The title of fastest single GPU in the world is important to nVidia. Hence this beast of a card based on nVidia's GeForce GTX 295 chipset: the XFX GeForce GTX 295.

The XFX GeForce GTX 295 consists of two GTX 280 cores, but they aren't exactly the same cores you would get on a standard GTX 280. These cores have been clocked a little lower at 576MHz each, for power and thermal reasons.

The XFX GeForce GTX 295 itself is beautifully engineered. Unlike ATI's method of putting two chips on one card, nVidia has taken two cards, and made a sort of sandwich of them. The filling in between is the heatsink and fan.

This method seems to have cut noise levels quite a bit, since the XFX GeForce GTX 295 never did get loud enough to be intrusive. It uses one six pin and one eight-pin power connector, and needs a 700-Watt SMPS at least.

XFX sticks closely to the reference design, but it does give you Far Cry 2 for free, so it's a good package. The XFX GeForce GTX 295 has dual-DVI outputs, as well as an HDMI output. The card has a matte-black, rubbery finish. It's definitely a looker, but of course that's not the reason you're going to want to buy this.

XFX GeForce GTX 295: performance

To test the XFX GeForce GTX 295, we pulled out all the stops. The test rig was based on a core i7 965 extreme edition, running on an Asus p6t Deluxe Motherboard. Add 3GB of DDR3 RAM running in triple channel mode, the Intel 80GB SSD, and a Tagan BZ-1300 SMPS, and you get one very fast machine

We used the Asus VK266H as the display. For the tests, we ran 3D Mark 06 and Vantage, Crysis, Far Cry 2, Devil May Cry, and Company of Heroes. We tested these at 1920x1200 as well as in 1680x1050, and with 8X AA, 4X AA, and no AA.

The first thing the XFX GeForce GTX 295 did was set new framerate records in our 3D Mark benchmarks. In the gaming tests, the results were also great, with the exception of Company of Heroes. In this game, it seemed that the XFX GeForce GTX 295 was using only one core.

This problem is the Achilles heel of all multi-GPU cards. If the drivers don't work properly with the game, you suddenly get half the performance of the card. to be fair, this situation has improved a lot since the first multi-GPU cards came along.

In Crysis and Far Cry 2, the XFX GeForce GTX 295 managed consistently sky high scores, at almost every resolution and AA setting. The difference over the next fastest cards was in the range of 8-15 frames per second. That's not a lot, but it's undoubtedly faster.

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XFX GeForce GTX 295: Specs

  • nVidia GeForce GTX 295 chipset
  • Chip Clock: 576MHz
  • Shader Clock: 1242MHz
  • Cooling System: Fansink
  • Memory (Maximum): 1790MB 2000MHz DDR3
  • Memory Width: 896bit
  • PCI Express 2.0
  • 1 x DVI-I Dual Link, 1 x HDMI, 1 x HDTV, 1 x S/PDIF
  • DVI (Digital) resolution (Max): 2560 x 1600 Pixels
  • Maximum Resolution: 2048 x 1536 Pixels
  • Minimum Power Supply Requirement: 650 Watt/ 8 Pin Connector
  • Certifications: RoHS
  • Installation CD, Quick Installation Guide, Driver CD Installation Guide, XFX Serial Number Door Hanger, 6 Pin - 4 Pin Power Cable, DVI - VGA Adaptor, HDTV Component Adaptor, SPDIF Cable
  • 360x110x255mm
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 295 chipset
  • Chip Clock: 576MHz
  • Shader Clock: 1242MHz
  • Cooling System: Fansink
  • Memory (Maximum): 1790MB 2000MHz DDR3
  • Memory Width: 896bit
  • PCI Express 2.0
  • 1 x DVI-I Dual Link, 1 x HDMI, 1 x HDTV, 1 x S/PDIF
  • DVI (Digital) resolution (Max): 2560 x 1600 Pixels
  • Maximum Resolution: 2048 x 1536 Pixels
  • Minimum Power Supply Requirement: 650 Watt/ 8 Pin Connector
  • Certifications: RoHS
  • Installation CD, Quick Installation Guide, Driver CD Installation Guide, XFX Serial Number Door Hanger, 6 Pin - 4 Pin Power Cable, DVI - VGA Adaptor, HDTV Component Adaptor, SPDIF Cable
  • 360x110x255mm

OUR VERDICT

Despite it's crunch-busting price, the XFX GeForce GTX 295 is a great deal if you have a 24in or 30in monitor and you crave the fastest framerates. Lower resolutions would be a waste of this card since you’re only using a fraction of its power. nVidia has taken the crown from ATI, and we’re looking forward to seeing how ATI responds.

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