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Now we’re getting to the upper echelon of the price/performance ladder in Nvidia's lineup: GeForce GTX 260 cards. First up is Asus' ENGTX260 Matrix.
We recently looked at another one of Asus’ Matrix-series cards based on the Radeon HD 4850 GPU, and the ENGTX260 Matrix shares the hallmarks of the unique Matrix line: a hybrid cooler allowing for both passive and active operation, powerful low-level control over voltages and clock speeds, and purported higher energy efficiency.
The Asus ENGTX260 Matrix comes in an attractive package that is a cut above what we’ve seen from the less-expensive cards. Even inside the box, everything is carefully segmented into Asus-branded compartments.
In addition to the driver and utility CDs, there is a Molex-to-PCIe power adapter, a component video output adapter, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, and a DVI-to-HDMI adapter. There are no retail games included with this one.
The card is unique to Asus. It does not employ the reference PCB, but is still quite large at just under 11" long. It sports the same 896 MB of DDR3 memory as the reference model and has two six-pin PCIe power connectors.
The large non-reference cooler utilizes two fans and four heat pipes to keep the card acceptably cool in both passive and active modes, and it takes up two slots worth of space. Due to the hybrid operation, the card doesn’t force all of the heated air out of the back of the case as one would expect at first glance. Instead, the heated air is pushed out of the sides of the card and stays in the case.