Inno3D iChill GTX275 Review

RHKCommander959 - 2009-04-23 16:31:01 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: May 12, 2009
Price: TBD

Introduction:

When looking for a video card that is capable of playing games well at high quality, users are bombarded with choices: brands, versions, overclocked and stock speeds, and many other variables. The recently released GTX 275 is intended to fill the price and performance gap between the GTX 260 and GTX 285/295, and also combat AMD’s new 4890, all the while still offering high-end performance. Up for review is Inno3D’s iChill GTX 275 with a non-reference cooler designed by Arctic Cooling. The card comes with 896MB of GDDR3 clocked at 2350MHz, the core running at 670MHz, and shaders at 1474MHz, all on a 55nm fabrication process with 240 stream processors. Overall, the card matches specifications of a GTX 280/285 and half of a GTX 295 on stream processors, and matches a GTX 260 and GTX 295 with 896MB of memory. Power usage and efficiency, along with overall clock speed and overclocking ability, should be improved over the older GTX 280, while the smaller memory bus (448-bit) and 128MB less memory may take a little away from the card compared to the 512-bit 1GB memory on the GTX 280/285s.

Inno3D is the graphics card division of the company InnoVISION Multimedia Limited. InnoVISION is a multimedia hardware products company that was founded in 1998 in Hong Kong, China, producing mostly Nvidia-based graphics cards, while the company also has produced some motherboards. Other brands include InnoDV digital video/capture cards, InnoAX high-end sound/audio cards, and EIO advanced peripherals. The company aims to bring the ultimate experience to users at an affordable price point.

 

Closer Look:

When the box arrived, it was scuffed like it had done a lot of sliding. The front of the box has some perforated holes, which have a plastic liner behind them to keep dirt from getting in while still giving a sneak peek at the card inside. A label to the left indicates the overall basics like the Arctic Cooling Accelero XXX kit, core and memory speeds, and a 3 year warranty. To the right of the iChill logo, that appears on the bottom left, are two stickers for the free games Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, and Warmonger. The back side is glossy and has a partial snowflake in the upper-left corner, with the Inno3D and iChill logos abound. The bottom left corner has pictures with statements under them: Overclocking, Solid Cap (capacitors), and Cooling.

 

 

 

 

 

The side has another corner of the snowflake, again with iChill logo. Rotating it around, the other side has the remaining snowflake piece, and same logo along with a sticker with the barcode, model, memory, and cooler on it.

 

 

Opening the box reveals another box inside. This inner black box has a hole in it to show off the video card through the outer box. Opening this box shows the card protected by a layer of black foam, and a few layers of white foam.

 

 

After the first couple layers of protective foam, the extra peripherals are revealed in a cutout portion. Removing this layer and the layer that the card sits on shows the installation disk, manual, and free games. The video card comes with a Molex male and female to 6-pin power converter, DVI to VGA adapter, S-Video, and component outputs. Looks like HDMI with audio from the card will not be an option, since there is no plug or adapter, nor audio cable included.

 

 

With everything out of the box, let's take a peek at what’s on the disks and test the card out!

Closer Look:

The Inno3D iChill GTX 275 is built on the 55nm fabrication, with 896MB of GDDR3 memory on a 448-bit memory bus, and 240 stream processors clocked in at 670MHz core, 2350MHz memory, and 1474MHz shader. The Accelero XXX produced by Arctic Cooling cools the video card far more than the stock reference cooler is able, thanks to its five heatpipes and three white fans, which are designed to operate silently. The snowflake logo on the fans would match well with a SilverStone chassis. The cooler is massive and is definitely the focal point here. The total width of the video card is approximately 12”, so small cases may have trouble fitting it in. Rotating the card around shows a green circuit board, with six screws – four of which hold the Accelero XXX onto the core, and two for a smaller heatsink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the card from the underside shows the massive heatsink and arching heatpipes that surround the entire card. Two smaller heatsinks lay underneath to cool the power management circuits. The memory, however, unfortunately does not have any heatsink material on it. Rotating around shows the power and SLI connections, along with the Accelero Xtreme GTX logos in black. The fan housing unit clips onto the heat sink.

