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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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Conclusions

First of all, I'd like to stress that the new GTX260 was also tested at its standard frequencies. This very mode proved that performance difference was very small, 7-8% on the average. That is 24 stream processors do not add as much as we would like.

Note that we marked the number of stream processors (192sp) or (216sp) on the charts. Also note that Zotac's card operates at the same core frequency as its counterpart from BFG, but its memory frequency is a tad lower. However, the resulting effect is within the measurement error, so I decided to publish results of only one card.

BFG GeForce GTX 260 Maxcore OCX 896MB is a reference card with a vendor label, just like all the other similar products. It demonstrates very good results, sometimes catching up with the more expensive GTX 280 card. Only the box spoils the impression. And don't forget the 10-year warranty for products from this company.

Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP²! 896MB is actually a similar product with similar performance. But it comes in a more attractive box with a better bundle and a bonus game. Plus a 5-year warranty.

In both cases the cards were selected to guarantee higher frequencies.

On the whole, overclocked GTX 260 cards with 216 stream processors catch up with the GTX280 in a number of tests. So users will again have to painfully choose what to buy. Why cannot NVIDIA make products for crystal-clear price segments that wouldn't overlap? As for me, I don't understand how this is possible in a company with several thousand employees and at least a hundred marketing specialists. Where is their common sense? Aren't they learning from their experience? Or perhaps NVIDIA decided AMD wasn't a worthy rival and decided to rest on its laurels. But now that AMD has launched very good products, NVIDIA is desperately trying to outrun the suddenly resurrected competitor by cutting prices.

As for our main conclusion, the new GTX 260 is a brilliant card. If it costs the same as its previous modification (192sp), it's the best choice. In this case I speak for users, no matter how much it costs manufacturers. But the fact remains, the new GTX 260 card currently outscores its competitor (RADEON 4870 512MB). When this review was written we hadn't yet tested RADEON 4870 1GB, so we could only use the data we had.

Watch the prices. This will help you make a better choice.

Afterword

A few words about our benchmarks.

In our updated FRAPS review we have illustrated how crude and inaccurate tests with this utility are. Testers do not have other tools, except for benchmarks built into games.

This article and its first part explain that it's sometimes possible to test games with integrated and identically looped demos. Although this implies lots of potential errors, since measurement accuracy depends on a given tester: whether he starts/stops FRAPS in time or does it too late/early.

But I have run across situations, when demo load changes abruptly in the very beginning or end. So a half-second delay in starting/stopping the utility changes the average FPS by 15-20%. That's not a measurement error anymore - such a test is a total waste of time. One time you delay the test, another time you start it too early (not intentionally, of course), and you end up with absolutely different performance results.

But even that's not the most important thing. The fact is, there are almost no games with built-in demos anymore. So, testers are forced to use a method that we deem totally unacceptable. They measure gaming performance by walking a straight line from the a starting point in a scene to a selected destination (the nearest fence, tree, etc.).

We all understand that it's impossible to navigate to a finish spot in precisely the same route with different cards and in different resolutions. Besides, such games always introduce random elements into a scene, and objects may be placed slightly differently on the same scene.

Unfortunately, websites that publish a huge number of tests do not always reveal their test methods for each game (except for those with built-in benchmarks).

So, we believe that it's better to offer a limited number of game tests, but each will be crystal clear, accurate and showing actual differences between graphics cards.


We express gratitude to Zotac and BFG for provided graphics cards.
PSU provided by TAGAN, monitor provided by NVIDIA.

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Page 1: Introduction, graphics cards

Page 2: Cooling

Page 3: Bundles, boxes

Page 4: Performance tests

Page 5: More performance tests, conclusions



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