It’s fast, but not quite fast enough for the huge price.
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Nvidia's top-end card is fast, but our trawl around online retailers revealed that it costs nearly the same as the ageing dual-GPU 9800 GX2. You could look at that as progress, with the newest cards taking the price-point place of their predecessors while improving on performance - but, unfortunately for Nvidia and the GTX 280, in the real world it fails to make the grade.The cobbled together GX2 is a monster of a card, but this newer GTX 280 requires the same six- and eight-pin power connectors to get it running. It's also the same old 65nm fabrication process, and with a 602MHz core clock, 240 stream processors and only a minor boost in shader speed, it was never going to blow the GX2 out of the water.But we expected it to at least try. In the highest test, in which it should excel, the GTX 280 falls behind the GX2: 24fps to the GX2's 28fps in Crysis at very high settings; 36fps to the GX2's 40fps in our high Call of Juarez test. Our other tests are too simple to really test the top-end cards - 90fps in Far Cry 2 and 97fps in Call of Duty 4 show how effortlessly they brush them aside.It isn't a huge discrepancy; both cards will get you gaming at huge resolution, but the GX2 has the slight edge in every respect except size.But the biggest problem is ATI's X2 cards: once the drivers are sorted, we expect the new HD 4850 X2 to be close to this performance at $70 less; on the other hand, if you're really willing to spend such a small fortune on a graphics card, you may as well stretch to $747 and buy the table-topping HD 4870 X2.
This Review appeared in the April, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
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