Leadtek Winfast GTX 260 Extreme+ Review

RHKCommander959 - 2009-02-28 02:40:27 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: March 5, 2009
Price: $280 est.

Introduction:

A large piece of the market is at the mid-range gaming level. Not all consumers can afford the most powerful products, especially in times of economic downturn. The GTX 260 line is aimed for this market, providing high end gaming for a low price. Announced in early January, the latest Leadtek WinFast GTX 260 EXTREME+ (Leadtek Limited) with 216-shader processes and built on 55nm technology should fit the bill well, and hopefully overclock just as good!

The company Leadtek was founded on the 24th of October 1986, and is lead by chairman K. S. Lu. They offer a three-year warranty on video cards, which is one of their many lines of products that includes video conferencing/surveillance, workstation and desktop graphics cards, transcoding cards, GPS, TV tuners, and much more.

 

 

Closer Look:

The box art has switched from robots to racecars, to give a better vision of the effect the company wishes to have: speedy. Robots are cool, but cars are fast. The message is clearer although the image is reminiscent of Abit motherboard box art. The front has a sneak peak at the card, which does still have a robot on it. Some of the key features are also listed like PCI Express 2.0 usage, 896MB GDDR3, and a silent heat sink. The back lists the features of the processing unit, and more information on the card like the 216 shader processes and 448-bit memory lanes in eight languages. The contents are also listed on the back.

 

 

The sides are virtually the same, except an additional patch containing barcodes and product numbers. The other information is reiterated from the front of the box. The sides are the same, and again reiterate the front’s features, and also the system requirements. The major requirements are a PCI Express slot and 500w power supply with 12-volt rail(s) providing 36 amps.

 

 

With the box open, a formed foam block has a cutout for the adapters and other peripherals. The manual and driver disk sit neatly on the video card, which is surrounded in protection, including the anti-static bag, which is sealed with tap at the end – helping to keep dust from getting on it. Hidden underneath the driver disk is a free game called Overlord. Also included is a DVI-HDMI adapter, DVI-VGA, HDMI audio cable, manual, component out, and two 6-pin power connectors with both male and female Molex connections.

 

 

Lets see what Leadtek has brought to the table with their latest spin of the GTX 260!

Closer Look:

The GTX line all share similar heat sink designs, featuring a cage fan housed in an angled and lower profile piece of the molding. The angle allows for this card to still have access to air even when next to another, like in SLI configurations. The newest revision of the 260-core brings a die shrink to 55nm, and carries over the 216 shader processes of the prior 65nm 260. The card has a cool looking red robot holding a gun, looking similar to the Gundam series. In the lower corner is the smokey ‘EXTREME’. The back of the card is covered in circuitry, void of a back plate that older GTX 260’s came with. A few petite stickers are also on the back, including Bios version and serial number.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The side of the card has a sticker of the Leadtek logo and branding, with holographic symbol. Some cards have the important stickers on the back, but they have been moved to the slot-side likely for asthetic reasons (out of sight). This side has the specifications, brand, model, and barcode sticker. The specifications mirror the front of box.

 

 

The rear of the card shows the wiring for the fan, as well as the contoured casing. Two screw holes here are from when back plates were used in conjunction with these coolers. The exhaust grill is wavy, with both DVI ports stacked to the port side. The fan motor has the Leadtek sticker with holographic image, and model number in red to match the robot.

 

 

The card is powered by dual 6-pin PCI Express connections, with recommended power supply wattage of 500w. Next to the power connections is the audio out for HDMI, which is required for the audio signal for HDMI devices. The card comes with two SLI ports for dual and triple SLI configurations.

 

 

Now we shall see what’s on these disks!

Closer Look:

The WinFast card comes with a copy of Overlord, and a Driver Installation DVD-Disk with manual. The driver disk is a Flash application with pictures of futuristic robots and soldiers with attack poses. When moving the mouse a large white crosshair mimics the movements, while the Leadtek emblem glistens in the corner. Clicking on the Drivers image begins the installation for the drivers of the video card. All graphical tweaks are still through the regular old Nvidia Control Panel, or in the WinFox application included on the disk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next is WinFox 2.0, which is not 64-bit compatible. It is used for adjusting the display resolution, as well as a few other handy things. The Flash also gives hints with green text above the buttons. Included are Utilities such as Adobe Reader 8.0, and the Nvidia Power Pack.

 

 

The Power Pack from Nvidia has the free game Warmonger, Unreal Tournament 3 PhysX patch, Badaboom media converter application, and a few other PhysX demos. The User Guide links to the English and other language PDF versions of the guide for the video card. The Flash application warns to install Adobe, and will also give a popup message if it is not installed, although on my computer it was. Perhaps the application has a bug for 64-bit Vista.

