Last night we published our Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 review. In it we made a decision to include a factory overclocked GeForce GTX 460 from EVGA (the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW). For those who aren't aware, NVIDIA has allowed a number of its partners to ship GTX 460s at higher than stock clock speeds. A practice that has been done in the past. The cards are available in retail with full warranties.

A number of you responded in the comments to the article very upset that we included the EVGA card. Even going as far to accuse us of caving to NVIDIA's pressure and demands. Ryan and I both felt it was necessary to address this front and center rather than keep the discussion in the comments.

Let's start with the obvious. NVIDIA is more aggressive than AMD with trying to get review sites to use certain games and even make certain GPU comparisons. When NVIDIA pushes, we push back. You don't ever see that here on AnandTech simply because I don't believe this is the place for it. Both sides (correction, all companies) have done nasty things in the past but you come here to read about products, not behind the scenes politics so we've mostly left it out of our reviews.

NVIDIA called asking for us to include overclocked GTX 460s in the 6800 series article. I responded by saying that our first priority is to get the standard clocked cards tested and that if NVIDIA wanted to change the specs of the GTX 460 and guarantee no lower clocked versions would be sold, we would gladly only test the factory overclocked parts. NVIDIA of course didn't change the 460's clocks and we ended the conversation at that. We gave NVIDIA no impression that we would include the card despite their insistence. The decision to include the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW was made on our own entirely.

We don't like including factory overclocked parts in our reviews for reasons we've already mentioned in the article itself. This wasn't a one off made for the purpose of reviewing only, it's available from online vendors and a valid option from a price comparison. Furthermore it presented us with an interesting circumstance where the overclock was large enough to make a significant impact - the 26% overclock pushed the card to a performance level that by all rights could have (and should have) been a new product entirely.

From my standpoint, having more information never hurts. This simply provides another data point for you to use. We put hefty disclaimers in the article when talking about the EVGA card, but I don't see not including a publicly available product in a review as a bad thing. It's not something we typically do, but in this case the race was close enough that we wanted to cover all of our bases. At the end of the day I believe our conclusion did just that:

At $179 buy the 6850. At $239 buy the 6870 for best performance/power. If you want the best overall performance, buy the GTX 470. However, as long as they are available the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW is a good alternative. You get the same warranty you would on a standard GTX 460, but you do sacrifice power consumption for the performance advantage over the 6870.

We were honestly afraid that if we didn't include at least a representative of the factory overclocked GTX 460s that we would get accused of being too favorable to AMD. As always, this is your site - you ultimately end up deciding how we do things around here. So I'm asking all of you to chime in with your thoughts - how would you like to handle these types of situations in the future? Do we never make exceptions even in the case of a great number of factory overclocked cards being available on the market? Do we keep the overclocked comparison to a single page in the review? Or does it not matter?

And if you're worried about this being tied to financial gain: I'll point out that we are one of the only sites to have a clear separation of advertising and editorial (AnandTech, Inc. doesn't employ a single ad sales person, and our 3rd party sales team has no stake in AT and vice versa). The one guarantee that I offer all of our writers here at AnandTech is you never have to worry about where your paycheck is coming from, just make sure you do the best job possible and that your conclusions are defensible.

If we've disappointed you in our decision to include the EVGA FTW in last night's review, I sincerely apologize. At the end of the day we have to maintain your trust and keep you all happy, no one else. We believed it was the right thing to do but if the overwhelming majority of you feel otherwise, please let us know. You have the ability to shape how we do things in the future so please let us know.

Whether you thought it was an issue or not, we'd love to hear from you. I do appreciate you reading the site and I want to make it better for you in the future.

GP

Take care,
Anand

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  • Chubrock - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    I think it would be nice to have all requests made by both sides made available to us the readers on a per review basis.

    And make it known to the companies that their requests will be made available to us.

    We deserve all this information to allow us to see how these companies are conducting themselves and what sort of spin they want to attempt to place on the review we receive, whether you acquiesce or not.

    What else is there we don't know about this review in the frame of requests made by AMD or Nvidia ? We already have heard some rumblings about a game called Hawx 2 and a benchmark of said game nvidia has been pushing.

    Can some light be shed on these other still hidden topics we have not been given a clear picture of ?
    Reply
  • Granseth - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    I agree with you, that it would be nice to know what kind of issues the different companies pushes.

    I also didn't mind an overclocked nVidia card in the test, since GTX460 is a special card where this kind of OC isn't uncommon.

