NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 Video Card Preview

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     December 18, 2008

A Closer Look at the GeForce GTX 295

I am sure many of you will be looking at these specifications and are scratching your head since you heard that Nvidia would shove a pair of GTX 260 cores into this monster. Well, the early rumors were wrong once again since specifications of the cores used on the GTX 295 sit somewhere between a GTX 260 and a GTX 280 performance-wise. Hold on for a second while we explain things here.

Essentially, the clock speeds, number of ROPs (28), accessible memory (896MB) and memory bandwidth (448-bit) of the GTX 295ís cores are identical to those of a GTX 260. On the flip side, the number of texture filtering units (80) and Stream processors (240) for each core equal those of a GTX 280.

If you take a second to sit down and look at these specifications they make perfect sense from a performance standpoint. This may be a slight oversimplification but we can state that the HD 4870 X2 is a pair of HD 4870 1GB cards installed on a single PCB. As we have seen in recent articles, a single HD 4870 1GB will outperform even a slightly overclocked GTX 260 with 216SPs every now and then under the right circumstances. Thus, Nvidia needed a surefire solution to beat the HD 4870 X2 which meant increased rendering potential through the use of more SPs and ROPs than a standard GTX 260 216.

While we will not be testing the overall power consumption in this preview, Nvidia has listed the maximum board power at about 289W which puts its consumption above that of the GTX 280 by 53 watts. All in all, this isnít too bad considering the fact that there are two GPUs on this one card and a pair of 65nm GTX 260 cards would have a combined TDP of 364W (182W each).

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There arenít many shots to show you of this card yet since all we have is an engineering sample but upon first glance I wonít blame you if you think itís a 9800 GX2. According to Nvidia, this is what the final product will look like baring a few minor tweaks. Other than that, the main shroud takes up the GTX 295ís entire 10.5Ē length and is slightly dimpled making it quite different from past cardsí sleek looking heatsinks.

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Unlike the 9800 GX2, this card carries a single-sided heatsink since there arenít any memory modules present on the backside of each PCB. Cooling is handled by a single fan which draws cool air in through holes in the PCB.

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Power connector-wise we are looking at a single 6-pin and single 8-pin connector which is the same as the current GTX 280 but you should remember that on average, the GTX 295 will draw more power than a single 65nm GTX 280. Next to these two power connectors is an SPDIF audio pass through connector which can be used to stream sound through the GTX 295 and on to an optional DVI to HDMI connector.

Meanwhile, on the backplate you get the usual resident DVI-D connectors as well as a single HDMI output. There is also a pair of small LEDs; one of which is a power indicator while the other will tell you which card is operating as the primary output in an SLI setup.

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There is a single SLI connector on the card which can be used to link a pair of GTX 295 cards together for some quad-SLI action. This connector is located right next to some additional exhaust vents on the side of the card. Unfortunately, in testing it seems that these vents seem to allow the majority of heat buildup from within the heatsink to be dumped directly into your case. This in turn can lead to increased interior case temperatures if you do not have sufficient airflow within your enclosure. More on this in the upcoming review.

Ok, enough about the exterior of the GTX 295. Letís get onto the one thing I am sure you are all waiting to find out: performance!!

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