Nvidia's GeForce GTX 285: A Worthy Successor?


The GeForce GTX 285 consumes less power on average while producing better performance than the GTX 280, and its smaller die allows Nvidia to produce more parts per wafer at a reduced cost. It would appear that everybody wins.

The only problem for consumers is that because the GTX 285 performs better than the GTX 280, Nvidia can charge more for it. An average performance increase of around 6% for the base card (8.75% for our mildly-overclocked test sample) has been met by a price difference of around 10%. It’s up to buyers to decide whether or not they’d like to quibble over a 4% reduction in value, but there’s one thing we can say with certainty: if you already own a GeForce GTX 280, an upgrade to the GTX 285 isn’t practical. GTX 280 owners who want a reasonable performance improvement would be better advised to purchase a second matching card and use the pair in SLI.

Better news for value seekers is that today’s GeForce GTX 285 graphics cards are cheaper than GTX 280 cards were only a few weeks ago. Rather than create a new price class for the GTX 285, Nvidia lowered the price of the GTX 280. SLI upgrades were just given a big value boost for current GTX 280 owners.

But if the GTX 280 is a slightly better value, why would anyone choose the GTX 285? With so small a performance increase, we’d instead consider the card’s improved efficiency. Furthermore, we expect that GTX 280 inventory to be depleted within a few months, making the GTX 285 a better choice for buyers who might be considering an eventual upgrade to SLI.

Noticeable improvements make the GTX 285 a good solution for new systems, but its value as an upgrade part is purely dependent on the inadequacy of the part it will replace.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Proximon
    Perfect. Thank you. I only wished that you could have thrown in a 4870 1GB and a GTX 260+ into the mix, since you had what I'm guessing are new beta drivers. Still, I guess you have to sleep sometime :p
  • fayskittles
    I would have liked to see the over clocking that could be done to all cards and see how they compare then.
  • hannibal
    It's so good to see competition!
  • I would like to see a benchmark between SLI 260 Core 216, SLI 280, SLI 285, GTX 295, and 4870X2
  • ravenware
    Thanks for the article.

    Overclocking would be nice to see what the hardware can really do; but I generally don't dabble into overclock video cards. Never seems to work out, either the card is already running hot or the slightest increase in frequency produces artifacts.
    Also driver updates seem to wreak havoc with oc settings.
  • wlelandj
    Personally, I'm hoping for a non-crippled GTX 295 using the GTX 285's full specs(^Core Clock, ^Shader Clock, ^Memory Data Rate, ^Frame Buffer, ^Memory Bus Width, and ^ROPs)My & $$$ will be waiting.
  • A Stoner
    I went for the GTX 285. I figure it will run cooler, allow higher overclocks, and maybe save energy compared to a GTX 280. I was able to pick mine up for about $350 while most GTX 280 cards are still selling for above $325 without mail in rebates counted. Thus far, over the last three years I have had exactly 0 out of 12 mail in rebates for computer compenents honored.
  • A Stoner
    ravenwareThanks for the article.Overclocking would be nice to see what the hardware can really do; but I generally don't dabble into overclock video cards. Never seems to work out, either the card is already running hot or the slightest increase in frequency produces artifacts.Also driver updates seem to wreak havoc with oc settings.I just replaced a 8800 GTS 640MB card with the GTX 285. Base clocks for the GTS are 500 GPU and 800 memory. I foget the shaders, but it is over 1000. I had mine running with 0 glitches for the life of the card at 600 GPU and 1000 memory. Before the overclock the highest temperature at load was about 88C, after the overclock the highest temperature was 94C, both of which were well within manufaturer specifications of 115C. I would not be too scared of overclocking your hardware, unless your warranty is voided because of it.

    I have not overclocked the GTX 285 yet, I am waiting for NiBiToR v4.9 to be released so once I overclock it, I can set it permantly to the final stable clock. I am expecting to be able to hit about 730 GPU, but it could be less.
  • daeros
    Because most single-GPU graphics cards buyers would not even consider a more expensive dual-GPU solution, we’ve taken the unprecedented step of arranging today’s charts by performance-per-GPU, rather than absolute performance.

    In other words, no matter how well ATI's strategy of using two smaller, cheaper GPUs in tandem instead of one huge GPU works, you will still be able to say that Nvidia is the best.

    Also, why would most people who are spending $400-$450 on video cards not want a dual-card setup. Most people I know see it as a kind of bragging right, just like water-cooling your rig.

    One last thing, why is it so hard to find reviews of the 4850x2?
  • roofus
    because multi-gpu cards come with their own bag of headaches Daeros. you are better off going CF or SLI then to participate it that pay to play experiment.