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The Test

Nvidia GeForce GTX 260/280 Review
By , Florian Charpentier

For this test, we used our reference configuration, and as usual tested the games exclusively with Fraps and under real gaming conditions. Most of the games used previously were used again, and updated as always (with the latest patches installed), but two new items have been included: Mass Effect, the space opera RPG by Bioware, which despite its Xbox 360 origins has been successfully ported and which we felt we simply had to use (also since it fills the gap left in our protocol since we dropped Fable). There’s also Race Driver: GRID, which despite its interface, is still a tester’s nightmare (like the earlier Colin McRae Dirt from the same publisher, Codemasters). The title is also visually very attractive and inaugurates the latest version of the Ego Engine.

All the synthetic DirectX 9 tests were run under Windows XP because of their instability under Vista (Fillrate Tester, RightMark 1050, ShaderMark 2.1 and SPECviewperf 10). RightMark 3D 2.0 (DirectX 10) was of course run under Windows Vista (without SP1 due to its instability with it), and Vista SP1 was used for all the games, CUDA tests, environmental measurements and overclocking. UAC, Aero, SuperFetch and indexing were disabled to ensure stable results.

We used only two resolutions for this test, 1920*1200 (24/26"), and of course the 2560*1600 used by 30" monitors – in this case a Samsung 305T. That’s because we feel that they’re the only two resolutions this type of very-high-end card will be running. Below them (up to 22"), you wouldn’t need to cough up the price of this breed of 3D card to get a good, fluid display on the majority of current games, as we noted during our latest tests

Plateforme.jpg Test configuration:

  • Asus P5E3 Deluxe (Intel X38)
  • Intel Core 2 Quad QX6850 (3 GHz)
  • Crucial 2 x 1 GB DDR3 1333 MHz 7-7-7-20
  • Western Digital WD5000AAKS
  • Asus 12x DVD player
  • Cooler Master RealPower Pro 850W
    • Windows XP, Vista, Vista SP1
    • ForceWare 177.34 beta (GTX 260 and GTX 280 under Vista)
    • ForceWare 177.26 beta (GTX 280 under XP)
    • ForceWare 175.16 WHQL (9800 GTX, 9800 GX2, 8800 Ultra)
    • Catalyst 8.5 WHQL (HD 3870 X2)
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  • -8 Hide
    BadMannerKorea , June 16, 2008 1:19 PM
    FIRST OMFG NVIDIA pwns!
  • 8 Hide
    Lunarion , June 16, 2008 1:40 PM
    what a POS, the 9800gx2 is $150+ cheaper and performs just about the same. Let's hope the new ATI cards coming actually make a difference
  • 7 Hide
    foxhound009 , June 16, 2008 1:56 PM
    woow,.... that's the new "high end" gpu????
    lolz.. 3870 x2 wil get cheaper... and nvidia gtx200 lies on the shelves providing space for dust........
    (I really expectede mmore from this one... :/  )
  • 6 Hide
    thatguy2001 , June 16, 2008 2:02 PM
    Pretty disappointing. And here I was thinking that the gtx 280 was supposed to put the 9800gx2 to shame. Not too good.
  • 4 Hide
    cappster , June 16, 2008 2:06 PM
    Both cards are priced out of my price range. Mainstream decently priced cards sell better than the extreme high priced cards. I think Nvidia is going to lose this round of "next gen" cards and price to performance ratio to ATI. I am a fan of whichever company will provide a nice performing card at a decent price (sub 300 dollars).
  • 6 Hide
    njalterio , June 16, 2008 2:07 PM
    Very disappointing, and I had to laugh when they compared the prices for the GTX 260 and the GTX 280, $450 and $600, calling the GTX 260 "nearly half the price" of the GTX 280. Way to fail at math. lol.
  • 6 Hide
    NarwhaleAu , June 16, 2008 2:09 PM
    It is going to get owned by the 4870x2. In some cases the 3870x2 was quicker - not many, but we are talking 640 shaders total vs. 1600 total for the 4870x2.
  • 5 Hide
    MooseMuffin , June 16, 2008 2:11 PM
    Loud, power hungry, expensive and not a huge performance improvement. Nice job nvidia.
  • 6 Hide
    compy386 , June 16, 2008 2:17 PM
    This should be great news for AMD. The 4870 is rumored to come in at 40% above the 9800GTX so that would put it at about the 260GTX range. At $300 it would be a much better value. Plus AMD was expecting to price it in the $200s so even if it hits low, AMD can lower the price and make some money.
  • 0 Hide
    vochtige , June 16, 2008 2:23 PM
    i think i'll get a 8800ultra. i'll be safe for the next 5 generations of nvidia! try harder nv crew
  • 3 Hide
    cah027 , June 16, 2008 2:24 PM
    Looks like ATi might have a fighting chance of catching up to Nvidia. Hopefully this will help AMD out as a company.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , June 16, 2008 2:25 PM
    I am fairly Dissapointed I thought Nvidia would go for the High end Market with great performance and a lot of money, but it's only a lot of money
  • -5 Hide
    baracubra , June 16, 2008 2:28 PM
    Finally!!! woot
  • 4 Hide
    sailormonz , June 16, 2008 2:31 PM
    I don't believe quad sli with the 9800GX2 works too well, therefore these cards may be best suited for a person with tons of money to waste and wanting a SLI system with top of the line cards. These results were rather disappointing however.
  • 3 Hide
    Annisman , June 16, 2008 2:54 PM
    My 9800GX2 looks like it's gonna be staying in my case for at least another month or two. (4870x2 anyone?)
  • -5 Hide
    RaZZ3R , June 16, 2008 2:57 PM
    what a pice of s***, nVidia what hapend to you, are you going the same path like AMD ???. and about the review: wher is the info about the integrated Ageia PhsyX in the GTX280 and 260 ... more info god dame it, and dont tell me about CUDA because that is software. I want hardware info and capabilities and some screen shot for god sake.
  • 2 Hide
    neodude007 , June 16, 2008 2:59 PM
    Boooo I want more power.
  • 8 Hide
    mr roboto , June 16, 2008 3:10 PM
    I've had my 8800GTX for almost a year and a half and it still owns. My card was $499 when I bought it and was the most expensive card I'll ever buy. However, it's looking more and more like a great investment. This GTX280 is disappointing to say the least. I would love to see ATI jump back in the game!