 

 

Overlord is a third-person Fantasy game released in 2007 in which you as the evil Overlord cast magic, melee, and order around goblin hordes to do your bidding, ultimately fighting against the now corrupted heroes who defeated your predecessor. Installation is straightforward, insert the disk and click install, follow the instructions.

 

 

Once in the game, the Overlord is seen in a ruined building. Clicking new game will start the quest off in which you find yourself presumably buried – awakened by your servants.

 

 

Continuing on you find yourself immersed in a colorful world surrounded in comedic events, the game tends to not carry itself too seriously. Along the way the horde will acquire weapons, help in goals, die, and sacrifice themselves to power your health and magical abilities further.

 

 

Let's get to overclocking and testing this card already!

Specifications:

Fabrication Process
55 nm

Core Clock (texture and ROP units)

602 MHz

Shader Clock (Stream Processors)

1296 MHz

Memory Clock (Clock rate / Data

rate)
999 MHz / 1998 MHz
Total Video Memory
896 MB
Memory Interface
448-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth
111.9 GB/s
Processor Cores
216
ROP Units
28
RAMDACs
2 x 400MHz
Texture Filtering Rate
38.5 GigaTexels/sec
Connectors
2 x Dual-Link DVI
Bus Technology
PCI Express 2.0
Form Factor
Dual Slot 10.5" x 4.376" x 1.5"
Power Connectors
2 x 6-pin

 

Features:

All information courtesy of Leadtek@http://www.leadtek.com/eng/3d_graphic/overview.asp?lineid=1&pronameid=477

Testing:

Testing the Leadtek WinFast card is conducted through nine benchmarks some of which are recently released games. The results are measured with the card at stock speed, and again overclocked - then compared to the results of several other similar cards. The system is slightly overclocked to 3ghz, and is paired with tri-channel DDR3. The card is tested with latest drivers from Nvidia directly. When overclocked, the fan is set to 100% to get the relative maximum overclock.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

The card is already overclocked on the core to 602 MHz; with Rivatuner a 23% overclock was easy for the core speed, while the ram netted a 24% overclock from 999 MHz to 1237 MHz. Shaders were only bumped up to 1502 MHz from 1296 MHz to make sure everything was stable. The card had a little more headroom left, but the ram did not run stable any higher, it would cause a restart.

 

 

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 specially 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:

 

 

 

 

At stock this card is one of the lower scorers, hot on the heels of the GTX280, 4870's, and when overclocked pushes past to nearly the level of the factory overclocked GTX285. At both speeds it outperforms the reference GTX260. The results are impressive for a mid-level single GPU card.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results here are similar to the other test, with the card fighting head to head with the 4870's and GTX 280, and 285 when overclocked.

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 Daddys" 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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here the card struggles to catch up to the more powerful cards, while fighting it out with the single GPU solutions from ATI. That is until it is overclocked which it then trounces all but the top dual-GPU solutions.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In World at War, the card beats the 4870's, and comes close to the GTX 280. Overclocked brings it to the level of the 9800gx2, but still out of reach to the GTX 285 and up.

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

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Space seems to favor the Nvidia architecture more, with only the 4870X2 keeping up. Once overclocked the card beats the 9800gx2, but still not to the level of the most powerful cards.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oddly the card sways against the pack here, not even scoring the same as the reference 260. Perhaps the drivers have caused diminishing results in this game, but compared to the GTX 285 with same drivers it does well nonetheless.

Testing:

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!

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Left 4 Dead, the card keeps in the lower pack until overclocked, where it stretches its legs past the GTX 280, trailing the 9800gx2.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here the card is the slowest in the bunch. Overclocking quickly changes things and brings it to the higher end, trailing the high-end offerings.

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 card does pretty good here, at stock beating all ATI cards but the 4870x2. Overclocking brings it past the 9800gx2 and GTX 280, not quite to the GTX 285.

Conclusion

The Leadtek WinFast GTX 260 Extreme+ (Leadtek Limited) performed above average thanks to the factory-overclocked core running at 602MHz, and once overclocked further provided the best mid-range card performance. Temperature was no problem here, and the cooler operated quietly. There was no shortage of peripherals and should be ready out of the box for almost all end users. Based on the 55nm core, this card definitely saw benefit as the efficiency was increase and nearly brought the card to GTX 280 levels.

Basically if you can find this card, it rocks. The other GTX 260’s might offer the same performance, but this one definitely did well. Nearly catching up to the GTX 285, which costs more, is no easy feat and gives this card a great price versus performance. 896 MB of ram is plenty for most games, and should handle larger resolutions where all games were very playable here, except for Crysis Warhead.

The only downfall that I just hinted to here is that the card is hard to find nearly impossible - in stock anywhere. And this is a small point but some people don't like robots, but I thought it was cool and comfortably different from skimpy girls and all the other different designs. The cooler is reference, but the temperatures were a little lower than most, either better thermal paste or less was applied since usually too much is applied from the factory.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: