Review: Ships with two bundled games
Nvidia's Geforce GTX 285 is currently the fastest single chip graphics card around. It was launched on 15th of January this year, and the launch was particularly interesting since many partners already had their OC versions of the cards. We’ve seen that the GTX285 is faster than GTX 280, which is a direct result of the 46MHz overclock, and the card now runs at 648MHz.
With the 55nm manufacturing process in motion, Nvidia was encouraged to overclock their cards as the aforementioned process results in a die shrink. That, in turn, results in better thermal properties and lower power consumption.
Apart from the shrinking, GT200 GPU hasn’t changed much during the transition process. We still have 240 stream processors, 32 ROPs and GDDR3 memory with a 512-bit memory interface.
Compared to the GTX 280, the GTX 285 is more efficient as it packs more punch at lower consumption levels. It features 1024MB of memory running at 1242MHz (2484MHz effectively) whereas GTX 280’s memory runs at 1107MHz (2214MHz effectively). The following two photos show GTX 280 and GTX 285 cards, and we see that the 285’s shader speeds are 1476MHz.
As far as bandwidth and data processing power go, the new card has the upper hand thanks to its new and overclocked 55nm GT200 core.
Inno3D, whose GTX 285 card is on our today’s menu, has wasted no time in jumping onboard the OC wagon, as they overclocked their card from reference 648MHz to 700Mhz. The following picture shows Inno3D GTX 285 Overclock clocks. Note that shader speeds are left at reference 1476MHz. Mistakes happen, but it’s not a big deal as BIOS can easily remedy this. We tried overclocking it and the card ran stable at shader clocks of 1600MHz, which might be a tad too much for core speed of 700MHz, but we tend to like round numbers so we gave it a shot.
Moving onto the overclocking results.
Inno3D GTX 280 Overclock looks quite appealing in its gold-black color scheme. The cooler is the same reference dual slot, and it performs nicely. Note that GTX 285’s graphics processor runs cooler than on the GTX 280, in spite being overclocked, which is a result of the die shrink to 55nm.
The cooler covers the entire front of the card, but it doesn’t feature the back plate you’ll see on the GTX 280.
Thanks to the design of the cooler, hot air doesn’t stay in the case but rather gets pushed out via outlets on the I/O panel.
The card features two dual-link DVI outs and a TV-Out. It also comes with HDCP and HDMI support via the DVI-to-HDMI dongle bundled in the box. In order to turn this card into a multimedia beast, you’ll have to bring sound to the card via a SPDIF cable, which you’ll plug into the card’s SPDIF in.
The aforementioned SPDIF in is located next to the PCI-Express power connectors. You’ll probably be happy to hear that you won’t need an additional 8-pin power connector, which is the case with the GTX 280, and you’ll be using only two 6pin ones. As a rule, today’s high end cards draw more than 75W that the PCI-Express slot requires, and Nvidia says that this card’s maximum TDP is 183W. That’s 53W less than GTX 280’s consumption (236W). In real world, the difference is not as evident, but it’s quite impressive taking into account the GTX 285’s higher clocks.
Here we see the SPDIF in and power connectors. The following two photos show the differences in PCB design, most notably on the part where the power components reside.
The graphics core is surrounded by memory modules. Unlike the GTX 280, which features 8 memory chips on each side of the PCB, the new GTX 285 features all 16 modules, 64MB each, on one side of the PCB. We took the back plate off of the GTX 280 in order to show you the rest of the memory – 1024MB in total.
Apart from standard SLI configurations, GTX 280/285 and GTX 260 cards support three-way SLI as well. So, if you can afford three cards of the same kind, all three of them will run side by side using multi-GPU technology. Of course, you’ll need a special SLI connector, but motherboard manufacturers whose motherboards support this technology usually bundle these connectors with their products.
This card also features PureVideo HD (video processing software that puts the GPU to use in HD decoding and playback tasks), CUDA and PhysX but not HybridSLI technology (that combined with an appropriate motherboard lets your card power down during non-demanding tasks, passing the task on to the motherboard’s integrated GPU - more here).
Of CUDA supported apps, we tried out the Badaboom video converter, which really puts the GPU’s muscle to good use while transcoding video formats. CPU-intensive operations that used to go on for hours are now, thanks to the GPU’s power, are down to just minutes. CUDA, or Compute Unified Device Architecture if you will, is an architecture that developers will find quite appealing as programming in high-level programming language C puts some serious parallel processing power at their disposal.
Gaming physics is not an easy task if you want it in realtime, but it’s getting increasingly easier to implement thanks to PhysX technology combined with Nvidia GPU processors. Most popular game supporting this technology is Mirror’s Edge, and you can find it here.
All that aside, Inno3D GTX 285 Overclock cards still feature two additional surprises – Company of Heroes - Opposing Fronts and Warmonger gift games. However, talking about physics, it would probably be better for Nvidia to promote their cards by giving away Mirror’s Edge.
The box looks nice and it will keep your card safe and comfy during transport.
You’ll find the box to contain the standard stuff, including the DVI-to-HDMI dongle and a SPDIF cable.
Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Provided by: MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition at 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 );
The charts also feature results of the GTX 280 card overclocked to GTX 285’s speed, and they’re marked with GTX 280 OC. Additionally, the OC suffix on Inno3D GTX 285 suggests that this card was overclocked too.
3DMark 06 shows a minimum performance difference between the GTX 285 cards. Of course, the difference is more notable when compared to the GTX 280. The results were better by about 4%, whereas Inno3D’s overclocked card scored almost 6% better.
After an overclock amounting to about 10%, Vantage test sees the Inno3D card beat the reference GTX 285 by about 4% and the old GTX 280 by 24%.
Call of Duty
The reference GTX 285 lags behind Inno3D’s card by about 5%, but the GTX 280 lags even more, up to 16%. Overclocking Inno3D’s card brings 5% better results. Although HD 4870 X2 leads the pack at lower resolutions, the highest tested resolution sees the overclocked GTX 285 catching up, but not beating it.
Far Cry 2
When the filters are on, the GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 are clearly sticking out and they’re faster than the GTX 285 by 42 and 24 percent, respectively. At the same 1680x1050 resolution, the GTX 285 outperforms the GTX 280 and HD 4870 1GB by 8 and 31 percent, respectively. Note that in most tests it runs neck an neck with the GTX 280. At 1680x1050, we see Inno3D GTX 285 scoring 60fps, which clearly paints the picture of its strength.
At 1920x1200, GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 beat the reference GTX 825 by 39 and 27 percent. GTX 285 outscores the HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 by 13 and 8 percent respectively, whereas overclocked GTX 280 results are once again identical. Inno3D outruns the reference GTX 285 by about 5%.
After turning the filters on, GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2 outrun the GTX 285 by 45 and 28 percent whereas the GTX 285 leaves the HD 4870 1GB and GTX 280 behind by 27 and 8 percent better results, respectively. The overclocked GTX 280 still runs on par with the reference GTX 285.
Here we see Inno3D beat the HD 4870 1GB by more than 50%, and it outruns the reference GTX 285 by almost 10%.
World in Conflict
Only at the higher resolutions did we see the overclocking benefit, but it wasn’t as noticeable as in the previous games.
With the revamp under the hood, namely the 55nm graphics chip, the GTX 280 turns into GTX 285. As far as speed goes, the new card is 46MHz faster and it helps it in beating the GTX 280. Although it’s a much more durable graphics processor that runs cooler and consumes less, factory overclocking tops off at 700MHz, as partners deemed this the appropriate maximum for their warranties. Inno3D did the same thing launching their GTX 285 Overclock card running at 700MHz.
Unfortunately, we didn’t particularly like the fact that shader speeds were left unchanged, despite the fact that the core was overclocked. Inno3D card beats the reference GTX 285 by about 5 percent in average. After some additional overclocking, we managed to score a result of over 20% better than the reference GTX 280 and about 10% better than GTX 285.
The card looks nice with Inno3D’s golden sticker on a black cooler, but note that everything else is reference design. The cooler is dual slot and performs well with no exceptionally loud noise levels.
Inno3D will treat you to two bundled games – Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts and Warmonger, and you’ll be off to a great gaming start. Of course, this card will serve you well afterwards as well, as it packs some serious muscle. GTX 285 is the fastest single-GPU card that has the HD 4870 X2 for competition, but if you prefer Nvidia and dual-chip GTX 295 is too pricey for you – then this is the fastest card you can currently buy.