Originally Posted by jAkUp
Yup, that was the biggest difference I noti, honostly, the difference I cannot explain in FPS or graphs, overall the GTX 280's just feel much smoother.
Actually you can explain it with graphs. Take a look at [H]OCP's review where they show the huge fluctuations in the framerate of the 9800 GX2 card (and SLI and Crossfire systems in general). The amazing thing is how consistent and stable are the framerates on the GTX 280 and GTX 260 throughout the game.
Most reviews which claimed the 9800 GX2 is faster than the new GTX 280/260 cards only looked at average framerates, not at minimum framerates and not at lack of fluctuation in framerate during gameplay. Also, very few reviews looked at 8xAA or 16xAA CSAA.
Even the guys at Anandtech got it wrong. But [H]OCP, NV News, Rage3d (Chris Ray's review), PC Perspective, and some other places got it right. The GTX 280 and GTX 260 are definitely a nice improvement over the 9800 GX2 and the rest of the bunch in terms of real world performance/power consumption.
NVIDIA marketing did not do a good job this time. They missed out on two key opportunities
1) They should have instructed reviewers to focus on smooth gameplay, consistency of framerates, and image quality (through 8xAA or 16xAA CSAA) compared to the current cards on the market. If NVIDIA lets reviewers go unchecked and test for pure framerate with no regards to smooth gameplay and high levels of AA, they are going to get hammered in many benchmarks against other dual-GPU solutions (from both NV and AMD).
2) They should never have priced GTX 280 at $649 with GTX 260 at $399 to create such a huge gap in price/performance ratio between the two cards. 60% more money for 10-20% more performance doesn't make a whole lot of sense. This made the GTX 280 look like a really poor value in reviews. The more sensible thing would be $429 for GTX 260, and $569 for the GTX 280. This way the GTX 260 is close enough to HD 4870 to be a competitor in price/performance ratio, and the GTX 280 is close enough in price to the GTX 260 to be a viable higher performance alternative without breaking the bank and without being a very poor value in comparison. And to generate the highest profit margins, it is always beneficial to push the most expensive and highest margin products. So discouraging people to buy the GTX 280 by creating such a big pricing differential between the 260 and 280 only hurts profit margins.