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Appeared on: Thursday, May 14, 2009
Gainward GTX260 1792MB


1. Features, specifications

The Nvidia GTX260 series has been quite succesful for Nvidia and its partners. Gainward has released a special version of the GTX260 platform that comes with double GDDR3 memory on board, reaching the magic number of 1792MB.

The Gainward GTX260 1792MB GDDR3 is actually based at the GTX260 Core 216 series that compared with the previous GTX260 GPU but it comes with increased number stream processors. People tend to agree that performance gain should be around 5~10%, which wouldn't be enough for most users to upgrade. It would be interesting to compare an overclocked version of the first GTX260 with the new Gainward GTX260 Core 216. Below is a table showing the main differences among the Nvidia GTX 2xx graphic series chipsets and their respective average prices :

  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 range $500 $400 $350 - $400 $250 - $300 $250 - $300

Compared to typical Nvidia GTX260, the Gainward GTX260 Core 216 is slightly overclocked with 585MHz (+9MHz) for the Core, 1262MHZ (+20MHz) for the Shader and 999MHz (+0MHz) for the memory. But as we previously mentioned, the Gainward model is equipped with 1792MB of GDDR3 (double the normal memory).

- Retail package

Gainward used its typical blue-colored packaging for the new GTX260 216 1792MB graphics card. Its price is around &euro215 (including VAT), which is €20-25 more compared to the price of an overclocked GTX260 solution.

The graphics card is well packaged into a plastic anti static bag and a carton box. Don't expect to find any retail game inside. What we found was just 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.

The Gainward GTX260 216 is equipped with a special cooling system with dual 80mm fans. The design offers effective cooling as well as low noise, but makes the graphics card thicker occupying two slots in your PC after installation.

The available outputs are two DVI-D and one for HDTV.

The Gainward GTX260 216 requires at least two 6-pin power jacks in order to work properly. Make sure that you have a 600Watt PSU at least before buying this graphics card.

Nvidia's SLI is possible with all currently sold GTX 2xx series. Just make sure that both cards are identical.

For our tests, we used the latest Nvidia drivers (185.81) in order to get the highest possible performance, especially with the latest DX10 game titles.

According to GPU-Z, the GPU core runs at 585MHz and the memory at 1262MHz:

The NvidiaBios Editor v5.0 provides more information about the voltages of the card.. The software also allows you to "tweak" the graphics card and get an even higher performance.


2. PC setup
Here is our PC setup for this test:

All the tests were conducted using the same testbed and of course the same graphics drivers. We used the FRAPS software to measure the in game performance (FPS) when needed. In addition, we used the following applications:

DirectX 9

DirectX10


3. Testbed DirectX 9, DirectX10
- Testbed DirectX9

We used the default settings for 3DMark05 as following:

Again we used the default settings:

- Testbed DirectX10

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

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

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

We used the FRAMEBuffer benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We also checked all the available quality levels.

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


4. FutureMark Hall Of Fame
Here are the results of the 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and of course the latest 3DMark Vantage benchmarks, which will give you a rough idea of what can you expect from the tested graphics card.

Despite the extra memory onboard, the Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB is not as strong as the XFX GTX260 XXX, probably due to its much lower clocks.

The ranking is not any different according to the the 3DMark 06 results:

The 3DMark Vantage provides a clearer view about the card's performance at various resolutions. The Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB has an advantage over the XFX 260GTX solution, at the resolutions of 1280x1024 and 1680x1050. However its performance dropped at 1920x1200, where both competitive cards gave almost the same results.


5. Crysis (DirectX10)

Crysis is probably the de facto benchmark game since almost no currently available card can offer acceptable frame rates with very high quality settings enabled.

The Gainward GTX260 216 was very fast at 1280x1024 with an average of 47.00 FPS, leaving the XFX GTX260 XXX behind.

We enabled the 'Very High Details' and despite the extra memory onboard, the Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB was not faster than the XFX GTX260 XXX, giving exactly the same FPS.

Enabling the 'Very High Details' at higher resolutions (1680x1050 and 1920x1200) makes the game less enjoyable if not unplayable with the GTX260 216, as you can see in the graphs below.


6. Crysis Warhead (DirectX9, DirectX10)

Below are the test results for the Gainward GTX260 216, for various resolutions with anti-aliasing disabled.