    And I hope there will be a follow up review, because the review seemed rushed. I am curious why crossfire seemed to be a bit better than the 5-series cards.

    And lastly I would really like to see a subjective/biased section to the review. A sort of section that you do what you can to find out where a card shines, and where it sucks. Like find out that its great with one game engine, high or low resolution, with/without heavy AA and so on. That way it's easier to see if I'm going to be especially happy or unhappy if I get the card.
    Reply
  • faxon - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    i would make my own reply but this basically sums up exactly my feelings on the issue as well. Reply
  • GullLars - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    +1

    Also, while i in general dislike overclocked parts compared to stock parts (which are not also represented in overclocked specs) when the article is not specifically about overclocking, you argued the case for including the card well and included sufficient notifications to not set me off. The only hostile oppinions i have is towards nVidia for not making the card 465 instead of 460 OC when it's close to, and in some cases beat 470.
    It's sort of like including i7 920 OC@4Ghz (and stock) when reviewing Phenom x6 1090T at stock.
    Reply
  • fingerbob69 - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    It's not that the evga card was oc'd that is the issue. Plenty of other sites include them and while some keep results from such cards to a separate graph/page, others don't. I would suggest most reading a gpu review are savvy enough to know what they're looking at and draw conclusions accordingly.

    Where I have a problem with the evga card is that it is the one specifically requested by nVidia. [And why not, it's the one currently available with the near heaviest oc so why wouldn't nVdia want this one included?]

    In short nVdia wanted to cherry pick the oc'd card you were to use and you let them. And we can get all Machiavellian over the fact that nVdia sent these cards out so no doubt each sample was again cherry picked.
    Reply
  • B3an - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    The EVGA is available to buy, so regardless if they're "cherry picked" of not, why does it matter? If you buy one, it's going to perform exactly the same as another EVGA 460 FTW. It's not like it was a stock speed card that has been cherry picked so that it reaches extremely high OC's to give the false impression all 460's will overclock so well. Reply
  • mczak - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    If you buy one, I think though you are very very likely to end up with a much higher power draw than this card had. The result of this specific card is EXTREMELY good for a 460FTW - I've seen results where this approaches GTX470 power draw (at load), apparently because this specific sample had very very low voltage while others did not. Now if that was just luck or not I can't tell but I think it would paint a bit of a different picture if power draw at load were ~50W higher.
    Other than that, including a OC card looks fine by me as long as the reference one is mentioned. Personally though I think a card with about a 800Mhz clock (and a bit less memory clock too) would have made more sense, as that is much closer to what common OC cards are clocked at.
    Reply
  • Leo V - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    +1

    I was on the fence, until reading above post. If the reviewed GTX 460 FTW sample's power draw is not typical, this makes a strong case against including it in the review. The article itself discloses the sample came direct from NVIDIA, who had every reason to pick one that makes them look good.

    I applaud the full disclosure provided, but I'd be disappointed if I ended up buying an OC'ed 460 only to discover its power consumption is above what is quoted.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Saturday, October 30, 2010 - link

    Even if you buy two of the same card off the same shelf at the same store there is still the possibility you get two cards with different power consumption merely because they may not use high precision resistors in the voltage feedback loop so one or the other inherently runs at slightly higher stock voltage.

    I propose a fairly easy way to detect this, you only need to measure GPU voltage (memory voltage to a lesser extent) to see if it's a tweaked card or within expected deviations for power consumption, assuming all else about the layout and component specs remains the same.
    Reply
  • Quizzical - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    How available to buy is it, again?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    Out of stock at New Egg.

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtool...

    Out of stock at Tiger Direct.

    http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-External-PCI-Express-Gr...

    Out of stock at Amazon--and $261 even if it were in stock.

    http://www.avadirect.com/product_details_parts.asp...

    Oh hey, I found one in "low stock"--for $291. Not such a competitor to the Radeon HD 6870 at that price, now is it?

    It's probably mostly a fake card (i.e., extremely limited quantities). New Egg has 43 GTX 460s listed. Eight of them are clocked at 800-815 MHz. EVGA is the only company that has one clocked above 815 MHz, and they clock it at a whopping 850 MHz. If so many GPUs could clock that high, don't you think Zotac, Palit, Gigabyte, Galaxy, or MSI (all of which have a GTX 460 clocked at 800 MHz or higher) would have one clocked above 815 MHz?

    And this is the day after Nvidia's big PR stunt. If availability is this short now on a card that launched three months ago, do you think it's going to improve in the future? Not at that price, it won't.
    Reply

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