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XFX GeForce GTX 280 XXX Edition

One of the more aggressive graphics card overclockers; XFX attack the GTX 280 and bump the memory way up.
@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Sun, Jun 22 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:27 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: XFX

Introduction

IntroductionIf the GTX 280 AMP! Edition from ZOTAC wasn't enough MHz for you, we might have the card for you today. XFX is back once again, carrying with it some pretty mean speeds on the new GTX 280 XXX Edition. The GTX, while being a very good card in the sense that it performs similar to the dual GPU 9800 GX2 for the same price, it hasn't wowed people as much as we had hoped due to the card again not feeling like a true next generation offering in the performance department. With that said though, the new GTX 280 does carry with it some very cool technology that we haven't seen before, and certainly does have its benefits in certain fields. We want something that pushes out some serious FPS though, so that our gaming experience is better than ever.Today we'll see what XFX has done to the card and package to make it stand out.

The Package

The PackageStraight away the XFX GTX 280 box really stands out with the giant lime green glow looking pretty good. In the background we have the wolf-like figure showing with GTX in large letters on the front and below that, 280. Across the top of the card we can see both the XFX and NVIDIA logos. To the top right corner we can also see that a full version copy of Assassin's Creed is included in the box.
Across the bottom of the box we can see it's of course PCI Express 2.0 and comes with 1GB of GDDR3. Above the memory we can see some more NVIDIA logos along with the fact we have a 670MHz core. Above that we have mention that this card is a XXX Edition.
Turning the box over, we have a picture of the card along with some of the key features it offers. We have a bit of a blurb on the left of the card and a bit more detail on the features that the card offers. Across the bottom of the card we have some more logos which once again cover some of the features on the card.
Inside the box we have our driver CD along with a full version copy of Assassin's Creed, as mentioned on the front of the box. We have a few manuals along with a little sign to hang off your door to let those annoying people outside it know not to disturb you during your intensive gaming sessions.
As far as cables go, we have a Molex to PCI Express connector, audio loop back cable, DVI to VGA connector and a Component-Out dongle.

The Card

The CardUpon pulling the card out of the box, that lime green glow really stands out on the card and the sticker of choice makes the card look simply awesome. Of course, compared to the ZOTAC GTX 280 AMP! Edition we looked at the other day, there isn't any other changes. XFX of course have opted to use the standard cooler which isn't unusual this early in the game. As the weeks and months go on, hopefully we see some companies begin to mix it up.
What was really cool about the XFX card is when you turn it around, they have another sticker. In the event that your case has a window, you can display the card you have loudly and proudly.
This really is just smart marketing as it lets people know the brand you have in your system and often makes them want it too.
As you would expect, looking around the card we have our two SLI connectors across the top while the back of the card shows a single PCI Express connector.
Looking at the I/O panel, we have our two Dual Link DVI connectors and single TV-Out port. Above that we have our exhaust outlet to get rid of the hot air.SpecificationsAs mentioned earlier, the XFX GTX 280 is a XXX model which means it's overclocked. We can see on the box that the core comes in at 670MHz which is 70MHz up from the standard 600MHz core clock. The Shader clock moves from 1296MHz to 1458MHz and the 1GB of GDDR3 comes in at a whopping 2500MHz.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06

Test System SetupProcessor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1Drivers: Forceware 175.16 (9 Series) 177.34 (GTX 280)While the XFX GTX 280 does come in 30MHz lower on the core compared to the ZOTAC offering, it does carry with it a significantly higher 200MHz DDR memory clock.Let's find out if that makes up for the reduced core speed.3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
We can see the XFX sits slightly above the ZOTAC and manages to outperform all the other cards here today by a slight margin as well.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage

3DMark VantageVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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.
Moving to something a bit more intensive, we see the XFX GTX 280 win out on the whole, while also just sneaking ahead of the ZOTAC offering.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

PT Boats: Knights of the SeaVersion and / or Patch Used: Benchmark DemoDeveloper 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.
The two GTX 280s are very close together which beat out all the other offerings for the most part.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer 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).
The overclock on the card doesn't help and the score on the XFX actually comes in a little lower than the ZOTAC. Fortunately, it's still able to beat out the dual GPU 9800 GX2 and the cheaper 9800 GTX OCX.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper 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.
The extra bump in memory speed gives us a small boost across the board on the GTX 280.

Benchmarks - Crysis

CrysisVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/Buy It Here
From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE™ 2 offers. The CryENGINE™ 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE™ 2 Sandbox world editing system.
We again see the XFX offering sneaking out ahead of the ZOTAC thanks to its higher memory clocks.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/Buy It Here
Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.
UT3 sees some big gains from the overclocked memory, really standing out at the lower resolution.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFOur 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.3DMark06
We again see the XFX offering just coming out ahead, but in this case the GX2 is slightly faster.World In Conflict
We again see that little 1FPS bump in WIC in the min and average department.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
Firing up XP, we see much of the same as Vista with the XFX and ZOTAC scoring extremely close to each other.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer 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).
We can see under XP, CINEBENCH scores are a little down with the 9800 GX2 being the fastest card.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper 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 we see both the ZOTAC and XFX cards score extremely close to each other.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/Buy It Here
Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.
UT3 again loves the extra MHz on the memory, and it really shines at the lower resolutions.

Temperature and Sound Tests

Temperature Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
Both GTX 280 cards output similar temps with the GX2 being the hottest card out of the bunch, which is understandable due to the dual GPUs onboard.Sound Tests
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
The GTX 280 comes in with the lowest noise temps out of the bunch in both the idle and load departments.

Power Consumption Tests

Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
Power ratings between the two cards are very similar, as you would expect. They're also considerably lower when compared to the 9800 GX2.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsXFX has done a good job with finding a very high clock on the memory, but it would have been nice to see the core be bumped to 700MHz out of the box. A little overclocking saw the card had no issue at 700MHz, so it does come as a little surprise that XFX didn't aim for the 100MHz overclock on the core.It's good to see that XFX has also taken the time to include a recent full version game which makes it more appealing; the package on the whole is pretty standard with the normal cables and paperwork, but the little sign to hang off your door knob is a nice extra which we also saw in the XFX 9600GT Alpha Dog.Unfortunately this all comes at a price, and the XXX edition from XFX is one of the more expensive GTX 280s on the market. That's no real surprise though, since it's also one of the highest clocked at the moment, but DIY overclockers will probably find themselves looking for a cheaper option. The good thing about the XFX offering, however, is that you're guaranteed a 2500MHz memory clock, which is pretty attractive.XFX has done a good job with the GTX 280 and the massive overclock gives it another speed bump. While we continue to feel disappointed with the fact that we don't have a huge boost in performance over the last generation 9800 GX2, the fact remains that NVIDIA has been able to place the power of the two cores into a single one while adding new technologies such as CUDA and PhysX. Hopefully we begin to see some games under NVIDIAs "Way it's meant to be played" umbrella make use of physics and really begin to offer gamers a completely new gaming experience.
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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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