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GeForce GTX 260 with 216 Stream Processors

A very good bang for the buck.

November 4, 2008



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Traditionally we are watching the amount of stream processors that NVIDIA puts into its graphics cores. Now this number has reached 216 and that's something new.

It's all very simple actually. The company takes a wafer of GT200 dies (240 stream processors; used in GeForce GTX 280) and searches for defects that are possible for objective reasons. So, crafty engineers isolate damaged parts thus reducing the number of stream processors (and consequently the number of texture units and ROPs) and preserve all other elements just like in a sterling GTX 280. This way there is no need to discard rejects. And that's why until recently the company has been manufacturing two modifications of this GPU: GTX 280 (240 stream processors) and GTX 260 (192 stream processors).

We don't know whether NVIDIA managed to reduce the percent of manufacturing rejects, or some clever guy from their marketing department came up with the idea to press AMD out with a new and more powerful GTX 260. In the latter case, that guy was apparently the only one who was clever, because other people -- responsible for product naming -- made a bad move by assigning the same name "GTX 260" to the new product. Come on, there's 19 numbers available between 260 and 280, so why not take one of those. However, they preferred to drop the same brick and suffer from losses and complaints of partners not knowing how to sell the "old" GTX 260 cards.

So we can state that it will be difficult for users to determine which GTX 260 cards they have, with 192 or 216 stream processors. I hope NVIDIA's partners will fix this marketing mistake by adding different suffixes to names of such cards.

Today we'll examine two products with such suffixes, and we'd like to thank manufacturers for this hint. Let's see what 24 stream processors can add to performance.

Graphics cards


BFG GeForce GTX 260 Maxcore OCX 896MB
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 260 (GT200)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 650/1400 MHz (nominal -- 575/1240 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 1130 (2260) MHz (nominal -- 1000 (2000) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 448bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 216
  • Texture processors: 72 (BLF/TLF)
  • ROPs: 24
  • Dimensions: 270x100x33 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card).
  • PCB color: black
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: in a separate NVIO chip.
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), TV-out.
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU.
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware).
Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP²! 896MB
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 260 (GT200)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 650/1400 MHz (nominal -- 575/1240 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 1060 (2120) MHz (nominal -- 1000 (2000) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 448bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 216
  • Texture processors: 72 (BLF/TLF)
  • ROPs: 24
  • Dimensions: 270x100x33 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card).
  • PCB color: black
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: in a separate NVIO chip.
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), TV-out.
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU.
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware).


BFG GeForce GTX 260 Maxcore OCX 896MB
Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP²! 896MB

Each graphics card has 896 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 14 chips (seven chips on each side of the PCB.)

Hynix memory chips (GDDR3). These memory chips are designed for the maximum frequency of 1200 (2400) MHz.



Comparison with the reference design, front view
BFG GeForce GTX 260 Maxcore OCX 896MB Reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 896MB
Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP²! 896MB


Comparison with the reference design, back view
BFG GeForce GTX 260 Maxcore OCX 896MB Reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 896MB
Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP²! 896MB

There is no need to comment on the design, as both cards are reference products, described in our GTX 260 review.

The GTX 260 card is a copy of GTX 280 without two memory chips. As a result, the memory bus shrunk from 512 to 448 bit, and memory size was reduced 1024 MB to 896 MB. Besides, the 8-pin power connector is replaced with two usual 6-pin connectors. However, the PCB has a 512-bit memory exchange bus. Initially the PCB is designed for 16 memory chips on both PCB sides (though only 14 chips are installed). So the card is long, and the PCB is quite expensive.

I'll stress the important point once again: The card is 270 mm long, just like the 8800 GTX/Ultra. So a PC enclosure should be large enough to accommodate this card. Besides, the thickness is the same in every point, so a motherboard should have at least 30 mm of space behind the PCI-E x16 slot free of interfaces or high capacitors.

This graphics card can be connected to a sound card for transmitting audio streams to HDMI (via a DVI-to-HDMI adapter). I.e. the graphics card itself does not have an audio codec, but it receives audio signals from a standalone sound card. If this feature is important to you, make sure the bundle includes a corresponding audio cable.

Also note that this graphics card uses two 6-pin power connectors.

All cards have original TV-Out interfaces that require a special adapter to output video to a TV set via S-Video or RCA.

An analog monitor with a D-Sub (VGA) interface can be connected by means of a special DVI-to-D-Sub adapter. Also bundled are DVI-to-HDMI adapters (these graphics cards support video/audio output to HDMI receivers), so there should be no problems with such monitors.

Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz maximum refresh rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit @ 85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface (all Dual-Link DVIs)

As of MPEG2 playback (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on modern graphics cards does not exceed 25%.

As of HDTV, a review is available here.


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