Yeah, seriously I really do like the new GTX 260 GPUs. Though the initial additional performance of the 24 extra cores do not show much potential at reference speeds, but they do kick in along with the rest once you start to overclock the card. Luckily there's board-partners like EVGA and BFG providing us with overclocked editions of such products. Now granted, the overclocked editions are more expensive. But we expect the product as test to hover at roughly 300 USD. Making it just as expensive as a radeon HD 4870 yet the performance to that product was matched. What also caught our attention is the fact that this superclocked edition performance is extremely close to the GeForce GTX 280 performance wise. So that's saving 100 bucks there for only a very small performance differential. The reality is that the GTX 280 can overclock as well too though. But granted guys, this is a very decent set of performance and thus value for your money. Surely not the cheapest products but at that 300 dollar price base you do get a high-end product, and there is a lot to say for that for sure.
The Geforce GTX 260 core 216 is in fact a GeForce GTX 280, with a small chunk of memory missing, and one shader cluster with 24 shader cores disabled. Other then that, there is just no difference whatsoever.
So in general the Core 216 edition cards offer a small small step in performance over the regular GTX 260 products, but the faster clocked Core 216 products, darn it, that's where value starts kicking in for sure.
Even when we fire up the hottest game released this month, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky and test at high quality and then that uber high DX10 enhanced mode, we still get a lot of performance out of it. The sheer amount of shader power versus a very decent amount of frame buffer size helps a lot with the hottest titles.
So again; for say 299 USD you get to play around with a card that is performing really close to GTX 280 performance. Combine it with the step-up program and very extensive warranty policy, I have to say that is a golden little gem there in our test rig. Definitely another candidate worth for our Top Pick award.
So the bottom line. The GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 is merely a notch faster than it's predecessor .. making it compete fiercely with the competitors best Single-GPU product. None the less, the real trick is the new 279 USD pricing level. Add to that the additional performance and then the real candy .. the overclocked models from the board partners like EVGA, they are slightly more expensive at 300-320 USD, but worth the extra dough and that extended eVGA warranty.
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