This is my favourite part of the review, stepping back and taking a look at the overall performance. I've simply removed the 3DMark scores and averaged out all the remaining FPS numbers across all games, settings and resolutions tested here today.
Well well, looky here. The 4850 Crossfire solution averages over 5 frames per second more than the GTX 280 in the games we've used today, and at a much lower cost. I bet they're popping the champagne over at ATI HQ right now. The single 4850 manages to get nuzzled out by the 9800GTX+ (aka the XFX 9800GTX XXX edition), but the good news here is that we can pretty much take it for granted the the 4850 is a more powerful card than the stock 9800GTX, which still retails at the $450+ NZD mark. And for a nice frame of reference we see that ATI's new card has outdone its older sibling by around 50%. Good show.
NZ Dollars per FPS
Another crowd favourite, you won't see these figures in those fancy overseas reviews. I take current NZ RRP of the cards and divide it by the average FPS produced by each to calculate how many dollars you are paying for each frame per second.
The 4850 is even more economical than the older cheaper 3850. That very rarely happens on the release of a new card, especially with ATI. The amazing thing though is the value that you're getting from the Crossfire setup. Granted, you need a Crossfire compatible board to enable this, but that aside, this is probably the first time that two discrete cards have offered significant benefit over a single, more expensive card. It's wins all around for ATI in my opinion.
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of ATI. After being the proud owner of a Radeon 9800 Pro back in the day, the last couple of years have been a big disappointment for people like me, with ATI failing to bring out any more "killer" cards. I jumped ship, working my way through three nVidia cards, namely the 6800GS, 7900GS and 8800GTS 320MB, which were all excellent mid-to-upper range cards in their time. My point here is that, while I'm a fan of ATI - and let's face it, who doesn't like rooting for the underdog - I'd like to think that I don't suffer from "fanboitis", and what I've shown you today is an unbiased perspective of these new cards. I don't have to sell these cards to you, they sell themselves.
The other thing not considered here today is: what about two 9800GTX cards in SLI, or even two GTX 280's? I'm sure that we'd start to see a different story there, but that's another review for another day.
Anyhow, in closing - if NZ$350 or NZ$700 is your budget for video card shopping at the moment, I think you'll know what to get now.