GTX 280 or GTX 260?
With 30% more floating-point calculating power and 27% more memory bandwidth, the theoretical gap between the two new Nvidia cards is a reality. In practice, the cards are physically close to one another, and also recall the latest high-end GeForce 9s, which is a rather regrettable consequence of the generalization of the black housing Nvidia has used on all of its most recent cards. Only the large (8-cm) radial fan, still slightly tilted to direct air toward the base, and the inevitable additional power connectors emerge from it. Two six-pin PCI Express connectors or one six-pin + one eight-pin connector – that’s what your power supply will have to deal with in exchange for the privilege of installing a GeForce GTX 280 or GTX 260. But that’s nothing new, since ATI has gotten us used to those requirements in the past year with its 2900 XT.
The SLI connectors and the HDMI input, still present, are hidden behind removable inserts. The only real difference compared to a GeForce 9800 GTX is that though there are double-slots and a grille set in the bracket, part of the hot air from the cards is vented via a second grille located on the upper edge and so will get recycled into the case – which is not really good news. The size of the cards is still 10.5" (26.7 cm), which has become standard on high-end graphics cards in the past two years, and the weight is just below a kilogram at 915 g, which is lighter than the HD 3870 X2 at 940 g.
As always for very high-end cards at launch time, the Leadtek cards we received and tested for this article are in conformity with the reference design, except for a couple of the brand’s stickers on the housing. The GTX 280 box will include a game –NeverWinter Nights 2 (not necessarily very recent or a showcase for the card’s power), the DVI->VGA adapter, the HDTV cable (YUV and S-Video), two Molex-to-six-pin-PCI-Express adapters and a Molex-to-eight-pin-PCI Express adapter.