Bear a couple of things in mind regarding the preceding benchmarks. To begin, this is meant to serve as a performance preview, not as a review. Our official review will follow early next year when the GeForce GTX 295 is finalized and boxed up for retail distribution.
We’ve presented the results from six games. Five of them were mandated by Nvidia as a sample of the most-anticipated titles for the 2008 holiday season. Four of those five are part of Nvidia’s The Way It’s Meant to Be Played program. Two are already staples of our own benchmark suite. And we picked one game, Crysis, to add to the mix. This is still engineering-sample hardware and, according to Nvidia, the final fan speeds haven’t yet been set.
What makes something like this okay? All of the titles chosen are, in fact, popular games and we can understand the frustration of seeing the same three-year old apps tested over and over again simply because they’re recognized performance metrics. Even still, we want to stay transparent to our readers. In fact, it was a breath of fresh air to see some new software instead of the same Supreme Commander savegame or the World in Conflict fly-through.
Further, TWIMTBP is nothing more than one of Nvidia’s competitive advantages. A developer relations program that seeks to optimize the performance of independently-written software on proprietary hardware is logical, so long as it doesn’t simultaneously seek to handicap competition. And given the number of times we’ve seen AMD’s cards beat Nvidia’s in the last year, the program doesn’t seem to be pursuing such malicious avenues. In fact, Nvidia recently gave us a breakdown of what TWIMTBP meant to the development of Far Cry 2. From on-site consultation to performance testing to regular driver updates, Nvidia added its efforts up to three cumulative man-months of cooperation. As a result, GeForce GTX cards didn’t encounter nearly as much trouble as Radeon boards did (these issues were well-documented as the game launched in my own exploration of Core i7 gaming performance with up to four-way CrossFire and three-way SLI).