Nvidia GeForce GTX 275 896MB Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     April 2, 2009

Nvidia GeForce GTX 275 896MB Review

When an unmarked box shows up at my door it is usually one of two things: my neighbour’s new copy of Debbie Does Dallas: The Ultimate Edition or a brand new computer component that hasn’t been released yet. While receiving either is usually a welcome surprise, we will have to put a discussion about Debbie’s impressive exploits on the back burner since this time the box’s cargo was a new video card from Nvidia: the GTX 275.

The history behind Nvidia’s answer to the ATI HD 4890 has understandably been receiving much less rumour-mongering as past launches. This is mostly due to the fact that the card itself seems to be mostly a quick knee-jerk reaction to an assault by ATI into the relatively under appreciated market between the $225 and $300 (USD) price brackets. With all of the price cutting of late, both the GTX 260 216 and the HD 4870 1GB have fallen below the $200 USD mark which means a substantial gap has suddenly opened up between these cards and the $350 GTX 285. ATI chose to attack this market with what is essentially an overclocked version of their HD 4870 1GB which has been renamed the HD 4890. Meanwhile, Nvidia couldn’t be seen as resting on their backsides so the GTX 275 896MB was quickly hatched.

What we have here is an engineering version of the GTX 275 896 MB but from what we have heard; Nvidia will allow their board partners to design their own cards from the ground up. This will probably result in quite a few variations when it comes to framebuffer size, clock speeds, power consumption and even thermal characteristics. Unfortunately, this can also lead to some corner cutting (read: penny pinching) so Nvidia will hopefully implement a certification system whereby these “custom” cards are checked to see if they meet specifications. According to various manufacturers we spoke to, they will also be releasing reference based cards with some (from EVGA, XFX and BFG) introducing overclocked versions as well. Stay tuned since we already have some of these in the review pipeline.

In a nutshell, the GTX 275 is basically half of a GTX 295 whose core, shaders and memory have slightly higher clocks. Performance-wise it is supposed to sit somewhere between the GTX 260 216 and the GTX 285 even though looking at the specifications on a later page will give you the distinct impression that framerates may be closer to those of the GTX 285. If that turns out to be true, its price of around $250 USD could prove to be the undoing of Nvidia’s flagship single chip card.

Enough about marketing-speak, let’s talk reality here for a second or two. First of all, even though Nvidia will only announce their “official” price a day before launch, figures of $250 USD have been passed around. While that price is highly competitive against the HD 4890, we will be anxious to see if it holds any foundation in reality considering Canadian pricing will probably be between $360 and $380 according to sources. This may change as cards become available so stay tuned for more news on that front. Also, contrary to some reports we have been told by both AIBs and various local retailers that they expect stock of these cards to be available at North American retail by April 9th with smaller shipments trickling in ahead of that.

We hate paper launches as much as the next guy but it looks like the GTX 275 could be a serious contender against the ATI HD 4890. Let’s stop the intro now so we can dive into this review and have a good look at Nvidia’s new card.


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