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Tuesday, 09 February 2010 10:59

XFX GTX 285 Black Edition

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Still the fastest single-GPU Geforce


In absence of anything better, Nvidia enthusiasts depended on the GT200b graphics processor for gaming potential, but make no mistake – this GPU packs incredible speed and still has a lot to offer. While the arrival of DirectX 11 has put aforementioned fans on their toes waiting for Nvidia’s next product, we’ve decided to test the GTX 285 and remind ourselves of just why we loved the card in the first place.

Our today’s guest is XFX’s iteration of Nvidia’s fastest single GPU graphics card and it’s dubbed the GTX 285 Black Edition. Of course, Black Edition naming scheme says that the card comes overclocked. XFX has proven quite a couple of points with their Black Edition cards and they’re always among the first companies to jump aboard the overclocking train. The GTX 285 Black Edition’s core is up from reference 648MHz to 690MHz, shaders are up from 1476MHz to 1572MHz and the memory up from 1242MHz to 1300MHz (2600MHz effectively). So, the card is overall some 6% faster than reference, and XFX threw in Far Cry 2 for good measure.

The GT200b GPU is built in 55nm and brings many improvements over the previous GT200. In case you don’t remember, the GT200 was made in 65nm technology, which means that the new GT200b improved consumption, thermals and introduced superior overclocking potential. Apart from these improvements, the “new” GT200b is basically a die-shrink and that’s the reason behind the “b” prefix in GT200b name. The old GT200 chip is found in last year’s top Nvidia cards such as GTX280, whereas the GT200b is the ticker on the fastest dual-GPU card around – Geforce GTX 295. 

Since GTX 285 is the fastest single GPU Geforce, the GT200b comes in its full glory – maximum number of shaders, ROPs, etc.

XFX GTX 285 Black Edition card comes with 1024MB memory and 512-bit memory interface. The card uses GDDR3 memory with which the reference card scores a bandwidth of 159.0GB/s. Thanks to the overclock, XFX Black Edition card churns out 166.4GB/s.

The GTX 285’s graphics processor packs 240 stream processors, 80 texture units and 8 ROP partitions with 4 ROP units each (8 x 4 = 32 ROPs). Each ROP partition has a 64-bit connection to the main memory, which results in a 512 bit memory interface. The following photo shows GPU-Z screenshot, where you can find out more details on XFX GTX 285 Black Edition card.

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The package:

XFX’s packaging is always interesting and their design is often pretty refreshing. As you can see from the following picture, the box is pretty appropriate for a Black Edition card.

The box features an almost invisible Black Edition sign, but the black box and the “Overclocked” sign clearly show that the package holds one mean gaming machine. 

The box is small but sturdy and features basic GTX 285 Black Edition features on the back. You’ll notice a small FarCry 2 picture on the front, meaning that XFX has got you covered for instant out-of-the-box gaming. You can see what the package holds on the following picture.


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The Card:

The specs rate the GTX 285’s TDP at 204W, which is 32W less than on the GTX 280. This difference however is more than significant since the GTX 285 runs at higher clocks than the GTX 280. Naturally, the GTX 285 is basically the same card but this time around packing a new and improved GT200b chip. Apart from aforementioned improvements, GT200b specs haven’t changed from the GT200.

XFX, whose GTX 285 Black Edition is on display today, has taken the overclocking game pretty seriously and has overclocked the card from reference 648MHz to 690MHz. The company kept the reference dual-slot cooling which keeps the card cool and stable.

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The cooler covers the entire card so that the hot air moves towards the I/O panel, where it leaves the case via provided outlets. The following picture shows that the fan is slightly angled in order to more efficiently push the air towards the GPU.

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The card features two outlets which improve the airflow around the power components.

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Geforce GTX 285 uses GT200b graphics processor built in 55nm and requires less power than the previous 65nm GT200. Unlike GTX 280 cards which feature GT200 and require one 8-pin and one 6-pin connector, the GTX 285 consumes less and requires only 8-pin connectors.

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The GTX 285 Black Edition requires a PSU with minimum 550W, but a gaming rig with a GTX 285 Black Edition is recommended to run on 630W PSU. A SLI system would require 680W or more.

Next to the PCI-Express connectors is a small SPDIF connector which is used to bring audio to the graphics card. You’ll need this if you want to route both video and audio to your HDTV via one HDMI cable, otherwise you’ll get only video and audio will be heard from your computer. HDMI is supported but only via the provided DVI-to-HDMI dongle. The following picture shows that the card boasts two dual-DVI outs and a TV out.

