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BFG GeForce GTX 260 896MB Video Card Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Temperatures & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Temperature Testing



To be honest with you, I was quite surprised how much less heat a cut-down G200 core produces when compared to the fire-breathing monster the GTX 280 is. Not only is the load temperature significantly reduced but the idle temperature is also cut down by a good amount. However, after gaming with this card for over two weeks it is quite evident that it still produces a good amount of heat since the temperatures in my computer room rose significantly after less than 30 minutes of gaming. It is for this reason that we are seriously considering ambient temperature testing being part of our testing regimen. But more on that in another review…


Acoustical Properties


If you have a good memory and you read our http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/foru...-geforce-gtx-280-1gb-superclocked-review.html , you may remember that I had some strong words about how loud the GTX 280 was. In order to keep the overly hot core at an acceptable temperature, the fan on that card spun up to astronomical levels. Interestingly enough, our GTX 260 was extremely quiet no matter how much load we put it under while still maintaining acceptable temperatures. This goes a long way to show everyone that even though this is a subjective test (no, I am not deaf), that the GTX 260 has been cut down to sufficient levels that it produces significantly less heat than the GTX 280 which in turn leads to a quieter fan speed profile. Indeed, the acoustical footprint of the BFG GTX 260 card was less noticeable than the HD4870 while gaming.


Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.


If the temperature testing surprised us, the power consumption of the GTX 260 absolutely floored everyone in the room. What we are talking about here is a 64W difference under full load between the GTX 280 and 260 which seems to tie in quite well with Nvidia’s claimed power consumption for each card. For those of you who were wondering, Nvidia rates the GTX 280 as requiring 236W while the GTX 260 requires about 182W. Since our test puts more strain on the graphics card than normal applications, it naturally represents a “worst case” scenario but it also gives you guys a good idea of where these cards stand.

The next thing to take into account is the idle power consumption which is also very, very good. It seems like Nvidia’s dynamic clock and voltage control is paying off in spades.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Overclocking

Overclocking


Please note that overclocking this card will void your warranty.

We were expecting some great overclocks from this card considering it is nothing more that a crippled GTX 280 core while the memory is rated at the same voltage but a bit lower clocks. Without a doubt, the BFG GTX 260 didn’t disappoint.

Final Overclocks:

Core: 704Mhz
Shader: 1518Mhz
Memory: 2464Mhz (DDR)

Wow, this card really has a good amount of overclocking headroom since the clocks nearly matched those we received from our GTX 280 overclocks and the memory even went a bit further. To put this into perspective, these speeds translate to increases of 128Mhz on the core, 276Mhz on the shaders and an amazing 466Mhz on the memory. Not bad at all….

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


This conclusion can’t come to pass without us making reference to the ATI HD4870 since it is this card that seems to be everyone’s darling right now. But all in all, our first experience with a GTX 260 has been an extremely enjoyable one as we have seen that it can compete on many levels with the best ATI has to offer right now. At the same time, it is quite obvious that the largest hurdle the GTX 260 has to overcome is the presence of ATI’s HD4870 on the market since the two perform very close to one another. To tell you the truth, trying to determine the performance differences between the HD4870 and the GTX 260 really comes down to a game of Russian roulette since they trade wins from one game to the next.

We really have to be amazed that a card of this pedigree can be had for less than $350 in many cases which would have been unheard of less than three months ago. When we take a step back and look at this whole review from a purely performance perspective, it seems like the 896MB of ram on the GTX 260 is able to pay for itself in spades when gaming at ultra-high resolutions. You may have also noticed that power consumption is severely cut from the GTX 280 and this suits us just fine since with this power consumption comes decreased heat as well. This means that the fan is able to spin at lower RPMs and not emit that dreaded dust buster whine we complained the GTX 280 had. All in all, if you want an Nvidia card, the BFG GTX 260 makes pretty damn convincing case for itself.

Unfortunately, while it is a great performer the GTX 260 still seems to be partially handicapped by its price. On average it retails for a good 10-20% more (before those pesky mail in rebates) than the competing HD4870 while in some cases offering quite a bit less performance. Then there is the small issue with the AA performance of this card in some games when compared with the competition. Granted, The GTX 260 doesn’t get completely pistol whipped when AA is turned on but it does suffer quite a bit at the hands of the HD4870 in instances where it should be doing much better. ATI's AA implementation is just that much more efficient and that's that. There are other instances where it puts up a brave fight against the HD4870 but in others it is completely outclassed by its rival.

This recent price war must be playing havoc with Nvidia since for all intents and purposes; the 65nm GT200 core is anything but cheap to produce. It seems the last thing they expected was a war with ATI in the high performance category but that is exactly what they have on their hands right now and they are fighting against a less expensive product. This battle in the trenches between Nvidia and ATI benefits the consumer in more ways than one and these new lower prices for the GTX 260 are a byproduct of the competition we were all hoping to see.

So, when push comes to shove can we really recommend this card? Absolutely. The lifetime warranty and trade-up program included with the BFG GTX 260 will usually be more than enough to sway many over into the green camp since both of these things are something ATI’s partners just don’t have right now. Unfortunately, it seems that its price will have to be reduced a bit more if it hopes to truly compete with the HD4870 on a solely price / performance level.


Pros:

- Good overall performance
- Very efficient at idle
- Quiet running
- Lifetime warranty


Cons:

- AA performance versus the competition
- Price still too high even after price cuts



 
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