DX9
1280x1024
1680x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Low
Average
Low
Average
Performance
57,72
123,69
46,41
120,82
46,42
119,99
Mainstream
33,71
75,54
27,03
71,38
22,40
66,31
Gamer
24,47
51,70
22,73
41,64
20,64
36,59
Enthusiast
21,38
35,79
16,64
28,64
13,62
23,55

The game is playable in all resolutions in the 'Gamer ' quality level or lower, and possibly in the 'Enthusiast' level at 1280x 1024.

Enabling DirectX10 has an impact on the performance. Again the 'Gamer level' seems to be the perfect choice, and depending resolution you can really enjoy high frame rates:

DX10
1280x1024
1680x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Low
Average
Low
Average
Performance
57,69
106,29
50,91
101,99
50,74
100,38
Mainstream
37,08
69,89
35,69
62,83
35,66
55,31
Gamer
19,53
43,45
21,35
36,52
21,21
32,59
Enthusiast
20,56
30,64
16,46
24,65
13,66
20,32

We compare the Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB with various other graphics cards.

The overclocked XFX 260GTX seems to be slightly faster than the Gainward GTX260 216 at 1280 x 1024. We remind you that the GTX260 216 has 1792MB of memory.

The situation is the same for the 1680x1050. Again the XFX GTX260 XXX is generally faster until the 'Gamer' level or higher:

Finally, both GTX260-based graphics cards performed equally at 1920 x 1200.

Under the DirectX10 rendering mode made all the graphics cards perform slower.

Regardless the resolution, the Gainward GTX260 216 is slower than the overclocked XFX GTX260 XXX, at least in the 'Performance' and 'Mainstream' quality levels. If you plan to play the game with the visual details even higher, choosing either of these cards will make no difference:

The 1680x1050 & 1920x1200 doesn't introduce anything new at our results...


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

Company Of Heroes is a popular action/strategy game with many fans around the world. The game it was the first that ever to take advantage of the the DirectX10 mode and also offers impressive game physics. We took some FPS measurements with all visual details enabled:.

The Gainward GTX260 216 1792 did not perform as we expected here. According to the built-in benchmark of Company Of Heroes, the card kept giving no more than 60FPS in all the resolutions. It's closest competitor (e XFX GTX260 XXX) was faster.


8. Far Cry 2 (DirectX 9/10)

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

The Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB performed very well even under the 'Ultra High' rendering mode. But again the card falls behind the XFX GTX260.

At 1680x1050, we see that the performance difference between the GTX260 solutions is decreases as we set the quality settings higher:

At the resolution of 1920x1200, the performance is +3FPS in favor of the XFX GTX260.

On the other hand, the Gainward GTX260 216 1792 is better in the DirectX 10 tests with even with the 16xAA/AF enabled.


9. 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. Episode 2 has several image quality improvements and enabling the 4xAA and 16AF further enhances the gaming experience.

- Left4Dead

The latest Source engine is found in the ' Left4Dead' game title. We used a custom time demo and measured the performance of the graphics card using the embedded console. The measurements started at 1280x1024 and up to 1920x1200 with 16xAF enabled all visual settings maxed out.


10. Overclocking, conclusion
- Overclocking

Let's now see the overclocking limits of the GTX260 216 1792 using the latest RivaTuner with FutureMark The highest scores we got were 708MHZ/1492MHZ/1031MHz for core/shader/memory. Due to its 55nm design, the card's clocks could go even higher with a modded BIOS, but these were the top limits we found for a stable system using the Crysis/FutureMark stability software.

- Conclusion

The Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB is based on the Nvidia GTX260 platform but it comes with double the frame buffer for increased performance.

However, despite the the increased GDDR3 memory and the number of Stream Processors, the Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB isn't much faster than an overclocked GTX260 graphic card, in our case from XFX. We saw some performance gain only when we enabled the AA/AF at resolutions of 1680x1050 and higher.

Buying an overclocked GTX260 solution would cost you around €20 less. But getting a generic GTX260 would cost even less - and should be the right choice in our opinion.

If you like overclocking, the Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB will not let you down. Its 55nm design as well as the very good and quiet double cooling system of the card will leave you much options for experimenting with the card's GPU and shader clocks. The memory's clock cannot be pushed as high as we expected. And don't forget that by increasing the fan speed at 100%, it may be possible to get even higher oveclocking.

As a last word, we have to do with a good solution for people who tend to enable AA at high resolutions. It would not cost you much more than a "normal" GTX260 but for sure, the pre-overclocked versions seems to perform better and are also cheaper.

Possible buyers won't be disappointed by the Gainward GTX260 216 1792MB although the increased memory on board will give you some extra boost in a rather limited range of game titles.



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