How do NVIDIA and AMD's latest graphics cards stack up vs. each other?

The eternal quandary for system builders has been much less quandarious (to coin a term) for the last year or so. Intel processor, AMD video card — anything else would be uncivilized. AMD’s 48xx series has been the only choice for a while, but the latest products from AMD and NVIDIA are a little less starkly separated. For around $250 (the mid-high sweet spot), the 4890 and GTX 275 are remarkably well-matched — more so than any two equivalently priced cards from the companies have been for some time.

They score similarly and their discerning characteristics are pretty low-key. So what do you buy? I’m tempted to take the advice in the conclusion and snag something from the more mature 4870 series, which will be a tremenjus bargain. Tremenjus. Of course, if you’re planning an AMD-based system (something in a Dragon, perhaps?), you’ll definitely want the 4890 to make sure you get all the benefits of a mobo-processor-video card monopoly from AMD.