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Sunday, 23 August 2009 23:40

The fastest GTX 285 around hits our lab

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Water cooled BFG GTX 285 H2OCWE

 

We're about to show you one of the fastest single-GPU cards around – BFG Geforce GTX 285 1024 H2OCWE. Apart from being famous for its 729MHz core clock, giving it the title of the fastest GTX 285 graphics card, the card is completely inaudible and up to 30 degrees Celsius cooler than reference, air-cooled cards. The GTX 285 H2OC’s copper block is BFG’s ThermoIntelligence design made in cooperation with Danger Den, and the card is single slot. The card will surely feed your gaming hunger as well as provide support for CUDA applications, no matter how demanding you are. Furthermore, lifetime warranty in the US and Canada and the 10 year warranty in the rest of the world are enough to at least make you think about this beast. The following photo shows the hefty ThermoIntelligence water block, which covers the core, memory, I/O chip and the power components.

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In order to use the card you’ll have to own a water cooling system, but if you don’t you can always opt on BFG GTX 285 with ThermoIntelligence Advanced Cooling Solution. This card is water-cooled as well, but it comes with a complete solution – the pump, radiator, water block, pipes and the fluid are ready for use and require no additional assembly. All you need to do is place the radiator on the case and insert the graphics card into the PCIe slot. If you’re interested, you can find out more here

Connecting the GTX 285 H2OC card didn’t take long – we used our water cooling system with Eheim's HPPS 12V water pump and had our system up and running in less than 10 minutes. Most of the water cooling systems will be compatible with this card but BFG ships two types of fittings – 3/8’’ and ½’’. We also found micro fittings in the box, which are used when there are two or three cards in SLI mode. We won’t get into details as all this is thoroughly explained in the manual.

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The GTX 285 is based on the 55nm GT200 core with 240 shaders, 32 ROPs and a 512-bit memory interface. The reference design comes with 1024MB of memory running at 1242MHz (2484MHz effectively). BFG overclocked the memory to 2780MHz effectively and the core from reference 648MHz to 729MHz. Shaders have gotten a boost as well and they’re up from reference 1476 to 1674MHz. The following photo shows some additional info.

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Geforce GTX 285 is the latest version of the Nvidia fastest single slot card so far, the GTX 280, which comes with a 65nm core and lower clocks at 602MHz. One of the important changes compared to the GTX 280 is the 55nm version’s lower consumption, which lets the GTX 285 get away with a 204W TDP, whereas the GTX 280’s TDP is 236W. Power connectors on the BFG’s card kept their original locations.

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The reference designs of GTX 285 and GTX 280 are at a glance very similar, but are easy to tell apart - the GTX 285 comes without the back plate and all the memory is placed on the GPU side, unlike the GTX 280 which distributes the memory on both sides of the PCB, as seen below.

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Our today’s BFG card comes with 1024MB of GDDR3 memory, just like the reference card, but the clocks are of course higher. The memory in question is Hynix H5RS5223CFR N3C which is rated at 1300MHz (2600MHz effectively). BFG GTX 285 H2OC’s memory is in direct contact with the copper block, enabling stable operation at 2780MHz, but if you can easily push it even further if you chose so.

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The card features two dual-link DVI outs and a TV-out, and the packaging contains a DVI-to-HDMI and DVI-to-VGA converter. Also provided is the audio SPDIF cable, which you’ll need if you want to route audio and video to your HD device via one cable – a routine anyone who’s owned Nvidia’s recent cards will know wel.

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The box is pretty small for this caliber of graphics card, and we ended up wondering how in the world did they managed to fit it inside. However, the card is entirely safe and nicely shielded inside.

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TestBed

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 );
Driver:  ForceWare 190.38, Catalyst CCC 8.8
Vista 32 SP1

Futuremark Tests

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Like the tables above show, a performance difference between the BFG Geforce GTX 285 H2OC and dual-chip HD 4870 X2 card is very slim, but BFG’s card has an important advantage – the golden silence.



Gaming

There are no reference GTX 285 results with which we’d compare our today’s water cooled GTX 285, but Inno3D GTX 275 Overclock is faster than the reference GTX 285 so we can see that BFG is far ahead in all the gaming tests.

Far Cry2

Far Cry 2 sees the dual-GPU HD 4870 X2 card winning at all the resolutions where antialiasing has been turned off, but BFG’s card shows its muscle when at the highest resolution – it leaves the closest competitor by 7% at 2560x1600.


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HAWX

BFG’s card runs like a charm, and you’ll have no problems or hiccups no matter which resolution you choose.



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Left 4 Dead


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World in conflict

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Overclocking, Thermals and Consumption

BFG GTX 285 H2OC runs at 729MHz, which is the highest operating clock for a pre-overclocked GTX 285 graphics card. We managed to push it further to 780MHz core, 1791MHz shader and 1450MHz (2900MHz effectively) for the memory. This is a great result since the card has already been overclocked by a pretty margin, and our overclocking resulted in 6% better scores in Far Cry 2.

Consumption is not a problem and our test system drew maximum 350W whereas idle mode resulted in consumption around 100W. This is significantly less compared to 376W required for running Inno3D GTX 275 card. The HD 4870 X2 drew up to 448W.

Operating temperatures are of course pretty low as well, as this is a water cooled card. During our testing the maximum temperature was 58 degrees Celsius, whereas idle mode resulted in about 34 degrees. Compared to the reference GTX 285, BFG’s temperatures are up to 30 degrees Celsius lower. Of course, temperatures depend on the environment you’re in, but since Europe has seen some high temperatures these days, we must say that BFG GTX 285 H2OC handled our testing like a champ.


Conclusion

BFG's Geforce GTX 285 1024 H2OCW is undoubtedly the fastest single-GPU card from Nvidia. This card is not cheap, but the quality you get is excellent and you can find it here priced at £396.99.

The copper block on the GTX 285 H2OC card is BFG's ThermoIntelligence design, made in cooperation with Danger Den, and the card is single slot. Apart from being famous as the leader among GTX 285 graphics cards, thanks to the operating clocks of 729MHz, this card is completely inaudible and at the same time up to 30 degrees Celsius cooler than reference, air-cooled cards.

If resolutions like 1920x1200 or even 2560x1600 are your preferred gaming resolutions and you do not want a dual-GPU card, then the fastest single-GPU card on the market – BFG Geforce GTX 285 1024 H2OCW is the card that will rock your world, and stay seriously cool while doing so.

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Last modified on Sunday, 23 August 2009 22:58
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