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XFX GTX 280 Video Card Review

Jun 16 2008, 12:00am CDT | by , in Reviews | Computer Hardware

XFX GTX 280 Video Card Review
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Benchmarks

Features & Specifications
The NVIDIA GTX 280 uses NVIDIA’s second generation unified visual computing architecture. The stock clocked GTX 280 video card has 240 processing cores and 1GB or GDDR3 memory. The cards based on stock clock speeds like the XFX GTX 280 will retail for around $649. NVIDIA promises that the XFX GTX 280 will deliver about 1.5 x the performance of its previous GeForce 8 and 9 series cards.

Key architectural changes to the XFX GTX 280 include support for three times the number of threads in a flight at any given time, a new scheduler offering a 20% improvement in texturing efficiency, 512-bit memory interface, improved z-cull and compression technology for high resolution performance, architectural enhancements for geometry shading and stream out performance, faster full-speed ROP buffer blending (the 8800 series only had half speed), twice as many registers for longer and more complex shaders, IEEE 754R double precision floating-point, and hardware support for 10-bit color scan out via DisplayPort.

The new card supports Hybrid power as well. Power usage at idle/2D mode is around 25W, with Blu-ray playback power consumption is about 35W, full 3D performance mode varies but maximum TDP is 236W and in hybrid power mode the power consumption is effectively 0W. The XFX GTX 280 has a whopping 1.4 billion transistors and is built on a 65nm process. The graphics clock is 602 MHz, the processor clock is 1296 MHz, and the memory clock is 2214 MHz.

Test Machine
The test machine I am using has the following specs:

  • OS- Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 32-bit
  • PSU- Top Power 1100W
  • RAM- 2GB Aeneon DDR3-16000
  • CPU- Intel QX9770
  • Mainboard: XFX 790i Ultra
  • Display- 30-inch Dell

3DMark06
The first test up for the XFX GTX 280 is 3DMark06. I ran 3DMark at default settings in the NVIDIA control panel and in the 3DMark application. The XFX GTX 280 scored as follows:

  • Total 3DMarks- 16119
  • SM2.0- 6595
  • HDR/SM3.0- 7241
  • CPU- 4647
  • Return to Proxycon- 52.244
  • Firefly Forest- 55.669
  • Canyon Flight- 73.850
  • Deep Freeze- 71.081
  • CPU1- 1.523
  • CPU2- 2.269

To compare these numbers a bit, the ASUS EN9800GX2 Top overclocked 9800 GX2 scored 16936 3DMarks, the XFX 9800 GX2 Black Edition scored 16642 3Dmarks, and the stock clocked XFX 9800 GX2 scored 16227 on a machine with a different processor.

Crysis
The first gaming test up was Crysis, which I ran at 1920 x 1200 with 2X AA, all settings on high for advanced video options. Fraps recorded frame rate data from the initial beach insertion until the battle with the first enemies. Fraps recorded the following frame rate data:

  • Min- 12 fps
  • Avg- 24.643 fps
  • Max- 53 fps

Changing the advanced video options to medium resulted in the following frame rates:

  • Min- 40 fps
  • Avg- 61.754 fps
  • Max- 104 fps

To compare the average frame rate for the stock clocked 9800 GX2 at the same settings was slightly more than 34 fps.

Quake Wars
The next game test was Quake Wars, which was ran at a resolution of 2560 x 1600 with all visual quality settings on high, 2x AA, ultra shaders and shadows, soft particles, and smooth foliage on. Fraps recorded frame rate data on a single player Africa Refinery map. Frame rates were as follows:

  • Min- 41 fps
  • Avg- 60.155 fps
  • Max- 62 fps

Call of Duty 4
The final game test up was Call of Duty 4, which I ran at a screen resolution of 1920 x 1200 with 4x AA, shadows, specular maps, depth of field, glow, soft smoke, rag doll, and bullet impacts on. Dynamic lights were set to normal along with model and water detail. The number of corpses was large. Fraps recorded the following frame rate data:

  • Min- 61 fps
  • Avg- 127.063 fps
  • Max 223 fps

Final Thoughts
The XFX GTX 280 is a high performance video card by anyone’s standards. It is bested slightly in 3DMark 06 and some gaming tests by the highly overclocked 9800 GX2 video cards like the XFX 9800 GX2 Black Edition and ASUS EN9800GX2 Top. I can’t wait to see what the XFX GTX 280 can do in SLI and 3-way SLI, the latter is something the 9800 GX2 couldn’t do.

Verdict

Conclusion

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Supports 3-way SLI
  • Supports Hybrid Power

Cons

  • Expensive

Verdict
The new XFX GTX 280 is a fantastic performer and bests all but a few of the highest overclocked 9800 GX2 cards at stock GTX 280 clock speeds. XFX also bundles the card with the game Assassin’s Creed for some gaming action right out of the box. Overclocked versions of the XFX GTX 280 are coming soon and will bring even more performance. The XFX GTX 280 is an awesome high-end video card for those with the budget.

9.5
10
 
 

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