Gigabyte GTX260 (GV-N26-896H-B)
Premium gaming at a price
- Great fps performance in DX10 games, significant improvements over GeForce 9 chip
- A tad expensive when compared to ATI models, outperformed by Radeon HD 4870 in our DX9 gaming tests
The Gigabyte GTX260 (GV-N26-896H-B) is an impressive high-end graphics card that packs quite a wallop. However, it's also a little overpriced and failed to impress in our DX9 benchmarks.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
When NVIDIA launched its GeForce 9 Series graphics cards earlier in the year, they didn't exactly send shockwaves through the PC community. In fact, many enthusiasts considered them to be a major disappointment. From the 9600 GT to the 9800 GTX, each new model was a minor reworking of the previous generation of chips, offering small performance gains for a more affordable price.
While the reduced RRP was certainly welcomed, the 'tweaked' architecture left a sour taste in many gamers' mouths. Well, it turns out that these cards were merely stopgaps, or entrees before the main meal. With the new GTX 200 series, it's all about bringing power to the people — provided they can actually afford it, that is. Compared to AMD's latest batch of Radeon cards, we're afraid the asking price is a little on the costly side.
For its 10th generation of GeForce graphics cards, NVIDIA has decided to ditch its numeric nomenclature for a fresh 'n' zingy naming scheme. Thus, instead of the GeForce 10 Series, we have the GeForce 200, codenamed GT200. The new range is heralded by two high-end cards — the GTX 280 (an example of which is reviewed here) and the lower-specified GTX 260.
If you found the GeForce 9 Series to be somewhat underwhelming, then the GT200 series should go some way to making amends. Consisting of 1.4 billion transistors, it is currently the largest chip that NVIDIA has ever produced. (By contrast, the 9800 GTX sports just 754 million transistors). The new graphics processing unit also benefits from an advanced scheduler for improvements in texture processing.
The GTX 260 version is equipped with 192 stream processors running at 1242MHz and a 575MHz core clock speed. Its GDDR3 memory stands at 896MB, with a memory clock speed of 999MHz (1.998GHz effective). With its 448-bit bus, this works out to a maximum theoretical memory bandwidth of 106.4GBps. These are significant gains on NVIDIA's previous flagship offering, the 9800 GTX, which made do with 128 stream processors clocked at 1688MHz. For this review we used Gigabyte's GTX260 (GV-N26-896H-B) model, which is identical to the NVIDIA reference board.
In our benchmarks, the GV-N26-896H-B performed solidly for a lower-end enthusiast card. It received an overall score of 12,726 in 3DMark06, which was curiously identical to the ASUS ENGTX280 TOP — a GTX 280 model that retails for $200 more. We should point out, however, that the 3DMark application has been somewhat unreliable with the GT200 series, returning inconsistent results. The real test comes from our gaming benchmarks.
When we ran the DirectX 10 game Crysis with maximum settings enabled, the GV-N26-896H-B blistered along with an average framerate of 37.32fps (frames per second). This is a significant improvement over AMD's high-end ATI Radeon HD 4870 card, which ran at 20.5fps when using the same test bed. Likewise, the DX10 version of Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions returned an impressive average of 48fps, compared to the HD 4870's 32fps. (Predictably, these results also trumped Gigabyte's GeForce 9800 GTX card.)
Unfortunately, our DirectX 9 benchmarks were somewhat less impressive, with Half-Life 2 averaging 163.19fps, F.E.A.R. averaging 117fps, and Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions (DX9 version) averaging 113.5fps. With the exception of Lost Planet, these results are slower than the ATI Radeon HD 4870, which averaged 177.8fps, 121fps and 111.25fps respectively. It's also worth noting that the GV-N26-896H-B is currently around $150 more expensive than the HD 4870 card. Unless you absolutely must play the latest DX10 games with maximum settings enabled, the HD 4870 represents a much better deal.
The GV-N26-896H-B requires two 6-pin PCIe power connectors to run and has a maximum rated board power of 182 Watts. For connectivity, two dual-link DVI connectors are present, along with an HDTV/S-Video out connector.
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