nVidia GeForce GTX 295 review: nVidia GeForce GTX 295

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MSRP: $499.99

The Good Best single-card 3D performance available; more power efficient than its competition; PhysX support adds some bells and whistles to a few games; DVI and HDMI output.

The Bad Still a power hog, despite its relative efficiency.

The Bottom Line Nvidia's GeForce GTX 295 is the single fastest 3D card on the market, and for a relatively aggressive price. Added bonuses like power efficiency and PhysX support sweeten the deal, but even without those extra benefits, we'd still recommend this card for its processing power and comparative value.

9.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 10

ATI has given Nvidia some staunch competition on the 3D card front the past six months or so, but with the dual-chip GeForce GTX 295, Nvidia has raced back to the top of the performance pile. At $500 for a boxed version (from Nvidia's board partners), the GTX 295 is aimed at serious PC gamers, but it's also the best value among high-end boards, taking out the best chips from ATI. This card requires a beefy PC to run it because of significant power demands, but for anyone with the financial and electrical wherewithal to put the GTX 295 to work, you'll enjoy the best 3D hardware currently on offer.

Like its primary competition, the ATI Radeon HD 4870X2, the GeForce GTX 295 uses the familiar two-chips, one-card model we've seen from both Nvidia and ATI in the past. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 has been popular component in a few recent high-end gaming PCs, and with support for multiple graphics chips and graphics cards so prevalent in PCs these days, these dual-chip cards provide gamers with a relatively easy way to set up a quad GPU configuration.

The popularity of ATI's card had to do with the fact that it outperformed Nvidia's previous high-end behemoth, the $600 single chip GeForce GTX 280, for roughly $100 to $150 less. The GeForce GTX 295 closes both of those gaps, and also offers some noticeable power consumption savings.

AMD's aggressive pricing of its high-end Radeon cards surely contributed to Nvidia bringing the GeForce GTX 295 in for under $600. Nvidia suggested $500 as the starting price for this card, and retailers seem to be following that line so far. This is roughly the same as the price for stock Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 Asus EAHD4870X2
Price $500 $479
Manufacturing process 55nm 55nm
Core clock 576MHz 750MHz
Stream processors 240 (2) 800 (2)
Stream processor clock 1.24GHz NA
Memory 1792MB 2GB
Memory speed 2.0GHz DDR3 3.66GHz DDR 5

Comparing the speeds and specs above might at first glance seem to give the Radeon the engineering advantage over the Nvidia card. Nvidia uses slower, older RAM, and less of it, and both its core clock speed and the number of stream processors (the processing pipelines on the chip that handle various kinds of data requests simultaneously) are lower as well. We suspect Nvidia has two less obvious advantages at work that help its performance.

One is its manufacturing process. The GTX 295 uses two 55-nanometer GTX 200 graphics chips, and cramming two of its older 65-nanometer GTX 200 chips onto one card would have been a power consumption nightmare. We also have no information from ATI on the speed of its stream processors. Our suspicion is that they're significantly slower than the 1.24GHz stream clock on each chip in the GTX 295.

Crysis (Assault Harbor, DirectX 10, 64-bit, very high, 8x AA)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,400 x 960  
1,680 x 1,050  
1,920 x 1,080  
Nvidia GeForce GTX 295
Asus EAH4870X2

Far Cry 2 (ranch medium, DirectX 10, very high)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,440 x 900  
1,680 x 1050  
1,920 x 1200  
Nvidia GeForce GTX 295
Asus EAH4870X2

Left 4 Dead (DirectX 9, 8x AA, 16x AF, very high)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,440 x 900  
1,680 x 1050  
1,920 x 1200  
Nvidia GeForce GTX 295
Asus EAH4870X2