Summing everything up, we can say that Nvidia has come up not with just a competitive dual-core graphics cards, but with the best-in-class solution which is far superior to its AMD counterpart in performance in modern games as well as in other consumer properties such as power consumption, noisiness and heat dissipation. Nvidia’s programmers did a good job, too. It is the first time in our tests that a multi-GPU card from Nvidia is actually free from any compatibility and performance problems, being superior to the Radeon HD 4870 X2 in this respect, too.
Well, this just proves the point we made at the beginning of this review that resting on one’s laurels is dangerous, especially if you work on the graphics hardware market where everything can change in a moment and you must be prepared to oppose your opponent’s attack. So, after a long series of defeats Nvidia is finally victorious and can claim technological superiority. This should have a positive effect on the company’s image and the popularity of its products.
Let’s now discuss the performance of the GeForce GTX 295 card in more detail:
The new flagship of the GeForce GTX 200 series is superior even at 1280x1024, losing to the former leader Radeon HD 4870 X2 in two tests only, Race Driver: GRID and X3: Terran Conflict, but delivering a playable speed in both these games anyway. The average advantage of the GeForce GTX 295 over the Radeon HD 4870 X2 amounts to 19%. Perhaps this is not too much, but ATI’s solution is also worse in terms of power consumption, heat dissipation and noisiness. The GeForce GTX 295 is also 7 to 68% ahead of the GeForce GTX 280 (38% average). In fact, this signals the end of the era of top-performance single-chip graphics cards. It is hard to image a monolithic GPU capable of rivalling the GeForce GTX 295.
We’ve got a similar picture at the resolution of 1680x1050. Despite the significantly lower computing power in theory, the GeForce GTX 295 beats the Radeon HD 4870 X2 in most of our tests, again save for Race Driver: GRID and X3: Terran Conflict. The 2% gap in Fallout 3 is unimportant. Thus, the GeForce GTX 295 has an average advantage of 17%.
The transition to the resolution of 1920x1200 doesn’t change the overall picture much except that the GeForce GTX 295 closes the gap in Race Driver: GRID to 5% and falls 4% behind its opponent in Fallout 3. The new card has an average advantage of 20% over the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and 61% over the GeForce GTX 280. These are excellent results considering the good power consumption parameters of this monster.
It is at the resolution of 2560x1600 that the GeForce GTX 295 faces the predictable problem of the lack of local graphics memory. However, this only happened in the highly demanding Crysis Warhead where the best of today’s graphics cards can barely maintain a playable frame rate even at 1280x1024. Anyway, 896 megabytes of graphics memory is the compromise the GeForce GTX 295 developers had to concede. Developing a similar card with two 1GB memory banks with 512-bit access may be possible, but the manufacturing cost would be too high for Nvidia. The 1.4-billion-transistor G200 chip is itself very costly to make, after all. The new card has an average advantage of only 8% over the Radeon HD 4870 X2 at this resolution. But again, it is superior to the latter in terms of power consumption and noisiness.
Talking about the specific card, the EVGA GeForce GTX 295+ is a precise copy of the reference sample. We will hardly see GeForce GTX 295+ with original PCB design, though. The single difference from Nvidia’s reference card is in the EVGA stickers and in the pre-overclocked frequencies that make it as fast as the GeForce GTX 280 SLI configuration in some games. The EVGA card boasts good overclockability, but has scanty accessories that do not match the high status of the product. Paying about $500, the customer expects to find at least one good game in the kit. On the other hand, this money buys you today’s fastest gaming graphics card that features good noise and electric characteristics, which is quite a lot already.
- Today’s best gaming performance;
- Outperforms ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 in most tests;
- Uses 55nm G200 modification;
- Wide range of supported FSAA modes;
- Minimal effect of enabled FSAA on performance;
- 480 ALU, 160 texturing units, 56 RBE;
- PhysX acceleration support in the GPU;
- Hardware HD-video decoding support;
- S/PDIF sound over HDMI;
- Relatively low power consumption and heat dissipation;
- Relatively low level of generated noise;
- Good overclocking potential.
- Yields to Radeon HD 4870 X2 in the amount of video memory available to applications;
- Performance shift towards TMU and RBE;
- No DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support;
- Incomplete hardware support of VC-1 decoding;
- No integrated sound core;
- Maximum performance may depend on software support;
- Scanty accessories;
- High price.