Alright alright .. the GeForce GTX 280 was the fastest single GPU on the globe, the GeForce GTX 285 is now the fastest single GPU on the globe. On average it's roughly 10% faster than the reference GTX 280. So an upgrade towards the 55nm node did bring in some additional gaming performance.
In all fairness, after such a rough season for NVIDIA I did expect them to set the bar a little higher, and bring pot roast to the table. I did expect something a good deal faster than the last-gen fastest single GPU based graphics card ? Or maybe that was just me expecting too much ? A couple of years ago, a GTX 285 (incremental refresh update) would have been what you guys have learned to know as an "Ultra" product (GeForce 8800 GTX towards Ultra for example). On average such Ultra products offered 20% more performance. That knowledge alone is floating in the back on my head like a ghost, the GTX 285 is a nice, yet a small step forwards compared to the GTX 280.
On a positive note, we do get a slightly higher clocked product, that brings additional performance and we also see that overall power consumption went down. Thanks to the 55nm fabrication node, NVIDIA improved performance per Watt and that's a really good thing. Much respect for that.
Also there are some worthwhile improvements, and these are to be found in the faster clocked versions as presented by the AIBs (NVIDIA's board partners). From a reference GTX 280 towards a GTX 285 you'll maybe get an extra 10% jump in performance. But when you add another 10% to 15% performance thanks to the default overclocked editions, the gap is getting bigger.
It's funny though, overclocking has become a pretty good business. NVIDIA will set a performance baseline which obviously has some headroom for faster frequencies, and for each overclocked model an AIB release, the AIB's can charge you more money. Yep, products with faster than reference clocks have become good business. The good thing for you is two-fold. You don't have to tweak and overclock yourself, and the high clock frequencies fall within the product warranty.
Speaking of the AIBs, let's run down the brands tested today.
eVGA - Of course eVGA does what it does best, delivering a very fast clocked product with the SSC model. In fact, it was the fastest GTX 285 product we tested. Obviously you'll have to chip in a little more dough for the overclocked editions, but what I like very much with eVGA is that these hefty overclocks are protected with an excellent warranty policy and you're obviously eligible for the step-up program. It's what made eVGA big, known and reputable. A very nice product for sure, and if you care to spend the extra dough for an SSC edition, it should be on top of your list. As such we give it out "Top Pick" award.
Inno3D - Again we noticed a very nice product, but we are a bit saddened by the fact they will not overclock the shader domain, though. Fact is though, as you have seen, the performance difference among the three brands we tested was rather small. So how much this all weighs for you is only a question you can answer for yourself. We addressed the shader tweaks with Inno3D and I'm happy to report that Inno3D's future "Overclock" products, will have the shader domain overclocked as well.
Anyway, as always they offer a good, stable and high quality product. We liked the bundled games, yet do think the primary gaming (Company of Heroes) title is getting a little bit outdated. Other than that, again a lovely product, for which you'll receive two years warranty and a lot of golden bling :)
Point of View - The green Dutch team delivered an excellent product with their GeForce GTX 285 EXO edition. Performance was marginally close towards the SSC edition from eVGA, and that's absolutely lovely to see as this makes the EXO version one of the fastest cards tested today. A very nice overclock indeed. Point of view will introduce this card at a 359 EUR price level onto the market. It's a competitive price and next to that it comes with three year warranty and actually bundled with the card is Far Cry 2, the full game. By doing so this is one the the most competitive cards released today as value for money wise it just brings a lot to the table. Well done Point of View, and as such the GeForce GTX 285 EXO edition comes very much recommended.
Both Inno3D and Point of View receive the Gaming essential award, though we feel that Point of View has the stronger bundle and card of the two.
So then, overall seen the GeForce GTX 285 performance really is exceptionally good. Remember, Fallout 3 at 8xAA at 1920x1200 will get you ~ 55 frames per second of rendering performance, each second. Call of Duty World at War, no issue Sir, 4xAF 16xAF @ 2560x1600 resolution gave back ~45 FPS on average. And so on and on. Obviously with the GeForce GTX 200 series you will also get a CUDA ready product. Meaning 3rd party programs could utilize the GPU. Interesting stuff. Also you'll have some very decent PhysX capabilities and horsepower to do so. Also as shown in this article, multi-GPU setups are an alternative for you to look into. One remark though, 2-way SLI seems to scale really well. It's a little less with 3-way SLI. So if you are in the market for that, you should keep that info in the back of your mind as it's probably better not to spend your dough on 3-way SLI. But it's cool if you do though ;)
Image quality, stability and overall use were fantastic. Much like the ease of installation and user friendliness. So here's where I'm closing this review. Surely the GTX 285 is a bloody nice product, in fact the fastest single-GPU based product on the globe. But I miss a little extra bite ...
GeForce GTX 285 will sell for roughly 349 EUR here in Europe or 399 USD in the USA. Obviously there will be a large variety from the board partners in overclocked models and thus prices as well. It's good to have choices, and we certainly showed you a couple today.
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