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EVGA GTX 295 1792MB GDDR3 Video Card Review

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SKYMTL

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EVGA GTX 295 1792MB GDDR3 Video Card Review




Price: Click here to compare prices
Model Number: 017-P3-1292-AR
TechWiki Info: EVGA GTX 295 Plus
Availability: Now
Warranty: Lifetime
Manufacturer's Product Page: EVGA | Products


I know that there are many of you are thinking right now: “what, another new graphics card from Nvidia?” yup, you got it guys, Nvidia is on a mission to recapture the performance crown from the HD 4870 X2 and they aren’t being subtle about it. Their latest stab at the ultra high end is called the GTX 295 and it is packing enough heat to put ATI’s frontrunner in its place. Yes, this may be a bit “been there, done that” for those of you who read our preview of the GTX 295 a few weeks ago but make no mistake about it; this is a review with a ton of games, higher IQ settings and yes, even those power consumption numbers we were asked to show after the preview. This is where the rubber meets the road folks since we are expecting a finished product here without the quirkiness found in the beta drivers used for the preview. In this vein we should mention right away that the drivers we are using for this review should be available at launch from the Nvidia website.

So, what is this card all about? Basically, it consists of a pair of 55nm GTX 260 cards joined by and SLI connector which have been massaged to provide a little extra performance through additional texture filter units and stream processors. These two cores are each paired up with 896MB of GDDR3 memory for a total of 1792MB which puts it slightly below the 2GB of lightning-fast GDDR5 found on the HD 4870 X2 but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue performance-wise. However, in the preview we saw the telltale signs of framebuffer limitation in some rare cases so it will be interesting to see if this becomes more pronounced as we bump up the AA and IQ settings in the later tests.

Pricing here in Canada seems to have been set and while the GTX 295 was supposed to retail for around the same price as the HD 4870 X2 and it has indeed hit that point squarely on the head. One thing is for sure: with Nvidia promising their new wunderkind will outperform ATI’s dual GPU monster, equal pricing is definitely a breath of fresh air. Trust me, I have seen companies quote a price for a preview only to see that price balloon as distributors and retailers inflate their cut of the cake. So, now that we have seen actual pricing here in Canada, Nvidia's original number have borne true.

In this particular review we will be looking at the EVGA GTX 295 which will be available at launch in good quantities throughout the country. Usually we get an overclocked version of their cards at launch but this time it is a stock clocker as we have been told that there won’t be any overclocked cards from any manufacturer at launch. This probably has something to do with the temperatures seen on the cores but more on that a bit later in the review. One way or another, as usual you should feel confident in looking at this EVGA card since they have some of the best customer service around, have a Lifetime Warranty on all of their cards and also offer their famous Step Up program. We should also mention that from personal experience we have usually found EVGA graphics cards to be among the least expensive at most retailers which is always something to remember in these tough times.

Speaking of tough times, it may seem odd that Nvidia is releasing a near-$600 ($500 for our friends south of the border) at a time when phrases like “credit crunch” and “slowing economy” are all the rage. I am sure Nvidia has their reasons but let’s be honest, laying claim to the top spot in the GPU power race has massive PR advantages even if the product doesn’t sell like hotcakes.

Anyways, enough rambling. On to the review!!!

 
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SKYMTL

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories



There really isn’t much to say about the packaging of the EVGA GTX 295 since it is a literal mirror image of every other EVGA box we have seen in the past. It is predominantly black with a few red highlights and a massive EVGA logo. Meanwhile, the back of the box has very little information other than a picture of the card itself and the description of a few features.


On the side of the box there is a mention of the EVGA 90-day Step Up program but the real ringer is in bold letters right on the front of the box. Free PhysX. Yes, that’s right folks, FREE. Notice the sarcasm? For crying out loud, Nvidia is trying to push PhysX far too hard these days and this really is too much now.


The protection afforded the ultra expensive card is wonderfully excessive with the product being nestled within the embrace of a massive block of foam. Even the accessories have their own little compartment off to the side.


The included accessories are the bare minimum with a driver CD, instruction manual, 6-pin to 8-pin PCI-E adaptor, Molex to 6-pin, VGA dongle and SPDIF cable. You may notice the lack of a DVI to HDMI dongle. This is due to the fact that there is a HDMI connector built into the backplate of the GTX 295 so the dongle is not needed.
 
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SKYMTL

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A Closer Look at the EVGA GTX 295

A Closer Look at the EVGA GTX 295





In the GTX 295 preview we remarket how plain this card looks and not much has changed; even with a few EVGA stickers here and there. It remains a massive black monolith with a perforated aluminum heatsink shroud and a total length of 10.5” which puts it equal to most other high-end graphics cards.


