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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 1024MB

Will it outperform 9800 GX2? (Updated: now also with synthetic test results.)

June 23, 2008

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So we have seen for ourselves that NVIDIA flogged itself. That is the company tried to dominate the market 2-3 months ago and launched a high-cost dual-GPU card (9800 GX2), which won't live through six months. And this product spoiled the triumph of the GTX 280.

Look how well the new card fares against the 9800 GTX! If it were not for the 9800 GX2, this product could have become the second G80 and could have brought no less revolutionary performance gains. However, NVIDIA launched the dual-G92 card, even though they knew that GT200 was round the corner. Owners of this card are not interested in the GTX 280. Moreover, the new product is more expensive, and it's outperformed in a number of tests.

However, the new card performs very well in DX10 applications, and it shoots forward. Except for CRYSIS. There is apparently some problem there. Most likely it's the driver. And you shouldn't forget about Achilles' heel of the GX2 - lags and abrupt changes in instant FPS. It's a common problem of all multiprocessor technologies (not in all games, of course, but in many of them).

The initial price for the GTX 280 is not acceptable. But we should understand that it's raised artificially to limit the demand, because there won't be enough cards in stores at first.

Perhaps, if you read this article much later, prices in the market will be different, so conclusions may change. Perhaps, future versions of the driver will fix its problems, and GTX 280 will perform well in all tests and will become an apparent leader. However, we shouldn't forget that the card consumes 280 W in 3D mode, it requires high currents and a 8-pin power connector. Or an 8-pin adapter.

It's a very complex large card. So before you buy it, you should make sure that the card fits inside. Besides, some connectors behind the PCI-E slot may interfere with the installation.

Our Original Design award goes to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 1024MB. The company managed to fit this huge GPU with a 512-bit bus on a single PCB and provide almost noiseless cooling.

To find more information about performance of various cards, please visit our monthly special i3DSpeed.


A few words about our benchmarks.

In our updated article about FRAPS, 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
for the provided graphics card.

PSU provided by TAGAN,
Monitor provided by NVIDIA.

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