NVIDIA and ATI have been in a constant battle for the hardcore and high-end enthusiast video card market for years now with one side dominating then the other side dominating for periods of time that are determined by product cycle, major API release (DirectX), product transitions and market positioning. It is the nature of the video card business for no one company to dominate for longer than a year or two.
With the launch of the GeForce GTX 280 and GTX 260 in 2008, NVIDIA released the largest single video card chip for the consumer market with 1.4 Billion transistors. They initially targeted the cards built with this chip for the above $500 USD price range. Unfortunately for NVIDIA, ATI chose to market their competitive HD 4870 cards at a lower price point than the GTX260 forcing NVIDIA to quickly lower the pricing on their cards. Today virtually every GTX260 is of the 216 core variety and NVIDIA has successfully sold a ton of this card to the public for its high performance and reasonable price. ASUS manufactures video cards based upon both NVIDIA and ATI chips, and the card on the review bench is the ASUS ENGTX260/HTDP/896M/A card.