ 350, which is quite a bargain.
That sharp drop could be due to its replacement, the slightly speed-dependent GeForce GTX 285, which uses a 55nm process and is therefore likely to run cooler and overclock better. These cards are not available yet, however, and the GTX 280 card discounts can be a strategy to run out of inventory as quickly as possible.
But back to the crème de la crème: How fast is the GeForce GTX 295 exactly? We'll look into that next.