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Appeared on: Friday, October 03, 2008
XFX 260GTX


1. Features, specifications

Nvidia's latest product series with the codename 2x0 GTX series includes two powerful graphic cards that promise to improve the gaming experience, especially for graphics-demanding games like Crysis. Today we have the chance to play with an overclocked version of Nvidia's 260GTX series, that comes from XFX. What can you expect from a higher-end product? How much performance can you gain compared with various other graphics cards that most users use on their their desktop?

- XFX 260GTX (GX-260N-ADD9)

The XFX 260GTX is an improved version of Nvidia's generic 260GTX featuring a massive 640MHz core (vs 576 MHz), shaders clocked at 1363MHz (vs 1242 MHz) and memory that runs at 1150MHz (vs 999 MHz) clocks. In addition, it has 896MB of on-board memory with 448bits bandwidth.

Nvidia has a dedicated website that explains the improvements and benefits of the 260GTX series. Below are the key features of the new series

- Retail package

The retail box should look familiar to all those who have purchased an XFX product in the past.The product can be found at the retail price of € 290, automatically making it a solution for enthusiasts.

XFX sells three different variations of the 260GTX product. What is not clearly no at a glance is which version are you buying unless you flip over the package and look at the bottom.

Our test version (GX-260N-ADD9) is a highly overclocked version, compared with the stock Nvidia 260GTX series.

 

The package includes one D-Sub15-to-DVI converter, an S-Video cable, an DVI-to-HDMI adapter and an SPDIF internal cable that its needed to output HDMI sound. Two discs are also included; a driver disc and the retail version of "Assasins Creed" game! The bundle also includes the 'Do Not Disturb' door knob hanger like any previous XFX graphic card we have tested.

The XFX 260GTX implements Nvidia's reference cooling solution with a dual slot design. The graphics card has a length of 26.77cm so you may gave a problem if you have a small case. We should also note the increased power requirements, since this little beast needs much juice from your power supply:

Two DVI-D ports and an analog HDTV jack are available.

As we mentioned earlier, this card really needs much power so has two 6-pin power adapters.

The 260GTX series offer the possibility to perform SLI, paired with an Nvidia 790i SLI platform:

or even triple SLI, if you can afford buying three cards!

The GeForce GTX 260 GPU also offers hardware support for NVIDIA PhysX technology. This means that if you have a spare GeForce 8xxx series somewhere, you can add it and use it to further accelerate PhysX-enabled games. Refer to www.nvidia.com/PhysX for more information.

We installed the graphics card and fired up the CPU-Z software that provides more details about the device. The GPU core runs at 640MHz, while the memory at 1150MHz and the Shader clock at 1363MHz . Compared to the generic solution, it has a clear advantage and hopefully we will see more at the upcoming game reviews.


2. PC setup
- Setup

Our test PC configuration is as follows:

All tests were conducted under the same testbed and of course using the same version of graphics driver. Many games and applications were used to evaluate each graphics card's performance. In addition we used FRAPS software to measure in game performance when needed.

DirectX 9

DirectX10


3. Testbed DirectX 9, DirectX 10
- Test bed DirectX9

For all the tests we used the default settings of3DMark05 as following:

Again we left all the default settings:

- Test bed DirectX10

We used the three built-in "Performance" and "Extreme" benchmarks in various resolutions .

We used the built-in benchmark with all the details maxed out.

We used the hocbench Crysis benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We run the benchmark software with the details set at both "High" and "Very High" in order to find out at which resolution the game is playable.

We used the FRAMEBuffer benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. All the possible quality levels were set in order to get an idea of what the graphics card offer in various resolutions.

We maxed out all the visual details, including 4x AA Multisampling and of course 16x AF. We used FRAPS to record the game-in experience after recording a two minutes runout.


4. Benchmarks - FutureMark Hall Of Fame

The Futuremark benchmarks have been highly discussed between gamers and reviewers. For your information we post the results from 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and of course the newly released 3DMark Vantage that gives you a rough idea of what can you expect from the tested graphic cards.

The XFX 260GTX gets the highest score at the 3D Mark 05 software with 16565 points, overpassing even the 8800GTS 512MB SLI setup. Things are slightly different with the 3D Mark 06, where the 8800GTS 512 SLI setup marginally gets the top place, compared with the XFX 260GTX. Compared with a single 8800GTS 512MB, XFX 260GTX gets around 757 more points.

In the 3DMark Vantage we have a clearer view about the card's performance at various resolutions, starting from 1280x1024 up to 1920x1200. Here is where the XFX 260GTX really shines and offers almost double the performance of an Asus 8800GTS 512MB Top, at least for the 1280x1024 resolution. In call cases, the performance was higher than everything we have tested. This advantage should be also be reflected in the benchmarks with retail games that are coming in the next pages.


5. Benchmarks - Crysis (DirectX10)

Crysis is probably the de facto benchmark game since no currently sold card can have acceptable frame rates when very high quality settings are selected. All tested graphic cards offer acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024 with high quality settings enabled. The XFX 260GTX is expected to have high frame rates at all resolutions and quality modes, especially when compared with previous generation cards.

With High Details settings, the XFX 260GTX performed as high as the 8800GTS 512 SLI setup:

Enabling the very high quality settings has a significant impact (over 50%) on the performance for all the graphics cards of this test.

The XFX 260GTX series still manages to have the highest performance, although the 20FPS result is not adequate for playing.