 

 

The front plate has holes to help in venting, although very little air will pass through here unless the case has great positive pressure from the case fans. Two DVI and one component out port are sported, and appear to be gold plated. The rear shows off the five heatpipes and solid capacitors, along with the low-profile fans.

 

 

Dual SLI ports allow for SLI and Tri-SLI configurations, although the heatsink here may require a flexible connector to bend over the extra-sized cooler. Near the dual 6-pin power plugs is the typical audio connection for adding sound to the HDMI digital signals; however, neither an HDMI adapter nor audio cable were included.

 

 

With the card poked and prodded, let's get on to the technical aspects and testing!

Closer Look:

Opening up the Installation Kit reveals the installation software and a very basic method of installation. The disk is very generic and comes with older 177 drivers for the video card, Direct X 9.0, a manual, and Badaboom. Generally, it’s a good idea to use the latest drivers direct from the manufacturer's website; these old drivers won't be used in this review. Installation is a breeze for all of the software; Badaboom is only a trial program, however. Once the Nvidia drivers are installed, users can adjust an array of settings for anything graphical, including settings for each game, many monitor settings - including, but not limited to, orientation, resolution, color adjustment - and more. The video card can also be overclocked and the fan speed adjusted through the performance tab, and a stability test is also built in to check how well the system is running. The test can be run from a couple minutes up to two days, with five options (CPU, Memory, PCI-E Bus, Disk, and GPU) that can be run together or individually.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Badaboom is a converter and compression program to transform DVDs and other media onto compact devices, such as the iPhone, or even to the Internet through the likes of YouTube. The main point of this program is that it does the process of conversion faster than competing programs with help from the Nvidia architecture.

 

 

One of the two free games, Warmonger, is already free to download but comes in at a hefty size of basically a CD; for some that could take a while, but high speed Internet makes it easy. The game itself is simple – shoot, duck, run, jump. Graphics boosted by PhysX with flags that can be torn up, walls and floors that can be shot up with realistic effects – a great looking game, but very basic too. The game now uses GameSpy’s Comrade service to play online, with offline quick matches against bots also being an option.

 

 

Running the game with settings at the max on this system is extremely easy and smooth; the cloth is tearable, fire looks realistic, and lighting effects also fill the atmosphere with realism as tiles reflect and show texture. Some walls and floors can be shot through to reveal secret pathways that can be used to flank opponents. Overall the game looks good, but it’s really just a quick FPS with a handful of weapons and two teams – Red versus Blue.

 

 

The next game that came with the video card is called Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, a Strategy game. Installation is again easy, during which a game clip loops continuously showing tanks and troops running around.

 

 

Many features are locked, requiring other Company of Heroes games (Tales of Valor) to be owned. To be capable of online play, users must go through a barrage of updates, some larger than 100MB; all the while the downloading will cease if the screen loses focus, only to resume again when focus is given back to it. Once finally installed and ready for play, the game resembles the board game Risk without the countries, or the Command & Conquer series. The game is a three-dimensional Real Time Strategy game set in World War 2.

 

 

 

Now that the card is unloaded and software installed, it's time to take a look at technical details about the card, and start testing it!

