Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed

We're sure it's fast, but is it fast enough? - We look at the new GTX 295 from Gainward and see if it can take top honors.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Jan 7 2009 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Gainward

Introduction


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed



The GTX 295, where do we start? - I have to say this is one card that I find myself getting quite excited about. The main reason for that is because I know it's going to be the fastest graphics card on the market. How do I know this, though? It's not actually because we know what the specifications of the card are or anything like that. The reason I know it's going to be the fastest graphics card on the market is because it literally has to be!

No matter what, this card can't be slower than the HD 4870 X2; the other thing is it can't just be a bit faster than the HD 4870 X2 either, considering how long ATI has held the performance crown for now.

The first card we look at comes from Gainward and we've done a fair bit of testing with the card, but we won't get into any specifics at the moment. Firstly we will have a look at the package and what's inside, then we will have a closer look at the card and its specifications before we get stuck into the testing to see just how the card performs.

The Package




As far as the box design goes, Gainward hasn't done too much different from previous cards we've looked at. Across the top we have the Gainward logo and below that we have a big picture that takes up most of the box along with some logos from NVIDIA and the mention of HDMI and HDCP compliancy.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Across the bottom we have the model and below that the amount of memory on the card. To the right we have a number of little squares that tell us some of the main features the card offers like HDMI, PCI Express 2.0, DX 10, Dual GPU and more.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Turning the box over, we have a run down on some of the features the card offers. We also have a bit of talk about SLI along with what exactly is needed. We also again have the Gainward logo and their website along the bottom.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Moving inside, there isn't a whole lot going on. Apart from the quick start guide we have a utility CD that has drivers along with a copy of the manual and Gainward's own overclocking program, Expertool.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


The cable department is also on the light side of things with only a DVI to VGA connector included and a S/PDIF loop back cable that links between your sound card or motherboard and graphics card. What this does is let you get sound through the HDMI connector.

The Card




With the package looked at, it's time to check out the card. Pulling it out of the box, there isn't a whole lot to see with the massive cover going over everything from top to bottom and left to right.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


To the left of the card we can see a sticker that has the Gainward logo and a similar picture to the one seen on the front of the box. To the right of the card we can see half of the fan. What you may also notice is that there are a number of holes in the cover; this helps keep the card cooler versus trapping all the heat inside.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


If we have a look around the card, the back shows us our power connectors. The GTX 295 consists of one 6-pin and one 8-pin connector. Next to the 6-pin connector we also have the connector for the S/PDIF cable.

Closer to the front of the card we have a single SLI connector and what this means is that you can only SLI two cards together. This is due to the dual-GPU design. Here we can also see bits of the copper heat-pipe that help keep the card cool.

Finally, moving over to the front of the card we can see two Dual-Link DVI connectors. Along with that we also have a HDMI connector. We can see some vents that also help let the hot air escape out the back of your system.


Specifications

The GTX 295 is based on two 55nm cores that share similar specifications to the GTX 260. The core comes in at 576MHz while the shader comes in at 1242MHz and the 1792MB of GDDR3 memory comes in at 2000MHz, as you can see below.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Other features on the card include a 448-bit memory interface, 240 processing cores and 80 texture filtering units on each core. NVIDIA rate the board at 289 Watts with a GPU thermal threshold of 105c.

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 XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1 64-Bit
Drivers: Catalyst 8.12, Forceware 180.47, Forceware 180.48, Forceware 181.20, Forceware 185.20


We were fortunate to have the GTX 295 with us for a little while. With no official driver from NVIDIA, we thought we would take the time to test the card with the driver that came on the CD which was the ForceWare 180.48 driver. A few days later NVIDIA let us know that an updated driver was coming. While I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for it, word of the leaked 185.20 driver came out; figuring that was probably the driver we were going to get later in the day, we tested that one.

Later that afternoon when three quarters of the testing was done, NVIDIA finally emailed us letting us know that the 181.20 driver was available to download, clearly different to the 185.20 we tried.

So what we've done today is test the GTX 295 on all three driver sets. The results are quite interesting and when reading other reviews around the web, make sure you take note of the driver that is being used. With that said, we've also compared the card to the previous NVIDIA top dog, the GTX 280 along with the top two ATI cards, the HD 4870 and the card that currently holds the performance crown (or does it?), the HD 4870 X2.


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.


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Straight away we can see the GTX 295 offers some serious power. We can also see that between the drivers there isn't a whole lot of difference.

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.


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


PT Boats has always favored NVIDIA cards and we see the GTX 295 is no different here. Compared to the GTX 280, though, there isn't really much difference until we get up to 2560 x 1600. We can also see that the 181.20 driver is the best here.

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).


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


CINEBENCH shows the GTX 295 and GTX 280 performing very close to each other, which is behind the HD 4870 offerings from ATI. We can again see that between the driver sets there isn't a whole lot of difference.

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.


