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GeForce GTX 295 Performance: Previewed

GeForce GTX 295 Performance: Previewed
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Nobody likes being second place, especially Nvidia. Back when the company launched its GeForce GTX 260 and 280 boards, AMD was huffing fumes with its Radeon HD 3870. Not surprisingly, the GT200-based gamer cards extended Nvidia’s lead. Nobody would have guessed that AMD would come back with its Radeon HD 4850 and 4870 boards—neither of which was actually faster than Nvidia’s flagship, by the way—and still steal the spotlight away from the massive, monolithic chip.

Having already professed its preference for smaller, more scalable graphics processors, AMD didn’t take long to unveil its Radeon HD 4870 X2, a single board boasting two RV770 chips, 2 GB of GDDR5 memory, and a PCI Express (PCIe) bridge over which to communicate. Suddenly, the tables had turned and AMD was the one with the fastest individual card on the market. Not only that, but it's been a full six months and a full lineup of RV770 derivatives have taken the battle to Nvidia’s once-untouchable mainstream armada, headlined by the G92.

From there, things only get messier, and the hardcore gamer can spend thousands of dollars in an effort to procure the best graphics performance. Want to beat a 4870 X2 with an Nvidia solution? Buy a couple of GeForce GTX 280s. Want to beat that with an AMD solution? Buy another 4870 X2 and run four-way CrossFireX. Want to go faster still? Add a third GTX 280. And now you’re talking about an expensive motherboard and a powerful CPU able to keep up with all of that graphics horsepower. Aye carumba. Where does the madness end?

That single-card classification seems like a good place to dig in and determine a winner for now. Just know that, right up to four-way CrossFire and four-way SLI, there’s always room to spend more money, eat up more power, and enjoy an extra 10 or 20 percent performance boost.

2009 Resolutions: Nvidia Wants Its Crown Back

Nvidia really hasn’t done much about the Radeon threat in 2008, save updating the GeForce GTX 260 to compete more aggressively against AMD’s 1 GB HD 4870. According to the company, all GTX 260s will employ the 216-shader processor configuration in the future. The 192-SP card will disappear as the channel exhausts the remaining inventory. Given a similar price point, Nvidia expects that the new GTX 260 standard will be enough to usurp fascination over AMD’s current value.

But more pertinent to today’s piece, Nvidia wants its single-card performance crown back and has invested substantial effort in making sure that happens. What we have here is a preview of hardware Nvidia plans to launch during CES. The GeForce GTX 295 is Nvidia’s answer to AMD’s Radeon HD 4870 X2, and it employs a similar construction as the company’s GeForce 9800 GX2.

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  • 18 Hide
    cleeve , December 18, 2008 1:52 PM
    NarwhaleAuYour conclusion was, at best, poor.
    Nvidia's "fastest single card" is two 280s on a single PCB, selling at the price point that ATI is selling their 4870x2 at right now?It is a lot cheaper to produce the 4870 GPU, so I am sure you will see ATI cut their price down by at least $50, and maybe $100. Nvidia will then have the same problem - a monolithic GPU that is expensive to produce and not really any faster than the 4870.


    Why was it poor? Are you saying the 295 is invalid because nvidia uses two boards on their dual-GPU card and Ati uses a single board?

    Are you also saying Nvidia won't be willing to price match performance, when that's exactly what they've done with their current line-up?

    While it'll likely hurt Nvidia's bottom line more than Ati's to lower pricing, that hasn't stopped them up until now, and doesn't really have an impact on the article's conclusion does it?

    As long as it's readily available at launch, kudos to Nvidia. But Chris' conclusion looks bang on to me. I'm not sure what part of it you have a problem with.
  • 12 Hide
    Tindytim , December 18, 2008 12:29 PM
    First!?

    Why do I get the feeling AMD is already working on something to bust Nvidia again?
  • 11 Hide
    trainreks , December 18, 2008 1:27 PM
    good to see that nvidia whipped back into submission. Their prices were ridiculous when they were on the top for a long time.
Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    titdoctor , December 18, 2008 12:29 PM
    wait until ATI updates their drivers again. 4870x2 FTW
  • 12 Hide
    Tindytim , December 18, 2008 12:29 PM
    First!?

