The Technology Universe
Nvidia and ATI are the two main computer graphics hardware manufacturers. Not too long ago, Nvidia was the way to go for superior graphics performance, with the GeForce 8800s leading the way. It was a dominating time for Nvidia, and ATI’s best card, the Radeon HD 2900, couldn’t even compare. But as all PC gamers should know, AMD’s graphics division, ATI has really stepped up their game in the last few years. With the release of it’s 4-series, the Radeon HD cards really began to be a force to reckon with for Nvidia. Not only did they run cooler and consume less power than Nvidia’s GeForce 200-series, but they also offered more performance for your money. As we are already seeing, this trend has continued into the current generation. The decision for DirectX11 PC gamers is between the Radeon HD 5-series and GeForce 400-series.
GeForce GTX 465 vs. Radeon HD 5850
The GTX 465 was released to compete with the 5850, but it seems as though it was meant to compete with the 5830. The GTX 465 retails at $279, but in some cases, offers even less performance than the 5830 priced at $230. You have the choice to spend $10 more and go with a 5850 at $290, so what would you do? Not to mention the TDP of the GTX 465 is 200 watts, 49 watts higher than that of the 5850. With less performance, a much higher price, and unnecessarily high power consumption the only way to go here is with the Radeon HD 5850. I don’t know what Nvidia intends to accomplish with the GTX 465.
GeForce GTX 470 vs. Radeon HD 5870
The GTX 470 and the HD 5870 will probably be better sellers than the GTX 480 and 5970 with more realistic prices. The GTX 470 is priced at $349, and the 5870 at $379. In benchmark results both cards seems to hold their own, each winning in different tests. Their performance is very similar, but the GTX 470 has a TDP of 225 watts, about 40 watts higher than the 5870 at 188 watts. Although the 5870 consumes much less power, it is still about $30 more expensive. If you don’t care about the power consumption, then go with the GTX 470. If you do, $30 is a nice premium to pay for the energy savings, and possibly longer component lifetime down the road.
GeForce GTX 480 vs. Radeon HD 5970
The GeForce GTX 480 is Nvidia’s most powerful card, as is the Radeon HD 5970 for ATI. The 5970 is actually a dual GPU card, however, it is considered a single slot card so it is still competing with the GTX 480. If not, that would be like saying a Core i7 processor can’t be compared to a Phenom II X6 because the Phenom has more cores. The 5970 beats the GTX 480 in most benchmarks, but at what cost? About $599.
That’s $100 more than the GTX 480 at $499. However, the significant increase in performance somewhat justifies the extra cost. Again, Nvidia’s card is a power hog at 250 watts TDP, but compared to the 5970 at 300 watts, it’s nothing to cry about. Considering how much more power is packed into the 5970, the values of these cards is about even.
Although Nvidia has only released three DirectX 11 cards so far, the GTX 470 and GTX 480 seem to be good competition with the top tier Radeon HD cards. The GTX 465 doesn’t look very promising because of it’s power consumption and price, but it’s very possible Nvidia will realize their mistake and release a revision at a lower price. Altogether, if you are happy with the pure performance offered by Nvidia, it’s not a bad idea to go with a GTX 470 or 480. If you want to want a power conscious card that offers great performance for its price, you can’t go wrong with the 5870, 5950, or even the 5830 that offers performance very close to the GTX 465. It will be interesting to see how these trends hold up once Nvidia releases the rest of its DirectX 11 lineup.