Review: 55nm shows size does matter
Our today's guest is Geforce GTX 285, yet another card with a 55nm GPU. The recently announced GTX 295 card also features a 55nm GPU, as is the case with many other Nvidia cards such as the GTX 260 with 216 shaders. Nvidia opted for a silent approach, where the cards would get a new chip and retain the name without making a big fuss about it, but Geforce GTX 285 couldn’t retain the name as it was clocked higher than GTX 280.
Geforce GTX 280 has so far been the fastest single GPU Nvidia card running at 602MHz for the core and it packed a 65nm GT200 chip. The following picture shows the GTX 285 and the GTX 280 head to head. Gainward’s new card runs at reference core speed - 648MHz.
Although they appear to be somewhat identical, there’re a couple of things that will help you tell GTX 285 and GTX 280 cards apart. From this point of view we can see that GTX 285’s doesn’t feature protective rubber caps on SLI connectors, which is just fine as they weren’t needed in the first place except for better looking.
One of the best things that 55nm process brings is improved consumption, so the new GTX 285 requires only two 6-pin PCI Express connectors, whereas the 65nm GTX 280 required one 6-pin and one 8-pin connector. Nvidia claims that GTX 285 draws 204W at max, whereas the GTX 280 maxes out at 236W.
The coolers on both cards are almost identical whereas the backs of the cards are different. The black shielding is taken off, probably due to the fact that the new card features the memory only on the front side of the card. The card on the photo below is GTX 280, and you’ll find the memory to be located on the back of the card.
Both cards come with 1024MB of 512-bit memory running at 1242MHz (2484MHz effectively) on the GTX 285 and at 1107MHz (2214MHz effectively) on the GTX 280.
The core runs at 648MHz and the shaders at 1476MHz. If you compare them to GTX 280’s clocks (602MHz core and 1296MHz shaders) we see that the core got a boost of 46MHz. You’ll find the GPUz for GTX 280 cards below. GTX 285’s banwidth totals at 159GB/s, whereas GTX 280’s ends up with 141.7GB/s bandwidth.
It’s important to note that the new 55nm chip is technically not different from the old, 65nm chip.
240 stream processors on the GT 200 55nm chip feature 32 ROPs and the chip comes with GDDR3 memory support and 512bit memory interface. Here we have 8 ROP partitions each packing 4 ROP units (8 x 4 = 32 ROPs), where each ROP partition is connected to the main memory via a 64-bit connection. 8 ROP partitions x 64-bit interface equals 512bit memory interface.
The following photo shows the GTX 280 overclocked to match the GTX 285’s clocks. We checked our previous testing and found that when overclocked to these speeds, the old card performs close or equal to the new GTX 285. However, the new 55nm GPU runs cooler and consumes less energy in same tasks.
The GTX 285’s cooler is a bit improved in comparison to the GTX 280’s one. The rear part under the fan has more room for air to blow towards the power components and also points to their somewhat different layout.
The GPU is isolated better in this new cooler.
You’ll find the memory modules stacked around the graphics core, all 16 of them and each packing 64MB of memory.
G200-350-B3 denotes that the chip in question is GT200b made in 55nm production process.
The old chip has G200-300-A2 written on it. The following picture shows the GTX 280’s cooler.
We mentioned that GTX 285’s TDP is 204W, so apart from PCI Express slot’s 75W, this card needs additional two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors.
GTX 280’s PCB features one 6pin and one 8pin PCI-Express power connectors, totaling at a TDP of 236W.
Nvidia touts the GT200 (as well as G80 and G92) as multifunctional architectures capable of much more than just gaming. That means that we can put this card to other uses by utilizing Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA). One of the often mentioned apps capable of putting Nvidia’s GPU to good use is Badaboom, which converts videos using the stream processors’ parallel processing capabilities. That’s not all though, as Nvidia has more aces left up their sleeve, namely Stereoscopic 3D and PhysX.
Gainward’s packaging is large, but it will shield your card nicely in transport.
We see that Gainward bundled the SPDIF cable, which you’ll need if you want to use just one cable to bring audio and video to your HDTV. HDMI requires a DVI-to-HDMI connector, also bundled with the card. I/O panel features two dual link DVIs with HDCP.
Those who crave more can always resort to chaining up to three GTX 285 cards, as the card provides two SLI connectors.
Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Provided by : MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition na 3.6GHz ( Provided by : Intel );
Memory: Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 ( Provided by : Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM ( Provided by : SmoothCreation );
At 1920x1200 the GTX 285 trails behind the likes of GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 by as much as 53 and 41 percent respectively, and although it beats the GTX 280 by 9 percent, the overclocked GTX 280 catches up and runs almost on par – not even a full frame slower.
At 1920x1200 with AA and AF on, we again see GTX lose to GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 by 43 and 25 percent respectively. It outperforms the GTX 280 by 9 percent, but the overclocked GTX 280 again comes in really close, as it scores only 2% lower than the GTX 285.
