Nvidia GTX295 Performance Preview

ccokeman - 2008-12-16 22:17:35 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: December 18, 2008
Price: $499


It seems as soon as one manufacturer retaliates in the video card wars, the bar gets raised even further. This year has been a case of going for the top spot. Each time ATI or Nvidia come to the table with the latest and greatest, there is another card right over the horizon. We've travelled far enough, so that the horizon is right in front of us. The 4870x2 served as a wake up call and now Nvidia has an answer for that problem with the GTX 295. What is it? With all the rumours and leaks, much about this card is already known. It is a dual board, dual GPU solution much the same as the 9800GX2 that came out back in March. Yet this iteration uses two GT200 GPU cores that have gone through a size reduction and now are manufactured on a 55nm process. The GTX295 takes a little bit of its heritage from both the GTX 280 and GTX260. The GT200 cores each have 240 processing cores for a total of 480 that run at 576MHz. The graphics memory consists of 896MB per core for a total of 1792MB running through 2 448 bit buses at 1000MHz. The GTX295 supports both Physx and Cuda technologies and is designed to take advantage of both SLI and Physx operations, by designating one of the onboard GPUs to Phsyx to improve game performance and realism. Since this is just a preview of the performance of the GTX295, let's take a look and see just what it is.

Closer Look:

The GTX295 looks similar to the 9800GX2, but looks to feature a new shell that only encloses one of the two boards. For connectivity you get two dual link DVI connections as well as a single HDMI output. The rear of the GTX295 is blocked off so air appears to be taken straight into the fan via the sides.







The GTX295 can be run in SLI with another GTX295 in a quad SLI configuration. To power this card, you will need a power supply that not only has the required 6 pin and 8 pin connections, but one that will have enough power to run this card. The fact that you have two huge GPU cores running in a sandwiched configuration, means that the cooling solution needs to be updated and it looks as though it has, even though I cannot show you the internals yet. I can show you a blow up of the GTX295 just so you see how its put together.




With just a quick look at the card let's see how it performs in some of the latest games and find out if it indeed earns the title of 'the most powerful graphics card in the world'.



Fabrication Process
 55 nm

Core Clock (texture and ROP units)

576 MHz

Shader Clock (Stream Processors)

1242 MH

Memory Clock (Clock rate / Data

1000 MHz / 2000 MHz
Total Video Memory
1792 MB
Memory Interface
448-bit per GPU
Total Memory Bandwidth
224 GB/s
Processor Cores
ROP Units
Texture Filtering Units
Texture Filtering Rate
92.2 GigaTexels/sec
2 x Dual-Link DVI-I
1 x HDMI
400 MHz
Bus Technology
PCI Express 2.0
Form Factor
Dual Slot
Power Connectors
1 x 6-pin
1 x 8-pin
Max Board Power (TDP)
289 watts


To get a fair idea of the performance the GTX295 delivers, you really have to test it out to find out its strengths and weaknesses. It does no good to just show the numbers without comparison data to verify its performance. To do that, I will be testing the GTX295 in the same suite of games that were tested just recently. These games are some of the latest releases and are games that are currently being played. All testing is done with the CPU at its default clock speed as well as the motherboard and memory default settings. The ATI video cards are tested with the 8.12 catalyst driver suite with the Nvidia cards tested on the 180.48 for the GTX260 and the latest 180.47 for the GTX295.




Comparison Video Cards:


The benchmarks used in this review include the following:




Far Cry 2 has been on the horizon for a while now and is finally here. Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation first person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out The Jackal, a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfil your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. To get a feel for the game, I ran through about thirty minutes of gameplay to grab some shots of the games to show the graphics quality.












The GTX295 is without a doubt the fastest card in this deck in Far Cry 2. At the 1920x1200 resolution it bests the top Ati card by 15 FPS. That folks, is a 20% difference in performance in this game when comparing the dual GPU cards.



Left For Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival! Below are several screenshots to show some in-game action.















At 1024x768 the GTX295 peforms almost identically to the GTX260 216 core overclocked card. As the resolution scales upward, the performance of the single cards drops off dramatically. The GTX295 is a scant two FPS faster at 1920x1200.


Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the Island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the Cryengine 2.













From 1024x768 to 1680x1050 the GTX295 has a commanding performance advantage. At 1920x1200 this advantage shrinks to 2 frames per second. But at 30 FPS that is still a 7% advantage for the Dual GPU GTX295. The performance scaling of the dual GPU cards is right around 70% for the Nvidia and about 80% on the ATI setup.


Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.













There really is not a whole lot of performance differential between the cards at the lower resolutions. Once you 1920x1200 that's where the GTX 295 starts to pay dividends. Eye candy and big resoluions are things this card can do with ease.



Activision's Call Of Duty World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30 inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.












Throughout the range of resolutions the GTX295 is ahead of the HD4870x2, usually by 10 frames per second or more. The single GPU cards drop off the radar up top at 1920x1200. The GTX 295 does seem to scale well only losing 5 frames per second from the lowest to the highest resolution.


In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse as starting with the crash landing and seemingly silent and "Dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional over the shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru. Again, there are some screen shots of real gameplay to show a bit of the action. In one frame a Nicromorph is visible right before an attack from behind.












This game definitely suites Nvidias hardware. The GTX 295 just crushes the HD4870x2 as it does not scale much at all with the second GPU. On the other hand, the performance of the GTX295 just does not drop off. The difference in performance between the dual GPU cards is a hundred frames or better in 3 out of the four resolutions.



The worlds most powerful video card.... you know it is a bit catchy. The GTX 295 is the king of the high resolutions in the short round of testing I have done. In the 6 games tested, it finished ahead of the HD4870x2 at 1920x1200 in every game. Some of the results were close, but in the end it is king of the hill. This at a price tag less than the ATI HD4870x2. As we all know, the introductory price tag is higher, so it may be that the cost for this kind of performance get a bit more inexpensive, if you can call over $400 dollars inexpensive. But you do have to pay to play, if you want to have the best visual performance. As a package, the GTX 295 seems to work well with the initial driver release for this product - something that not always happens. If the initial testing went this well, I look forward to seeing when the driver matures even more and how the aftermarket will adapt to cool this beast. It does offer great performance and when released to the world in January, I think heads might turn. I cant wait to see if it takes a top spot on Futuremarks Orb. If Nvidia is shooting for the stars, I think they got there. Stay tuned as I put this card through the full suite of tests a little closer to the hard release date.