GeForce 9600 GT/GTS 250/GTX 260 Non-Reference Roundup

Asus ENGTX260 Matrix

Now we’re getting to the upper echelon of the price/performance ladder in Nvidia's lineup: GeForce GTX 260 cards. First up is Asus' ENGTX260 Matrix.

We recently looked at another one of Asus’ Matrix-series cards based on the Radeon HD 4850 GPU, and the ENGTX260 Matrix shares the hallmarks of the unique Matrix line: a hybrid cooler allowing for both passive and active operation, powerful low-level control over voltages and clock speeds, and purported higher energy efficiency.

The Asus ENGTX260 Matrix comes in an attractive package that is a cut above what we’ve seen from the less-expensive cards. Even inside the box, everything is carefully segmented into Asus-branded compartments.

In addition to the driver and utility CDs, there is a Molex-to-PCIe power adapter, a component video output adapter, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, and a DVI-to-HDMI adapter. There are no retail games included with this one.

The card is unique to Asus. It does not employ the reference PCB, but is still quite large at just under 11" long. It sports the same 896 MB of DDR3 memory as the reference model and has two six-pin PCIe power connectors.

The large non-reference cooler utilizes two fans and four heat pipes to keep the card acceptably cool in both passive and active modes, and it takes up two slots worth of space. Due to the hybrid operation, the card doesn’t force all of the heated air out of the back of the case as one would expect at first glance. Instead, the heated air is pushed out of the sides of the card and stays in the case.

  • Mottamort
    I was rather disappointed with this article. Not the article itself but with the slightly misleading Title/Intro. When clicking the article I thought I was going to find a massive battle between these vendors on different tiers, instead you show us different instances of 2 slightly different cards of the same type from one vendor....if that makes sense
    I mean you have Gigabyte vs Gigabyte in the 9600gt section, Asus vs Asus in the 250 section and so on.

  • dragonsprayer
    Great article
    i wish it had more cards, i think you need 4 parts, try some back cards like the 4870x2 darkknight? good stuff as always!
  • randomizer
    Man, this article makes my 9600GT look so old.
  • crisisavatar
    wow how is the gts 250 performing so close to the gtx 260 wasn't the gtx 260 20% faster ?
  • enterco
    It's not clear to me why are you comparing '3dmark score' when you should post 'GPU score'.... It's a graphics card comparision, not platform comparision.
  • randomizer
    entercoIt's not clear to me why are you comparing '3dmark score' when you should post 'GPU score'.... It's a graphics card comparision, not platform comparision.Nothing but the cards is changed so you're not comparing platforms.
  • acasel
    We cannot see clearly the bang for the buck card there if we ain't seeing some ati cards like the 4770 and others..

    The drop down menu sure is fast... :-)
  • xsamitt
    You noticed that too hey LOL.Check out my lovely Avatar.
  • enterco
    randomizerNothing but the cards is changed so you're not comparing platforms.Sure. A reason more to show GPU score. 3dmark score is too much influenced by CPU's power, and it's no longer relevant, the way it used to be once...
    By using a Quad Core and a low-performing GPU you can achive same 3dmark score as using a dual core combined with a considerably stronger GPU, 3dmark Vantage gives too much credit to CPU. But the overall FPS in games it's often higher in the second case: dual core + better GPU.
  • marraco
    Recent review showed the 260 being neck to neck with the 4870; both in price and performance, those cards are in the same point.

    Since my 8800GT should be between the 9600 and the 250, I guess that the best upgrade path is to buy a second 8800GT, reaching probably 260/4870 performance.

    I searched the web for 8800GT SLI benckmark running in i7 920, but got no one single review...

    I think that tomshardware should review non up-to-date cards as the 8800 and the ATI equivalents, in crossfilre/SLI, since for many users, it should make sense to buy a second card that to upgrade to a 260/4870.

    older reviews on those cards does not accounted for the scalability on I7 x58 platform, and probably ATI and Nvidia dedicated more time tweaking drivers for newer cards, so maybe the 8800GT does not perform well today (the SLI on core 2/Quad did not worked very well in the past)