    Why do I get the feeling AMD is already working on something to bust Nvidia again?
  • 6 Hide
    cangelini , December 18, 2008 12:32 PM
    8.12 was definitely a nice update!
  • -2 Hide
    NarwhaleAu , December 18, 2008 12:45 PM
    Your conclusion was, at best, poor.

    Nvidia's "fastest single card" is two 280s on a single PCB, selling at the price point that ATI is selling their 4870x2 at right now?

    It is a lot cheaper to produce the 4870 GPU, so I am sure you will see ATI cut their price down by at least $50, and maybe $100. Nvidia will then have the same problem - a monolithic GPU that is expensive to produce and not really any faster than the 4870.
  • 0 Hide
    xsane , December 18, 2008 1:00 PM
    I totally agree with him on the Physx and CUDA comment. It would be really nice to have a game like Tiger Woods support Physx.

    I have 2 x 4850 in crossfire, it kicks ass.
  • 11 Hide
    trainreks , December 18, 2008 1:27 PM
    good to see that nvidia whipped back into submission. Their prices were ridiculous when they were on the top for a long time.
  • -7 Hide
    malveaux , December 18, 2008 1:28 PM
    NarwhaleAU:

    You clearly need to re-read this article.
    And cutting prices $50? $100? Yea, born yesterday? Not happening.

    @Article

    Thanks for the preview! I've been looking out for the GTX295 to surface. Two GTX260's should perform right on par with the thing, and I was wondering what the price would turn out to be. You can get GTX260's for $219 from the Egg right now (or $440 for two). If the GTX295 is only a single card at $499 (likely to be 20 less at the Egg), it's right on the same price area as buying two 260's separately. And in that situation, I'd rather have a single card with the same power. As would most folk I wager. So looks like the 295 is gonna be a real winner in the enthusiast market.

    Very best,
  • 3 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , December 18, 2008 1:41 PM
    Thanks for being open and honest, and mentioning nVidias mandate. It looks as expected, and is a shame we dont have a larger picture of full performance, since nVidia hamstringed you guys. Good to see some competition at the highend
  • 3 Hide
    sparky2010 , December 18, 2008 1:43 PM
    The problem with ATI is that they release good products but give them incomplete/unoptimized drivers.. to see games where the difference between the 4870 and the X2 is almost nil, but the GTX 295 is doing well in it, well, that's no excuse for ATI.. it's too bad though.. i really hope they could just give us good drivers from the beginning, instead of giving us "performance upgrade packages"..

    I hope that their next driver will see more optimization, and then a showdown! CROSSFIRE X vs. QUAD SLI!!!! MUAHAHAHA!

    Bets down please?
  • 8 Hide
    drysocks , December 18, 2008 1:46 PM
    I'll be impressed if it costs less than the Radeon HD 4870 X2. ~470 atm
  • 18 Hide
    cleeve , December 18, 2008 1:52 PM
    NarwhaleAuYour conclusion was, at best, poor.
    Nvidia's "fastest single card" is two 280s on a single PCB, selling at the price point that ATI is selling their 4870x2 at right now?It is a lot cheaper to produce the 4870 GPU, so I am sure you will see ATI cut their price down by at least $50, and maybe $100. Nvidia will then have the same problem - a monolithic GPU that is expensive to produce and not really any faster than the 4870.


    Why was it poor? Are you saying the 295 is invalid because nvidia uses two boards on their dual-GPU card and Ati uses a single board?

    Are you also saying Nvidia won't be willing to price match performance, when that's exactly what they've done with their current line-up?

    While it'll likely hurt Nvidia's bottom line more than Ati's to lower pricing, that hasn't stopped them up until now, and doesn't really have an impact on the article's conclusion does it?