Specifications:

Product
Inno3D GTX 275
Chipset
GTX 275
Memory
896MB GDDR3
Core Frequency
670MHz
Memory Frequency
2350MHz
RAMDAC
400MHz
Interface
PCI-Express
Memory Bus
448-bit
Stream Processors
240
Max. Resolution
2560 x 1600
SLI Ready
Yes
Output
Dual-Link DVI, HDTV

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of InnoVISION@ http://www.inno3d.com/products/graphic_card/ichill/ichill_arcticcooling/gtx275_ac_accelero_xxx.htm

 

Testing:

To test the iChill GTX 275, it will be run through a series of nine tests, seven of which are popular games. The results are recorded for each run, and recorded again for when the video card is overclocked with fan speeds locked at 100% for the relative maximum overclock and for stability. The results are then compared to other video cards which have performance around the level of this card. The test system is a full computer built around an i7 processor running at 3GHz.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

The video card comes overclocked from the factory, but still has a little headroom left in it; it wasn’t fully benchmark stable at higher speeds, so these speeds were used which finally allowed all testing to finish. The memory is not cooled by heatsinks, only by air flowing across them, so that is a factor against the memory overclock. The card idled in the low 30’s and loaded in the low to medium 40’s range, very cool. The card was semi-stable at 750/1250/1600, but could not pass all of the testing, until clocked at near the level tested at unfortunately. Overall not a huge overclock gain, but the card itself is already overclocked, so it adds up – adding some memory heatsinks could pull a few more MHz too.

 

 

Video benchmarks:

 

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

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 fulfill 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. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overclocking brings this card to top tier performance in Far Cry 2, while stock it's still in the upper mid-range.

Testing:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both the Sapphire 4870 and 4890 bring the best performance in Crysis Warhead generally, with the overclocked iChill GTX 275 squeezing in between them.

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies" It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BioShock saw the factory overclocked iChill GTX 275 stomping across all of the other cards until the higher resolution, where the 4890 nearly caught up.

Testing:

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 high 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 the performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here in Call of Duty the GTX 275s are champions, while the 4890 tries to distance itself from the older 4870s and reference GTX 260. Performance has remained above the GTX 280.

Testing:

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, 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.  In one frame, a Necromorph is visible right before an attack from behind.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Space is optimized for Nvidia video cards; the whole GTX lineup smashes the ATI squad in this game.

Testing:

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.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Fallout 3, the cards do not stand out too greatly until the larger resolution 2560x1600. Here Nvidia pulls ahead again.

Testing:

Left 4 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!

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Inno3d is the clear winner here in Left 4 Dead, with better comparative results as the resolution increases.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3DMark06 shows the GTX 275s taking a strong lead in the two large resolutions, with the 4870s and reference GTX 260 losing ground.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GTX crowd here also wins in Vantage, with the 4890 trying to compete with the reference GTX 260; all the while, the Inno3D GTX 275 scores the highest!

Conclusion

The Inno3D iChill GTX 275 with Arctic Cooling Accelero XXX cooler performed great in testing, and being factory overclocked definitely helped. The temperatures never got close to reaching 50C, and the fan noise was bearable even at 100% as it was nearly drowned out by the case fans. There is more headroom left in the card for overclocking. The great core cooling and quiet operation are superb features of this card, especially combined with the stream processor power of the GTX 28x series cards. The 55nm design of this core paired with the massive Accelero XXX combined for an extremely cool operating temperature while loaded.

The only major downfall to this card is that the memory chips are not cooled by heatsinks, save for three of the 14 that are used as props mainly to keep pressure on the forward-mounted chip, thus limiting the overclocking capability of the memory. The video card does have an audio connection, but does not come with an audio cable or DVI to HDMI converter to allow HDMI usage with the card out of the box, for users who prefer or rely upon HDMI connections. Finally, the card is longer than reference GTX 275s by quite a bit (it's 12" long), which could pose a problem for cramped cases. All of these are really minor points however, since HDMI is not too common yet and is merely not supported out of box, and that RAM-sinks would not add much more headroom – although it still would have been a nice feature to find. Also, users with small cases should make sure that there is enough room for this graphics card since it is so long, with proper preparation, problems can be avoided!

In the end, all of the downfalls are overshadowed by the highlights, proving that this factory overclocked video card with non-reference cooling can really put out some serious competition. There is some room for minor improvement, but it should be plenty capable to deliver high-level performance for most end users!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: