You know, how tiny this update might even be, I kind of like this updated little GTX 260. Where it was a 400 USD high-end graphics card two months ago, it now got a little more bite and a far lower price.
The product at reference specification is pretty much dead on with a Radeon HD 4870, at a slightly lower price = a win.
The BFG version is massively overclocked, performance is actually close and/or similar to the GeForce GTX 280 = a win.
So in retrospect, the standard GTX 260 216 SP products as tested today will cost you roughly 279 USD, and for that money you receive a very lovely graphics card that is highly versatile and feature rich.
It's a bit of a paradox, are these new GPUs bad yielded GTX 280 cores with one shader cluster disabled, or are these better yields GTX 260 GPUs that now allow an extra cluster to be enabled? Well, who cares right? And surely, PhysX and Badaboom Video transcoding is fun stuff for the GPU, but in the end it boils down to one thing, how fast will this graphics card play my games and at what resolutions versus image quality. And we can say it does that pretty darn well. Granted, overall the Core 216 step is small, but once you look at the fastest clocked product performance *whistles*
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.
BFG's offering with the GeForce GTX 260 OCX MaxCORE edition stunned me. Surely the product will be slightly more expensive, but for say 299 USD you get to play around with a card that is performing really close to GTX 280 performance. For BFG top be able to offer this product at launch and at such speeds is to me pretty amazing. 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 review machine. Two very big thumbs up to BFG for making this product very interesting. Definitely worth 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 and you have the ingredients for a very nice product, making this release extremely interesting. And that's just really fascinating for sure.
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