So there you have it. Not content with bringing out a card that knocks its previously top-spec GPU into that special bin of obsolescence, Nvidia has brought out a more mainstream card that beats it too.

You can buy GTX 480s now for just over the £300 mark, but with a RRP of £290 this GTX 570 is remarkably still cheaper.

Essentially it is a very slightly cut-down GTX 580, built on exactly the same PCB (it's even got some of the same ID numbers on our reference sample) you can see where Nvidia has removed components to cut the cost and the performance.

It's the GPU's core configuration that's as close as makes no odds to the outgoing GTX 580 that makes this card such a star performer, only the cut down memory configuration holds it back and only then at the very high end of the resolution scale.

Intriguingly it's even knocking on the door of AMD's multi-GPU marvel, the Radeon HD 5970, in some benchmarks. Again though it's that relative paucity of memory that holds it back against the weightier card.

The GeForce GTX 570 also comes with that self same impressive vapour-chamber cooling technology that managed to keep the GTX 580 below the first Fermi's windy roar. It's not necessarily that cool running, regularly topping the 80degreeC mark under load, but it still remained softly-spoken throughout testing.

So it's not looking at all good for AMD in light of the fact that we still haven't seen chip nor board of the Cayman GPU-powered HD 69xx cards. The only one of AMD's cards that achieves any sort of relevance compared with the GTX 570 at the moment is weirdly the recently decommissioned HD 5870.

It can't really come close in DirectX 11 games, but at least it stays within touching distance in DX10 titles. The HD 5970 is the closest in straight performance metrics but is still a £400+ card, pricing itself out of the market.

The real competition then comes from within and, wouldn't you know it, it's that miniature marvel the GTX 460 1GB that is muscling in on the GTX 570's act. And it's the SLI performance again that is really making a difference.

The sheer performance of twin GTX 460s really sticks it to the newest Fermi in everything bar the Lost Planet 2 benchmark. And when it's just in one game you can be sure that it's more down to the game engine itself than the card.

At the moment a pair of those cards will also be cheaper than a single GTX 570, only by about £15 compared to Nvidia's current RRP, but that's still a tangible difference. And only likely to increase once the board partners start putting their own margins on top.

The saving grace is that not everyone will have an SLI-certified motherboard thanks to Nvidia's approach to licensing the hardware or a PSU powerful enough, or with cables enough, to power them.

And that only makes us more intrigued to see the GTX 560 once that tips up early next year. Though Nvidia might want to hold off on that one a little longer in case it impacts its own sales too much.

But for now in single card terms this is looking like a very sweet spot indeed. With no AMD-shaped competition yet available this £300 card looks like a much more attractive proposition than the GTX 580. The actual difference in benchmark framerates between the two top-end Nvidia cards would be pretty tough to see with the naked eye. So why spend the extra £100?

Well, if you had a 2560x1600 monitor and were fanatical about Metro 2033 maybe, but for the rest of us the GTX 570 is currently hitting a decent balance between outright performance and value for cash.

Roll on the GeForce GTX 560 then, eh?

We liked

Because it's based on the GTX 580's improved architecture and cooling design it's actually as fast, and sometimes faster, than the previous generation's GTX 480. The fact it can hit those speeds without going louder or being more power hungry is impressive.

We disliked

There's not a lot to dislike really. At the moment the sub-£300 pricing looks good, but the board partners are likely to put the price up once they get their own spins of the card out the door.

The performance of twin GTX 460 1GB cards takes a bit of the shine off the card though considering they can be picked up for less cash than the single card alternative.

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