As fun as overclocking is, it does manage to take up a fair bit of time. But every once and a while a product will come along that we feel really deserves a good amount of time put into it to find those perfect clock speeds.
Last year it was the Q6600; we wanted to get it to 4GHz and we did. We also had that lovely new i7 CPU known as the 920 which overclocks so well. This year we're getting into it early, though, thanks to NVIDIA. The GTX 295 is to date the fastest single graphics card you can purchase. We found this out when reviewing the Gainward card earlier today.
While some would say "why bother overclocking something so fast?" - We reply with "why not?!" - The particular card of choice is the Gainward card we've already looked at. The overclocking software of choice? - Well, we thought we would try out the Expertool software that Gainward offered on their utility CD that came with the card. The clocks? - Well, you will just have to turn over to the next page to find that one out.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB OCZ Technology PC-12800 DDR-3 8-8-8-24 (OCZ3G1600LV6GK)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows Vista SP1 64-Bit
Drivers: Forceware 181.20
With Expertool installed and ready to go and no real idea of what kind of clocks we should be able to achieve, many hours were spent increasing the core, memory and shader which was followed by loops of 3DMark Vantage to check just how stable the card was.
Eventually we found ourselves with the clocks you can see above. The core was moved from 576MHz to 684MHz, the shader from 1242MHz to 1380MHz and the memory from 2000MHz DDR to 2238MHz DDR.
This is an impressive overclock that should yield a decent performance gain in some of the more intensive games.
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Straight away we can see some nice gains with the card actually being able to break that X10000 point barrier. The overclock equates to gains of about 15% here.
Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea
Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.
Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.
While we do get a little bit of movement in PT Boats, not a whole lot is happening. We can actually see that the minimum at all resolutions is quite similar with the average only dropping off at 2560 x 1600.
Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
Nothing unusual here with CINEBENCH not seeing the benefits from the extra MHz on offer from the core and memory.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 126.96.36.199
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.
The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
Under WIC performance is a bit all over the place. At some points the overclocked card is a little faster, while other times a little slower and at some points being exactly the same.
Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead
Version and / or Patch Used: unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Airfield
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://crysiswarhead.ea.com/
Buy It Here
Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of the original game through a sidestory plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game.
It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of CryEngine 2 using full DX10 extensions and is the first game developed by Crytek's Budapest studio.
Crysis Warhead sees gains across the board with the highest resolution getting almost a 20% boost in performance.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
Far Cry 2 is another intensive game and we again see quite a large increase in performance with the overclocked setup giving us an average of above 100 FPS at 2560 x 1600.
Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World. The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.
While Clear Sky doesn't do a whole lot for the NVIDIA based cards, we can see the overclock manages to yield some decent increases, especially at the higher end of the resolution table.
Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead
Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.l4d.com/
Buy It Here
Left 4 Dead uses the latest version of Valve's Source engine, with improvements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation to more realistically portray hair and clothing, and to improve physics interaction with enemies when shot or shoved in different body parts. Animation was also improved to allow characters to lean realistically when moving in curved paths.
Rendering and artificial intelligence were scaled up to allow for greater number of enemies who can navigate the world in better ways, such as climbing, jumping or breaking obstacles. Lighting has been enhanced with new self-shadowing normal mapping and advanced shadow rendering that is important to convey information about the environment and player actions.
Across the board we can see gains with the overclocked GTX 295, but as you can notice, all resolutions are playable when even in the cards stock form.
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF
High Quality AA and AF
Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.
Far Cry 2
With these intensive settings we again see very good gains for the GTX 295 when overclocked.
World In Conflict
WIC performance is again a bit all over the place; while the more important minimum is lower, the average is up.
Left 4 Dead
We again see under Left 4 Dead that we get a bump in performance that equates to over 10%.
As we've already said, as if the GTX 295 wasn't powerful enough already. When it comes to overclocking the card, it has some serious potential. It will be interesting to see what companies like Gainward, eVGA, BFG, ASUS and others who offer fairly decent overclocked cards will do with the GTX 295.
It's nice to see that come launch day there isn't any dramas with overclocking the GTX 295 either. There isn't a doubt in my mind that people will get it into their system and start overclocking the hell out of the card to have those 3DMark ranks climbing over at the Futuremark website.
We love the GTX 295, but today the card really did go up a notch in our book thanks to the excellent overclocking ability. The big overclock is going to make for some interesting models in the coming months.
We do have to wonder, though, what happens when someone straps LN2 to this card? - There's going to be some high scores out there and no doubt records will begin dropping like flies.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de