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Zotac GTX 260 (GeForce GTX 260 896 MB)

Mainstream Graphics Card Roundup

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This second Zotac card features a beefed-up GTX 260 graphics chip. The most important differences from the original model include 216 stream processors instead of 192 and 55 nm GPU technology instead of 65 nm. The more dense GPU confers some nice benefits: under heavy 3D loads, the new model consumes 30 W less than the original model and runs 9° C/16.2° F degrees cooler. Clock rates adhere to Nvidia reference specs, which barely suffice to outdo ATI Radeon HD 4870 models. By comparison, the GeForce GTX 260 delivers a 4% performance increase. Although you'll see a small but positive difference if you compare unweighted values from the first overall performance chart, that difference increases if you look at the scores in the chart of weighted percentage values.

On average, a GeForce GTX 260 costs about $75 less than customized Radeon HD 4870 models. If you buy a first-generation GeForce GTX 260 card, you’ll save another $50 or so, because they’re currently going for $160 to $185 (refurbished units are available for under $150 if you look hard). The new Zotac GTX 260 uses the Nvidia reference cooler design, which covers two slots on the motherboard. At heavy load, this card heats up to 81° C/177.8° F but with noise readings of 41.2 dB(A), it runs fairly quietly. By comparison, original GeForce GTX 260 models mounted an auditory assault with impressive noise levels of 53.8 dB(A).

Accessories bundled with the card reflect careful thought. For those with older power-supply units (PSUs), Zotac includes two power adapters. There’s a cable splitter for component video TV-out, an HDMI adapter with an SPDIF cable for internal sound, the Racedriver Grid racing game, and a copy of the 3DMark Vantage Advanced Edition benchmark. The circuit board is nearly 10.62" (27 cm) long, and requires two six-pin PCIe power connectors, both edge mounted at the rear of the card. The GPU supports DirectX 10 and Shader 4.0.

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