Summary: So you've got $300 in your pocket for a VGA upgrade but you're not sure which card runs best for Left 4 Dead? In this article we examine the performance of 5 different cards in the $200-$300 space with all-games like L4D and Call of Duty: World at War. See how the cards stack up against each other in this review!
Gamers planning their upgrades around these games have a wealth of cards to choose from, and thanks to new GPU price cuts you can build a pretty powerful PC for gaming without draining everything out of your bank account. Just think, a year ago NVIDIA’s $300 GeForce 8800 GT was flying off the shelves; retailers couldn’t keep the card in stock for more than a few hours before it sold out. Today that same $300 buys you a
Radeon 4870 1GB or 216-shader GeForce GTX 260.
The 216 shader GeForce GTX 260 is the newest addition to NVIDIA’s GPU lineup, although officially the NVIDIA website still doesn’t acknowledge its existence, and the new GPU shares the same GTX 260 name as its 192-shader predecessor. Apparently the launch was kept lower key than usual to help move inventory of older 192-shader GTX 260 cards.
The 216 shader GTX 260 does exist though, and NVIDIA is moving quickly to phase out the 192-shader GeForce GTX 260 in favor of the more powerful 216 core model.
Today we’re here to take a look at one 216-shader GeForce GTX 260 card, XFX’s GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition.
Dissecting the XFX GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition
Physically XFX’s GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition is based on the exact same reference board design and cooling as every other GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280 card on the market. In case you didn’t know, at the high-end NVIDIA makes all their board partners use the same board design. More specifically, NVIDIA manufactures all of the cards for their partners (board production is usually farmed out by NVIDIA to Flextronics or Foxconn), so all GTX 260 and 280 cards come off the same production line regardless of the card manufacturer.
In terms of clock speeds, the card is OC’ed to speeds that are higher than any 216-shader GTX 260 that’s been announced to date. The graphics core runs at the devilish clock speed of 666MHz, the number of the beast. This is 11MHz higher than BFG’s GeForce GTX 260 OCX MAXCORE, and 90MHz higher than NVIDIA’s stock core clock speed. Running alongside the graphics core are the shaders, which are clocked at 1404MHz, a speed which is 162MHz faster than stock.
To boost performance even further, XFX also kicks up the memory clock, it runs at 1150MHz. In comparison the stock memory speed for the GeForce GTX 260 is 999MHz.
The clock speeds aren’t the only feature to admire on the Black Edition though. Like all XFX cards, the board is backed by XFX’s double lifetime warranty. This program provides lifetime warranty coverage for the original card owner as well as the card’s second owner, all both users must do is register the card with XFX.
In terms of the game bundle, the card ships with a free copy of Far Cry 2 inside the box. The rest of the card’s packaging includes a DVI adapter, HDMI adapter, power cable, and pass thru cable for running audio over HDMI.
Intel Core 2 Duo E8600
ASUS P5E3 Premium WiFi AP Edition
4GB OCZ DDR3 Platinum @ 1333MHz
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260
EVGA e-GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 (stock GTX 260 clocks)
XFX GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition
AMD Radeon HD 4870 512MB
AMD Radeon HD 4870 1GB
300GB Western Digital Caviar SE
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit w/Service Pack 1
Call of Duty: World at War
Since CoD: World at War, Dead Space, and Fallout 3 lack built-in tools for benchmarking, we used FRAPS to test these games. Our test sequence for CoD comes from the end of the last level, just as you’re set to leave the prison camp your character is asked to slice a fuel drum lying in the back of a truck. The truck is then driven right into the camp, where the trail of fuel is ignited, setting off a chain of explosions. Our FRAPS run records this entire sequence, and then we proceed to run into the camp.
Crysis High – Direct3D
216-shader GeForce GTX 260 GPU: Bumping up the shader count from 192 stream processors to 216 generally buys the GeForce GTX 260 an additional 3-6% in performance in the majority of our benchmarks (there are a couple of cases where the margin is slightly greater). In all honesty this isn’t a whole lot, but it is an improvement over the original GTX 260.
55-nm right around the corner: Today’s GeForce GTX 260 and 280 GPUs are built on TSMC’s 65-nm manufacturing process, but NVIDIA is expected to roll out newer GPUs based on TSMC’s 55-nm node. The smaller process should bring reduced power consumption, which in turn allows the GPU to output less heat. NVIDIA may potentially crank up the clocks on these 55-nm GPUs as well, although recent rumors suggest this may not happen.