NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 280
My old ATI Radeon 9600XT (Ugh, I need a new video card) really looks like a snail now. NVIDIA has just reclaimed the title of fastest graphics chip producer with its release of the GeForce GTX 280. These boogers tip the scales with 240 cores running at just under 1.3GHz. Pair this with 1GB of RAM and you have one smokin’ video card. If you plan on getting your grubby hands on one of these, NVIDIA will be giving them away in “limited quantities” at $649 a pop.
Our boys at Gizmo tested it out on Company of Heroes, Assassin’s Creed, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures and Cysis using dual ATI Radeon X1900 XTXs connected as a Crossfire pair as a baseline.
Here’s the juicy parts:
“Company of Heroes and Assassin’s Creed really didn’t look or work any better on the GTX 280 than on the Radeon cards, which is what I expected. Any game that fits within the limits of an older graphics card simply doesn’t have room to improve on a newer model.
With the GTX 280, Age of Conan could be played with maximum quality and anti-aliasing enabled, producing significant improvements in visual quality during gameplay. Still, I don’t think I’d have replaced the graphics card just for this game, even if I spent most of my life in it– as I expect some people will do.
The real payoff for the new card was in Crysis, where the GTX 280 made the “high” quality settings practical. As good as the GTX 280 is, however, Crysis can still demand more than the card can deliver. The full display resolution was only achievable with antialiasing turned off, and even then, I was only getting about 40 frames per second in the game. At 1,024 x 768-pixel resolution, I could enable four-sample antialiasing. This produced a more pleasing visual appearance but less fine detail.
True Crysis addicts will likely want to use multiple GTX 280 cards using NVIDIA’s SLI technology, which (like ATI’s Crossfire) lets multiple cars work together to drive a single monitor. Up to three cards per system are supported, but that would require a heck of a system to provide enough PCI Express bandwidth and power, and a lot of money as well. That’s about $2,000 worth of graphics cards alone.
Like Age of Conan, Crysis looks great on the GTX 280. The graphics still aren’t lifelike, but it’s getting easier and easier to ignore the shortcuts taken to produce real-time 3D and focus on the gameplay. Interestingly, neither of these games really seemed to stress the GTX 280 even though they were running near the card’s limits in some respects. The fan on the card never seemed to be very loud. That could just be a tribute to the fan, I suppose, but I’ve used plenty of dual-slot graphics cards over the years and some of them have been loud enough to drown out the sound effects from the games.”
Bottom line: Sweet video card, but a bit pricey for all but the most hard-core gamers and trust fund babies. Neither of which I am (unless one of you trust fund babies wanna send one of these my way…)