Unlike the last Nvidia dual GPU card -the 9800 GX2-, the GTX 295 does not have a full coverage heatsink but rather leaves one side of the bottom PCB open to the elements. This is probably due to the fact that there are no memory ICs located on the back of either PCB.


The cooling system used on this card is intricate to say the least. Basically, air is drawn in through the top and bottom of the card and then pushed out through a number of ventilation openings. One of these vents is located on the side of the card which means the majority of hot exhaust air will be blown into the bowels of your case. This is slightly better than blowing the hot air directly at your motherboard but it is still less than optimal for overall system temperatures.


The power connectors are exactly what we usually find on a high end card; a single 6-pin and lone 8-pin connector. EVGA has used this area to attach a bit of advertisement but this is ok with us since the sticker is subtle without calling too much attention to itself. The S/PDIF input is also located on the side of the card while the backplate gets the usual dual DVI connectors and the lone HDMI output.
 
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SKYMTL

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Test System & Setup

Test System & Setup

System Used

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX9770 @ 3.852Ghz
Memory: G.Skill 2x 2GB DDR2-1000 @ 1052Mhz DDR
Motherboard: ASUS P5E Deluxe X48
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Hitachi Deskstar 320GB SATAII
Fans: 2X Yate Loon 120mm @ 1200RPM
Power Supply: Corsair HX1000W
Monitor: Samsung 305T 30” widescreen LCD
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1


Graphics Cards:

EVGA GTX 295
Palit HD 4870 X2
Sapphire HD 4870 1GB
Palit HD 4870 512MB
EVGA GTX 280
EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked



Drivers:

Nvidia 181.20 (GTX 295)
Nvidia 180.48 WHQL
ATI 8.12 WHQL


Applications Used:

3DMark Vantage
Call of Duty: World at War
Crysis: Warhead
X3: Terran Conflict
Dead Space
Left 4 Dead
Far Cry 2
Fallout 3
Need for Speed Undercover


*Notes:

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 4 benchmark runs

All game-specific methodologies are explained above the graphs for each game
 
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SKYMTL

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3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage





Granted, the addition PhysX inflates Nvidia’s scores somewhat but the result is so one-sided that this is one benchmark that doesn’t need much of an explanation.
 
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SKYMTL

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Call of Duty: World at War

Call of Duty: World at War


To benchmark this game, we played through 10 minutes of the second mission (Little Resistance) starting from right after the player calls in the rocket strike on the enemy positions on the beach. This was benchmarked using FRAPS.

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1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600




As we have come to expect, the EVGA GTX 295 performs extremely well in COD: WaW with excellent scaling. It is definitely impressive to see its minimum framerates sometimes going above the average framerates posted by the HD 4870 X2.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Dead Space

Dead Space


To benchmark Dead Space, we used a timed 10 minute gameplay session around in Chapter 2: Intensive Care on Hard Difficulty in which we battle a few necromorphs and enter a zero-G environment. Seriously, what good is a benchmark without action sequences? “Walkthroughs” are unacceptable around here… Once again FRAPS was used.

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2560 x 1600




The ATI cards really don’t put up much of a fight in this game but then again, every single card nets above 60 FPS so there really isn’t much to complain about either way. If you think these results are pointless due to the high framerates, I will invite you to skip ahead to the power consumption section where we can see the result of such high Nvidia scores.
 

SKYMTL

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Fallout 3

Fallout 3


For these Fallout 3 benchmarks we decided to use one of the more graphically intensive portions of the game: a gameplay session which starts at the exit from Vault 101, through Springvale, over a small hill towards Washington and then back towards Megaton. Within this session two ants were fought near Springvale. All in all, the gameplay time is about 6 minutes.

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1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600




In Fallout 3, the GTX 295 is once again able to stay ahead of the HD 4870 X2 but this time it is by a much smaller margin. What is interesting to see is how much Nvidia’s new card drops off when AA is turned on at higher resolutions. This looks to be a bit of framebuffer limitation creeping in but we will have to see if this downwards trend continues in out 8xAA test a little later in the review.
 

SKYMTL

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Far Cry 2 DX9

Far Cry 2 DX9


Even though Far Cry 2 has its own built-in benchmarking tool with some flythroughs and “action scenes”, we decided to record our own timedemo consisting of about 7 minutes of game time. It involves everything from run-and-gun fights to fire effects.

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1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600




This proved to be a very interesting test since whenever AA was enabled; the HD 4870 X2 was able to surge ahead of the GTX 295. This was especially apparent in the 2560 4xAA test.
 

SKYMTL

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Messages
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Far Cry 2 DX10

Far Cry 2 DX10



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1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600




In the DX10 version of Far Cry 2 we see the exact opposite happening when compared to the DX9 tests. Here, the GTX 295 is ahead of the HD 4870 X2 and never looks back. At higher resolutions with AA turned on, it isn’t even close.
 
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