I just wanted to make note of a new NVIDIA release that is happening today – a revision of the GeForce GTX 260 GPU will be hitting the streets this week to increase competition on the AMD Radeon HD 4870.  We’ll have our full review up for you tomorrow – BFG sent us an overclocked OCX model we are putting through the paces as I type this. 

What is a “new revision” of the GTX 260?  While previous versions of the GTX 260 were based on the GT200 GPU and came with 192 shaders, today’s updated GTX 260 cards will ship with another full block of SPs enabled for a total of 216 SPs.  That puts it just 24 SPs away from the full 240 that the GTX 280 card sports.  The memory configuration remains the same though: 448-bit memory bus with 896MB of frame buffer

NVIDIA Releases new GTX 260 with 216 Shaders - Graphics Cards 2

As for performance you can expect the new 216 SP GTX 260 cards to be faster than the original 192 SP card – with a 12.5% increase in the number of shader you won’t likely see a 12% increase in performance, but something in the range of 5-10% is likely in the air.  For example, in our early performance tests we have this:
  • Bioshock 2560×1600
    • GTX 260 (192 SPs): 60.8 FPS
    • GTX 260 (216 SPs): 66.9 FPS
  • Call of Duty 4 2048×1536
    • GTX 260 (192 SPs): 88.5 FPS
    • GTX 260 (216 SPs): 97.9 FPS
Both early tests show a 10% gain in performance with the new GTX 260.  Pricing is estimated at $299 for the basic, non-overclocked models of the new card but expect to pay more for versions like this OCX model we received from BFG.  (The OCX model runs at655 MHz core vs 576 MHz standard and has a shader clock of 1404 MHz vs 1242 MHz standard.)  For reference, the current GTX 260 with 192 SPs sell for $250 and up.

What is most interesting about this product is that it isn’t a normal NVIDIA release – there were no reference boards, we didn’t receive any communications from NVIDIA until the last night about the product and the promotion and information was all straight from the add-in card vendors – a first for the company.  The question is why?  Obviously NVIDIA was trying to launch this product with a mixture of subterfuge and promotion; remember that NVIDIA is not creating a new product or brand as this is still JUST the GeForce GTX 260 according to NVIDIA.  They are leaving it to their partners to differentiate between this new card and the previous GTX 260 card that will obviously have less performance per clock.  This could lead to some problems including confusion in the market as long as availability of both products remains – and considering that there is plenty of GTX 260 inventory sitting on real and virtual shelves that will be a while. 

The BFG card we received for testing is known as the “BFG GeForce GTX 260 OCX MAXCORE”.  Besides being a really LONG name, the indicator that BFG chose to indicate the 216 shader version of the GTX 260 is the term “MAXCORE” – EVGA and others will be using something else meaning users won’t have any consistent way of telling the GTX 260s from each other.  Likely this is a great “accidental” side effect of NVIDIA’s decision as it will help current GTX 260 cards to sell better as the GTX 260 brand is brought to light once again with this launch.

We’ll have much more analysis of the performance of the GTX 260, how it compares to AMD’s Radeon HD 4870 512MB card and a full performance evaluation tomorrow.  Check back!!