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GeForce GTX 260 OC

The Fastest 3D Cards Go Head-To-Head
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The 75 mm fan generates 54 dB(A) under full load.

The GeForce GTX 260 is fitted with 896 MB of GDDR3 memory (on a 448-bit bus) and supports DirectX 10. The default clock rates are 576 MHz for the GPU, 1,242 MHz for the shaders, and 1,998 MHz for the memory. On our sample, MSI overclocked those frequencies to 620, 1,296 and 2,160 MHz, respectively. The best gain is seen in Mass Effect (UT3 Engine) at 1920x1200 pixels with anti-aliasing enabled—the overclocked values yield a frame rate increase of 14.2%. If you take the average of all the games included in the benchmark suite, the gain is 4.5%, which halves the gap between GeForce GTX 260 and a normally-clocked GTX 280.

In 3D performance, the GTX 260 puts up a tough fight against AMD’s Radeon HD 4870. At 1280x1024, the GTX 260 is actually better, while at 1680x1050 pixels (without anti-aliasing) the HD 4870 wins by 1.4%. With anti-aliasing enabled, the GTX 260 is 10% faster. At 1920x1200 without AA, the HD 4870 wins by a couple of frames per second, but with anti-aliasing turned on, the GTX 260 is 6% faster. Here the fast GDDR5 memory on the Radeon card starts to make itself felt. The considerable drop in price to $290, makes the GTX 260 a good alternative to the slightly weaker and now comparably-priced AMD Radeon HD 4870.

Unusually, the noise the GTX 260 generates while sitting on the Windows desktop is reasonable, in the neighborhood of 38.1 dB(A). After testing in 3D mode, the fan couldn’t make up its mind. The temperature dropped to 45 degrees C, but the speed didn’t change. The card was running without load, but we could still hear up to 44.2 dB(A). The speed re-adjustment only occurred in the test with the X38-based motherboard. It did not manifest itself on the 780i-based board.

The power consumption of the GTX 260 in 2D mode is considerably lower than either of AMD’s offerings. As soon as the GTX 260 comes out of 3D mode, it switches to its low-power 3D profile (GPU at 400 MHz, shaders at 800 MHz, and memory at 600 MHz), where it draws 125 watts of power for the entire system. After a few more seconds of idle, the clock rate is switched into 2D mode (GPU at 300 MHz, shaders at 600 MHz, and memory at 200 MHz). Overall consumption falls to 111 watts. Under 3D full load, the GeForce GTX 260 consumes 336 watts. A solid power supply with 280 to 320 watts of overall power and 23 to 27 A on the 12 volt rail should be sufficient here.

Our GTX 260 sample is the OC model from MSI.MSI's bundle includes the Colin McRae Dirt racing game.

There is an internal SPDIF connection for sound via the HDMI adapter.Two PCIe connections, each with six pins, handle power delivery.

The SLI connections are hidden under a cover.Three graphics cards can be joined using two SLI connections.

The fan is two slots high, and exhaust air is expelled from the PC case.The card is almost 11” (27) cm in length; the two power connections are at the sides.

The I/O panel has one video and two DVI outputs.VGA and HDMI adapters are supplied by MSI.

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