When we pushed the resolutions at 1680x1050 and 19200x1200, the XFX 260GTX remained at the top, although the reported 17FPS and 15FPS respectively indicate that an SLI configuration here could to do the job.


6. Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead (DirectX9, DirectX10)

A new version of the famous Crysis game was recently released. While there shouldn't be any major improvements over the original Crysis engine, "Crysis Warhead" could stress our XFX 260GTX card under both DirectX9 and DirectX10 rendering modes. In all cases we didn't enable anti-aliasing since it would give a major blow in the performance.

DX9
1280x1024
1650x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Performance
63,92
131,92
166,02
47,62
127,38
162,89
48,95
124,84
160,84
Mainstream
37,65
78,96
104,16
32,84
74,09
102,45
35,04
67,55
93,24
Gamer
22,52
52,11
73,48
21,99
43,71
58,60
16,65
37,04
49,51
Enthusiast
14,91
35,80
45,42
14,77
28,77
36,09
16,00
23,87
28,84

By plotting the above table at a graph, we can notice the differences in the various quality modes and resolutions. It is obvious that at 1280x1024, we can play up to the Gamer level without major loss at speed. In order to play at higher resolutions, you should lower the quality for acceptable frame rates (>30 fps).

Enabling DirectX10 has a major impact in the performance. As we can see, the 1920x1200 resolution under the Mainstream settings is playable. Switching to Gamer settings would offer 40% less performance. The Enthusiast detail level needs extra power to keep FPS in an acceptable level.

DX10
1280x1024
1650x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Performance
55,8
97,43
130,53
48,9
92,8
126,55
58,3
89,96
123,75
Mainstream
37,30
73,73
106,41
37,22
66,80
94,49
36,39
57,67
81,01
Gamer
24,92
44,06
65,48
14,69
36,97
53,19
20,81
31,58
43,89
Enthusiast
19,65
30,02
40,20
16,25
24,08
29,54
13,20
19,96
25,00


7. Benchmarks - Company Of Heroes v1.71 (DirectX 10)

Company Of Heroes is a popular action/strategy game with many funs around the world. The game was the first to take advantage of the DirectX10 while its game physics are impressive.

We maxed out all visual details and measured the performance of each card using the game's benchmark:

The XFX 260GTX gave a very high performance at 1280x1024 with 104.50FPS. That's around 25FPS more compared to what a 8800GTS 512 graphics card offers.

At higher resolutions, we can see that the XFX 260GTX is still behind the SLI setup, but still performs better than a single 8800GTS 512 card.


8. Benchmarks - - Assassins Creed (DirectX 10), Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

- Assassins Creed (DirectX 10)

Assassins Creed is a new game from Ubisoft that supports the DirectX 10.1 extensions. Its graphics are highly demanding, especially when all details are maxed out. We tested the graphics cards only at the resolution of 1920x1200, since lower resolutions for the specific game are not very demanding. Using FRAPS we recorded the same fight scene and the game results presented below.

The XFX 260GTX performed better than any other card, SLI excluded. However, we expected a little bit better performance here.

- Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

Half Life 2 is a first person shooter game that everybody has played and loved. The game at Episode 2 has several image quality improvements, especially with 4xAA and 16AF enabled.

Compared to the Asus 8800GTS Top, the XFX 260GTX gave 9, 18 and 28 additional FPS at the 1280x1024, 1650x1050 and 1920x1200 resolutions respectively.


9. Overclocking, Final words
- Overclocking

The XFX 260GTX graphics card comes pre-overclocked compared with a generic Nvidia 260GTX model. We were curious to find out the overclocking margins of this card, which can be found with a trial-error testing procedure. We used the latest RivaTuner software and raised up the core/memory/shader frequencies until we got an error- free nine (9) round Crysis benchmark.

Please note that we had to manually rise up the fan RPMs by 50% in order to achieve the following results. In addition, we noticed that the card is running very hot (~50 degrees Celsius in the outer shell) so adding an extra fan could further increase overclocking.

Graphic Card
Core
Memory
Shader
Normal
OC
Normal
OC
Normal
OC
XFX 260GTX
640
699
1150
1296
1363
1460

We managed to increase the core's frequency by 60MHz - which is quite good, the memory gain was 146MHz and the Shaders were clocked 97MHz higher. These gains in the operation frequencies may be low but remember that we are talking about a factory overclocked model here.

- Final Words

Summarizing the test results we can safely say that this card will really give you a significantly higher performance especially if you are currently on a 8xxx series solution. The latest game titles, like Crysis or Crysis Warhead are much playble at either DirectX 9 or DirectX 10 modes, provided that you have "properly" adjusted the quality modes.

You can enjoy DX9 gaming in "full quality" mode by using the resolution of 1280x1024. If this resolution is not enough for you, then you'd better add a second XFX 260GTX graphic card or simply lower the visual details. With some "older" games like HL2 Episode 2 or Company Of Heroes, the performance is superb, overpassing even an Nvidia 8800GTS 512MB SLI setup.

The overclocking procedure through the Riva Tuner is simple, although you will possibly need to manually increase the rotation of the GPU fan to handle the heat.

As a last word we can say that the XFX 260GTX is suggested to to anyone who needs a speed jump over a previous generation graphics card and at the same time, have a future-proof product. Adding an extra or even two XFX 260GTX cards would surely will keep you busy for a long time before jumping to another platform.



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