    What's funny is they might actually compete with this card with out even meaning to.
  • 5 Hide
    zarksentinel , June 16, 2008 3:12 PM
    this card is not worth the money.
  • 9 Hide
    dragoncyber , June 16, 2008 3:12 PM
    Dear Nvidia,

    I am obviously not the first one to state that they are entirely angered by the results of the recent GTX280 benchmarks. I have been an Nvidia customer since the original Geforce series, always trusting the reliable green team to be at the forefront of the graphics race.

    Instead this time I am completely thrown for a loop as Nvidia expects us to pay 600.00-650.00 for a (New Generation) graphics card release that performs in most cases lower than a 9800GX2 which at the time of this report is actually 150-200 dollars cheaper,and once released will most likely drop even further.

    Not to mention the 9800GTX which is basically on par with an 8800 ultra is down below 300.00!! Tri-SLi anyone?? Three 9800GTX's would out perform "Quad Sli 9800GX2's" and this has already been proven on several sites (AnandTech..Hello???)WTF is wrong with Nvidia?? Tri has already been posting great numbers!!

    So obviously knowing this going into a release you would want to put something on the table that would blow the doors off your current best configurations. Instead we are handed mere 15-20% gains in some situations, and actually being beat in others. And of course they didn't post SLI tests here for this report.

    The next thing that really gets my goat is selling a GTX260 card for 200-250 dollars less, and it has only an 18-20% decrease in performance as compared to your new shiny Top-Of-The Line. With a little over clocking and some good cooling it's the same card in performance tets. What gives??

    Now the biggest embarassment for Nvidia is that they are pushing CUDA technology and folding at home client CRAP!! These cards are designed for gaming!! Who gives a crap about how fast they can cure cancer or render 3D medical images and scans of the human body. Maybe 10% of the cards produced will be used for this purpose..the rest will be for GAMING!! What in the hell are we even talking about that junk for in this article?? Does that even matter when really what everyone cares about is will it beat the crap out of Crysis!!?? Will it Provide me solid gaming for the next 2 years?? Is it worth my hard earned money??

    So far I am in AWE...yes..but not the good AWE, the bad one, the I can't believe this is happening here comes the BIG RED DRAGON(ATI)breathing fire and brimstone , I'm a scared little peseant in a village AWE!!
    I am this close to throwing away my 790i board, putting my 8800GT SLi'd on Ebay, and switching over to a crossfire platform.

    Again I cannot state again how utterly disappointed I am at this turn of events, and the worst part is that there will be no way they could do a GTX280 X2 card because the manufacturing process and die size are too huge, and too hot to combine them. They would literally have to redesign the entire thing, basically doing a new release all over again.

    I'm afraid to say it but I think this will be like one of those boxing matches where, the underdog is in the corner getting punched on left and right...Then something clicks, and he decides enough is enough, and he throws a BIG left that hits the other guy right in the jaw. He doesnt see it coming, and has he hits the mat he thinks.."This guy still has some fight in him". Personally I hope ATI comes out on top with the 4870 X2. That will make Nvidia realize thay can't sit around in their offices all year playing Nerf Hoops, and living off the fat of their successes over the last 4 years.They have gotten fat and lazy, and this card shows it all over the place.

    I am however going to wait, and see if the driver improvements make any difference at all in the upcoming weeks to a couple months. I have a 8800GT Sli system, and I'm sitting pretty as far as I am concerned. I Still consider the 8800 GT 512mb to be one of the best graphics cards ever made, and a combo of them is hard to beat. So I will wait and see what happens.

    Best of Luck to any who choose to buy it upon release, I think soon you will wish you had waited just a bit longer. the price will drop drastically once all the Tech sites get there reviews out.
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