ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card

The TOP line gets a new card today in the form of NVIDIAs GTX 260. We see what ASUS has done with it.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Sep 23 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 88%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card



What's so great about the TOP line of cards from ASUS is that they're actually overclocked to a level where a decent performance can be seen. So many companies these days offer an overclock, but a few MHz on the core and a couple MHz on the memory doesn't really equate to that much of a performance increase; all it tends to do is constantly just put it ahead of a reference based card.

The TOP line of cards aren't like this, though; ASUS seem to put a bit of time and effort into the overclocking process and really find out what exactly the cards are capable of, which in turn tends to make them some of the fastest cards on the market in their category.

Today we're looking at the GTX 260 which is currently only second to the GTX 280 in the NVIDIA food chain. As usual, ASUS has done an impressive job with the clocks which equates to some nice performance. Before we check out the clocks and performance, though, let's quickly take the time to see what ASUS has done with the bundle and the card itself.

The Package




The front of the box isn't anything we haven't really seen before and is part of the new smaller design that we've been seeing from ASUS for a few releases now. Across the top of the box we have the ASUS logo and motto. To the right we have a picture of a warrior lady.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


At the bottom of the box we have a mention of the model along with the fact that this is part of the TOP series of cards. Above that we have some of the main features of the card including 896MB of GDDR3 memory along with some of the exclusive software that ASUS include in the package.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Turning the box over, ASUS go into more detail on the features of the card along with a rundown of the software that is included in the package and what exactly it can do. We also have some recommended system specifications and a bit of a note about the power needed for the card.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


As far as cables go there isn't anything too out of the ordinary with the standard component-out dongle and DVI to VGA connector included. We also have a dual molex to 6-pin connector.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


In the CD department we have the driver CD alongside another CD which includes a copy of the manual in a number of languages; we also have a speed setup guide in the paperwork department.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


As far as extras go, we see a leather CD holder and mouse pad included. This isn't the first time we've seen these extras; ASUS seem to be including the two items with most of their higher end cards.

The Card




Pulling the card out of the box, you're not greeted by any real surprises. Like all the GTX 260 cards we've looked at over the past few months, the ASUS TOP model carries with it the same reference cooler that we've become accustomed to seeing.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


ASUS have of course placed a sticker on the top of it; we've got a bit of a camouflage thing going on and we again see a picture of the female warrior that we saw on the front of the box.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Looking around the card also doesn't bring any surprises. Towards the back of the card we have two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors that sit next to an audio out port. Further down the card we find our two SLI connectors that let us run up to three of the cards together.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Finally, we finish off in the I/O department and apart from our exhaust port up the top we have a single TV-Out connector and two Dual-Link DVI connectors.


Specifications

As we've already mentioned a few times, the GTX 260 we have here from ASUS today is overclocked. The core has been increased from the default 576MHz to 650MHz while the shader clock has increased from 1242MHz to 1400MHz and the 896MB of GDDR3 memory has moved from 2000MHz to 2300MHz.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06


Test System Setup

Processor(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 SP1
Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 177.79


Today we'll be checking out the TOP GTX 260 from ASUS against a stock clocked GTX 260, a stock clocked GTX 280 and an overclocked 9800 GTX+.


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product 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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Straight up we can see a nice increase from the stock GTX 260. Under 3DMark06 we can actually see the GTX 260 TOP and GTX 280 score quite similarly at the lower resolutions.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage

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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Under 3DMark Vantage we again see a nice little increase in performance over the stock GTX 260. Under the more intensive settings, though, it does sit a fair whack behind the more expensive GTX 280, which is expected.

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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


The overclock on offer from the GTX 260 TOP only really shows under PT Boats at the highest resolution where the three cards begin to separate themselves a bit.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


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).


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Under CINEBENCH we can see that all four cards actually sit very close together.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Under WIC we can see the only movement between the top three cards is at 1920 x 1200. Below that all the cards sit quite close together and the overclock does very little for extra performance.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
Developer 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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Under Crysis we can see the overclock gives us a nice little boost in performance, putting the card right on the heels of the more expensive GTX 280.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo 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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Firing up UT3 shows that the best gains are seen at the highest resolution.

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.


3DMark06

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Under 3DMark06 we again see the TOP GTX 260 get a good jump on the stock clocked model.


World In Conflict

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


WIC sees very little improvements with the overclock; there's only an extra FPS to be seen in the average.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product 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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


3DMark06 again shows some good gains over the stock clocked GTX 260; performance here isn't all that far behind the more expensive GTX 280.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP


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).


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


CINEBENCH when running under XP shows the GTX 260 TOP run significantly better than the other cards.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
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.

ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


WIC under XP manages to see better gains with the overclock over the stock clocked offering.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo 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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


UT3 sees some good gains across the board, though the 2560 x 1600 results aren't as much of an increase over the Vista scores.

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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Temps on the GTX 260 TOP from ASUS sit at about where we would expect.


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).


Zotac 9800 GTX+ Zone


Noise levels are also where we would expect them to be since both GTX 260s use the same cooler.

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.


ASUS GeForce GTX 260 TOP Graphics Card


Like our last few tests, Power Draw sits in line with a standard GTX 260 which is no surprise since the card follows the reference design, bar the overclock.

Final Thoughts




It doesn't come as any real surprise that the GTX 260 TOP from ASUS performs well when compared to the stock model. Like most high end cards, the gains between the different models aren't really seen until 1920 x 1200 and above. What this means is that if you're using a monitor that outputs only 1680 x 1050 it's really not worth spending the extra on an overclocked card that is going to yield no to very little gains.

While it would be nice if ASUS started including a full version game again, like they did with some of last generations high end models, the added mouse pad and CD wallet are still nice additions. But we wonder if people are going to actually make use of them.

Performance is really what the TOP series of cards are all about, though, and as usual the version we have today does that extremely well. Offering good gains over the stock GTX 260 at higher resolutions makes the card a good option for people who are looking for something a bit better but don't want to break the bank by moving to a more expensive GTX 280.

All in all, there isn't a whole lot to complain about when it comes to the GTX 260 TOP. Sure, it could be a little cheaper, but the higher price tag is really expected from ASUS these days. Throw in the fact that the GTX 260 TOP we have here today is one of the highest clocked GTX 260s and you really can't go wrong.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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