Just as many people predicted
a couple of weeks ago, Nvidia has today officially announced the GeForce GTS 250, which it hopes will combat ATI’s Radeon HD 4850. The GPU will be based on Nvidia’s 55nm G92 core, which will be clocked at 738MHz with the stream processors running at 1,836MHz.
Sound familiar? There’s a good reason for that, which is that Nvidia’s GeForce 9800 GTX+
is based on the exact same GPU and has precisely the same clock speeds. There is, however, a very slight difference, which is that Nvidia is also introducing a 1GB edition of the card as standard, and increasing the stock memory clock from 1GHz (2GHz effective) to 1.1GHz (2.2GHz effective). Of course, you can already buy 1GB GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards anyway, but this gives the 1GB cards an official spec.
The other difference between the GeForce 9800 GTX+ and the GTS 250 is that the latter uses a slightly shorter 9in PCB, compared with the large 10.5in PCB on the former. The GTS 250 also only requires one PCI-E power connector, compared with two on the 9800 GTX+, and Nvidia says that the GTS 250 has a maximum TDP of 150W. Both of these factors will allow GTS 250 cards to fit into more cases, while also maintaining compatibility with older PSUs.
At this point, it’s also worth noting that the original GeForce 9800 GTX was also a rebranding of Nvidia’s 512MB GeForce 8800 GTS
with slightly higher clock speeds and support for 3-way SLI and Hybrid Power.
After shrinking the G92 die from 65nm to 55nm and again upping the clock speed, Nvidia then had the GeForce 9800 GTX+. However, the original GeForce 8800 GTS also had a 9in PCB, as well as a cooler that looks suspiciously like the one on the GTS 250.
Nvidia’s general manager for GeForce, Ujesh Desai, admitted that "a lot of people think that Nvidia’s trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes,"
with the rebrand, but said "that’s not what we’re trying to do."
According to Desai, the rebranding was the result of feedback from Nvidia’s customers, board partners and retailers who said that having two lines of GPUs was confusing. Desai said that the company had had "requests from our customers and our partners to try to clean up the branding, especially as we move her into the New Year, to clean up confusion that this is causing for some of the end users."
While this rebranding strategy might make sense for people buying a new GPU, it could be even more confusing for people who perhaps already own a 512MB GeForce 8800 GTS and think that the GTS 250 will offer a substantial upgrade. We put this question to Desai, who admitted that "unfortunately, there isn’t an ideal answer to that one."
He added that "if you look at the original 8800 GTS 512, if you look at the performance of that vs the GTS 250, there will be a performance difference, so it’s not like it’s going to be the exact same performance as the older 8800 GTS 512."
We pointed out that this performance difference would be fractional, though, and hardly worth the money for a new graphics card, to which Desai said that "I think the customer who’s making that decision will look and they’ll see what the performance difference is."
Desai also said that a lot of the guys who bought GeForce 8800 guys will "probably wait a year or two for the next big thing"
rather than upgrading to another DirectX 10 card.
No UK pricing has been announced for the new cards yet, but the 1GB GeForce GTS 250 is set to cost around $149 US, with the 512MB card costing $129 US. Comparatively, before the launch of the GTS 250, a 512MB 9800 GTX card had an MSRP of $149 US, so the new cards will at least offer better value.
We're yet to get hold of a sample - we'll talk about that a bit more later - but we'll get a review online as soon as we can get one.
Update: Where's bit-tech's GeForce GTS 250 review?
Does it make sense for Nvidia to rebrand the GeForce 9800 GTX+ as the GeForce GTS 250, or does this make matters more confusing? Let us know your thoughts in the forums