The cheapest and least powerful of Nvidia's latest generation of cards, the GTX 260 sports a lower core clock than previous high-end cards, but compensates with a more impressive 192 stream processors and a wider memory bus at 448-bit. It isn't yet 55nm, though, sticking with the 65nm fabrication process for now.
It comes as standard with 896MB of GDDR3 memory, clocked at 1GHz, requires two six-pin power connectors to keep it running, and can support three-way SLI like all the other top-end Nvidia cards. But where does it stand in the grand scheme of things?
Performance-wise, it's pretty good. It managed 41fps in our high Crysis test, dropping to a still reasonable 21fps at very high. This compares well with its closest price rival, the Radeon HD 4870, which scored an almost identical 42fps and 22fps in those tests.
The GTX 260 also blitzed our Far Cry 2 tests, averaging 74fps at high settings, and a perfectly respectable 30fps in our intensive high quality Call of Juarez test. The HD 4870 performed better in these tests, though, with 81fps and 40fps averages respectively.
This wouldn't be the end of the world if the two were the same price, but the GTX 260 typically costs around $10 more than the HD 4870, for performance that's more often than not below that card's.
This may well drop as the GTX 260 core 216 comes widely to market, in which case it may be worth considering in a couple of months. Right now, however, ATI's upper-mid-range card still holds the advantage.