    As long as it's readily available at launch, kudos to Nvidia. But Chris' conclusion looks bang on to me. I'm not sure what part of it you have a problem with.
  • 1 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , December 18, 2008 1:53 PM
    If anyones seen other previews on this, the minimum fps in Crysis is horrible on this card. One could make same claims as to nVidias drivers for this too. The G200 series is 1 driver ahead of ATI, so give it time, just as Im sure nVidia will have the minimum fps cleaned up for Crysis with this card 1 month from now
  • 0 Hide
    scook9 , December 18, 2008 1:56 PM
    SO..........i see nvidia still has not figured out how to use GDDR5?!?! If they could get that worked into the GTX295, i dont think ANYONE would be able to top that for a while.

    Still dissappointed that nvidia has said nothing about GDDR5...Toms already did an article a while ago on how Hynix is now making 1gb DDR5 low latency chips somewhat cheap..whats the hold up Nvidia
  • 8 Hide
    cleeve , December 18, 2008 1:58 PM
    sparky2010The problem with ATI is that they release good products but give them incomplete/unoptimized drivers


    Drivers seem fine to me. Remember, the 4870 wasn't designed to be as powerful as the GTX280. It was made to be more efficient, cheaper to manufacture, and scalable.

    The 4870 X2 still shows up the GTX280, and that was their goal. The GTX 295 adds more spice to the mix, and kudos to Nvidia, but Ati never claimed to that the 4870 GPU would be the fastest GPU available; they went for cost effective scalability, and that's what they got.

    Not much to do with the drivers.
  • 7 Hide
    cleeve , December 18, 2008 2:00 PM
    scook9SO..........i see nvidia still has not figured out how to use GDDR5?!?! If they could get that worked into the GTX295, i dont think ANYONE would be able to top that for a while.Still dissappointed that nvidia has said nothing about GDDR5... ...whats the hold up Nvidia


    As I understand it, the ability to use GDDR5 is a design-level decision, and Nvidia's current lineup has been designed some time ago. The 55nm refresh won't involve a major redesign, just a die shrink.

    You can bet Nvidia's next gen products will likely be designed around GDDR5 though.
  • 5 Hide
    billiardicus , December 18, 2008 2:00 PM
    Great write up. Thanks guys! This is why I visit Tom's hardware everyday.
  • -5 Hide
    enyceckk101 , December 18, 2008 2:11 PM
    wow , this card doesn't consumption any power when u playing far cry 2 ?

    Im getting this card !
  • 4 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , December 18, 2008 2:13 PM
    Have to agree, this preview is nice, open and honest. Nicely done fellas. Its an open ended preview, not the review, and its done so in that form
  • 1 Hide
    sparky2010 , December 18, 2008 2:16 PM
    CleeveDrivers seem fine to me. Remember, the 4870 wasn't designed to be as powerful as the GTX280. It was made to be more efficient, cheaper to manufacture, and scalable.The 4870 X2 still shows up the GTX280, and that was their goal. The GTX 295 adds more spice to the mix, and kudos to Nvidia, but Ati never claimed to that the 4870 GPU would be the fastest GPU available; they went for cost effective scalability, and that's what they got.Not much to do with the drivers.


    True, but i'm comparing the 4870 to its big brother, the X2.. there are games where the difference is almost nothing.. so basically multi-gpu optimization for some games is, well, there isn't any... I know that the GTX 280 is superior to the 4870.. but i think that it's a shame that ATI could get better numbers from their cards but instead refuse to put the effort.. instead of their 6 month old card being already 100%, nVidia has a card that's not even released yet, on a new die, that has beta drivers that seem to function alot better than ATI's, that's all.. Yet we receive drivers from ATI every now and then that "unlock" more performance.. i don't know, it's like buying a car and the dealer telling you "Hey! Come back after 10k and i'll give you 20 more HP! XD" lol..
  • 0 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , December 18, 2008 2:31 PM
    Read my link. The minimum fps sucks on this card, the 295. Its a driver issue. It happens, even when youre working with devs early on in the dev of a new game, like nVidia does with its TWIMTBP program
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