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Test Settings

Value In SLI? GTX 260 Core 216 Vs. GTX 280

We began today’s 3-way GTX 260 Core 216 versus 2-way GTX 280 comparison with our $2,500 System Builder Marathon machine, substituting two EVGA part number 01G-P3-1280-AR graphics cards for the 2-way test.

For a price-per-performance 3-way versus 2-way shootout, the only challenge this configuration faced was that the GeForce GTX 260 graphics cards came from EVGA pre-overclocked by 8.68% for the GPU core and 5.4% for the memory. To make the comparison fair, we overclocked the GTX 280 cards by the same amount, resulting in a 654 MHz GPU core and 2338 MHz GDDR3 data rate. The new clock speed is comparable to EVGA's part number 01G-P3-1284-AR.

Test System Configuration


Intel Core i7 920 (2.66 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache)

Overclocked to 4.00 GHz (BCLK 200)

CPU Cooler

Vigor Monsoon III LT

2x 2000 RPM 120 mm Fans (Stock)


EVGA X58 3X SLI (P/N: 132-BL-E758-A)

Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366


3.0 GB Super Talent DDR3-1333 CAS 8

Overclocked to DDR3-1600 CL 9-8-8-16

3-Way SLI Graphics

3x EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 S.E.

626 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2106

2-Way SLI Graphics

2x EVGA GeForce GTX 280 (Overclocked)

654 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2338

Hard Drives

3x Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ RAID 5

1.0 TB, 7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache


Integrated HD Audio


Integrated Gigabit Networking


Cooler Master Stacker 830 Evolution (Black)


Silverstone OP1000 Evolution

ATX12V v2.2. EPS12V, 1000 W, 80 A +12 V Rail



Additional Fans

2x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 120 mm 1,600 RPM



Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit SP1


NVidia GeForce 180.48


Intel INF

Some of our graphics benchmarks have been handicapped by CPU rather than GPU limitations, so we left our $2,500 PC’s overclock in place to shift this limitation by the greatest amount possible to the graphics cards.

We also repeated the full benchmark suite from our System Builder Marathon, including encoding and productivity benchmarks, to check for any additional CPU overhead that might have been caused by using three graphics cards in the GTX 260 Core 216 configuration.

Benchmarks and Settings

3D Games


Version: 1.2.1, Video Quality: Very High Details, Demo: CPU-Benchmark + Tom’s Hardware Tool

Supreme Commander

Version: 1.5.3599, Video Quality: Highest Settings, Demo : WallaceTX_006_006, Benchmark: Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037

Forged Alliance

Unreal Tournament 3

Version: 1.2, Sound and DirectX10, Texture Details: 5, Level Details: 5, Demo: vCTF-Reflection_bot, Time: 12/60

World in Conflict

Version:, Video Quality: Very High details, Demo: Game-Benchmark

Audio Encoding


Version:, Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min, Default format AAC

Lame MP3

Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007), Audio CD ""Terminator II" SE, 53 min, wave to MP3, 160 Kb/s

Video Encoding


Version:, Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes), Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9

DivX 6.8.3

Encoding mode: Insane Quality, Enhanced Multi-threading, Enabled using SSE4, Quarter-pixel search

XviD 1.1.3

Display encoding status=off

Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1

MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS), Profile: Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core

Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1


Autodesk 3D Studio Max 9

Version: 9.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)

Adobe Photoshop CS 3

Version: 10.0x20070321, Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-Photo, Benchmark: Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4, Filters: Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e, Accented Edges, Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes

Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8

Version: 8.0.134, Virus base: 270.4.5/1533, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files

Winrar 3.80

Version 3.70 BETA 8, WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3, Compression= Best, Dictionary= 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)

Winzip 11

Version 11.2, Compression=Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings

3DMark Vantage

Version: 1.02, GPU and CPU scores

PCMark Vantage

Version: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player

SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2

Version 2008.5.14.24, CPU Test=CPU Arithmetic/MultiMedia, Memory Test=Bandwidth Benchmark

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