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Nvidia is pretty vocal about the multifunctional architecture of Geforce GPUs which extends way beyond gaming. This means that your graphics card is capable of much more using Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA). More and more apps are relying on stream processors’ parallel processing power to improve data processing. A most common task would be transcoding different video files. Of course, we can’t forget the fact that the card also supports Stereoscopic 3D and PhysX.

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Apart from standard SLI, Geforce GTX 285 can be chained in triple SLI, so if you can afford three cards, they’ll run simultaneously using multi-GPU technology. Of course, you’ll need a special SLI connector that’s usually shipped with motherboards that support this feature.

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Testbed:
 

Motherboard: Elitegroup X58B-A (provided by Elitegroup);
Processor: Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 (provided by Intel);
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 (provided by Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM (provided by SmoothCreation);
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Ultimete 1100W (provided by Cooler Master);
Case: Obsidian 800D (provided by Corsair);
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Ace 5.25" (provided by Scythe);
Operating System: Win7 64-bit;
Driver: Catalyst 10.1 ; Forceware 196.34

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Futuremarks:

Futuremark tests show that XFX GTX 285 Black Edition card is faster than the reference GTX 285 by about 6%. 

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In Far Cry 2, XFX GTX 285 Black Edition again outruns the reference GTX 285 but this time by about 4% and the card will easily support gaming at the highest 2560x1600 resolution. While it’s evident that the HD 5870 is faster, the advantage is higher in tests with antialiasing turned on.  

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Batman Arkham Asylum:

We tested Batman Arkham Asylum without PhysX effects due to the fact that Radeon cards don't feature PhysX. However, you can get PhysX support if you use a Geforce card alongside the Radeon. It's not something Nvidia had in mind, but it can be done.

You can check out HD 5870 results with PhysX effects, courtesy of a dedicated Geforce, here.


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Crysis:

Crysis sees the XFX GTX 285 Black Edition beat the reference GTX 285 by about 5%. You can comfortably play at any resolution except for 2560x1600 where Black Edition scores 30fps without antialiasing and 23fps with AA turned on. It’s worth noting that Radeon HD 5870 churns out enough frames for gaming without antialiasing.   

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Dirt 2:

As is the case with our today’s sample, if your card does not support DirectX 11, the game will automatically run in DirectX 9 mode. Since Radeon HD 5870 supports DirectX11, we tested it in DX11 mode, and it unfortunately shows on the results.

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World in Conflict:

At 1680x1050 and no antialiasing, the GTX 285 runs up to 22% slower than the HD 5870 1GB, but it will hardly matter as both cards score more than enough for comfortable gaming. When antialiasing is turned off however, the gap melts to 11%.

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Overclocking:

As far as overclocking goes, XFX GTX 285 Black Edition is up there with the best. Not only do you get a 6% faster card out of the box but we managed to push it even further to 720MHz, which is 11% faster than on reference cards. Far Cry 2 obviously benefited from this and the card managed 10% better results with the core at 720Mhz and the memory at 1380MHz (2760MHz effectively).


Power-Consumption:

The card is quiet in 2D, and the same goes for 3D but only until the card heats up more seriously and it does tend to get a bit loud. Maximum recorded temperatures  were at 87°C.


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Conclusion:

Just in case you’ve forgotten, the new GTX 280 is called the GTX 285 and its GT200 GPU got a die shrink and was remanufactured in 55nm. This led to significant improvements on the fields of consumption and overclocking potential. The GT200 didn’t change much throughout the transition from 65nm (GTX 280) to 55nm (GTX 285), but it did get higher reference clocks than its predecessor. GTX 280 runs at 602MHz whereas the GTX 285 comes reference clocked at 648MHz. XFX on the other hand decided to push the card even further and launched its GTX 285 Black Edition, and the name itself says that this card is a force to be reckoned with. Its GPU runs at 690MHz, the memory at 1300MHz (2646MHz effectively) and the shaders at 1572MHz. Of course, we can’t forget that you’ll also get a nice freebie - Far Cry 2.

The GTX 285 is the fastest single-GPU Geforce card. It packs 240 stream processors which provide excellent gaming performance as well as CUDA supported apps that use the GPU for data processing. Also featured on the card is PhysX technology, which is commonly found in Nvidia’s Geforce 8th and 9th generations.

XFX GTX 285 Black Edition card is still one of the best cards around and it packs more than enough for gaming galore. Unfortunately, the fact that this card is one of the best cards we’ve tested is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that this is a DirectX 10 card. XFX GTX 285 Black Edition is priced at around €275 and you can find it here.





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Last modified on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 03:31
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