AMD and Nvidia battle for mid-range supremacy

AMD and Nvidia battle for mid-range supremacy

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the best graphics card of them all?

I certainly wasn't expecting the events of the past few days to play out the way they did...

Over the course of this week, I've been subjected to some pretty heavy marketing messages from both AMD and Nvidia and it's fair to say that we're well past the sleeve-rolling-up stage – the daggers are out and they're being waved around pretty frantically.

As I was preparing to board the plane to Malaga for AMD's Radeon HD 4000-series press event, I received a call from Nvidia to tell us that it was seeding certain websites—including bit-tech—with GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards ahead of their mid-July launch.

Our card arrived just yesterday and Richard was on hand to reveal the details while I was on my way back from Malaga after being out of the country for less than 18 hours.

Nvidia wanted this new card directly compared against the Radeon HD 4850 – my guess was that it was worried. And that's with good reason, because AMD put out some very lofty claims for the Radeon HD 4000-series during the short event in the sunny Costa Del Sol (it was a shame I didn't have time to soak up some sun, as I'm looking rather pale at the moment).

Originally, the Radeon HD 4000-series was completely under cover until next week, but certain retailers in Europe were over-eager to get on with selling the Radeon HD 4850 in particular. They refused to comply with AMD's requests to stop them selling the unreleased hardware, so AMD felt the only thing it could do was to lift the embargo on its performance.

I can't tell you a great deal about the architecture at the moment, but let's just say that it's looking rather impressive and the early (theoretical) performance tests we've done seem to add up, matching AMD's claims. What's more, the price AMD's going to hit has resulted in Nvidia basically dropping its pants on the GeForce 9800 GTX price, and forcing it to pre-announce the GeForce 9800 GTX+ ahead of its mid-July availability date.

The GeForce 9800 GTX price drop is sure to upset anyone that purchased a card in the past few days, but then I guess that's just the technology industry sticking its proverbial two fingers up at you. This isn't the first time that I've seen this happen in my years as a hardware enthusiast.

That said, I'm quite enthused by AMD's new take on GPU design – it's now targeting the price point that it never ever used to get right. Based on what we saw with the Radeon HD 3850, and what we're starting to see with the Radeon HD 4850, it looks like it's causing Nvidia some problems – there were three products that tried to compete with the Radeon HD 3850, and there are already two products going up against the 4850. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see more coming as time goes by as well...

One thing is for sure now, I've got my work cut out to bring you everything you want to know about these new products in a timely manner – I'm sure there'll be many sleepless nights over the next couple of weeks while we work to bring you enough information to enable you to make informed buying decisions.

Stay tuned for our GeForce GTX 280 coverage shortly, too!

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Xtrafresh 20th June 2008, 10:31 Quote
I'm really waiting for this review Tim! Thanks for the heads-up though, i was getting a bit worried about the radiosilence around 4xxx/GTX280/GTX260/9800GTX+

Exciting times, but nothing on here! In the end though, i know it's because you guys refuse to rush tests, so it's all for the better :)
badders 20th June 2008, 11:28 Quote
Is anyone else getting a headache at all these GC releases so close together? I know I am, and I'm not even reviewing them.

We all owe you many beers.
roadie 20th June 2008, 11:45 Quote
nvidia is now resorting to paper launches then? That's lame, and they really must be worried. Their margins are going to take a tanking.
liratheal 20th June 2008, 11:50 Quote
Awesome :D

The red team is striking back.. A little over due, but hey. Now, the next most important thing, who's going to get a waterblock out for the 4870 first?

Hell, even the 4850, given its supposed performance at stock clocks..
Timmy_the_tortoise 20th June 2008, 12:15 Quote

I had no idea the 9800GTX was SO BIG!
Paradigm Shifter 20th June 2008, 12:43 Quote
I want a pair of 4870s. :D

Or, possibly, two 4870X2s if they work with my mobo (X48-T2R... which for some reason doesn't seem to like the 3870X2...)
mclean007 20th June 2008, 14:02 Quote
Originally Posted by Timmy_the_tortoise

I had no idea the 9800GTX was SO BIG!

isn't that a GTX260?
chrisb2e9 20th June 2008, 14:16 Quote
This is awsome, PRICE WAR!!!!
[USRF]Obiwan 20th June 2008, 14:44 Quote
Can you guys please do a buying recommendation tree for price/performance/bang for bucks?
Denis_iii 20th June 2008, 14:56 Quote
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
Can you guys please do a buying recommendation tree for price/performance/bang for bucks?

yea, that'd be awesome! But no where near as awesome as ATI getting back up after the knock out blow that was the 8800. Long as performance/price is similiar to 9800GTX I'd rather go with ATI. DirectX 10.1 support and a much cleaner audio over HDMI setup not to mention better at drivers.

Unless i'm wrong on any of that? more GDDR5 please sir
DarkLord7854 20th June 2008, 15:13 Quote
lewchenko 20th June 2008, 16:22 Quote
Rip Off Britain strikes again.

4850 - $199 (less with some rebates from new egg) or £140 (overclockers) in the UK inc. vat

£140 is nearly $280. Vat doesnt account for the difference by a long way.
wuyanxu 20th June 2008, 16:43 Quote
£140 for a card that performs about the same to 8800GTX is a steal!

my god that's good. but come on ATI with your higher end x2, we don't want nVidia stealing all the thunder with their monster gtx280
Kris 20th June 2008, 17:29 Quote
indeed, gotta love the price wars - hasn't been a better time to upgrade/buy a new computer in a very long time :) So, like someone else said - can't wait for that review Tim :)
HourBeforeDawn 20th June 2008, 17:44 Quote
the fact that ATI is able to do a single slot designs is a big win in my book, and besides typically ATI always had the better mid range card due to price a lone and it looks like nVidia is doing a lot of like I dont know how to call it but they look worried =p
Zurechial 20th June 2008, 18:10 Quote
The fight may be between nVidia and AMD right now, but the consumer is the winner here (except maybe those who splashed out on expensive cards in the near past).
steveo_mcg 20th June 2008, 19:41 Quote
Finally its on...

How long have we been waiting on a decent ati gfx card? NV 6000 Series?
johnnyboy700 20th June 2008, 21:38 Quote
Man oh man, am I glad I didn't jump in and by my new video card last month! I'll hang fire for a couple of weeks yet just to see whats going to happen with the ATI cards.
This is a great time to be in the market for some serious GPU hardware, N-Vidia and ATI seem to finally have some price/performance wars kicking in and I look forward to seeing how their products shape up. If there's no clear winner then I'll just save my pennies until I can afford a GTX 280 - but with my luck by the time I've done that it'll be time for the next gen GPU to hit the market. 20th June 2008, 23:42 Quote
Lets just forget all this and get down to the bare facts, any serious gamer knows that Nvidia RULES BOOYEAH HEADSHOT

<-------d[ * . * ]b------<<
rls669 21st June 2008, 01:37 Quote
God I love ATI right now. Forcing 9800GTX prices down to ~$200 is quite a feat. Let's see what the 4870 can do for 260 prices in a few weeks :D
Mentai 22nd June 2008, 17:48 Quote
From early previews the performance on the 4850 is absolutely fantastic. I've never even bought an ATI card but I'm so happy that they're not only back in the game, this card is set to dominate. Too bad I bought a 9600gt the other month. Hopefully there's more significant performance boosts in the next 6 months so I can justify spending more money then xD
bahgger 23rd June 2008, 01:25 Quote
Looking forward to the reviews - I need a new card as my 7950GX2 is getting somewhat slow for newer games at 1920 x 1200!
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