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Appeared on: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Gainward GTX285

1. About the Gainward GTX285 Graphics card, package

Nvidia has recently announced the GTX285/295 series of graphics cards promising to offer improved gaming experience at a more affordable price tag. Gainward has introduced their own solution based at the generic Nvidia GTX285 model. The Gainward GTX285 has 1GB of DDR3 and it is clocked at 648MHz. Today we will have the chance to compare the new card with other graphics solutions by both Nvidia and AMD/ATI.

The GTX285 marked Nvidia's transition to the 55nm manufacturing process that would further boost speed and decrease the power consumption and therefore, the produced heat. Below is a table showing the main differences among the Nvidia 2xx graphics chips.

  GTX 295 GTX 285 GTX 280 GTX 260 Core 216 GTX 260
Stream Processors 2 x 240 240 240 216 192
Texture Address / Filtering 2 x 80 / 80 80 / 80 80 / 80 72/72 64 / 64
ROPs 28 32 32 28 28
Core Clock 576MHz 648MHz 602MHz 576MHz 576MHz
Shader Clock 1242MHz 1476MHz 1296MHz 1242MHz 1242MHz
Memory Clock 999MHz 1242MHz 1107MHz 999MHz 999MHz
Memory Bus Width 2 x 448-bit 512-bit 512-bit 448-bit 448-bit
Frame Buffer 2 x 896MB 1GB 1GB 896MB 896MB
Transistor Count 2 x 1.4B 1.4B 1.4B 1.4B 1.4B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm
Price $500 $400 $350 - $400 $250 - $300 $250 - $300

The Gainward GTX285 is based on the generic Nvidia card, with a 648MHz core, 1476MHz shader and 1242MHz memory clocks. Hopefully this product would be ideal for demanding games like Crysis and L4D as we will see later.

- The package

The Gainward GTX285 package has been redesigned as you can see in the picture below. The various logos on the blue-colored box provide basic information about the features on the product.. The card has 1024MB of GDDR3 onboard, it is HDCP-ready for Blu-ray playback and it can be connected to your TV or HD monitor through HDMI via adapter. It's retail price is around ~€362 (including VAT), making it €40-50 cheaper than the ATI 4870X2.

The graphics card is well protected placed into the box into a plastic antistatic packaging. In the box you will also find a printed manual, a driver's disc, a molex-to-pci-e adapter, a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, a DSub-to-DVI-D adapter, a TV-out cable with HDTV support and finally an Internal SPDIF cable, for HDMI audio support. No retail game is bundled here:

The Gainward GTX285 is kept cool using a cooler with a 80mm fan, following Nvidia's stock design.

The available ports include two DVI-D and another one for HDTV.

Make sure to use at least two 6-pin power jacks in order to efficiently power the graphics card. This also means that your PSU should better offer at least 600 Watts of total power.

For all the tests we used the the latest Nvidia drivers (182.06) in order to get the highest possible performance, especially with the latest DX10 game titles.

As you can see below, the GPU core runs at 648MHz and the memory at 1242MHz. The GPU-Z software provides all the needed information for our eyes:

The same software also reports the temperatures of the various parts of the board. We should also note here that the GTX285 is rather quiet compared to other graphics cards we have tested here at CDRinfo.

2. Testbed
- Test Setup

All the tests were conducted under the same testbed and of course the same version of the drivers. Many games and applications were used in the performance evaluation procedure. FRAPS was also used to measure the FPS when needed.

DirectX 9


3. Benchmark settings
- Testbed DirectX9

For all the tests we used the default settings for 3DMark05 as following:

Again we left all settings to default:

- Testbed DirectX10

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

We used the build-in benchmark with all 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 was playable.

We also 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 used the the built-in benchmarking utility and maxed out all the visual details, under both DX9/DX10 settings and up to 16x AA/16x AF.

4. Benchmarks - FutureMark Hall Of Fame

The Futuremark benchmarks have been highly discussed between gamers and reviewers. For your information we post the results of the 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 graphics cards.

The Gainward GTX285 is slower than the Rampage700 2048MB GS and HD4870 1024GB GS products according to 3DMark 05. The 3DMark 06 benchmark did not change the classification:

The 3DMark Vantage gave a a clearer view of the card's performance at various resolutions, from the 1280x1024 and up to 1920x1200. The Gainward GTX285 gave the highest score at the 1280x1024 resolution and its performance drops almost linearly as the resolution reaches the 1920x1280. Again the Rampage700 2048GS is faster at the higher resolutions (1680x1050 and 1920x1200), mainly due the higher memory onboard.

5. Benchmarks - Crysis (DirectX10)

Possibly the most demanding game title currently available, Crysis, stresses out the majority of the graphics cards.

All tested graphics cards can have acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024 with high quality settings enabled. The Gainward GTX285 was very fast and gave an average of 54.00FPS:

Next we enabled the "Very high Details" settings. The Gainward GTX285 was also capable of delivering adequate frame rates (32FPS average), sharing the first place with the the Gainward Rampage700 GS performing. The rest of the graphics cards simply cannot support these settings with such a demanding game:

At the higher resolutions of 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 the Gainward Rampage700 2048GS is faster than the GTX285, even by some FPS:

We have the feeling that at even higher resolutions than the 1920x1200, the Gainward Rampage 700 (ATI HD4870X2) will be even faster than the GTX285 series.

6. Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead (DirectX9, DirectX10)

Compared to the original Crysis game title, Crysis Warhead offers many visual improvements in both DirectX9 and DirectX10 rendering modes.

For the test below we kept anti-alising disabled and took some FPS measurements for all the quality settings and various resolutions:B


The Gainward GTX285 performed well even at the Enthusiast level, where the lowest reported FPS was 18FPS. Of course the "Gamer" level is highly playable even at 1920x1200.

When we enabled the DirectX10, the reported FPS changed. Again the Gamer level remains a very good choice, where you can enjoy high frame rates. The Enthusiast level seems more demanding especially at the higher resolutions.


7. Performance comparison - Crysis Warhead

In the following graphs we compare the performance of the Gainward GTX285 with other graphics cards in various resolutions.

At the 1280x1024, the GTX285 really shines with high frame rates even at the Enthusiast level. We expected to see the Gainward Rampage700 2048GS to perform better in this test but we assume that the older set of drives we had used for the Rampage700 test some months ago were not as efficient as the latest we used today.

But things change at 1920x1200, where the Gainward Rampage 700 2048GS is the fastest competitor at the demanding Enthusiast level:

We ran the same tests under DirectX10. Not much changes here, except from the fact that the overall performance of all the cards in terms of FPS was lower.

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

Company Of Heroes is a popular action/strategy game that was the first to take advantage of the DirectX10.

We maxed out all visual details we measured the performance of each card using the built-in benchmark.

At 1280x1024, the Gainward GTX285 was faster than anything else we have ever tested, giving 114.10FPS. That is almost double the performance of the Rampage700 2048GS, although playing the game actually does not clearly confirms that. It seems that the ATI products are not performing very well with the Company Of Heroes game title...

The Gainward GTX285 kept its crown at the higher resolutions:

9. Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 (DirectX 9/10)

Far Cry 2 is one of the hottest game titles right now. The game supports both DirectX 9 and DirectX10 and its graphics engine is much lighter than the one Crysis uses. As a result, all graphics cards are expected to perform very well, even at 1920x1200 with 16xAA/16xAF enabled.

Starting at 1280x1024, the Gainward GTX 285 performed pretty well even at the Ultra High rendering mode. However, it was slower than the Rampage700 2GB GS:

As we increased the resolution to 1680x1050, the performance difference increases in favor of the Rampage700 2048GS:

At the resolution of 1920x1200 the GTX285 has managed to offer very high FPS, although the ATI HD4870X2 based product (Rampage700 2048GS) is faster.

Finally at the DirectX10 tests we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Gainward GTX285 performed even better than the Rampage 700 2048GS in both Ultra High and 16xAA/16x AF rendering modes.

10. Benchmarks - Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9), Left4Dead

- 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.

The Gainward GTX285 was the fastest graphics card in all the tested resolutions and proved to be as fast as the Rampage700 GS 2048MB GS:

- Left4Dead

Finally we tested the "Left4Dead" gaming title based on the latest source engine.

We used a custom time demo and measured the performance of the Gainward GTX385 graphics card at various resolutions. We also enabled the 16xAF and maximized all the visual settings. For the measurements, we used the embedded console.

The performance was pretty good in even at the higher resolutions. Enabling the 16xAA would cost you some FPS but still, the reported 80.22 FPS is more than enough:

11. Overclocking, conclusions
- Overclocking

The overclocking procedure could be very easy as soon as your graphics card is efficiently cooled and of course, the frequency of your card's core, shaders and memory is not already stressed out.

We tried to find the overclocking limits of the Gainward GTX285 using the usual a trial-error testing procedure. You may also try it by using the latest RivaTuner and start experimenting.

The highest frequencies we got were 724/1620/1376MHz for the GPU, shaders and the memory, respectively. At these speeds, we got a stable Crysis gaming session. We remind you that card's comes clocked at 648/1476/1242MHz .

- Conclusion

Although the Gainward GTX285 is based on the Nvidia's generic GTX285 series and comes without any additional overclocking, it showed a good performance as well as some overclocking potential.

Generally, the Nvidia GTX285 seems to faster than its predecessor - the GTX280 - by approximately 10%.We found the GTX280 at €346, when the GTX285 costs around €360. It is obvious that the performance gain of the GTX285 is a good reason to spend some additional euros for the new GTX285, rather than choosing the GTX280.

Compared with a higher-priced graphics card (i.e. the Rampage 700 2048GS), the Gainward GTX285 was rather competitive, although the dual-GPU ATI HD4870 X2 based product was faster at the resolution of 1920x1200 in a demanding game such as the Crysis. To be honest, we did not have the chance to test the HD 4870X2 with the latest driver pack installed, which should further improve the visual experience. The HD4870 512/1024MB are still popular solutions especially after ATI's recent price cuts. But again, the Gainward GTX285 is much faster when the AA/AF is enabled at high resolutions.

So it comes to what you want to spend and your gaming preferences. If you are still stuck with the 1280x1024 and you want something affordable, the HD4870 series is a very good choice. However if you have invest at a 24" LCD monitor with full HD resolution, the Gainward GTX285 is a better choice and it can easily run most of today's games. Overall the Gainward GTX285 is a very good gaming solution that worths your consideration if you are looking for a fast and future-proof graphics card.

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