High-End Graphics Card Roundup

Conclusion: Fast Cards Need Water

Here's a short summary of our findings:

BFG's offering is the price/performance leader in the high-end graphics card segment because it is both fast and quiet, plus it closes the gap between the GeForce GTX 260 216 SP and the GeForce GTX 280/285 cards. It keeps up with the big boys, but costs a lot less.

BFG GeForce GTX 275

The EVGA GTX 295 Hydro Copper is the unchallenged performance leader because water cooling gives this card maximum headroom for overclocking. Anybody who's after the strongest dual-GPU card, owns a powerful multi-core CPU, wants to run a minimum resolution of 1920x1200 for gaming, and has the necessary cash, should buy one of these and order a water-cooling system at the same time (using it as a standard air-cooled GeForce GTX 295 card is simply asking for trouble). EVGA boosts its 3D performance by a significant margin and consequently raises the bar in our performance measurements. Our brand-new i7 CPU still can't completely load both GPUs all the way down, despite being overclocked to 3.8 GHz. We'll see how long this lasts.

MSI GeForce GTX 285 SuperPipe

The MSI GTX HydroGen is a very nice card, and thanks to its water cooling, is quiet. Thanks to its overclocking, the card is fast enough to keep up with newer GeForce GTX 285 models. All in all, it strikes a very good compromise between performance and noise levels, especially for a single-chip card.

We're also waiting on water-cooled GeForce GTX 285 models with considerable anticipation. Anybody who's after the fastest single-chip card and who doesn't mind some fan noise might find that the Zotac GeForce GTX 285 AMP makes a great 3D graphics component. The MSI GeForce GTX 285 SuperPipe enables high performance without requiring expensive liquid cooling. It's just a little slower than the AMP Edition from Zotac, but thanks to its dual fans and extra-long heatpipes, it has extra headroom for further overclocking, yet still runs very quietly. Palit's Revolution 700 should make ATI fans happy, thanks to its capable cooling, even under heavy loads, and its high performance for some games.

When it comes to handing out any editor's recommendations, we had a hard time because all these products are well-designed in their own rights. If forced to pick the best card, we'd have to dig deeply into the details from our tests, because that's primarily where the differences really lie. The price/performance leader is clear, though: this honor goes to the BFG GeForce GTX 275. For those in search of high performance but who don't have unlimited budgets, this card does the job. We also give an Editor's Choice to the MSI GeForce GTX 285 SuperPipe because of its great balance between performance and cooling, which shows that even an air-cooled high-end graphics card can still be very quiet.

  • Only one ATi card? What happened to all those OC'd 4890s?
  • And those HAWX benchmarks look ridiculous. ATi should wipe floor with nvidia with that. Of course you didn't put dx10.1 support on. Bastard...
  • cangelini
    quarzOnly one ATi card? What happened to all those OC'd 4890s?
    These are the same boards that were included in the recent charts update, and are largely contingent on what vendors submit for evaluation. We have a review upcoming comparing Sapphire's new 1 GHz Radeon HD 4890 versus the stock 4890. It'll be up in the next couple of weeks, though.
  • ohim
    Am i the only one that find this article akward since looking at the tests done on Ati cards on The Last Remnant game makes me wonder what went wrong ... i mean it`s UT3 engine ... why so low performance ?
  • curnel_D
    Ugh, please tell me that The Last Remnant hasnt been added to the benchmark suite.

    And I'm not exactly sure why the writer decided to bench on Endwar instead of World In Conflict. Why is that exactly?

    And despite Quarz2's apparent fanboism, I think HAWX would have been better benched under 10.1 for the ATI cards, and used the highest stable settings instead of dropping off to DX9.
  • anamaniac
    The EVGA 295 is the stuff gods game with.

    I would love that card. I would have to replace my whole system to work it properly however.
    I want $1500 now... i7 920 (why get better? They all seem to be godly overclockers) and EVGA 295.

    How about a test suit of the EVGA GTX 295 in crossfire for a quad-gpu configuration? I know there's driver issues, but it would be fun to see what it could do regardless. Along with seeing how far Toms can OC the EVGA GTX 295.
    Actually... Toms just needs to do a new system building recommendation roundup. I find them useful personally, and would have used it myself had my cash source had not lost his job...
  • Weird test:
    1) Where are the overclocking results?
    2) Bad choice for benchmarks: Too many old DX9 based graphic engines (FEAR 2, Fallout 3, Left4Dead with >100FPS) or Endwar which is limited to 30FPS. Where is Crysis?
    3) 1900x1200 as highest resolution for high-end cards?
  • EQPlayer
    Seems that the cumulative benchmark graphs are going to be a bit skewed if The Last Remnant results are included in there... it's fairly obvious something odd is going on looking at the numbers for that game.
  • armistitiu
    Worst article in a long time. Why compare how old games perform on NVIDIA's high end graphic cards? Don't get me wrong i like them but where's all the Atomic stuff from Saphire, Asus and XFX had some good stuff from ATI too. So what.. you just took the reference cards from ATI and tested them? :| That is just wrong.
  • pulasky
    WOW what a piece of s********** is this """"""review"""""" Noobidia pay good in this days.