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


We again see the new GTX 295 offer some serious performance when compared to the older ATI cards. The best gains are seen at the higher resolution which equate to over 20%. We can see here that the 181.20 driver is also the best with the 185.20 driver offering some pretty poor performance.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead


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.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Under Warhead we see some impressive results which actually give us a playable frame rate at 2560 x 1600. It's worth noting that the HD 4870 X2 at 1680 x 1050 is performing worse than the GTX 295 when running at 2560 x 1600. We also again see that the performance between the driver sets is very similar.

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.


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


WOW! What can you say here? Far Cry 2 performance is simply jaw dropping on the GTX 295 and we have some extremely playable frame rates at 2560 x 1600. What we again see as far as drivers go is that the 185.20 driver does perform quite poorly compared to the one that came on the CD and the latest one we received from NVIDIA.

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.[3] 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.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Clear Sky has never favored NVIDIA offerings and while for the most part we see some impressive results when compared to the GTX 280, it does lag behind the ATI based HD 4870 X2.

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.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


We can see that Left 4 Dead performance between all the dual-GPU based cards is very similar; even at 2560 x 1600 there isn't much difference with all setups offering a very playable framerate.

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

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


We again see these MASSIVE gains for the GTX 295 when compared against the HD 4870 X2. Far Cry 2 is playable at 1920 x 1200 with 8xAA on! We again also see that the 185.20 drivers offer some pretty poor performance, so keep an eye out for sites using this one.


World In Conflict

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


We again see some massive performance gains with the GTX 295 here. While the HD 4870 X2 was just missing that important 30 FPS minimum, the GTX 295 smashes it, offering a 44 FPS minimum at these intensive settings. We also again see that the 185.20 driver at the moment is not the driver to use.


Left 4 Dead

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


We again see under Left 4 Dead, performance between the dual-GPU cards is very similar. We also see that there isn't much difference between the drivers.

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.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


We continue to see the GTX 295 perform extremely well with it really shining at 2560 x 1600. We also see that the 185.20 driver isn't helping the card at all. Since the 181.20 wasn't available at the time for Windows XP, we have only been able to compare the driver CD (180.48) and the leaked beta 185.20.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP


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.


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Under XP we can see that the GTX 295 performs well against the GTX 280 at the higher resolution, but compared to the HD 4870 X2 it seems to lag behind which is disappointing due to the massive performance we saw under Vista.

Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky - XP


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.[3] 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.

Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Clear Sky again favors the ATI based card, but not as heavily. We see the GTX 295 offers a good boost over the GTX 280 here, which puts it at similar performance to the HD 4870 X2.

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.


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Temperature wise, the card doesn't really sit anywhere out of the ordinary, coming in at under 70c.


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).


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


Noise on the other hand is a different story with it being the loudest card here. Whilst compared to the GTX 280 it's a good 10dB louder, it's only 7dB louder when compared to the HD 4870 X2.

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.


Gainward's GeForce GTX 295 Reviewed


It was interesting to see that the power at load was a bit under the HD 4870 X2 and significantly lower at idle with it performing at the same level as the HD 4870 and GTX 280; these both being single GPU cards.

Final Thoughts




The GTX 295 is certainly an impressive card and really has made 2560 x 1600 a feasible resolution for gamers with a fat wallet. We can see for the most part that the card is able to trounce the HD 4870 X2, but not in the way where one card offers 15 FPS minimum and the other 23 FPS; the GTX 295 is now the difference of enjoying games at 2560 x 1600 and not.

What we see is the HD 4870 X2 just missing that 30 FPS minimum bar we have set, while the GTX 295 on the other hand is able to pass it and keep on going. It clearly is well deserved of the performance crown which has now been handed over from the HD 4870 X2. As we mentioned, though, there wasn't a doubt in our mind that the card would outperform the HD 4870 X2, if not for the fact that NVIDIA wanted to, but more so for the fact it needed too.

Talking a bit more on the particular card we have on our hands today, Gainward hasn't done a whole lot with it. With that said, though, it's not uncommon come launch day as we're sure the Gainward developers are locked up finding that perfect overclock for a Golden Sample version of the card.

Sure, at the moment the package is slim and the design is standard, but ultimately the performance of the card is what's important to so many of us. And in that department it simply owns!

It's going to be a tough fight for ATI now; the HD 4870 X2 can't match this performance with driver updates which means that they have to be hard at work making a card that can outperform it. Will it? Can they? - Only time will tell and we look forward to seeing what they bring to the table.

With everything said and done, there isn't much else to say. Should you buy one? Well the answer is simple, if you love high res gaming and you can afford it, HELL YEAH!

Now, keep an eye out for more articles regarding the GTX 295 which cover our favorite hobby, overclocking and we'll also see what happens when we put two of those bad boys together.

What do TweakTown awards and ratings mean? Click!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

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.

Newsletter Subscription

Similar Content

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.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription
Buyer Guides
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles