Review: A great bang for a modest buck
The graphics card we prepared for you today is called WinFast GTX 260 Extreme+, and as you already know, the Geforce GTX 260 is a great gaming card, decently priced and appealing to many gamers. It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed Leadtek’s graphics cards, and we’re quite glad that Leadtek decided to send this card, as you’ll surely find it interesting. This is a new 55nm version of the GTX 260 card with 216 stream processors, whereas the old version was built in 65nm and had 192 stream processors. This card’s main contender, performance-wise, is the HD 4870 1GB, which is a tad slower and priced some €20 less. We were surprised to see Leadtek’s WinFast GTX 260 Extreme+ to be one of the lowest priced GTX 260 cards, especially knowing that it has factory overclocked core and shaders and a free gift game Overlord. At press time, the card is available at €220, which is only €5 more than the cheapest reference GTX 260 card. Before we move onto the results, let us talk about the specs and visuals a bit.
We see that Leadtek’s WinFast GTX 260 Extreme+ is no different than the reference GTX 260, except for the sticker of course. The card kept the reference cooling that deserves praise, despite not being the quietest around. That’s not to say that it’s loud, far from it as it presents a great compromise between cooling and the golden silence. The fan is at the end of the cooler and it pushes the hot air towards the I/O panel where the outlets release the air out of the case. Such a scenario is, of course, always desirable as it lets the air out instead of keeping it in and letting it linger around your precious components.
The picture on the box reminds us of the OCZ’s Geforce 8800 GTX card announced two years ago. Most of you probably don’t even know that OCZ temporarily entered the graphics market with then very popular 8800 GTX card. You can find out more about that here.
Apart from the graphics card, in the box you’ll also find standard cables and the DVI-to-HDMI converter with an SPDIF cable. You’ll also get a user’s manual, driver CD (w/WinFox II) and the Overlord game.
The card is nicely wrapped, as you can see from the picture below. In fact, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a card as wrapped as Leadtek’s WinFast GTX 260 Extreme+. The card comes in a standard antistatic bag, but it’s pre-wrapped in plastic used by Leadtek alone it seems, and only then will you find the plastic from the previous photo, a standard wrapping for most of today’s graphics cards.
The card is powered via two 6-pin PCI Express connectors, which is also the case with the new 55nm GTX 280.
The I/O panel features an HDTV and two dual-link DVI outs, which can be used as HDMI outs if you use the aforementioned adapter. You’ll get the adapter together with the SPDIF cable, which you’ll need if you want to use just one cable to bring both video and audio to your TV device. One end of the cable goes into the graphics card (the connector is next to the power connectors) and the other goes into the SPDIF out on your motherboard/soundcard.
Leadtek WinFast GTX 260 Extreme+ comes factory overclocked, but note that it’s not that high an overclock. The core runs at 602MHz which is only 26MHz more than the reference 576MHz. The memory is still at reference speed of 999MHz (1998MHz effectively).However, Leadtek’s card has nice further overclocking potential, which we’ll show you a bit later. For now, you should now that we had no trouble pushing it up by 100MHz.
Unlike the previous GTX 260 card, the current version of the card has no protective “hood” on the back of the card. It comes with 896MB of GDDR3 memory at 1998MHz. All the modules are located around the GPU on the front of the card, and they’re all in contact with the cooler, thus improving the cooling. It’s exactly that which helped us in pushing the memory all the way to 2400MHz.
The card features a 448-bit memory interface, compared to the 512-bit on the GTX 280. Such a strange number is a direct result of disabling one ROP partition. The equation is pretty simple – each of the 8 ROP partitions on the GTX 280 is connected to the 64bit memory controller, and after a simple multiplication you’ll get the final number – 512. Since the GTX 260 has 7 ROP partition, the same equation results in the 448-bit memory interface. Each of the memory controllers houses two memory chips, so the GTX 260 needs 14 chips to reach the 896MB capacity. One ROP partition comes with 4 ROP units totaling at 28 ROPs for the card.
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 );
Our tables feature results of GTX 260 55nm and HD 4870 1GB cards, which are colored the same for easier viewing. Leadtek runs only 26MHz faster than the reference GTX 260, but this has proven to be enough to snatch a win.
Leadtek WinFast GTX 260 Extreme leaves a good impression in the first test, leaving the reference GTX 260 behind by 3%. This is still less than the overclock, which amounts to 4.5% on Leadtek’s card. The Radeon HD 4870 lags behind by about 20%.
Left 4 Dead
The HD 4870 1GB fares better than the GTX 260 at lower resolutions, which is even more evident in tests where antialiasing was off. However, when we pushed the resolution to 1920x1200, GTX 260 started showing its muscle. Leadtek beats the reference GTX 260 by a very small margin, whereas the 2560x1600 resolution sees the HD 4870 lose by 6%.
World in Conflict
Unlike the previous game results, World in Conflict sees the GTX 260 put on a much better show.
Regardless of the resolution, Leadtek's advantage over the reference GTX 260 doesn't go over 3%. Radeon HD 4870 1GB loses by 15-20%.
In FarCry 2, the two fierce adversaries, the GTX 260 and Radeon HD 4870 1GB, make a fierce stand-off. With antialiasing off, the Radeon HD 4870 1GB manages to snatch a win, but when we turned the antialiasing on, the tables turn. We can easily say that there’s no true winner, except on the highest tested resolution – 2560 x 1600 AA, where the GTX 260 manages to snatch a win with a result better by 11%.
Leadtek didn’t try that hard on their overclocking, so we decided to overclock it even further. From Leadtek’s 602MHz, we easily reached 700MHz. Temperatures went up by 2 degrees Celsius and the card ran at 79 degrees, whereas the 602MHz speeds results in 77 degrees Celsius in 3D mode. In idle mode, we measured 44 degrees Celsius. Our system consumed about 260W while the card ran in 3D, whereas the idle mode results in about 100W lower consumption.
Overclocking the memory results in bandwidth increase from 111.9GB/s to 134.4 GB/s.
Although the cooler and the back of the PCB feature would suggest this is the new 55nm graphics card, we used the latest beta of Everest 4.60.1626 tool in order to show you that the software recognizes the new GPU.
Towards the end of the info, Everest reports that the card will run at lower speeds in 2D mode. The same goes for less demanding 3D mode. To confirm that, we briefly turned on a 3D app and after we shut it down we made the following screenshot. You can see that the core downclocked to 300MHz and the memory to 100MHz. After a couple of minutes in idle mode, the temperatures decreased by 4 degrees Celsius.
The following tables show the overclocked card’s FarCry2 results.
After the overclocking, Leadtek card’s performance improved by 15%, compared to the 602MHz clocks, and while the reference GTX 260 lagged behind by 18%, Radeon ended up losing by as much as 31%.
Leadtek's WinFast GTX 260 Extreme + is a great gaming card that comes pre-overclocked to 602MHz. A great thing about this card is undoubtedly its price, as it’s one of the lowest priced GTX 260 cards. This is the latest version of the GTX 260 card and it comes with a 55nm core and 216 stream processors.
It runs quiet and dual-slot reference cooling does a great job. It even allowed us to reach 700MHz for the GPU and 2400MHz for the memory with no problem whatsoever. The card also comes with a gift game Overlord, and thanks to rock solid performance at a reasonable price point, it gets our Recommended award.