The GTX 295 again takes the spoils as it beats HD 4870 X2 and the GTX 285 by 9 and 53 percent, respectively. The GTX 285 beats the GTX 280 by 8% whereas the overclocked GTX 280 comes so close, that the result can be considered identical.
When we turned the filters on, all the cards suffered performance drops, some more than others. The GTX 285 trails behind the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 by 52 and 16 percent, and although it beats the GTX 280 by almost 10%, the overclocked GTX 280 OC snatches its first win here, but barely as the difference is less than 1%.
Impressively enough, FarCry 2 somewhat evens the results out as the GTX 285 ends up trailing the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 by only 26% and 1.8% respectively. It beats both the GTX 280 and HD 4870 1GB by 8 and 17 percent respectively, but it ends up running on par with the overclocked GTX 280.
When we turned the filters on, the higher-end components again leave the pack and justify the higher price, as the GTX 285 ends up trailing the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 by 39 and 19 percent respectively. The GTX 285 wins against the GTX 280 by 8 percent, whereas the overclocked GTX 280 snatches such a tight win that we can easily say the results are identical.
1680x1050 with filters on further separates the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 from the pack, and they beat the GTX 285 by 42 and 24 percent respectively. The GTX 285 beats the GTX 280 and HD 4870 1GB by 8 and 31 percent, and it again runs on par with the overclocked GTX 280.
At 1920x1200, the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 beat the GTX 285 by 39 and 27, respectively. The GTX 285 beats the HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 by 13 and 8 percent respectively, whereas the overclocked GTX 280 OC again runs on par with our today's card.
After turning the filters on, we see the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 beating the GTX 285 by 45 and 28 percent respectively, whereas the GTX 285 outmuscles the HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 by 27 and 8 percent, respectively. The GTX 280 keeps up its tempo and again runs on par with the GTX 285.
Higher resolutions show who's the boss and the GTX 285 trails behind the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 by 39% and 47% respectively. It manages to outrun the HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 by 19 and 9 percent respectively, and as you can see – it again runs on par with the overclocked GTX 280.
Turning the filters on results in GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 beating the GTX 285 by 44 and 20 percent respectively. The GTX 285 again outruns the HD 4870 1GB by impressive 40 percent and the GTX 280 by 9, but it keeps running on par with the overclocked GTX 280.
At 1280x1024 resolution, the differences are quite small and not worth commenting as all cards provide more than enough for pleasant gaming.
Turning the filters on, however, results in the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 again leaving the pack and beating GTX 285 by 20 and 28 percent respectively. The GTX 285 ends up faster than HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 by 18 and 8 percent respectively, and it once again runs on par with the overclocked GTX 280. Note that all cards still provide more than enough for pleasant gaming.
At 1680x1050, the GTX 285 outruns the HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 by 11 and 8 percent respectively, but it still trails behind the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2, which comes as no surprise. However, all cards show more than enough muscle to run this game.
At 1920x1200, the GTX 285 trails behind the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 by 22 and 23 respectively, and it beats the HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 by 18 and 10 percent. Here we see the overclocked GTX 280 OC lag behind the GTX 285 by a single frame.
Turning the filters on sees the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 extending their lead over the GTX 285 to 39 and 26 percent respectively, and we see that the GTX 285 once again runs on par with the overclocked GTX 280. GTX 285 outperforms the HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 by 24 and 9 percent.
The highest tested resolution again shows the difference between higher-end models, as GTX 295 and HD 4870 leave the GTX 285 behind by 43 and 38 percent respectively. The HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 are slower than the GTX 285 by 30 and 10 percent respectively, whereas the difference between the GTX 285 and the overclocked GTX 280 is less than a frame.
3DMark tests paint quite a realistic picture of what these cards are capable of, but although the GTX 280 trails behind the GTX 285 by 10 percent on average, its overclocked version performs almost identically.
Compared to reference Geforce GTX 280, Geforce GTX 285 does run faster at default clocks but once you overclock GTX 280 the advantage suddenly disappears. The good thing about the GTX 285 is that you will be able to overclock to above 700MHz but we still don't know whether this is the last stop.
The card's price is a tricky issue, as it currently costs almost as much as a Radeon HD 4870 X2, or very close to it, and it is clear that ATI's X2 card wins in most benchmarks. If you want the fastest card around you might want to get a Geforce GTX 295 but if you currently own a GTX 280 there is no need to upgrade, unless you really want to save a few cents a month on your power bill and you like to have latest and greatest.
The card runs cooler and this is its main advantage over the previous 65nm model, but once again the 55nm GT200 fails to pull off a miracle. Geforce GTX 285 is clearly better than GTX 280, but not as much as many have hoped. After all, it is the same chip with a smaller die and transistors.
The card beats ATI's Radeon HD 4870 single core card, and if you want the fastest single GPU card currently available coupled with good power consumption, then this might be the card for you.