|by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig | January 9, 2009|
In the current graphics card performance arena, there haven’t been many interesting developments for the last little while since both ATI and Nvidia seemed to be content to stay the course with their current crop of contenders. The GTX 295 show us that Nvidia is truly serious about recapturing the performance crown from ATI but the question that begs to be answered is: did they succeed? Well, I am going to have to say yes and no. The EVGA GTX 295 definitely seems to live up to the hype by displaying absolutely amazing framerates in the majority of the benchmarks which in itself would mean it is the fastest card on the planet, right? Not so fast because some of our Extreme IQ benchmarks showed performance that was less than optimal and illustrated one key area in which Nvidia could have improved this particular card: memory allocation. 2GB of memory may have put it head and shoulders above the HD 4870 X2…but we will never know and can only theorize about what the end results would have been. This doesn’t stop the GTX 295 from being the current card to beat but it does throw a bit of a cold towel into the Nvidia celebrations.
No matter which way I look at it, the GTX 295 has all the same limitations of any dual GPU card in that it is held hostage by the SLI profiles in games. If your favorite game doesn’t support SLI or vice versa, you may as well go ahead and buy a $300 card and be done with it while saving yourself a bucket load of cash. However, it should be mentioned right here and now that Nvidia has done a truly admirable job of making sure SLI is supported in as many games as possible.
While we are on the subject of performance, it is time to come clean about a little driver ATI sent our way shortly before this review went live. Basically, it is a multi-threaded beta driver tailored for their HD 4870 X2 in orderto increase performance in certain games. We didn’t use it since it is not and may never be available to the public. As you know, we use WHQL drivers unless the situation absolutely demands it and frown upon benchmarking with drivers that are not available to the public for existing cards. So, they weren’t used but who knows, they may be part of the 9.1 driver package so you may get to see their performance very soon.
Anyways, back to the GTX 295 and the growing pains associated with it since much like the HD 4870 X2, this card runs hot and it runs loud. Heat we can put up with to a certain extent but the noise this thing puts out even at idle is unacceptable to say the least. Its fan speed profile is far too aggressive but I guess that is what it takes to keep two GPU cores cool. Like we said; if you want silent computing, look elsewhere. It should also be mentioned that I was never able to get dual monitor support working so the Folding @ Home GPU2 client would recognize both GPUs. The system would hang during Vista’s boot cycle but don’t fear, Nvidia is still looking into the issue.
All in all, there is a lot to like about Nvidia’s GTX 295 but there are some major points of contention as well. There is no one-size-fits-all solution out there for those of you looking to buy a new GPU but if you are in the market for extremely good performance at ultra high resolutions with a lifetime warranty to boot, this card may be just what the doctor ordered.
- Very good performance
- Single card solution for power users
- Great idle power consumption
- Lifetime warranty
- Performance largely dependent on SLI profiles in a game
- Horribly loud
- Power hungry
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