GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card

The baby brother to the new top dawg gets released today. Can the GTX 285 shine a light on single GPU performance?
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Jan 14 2009 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:27 PM CDT
Rating: 89%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card



While a bit uncommon to have two graphics cards that are ready at the same time, yet choose to release them a week apart, this is the path NVIDIA has decided to take. We actually ended up with a GTX 285 sample a few days before the GTX 295 came. The main reason for this plan, though, is probably due to the fact that NVIDIA didn't want to take focus away from either card.

The plan probably worked to a degree; while last week everyone was in awe of what the GTX 295 was offering, there was plenty of questions regarding what's going on with the cheaper GTX 285 as well.

While we would all no doubt love to own the latest top of the line dual GPU bad boy, for many it's simply not a purchase that can be swallowed by their partner, bank account or even themselves. The GTX 285, on the other hand, should offer excellent performance while not hitting the bank account as hard. The key words there, though, is "as hard", because don't think for a second that the GTX 285 is going to be cheap.

The card we're looking at today comes from GIGABYTE, so with everything said and done let's have a quick look at the package before having a closer look at the card and its specifications. From there we will check out the performance and see how it compares to the older cards like the GTX 280 which is still a very capable card along with the ex performance crown holder, the HD 4870 X2. Let's stop blabbering and get a move on to the package.

The Package




Looking at the package, it wouldn't be hard to mistake it for the GTX 295 GIGABYTE card we looked at last week; both boxes look almost identical with just a few minor changes in place. Across the top of the box we have the GIGABYTE logo and to the right we have an NVIDIA one that also makes mention of Cuda.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Moving down the box, we see the PhysX logo, while most of the box is taken up with a picture of a female character. Towards the bottom of the box we see mention of the model, in this case the GTX 285. To the right we also have the amount of RAM that is present on the card which is 1GB of GDDR3.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Turning the box over, we have a bit of a blurb on the card and below that there's some more NVIDIA logos and the model number mentioned again. Moving further down the box we have some information on some of the features that are present and we also have some information on SLI. At the bottom we have a bit more of a run down on the card along with a lot of the normal information we see on graphics cards.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Moving inside the package, there isn't a whole lot going on. Apart from the CD there's only the standard GIGABYTE cable set which includes a TV-Out breakout box, two dual molex to 6-Pin PCI-E connectors and single DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI connectors.

The Card




Moving onto the card, there isn't a whole lot to see when compared to the GTX 280. We see the same design on the card with the right side giving us a fan that pushes air out the back of the case. We can also see here that GIGABYTE has placed a sticker in the middle.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


The other half of the card gives us a giant sticker that lets us again know once again the model of the card and also the brand. We also again see the same female character that was on the front of the box.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Looking around the card, we see a lot of points that are very similar to the GTX 280, but paying closer attention gives us a small difference. Towards the back of the card we have our two 6-pin PCI E connectors, which for most is considered better than the 8 + 6 pin configuration the GTX 280 had. Next to these connectors we also see another connector that is used to get the audio going out of the HDMI connector that is included.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Moving to the front of the card, we have our two SLI connectors. Having two unlike the GTX 295 means that we can have three of these cards together, giving us a grand total of three GPUs.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Moving to the I/O side of things, unlike the GTX 295 there isn't a HDMI connector. Present is two Dual-Link DVI connectors along with a single TV-Out port. Across the top of the card we have a number of vents which help let the hot air escape.


Specifications

The biggest change that comes to the GTX 285 is the move to the 55nm fabrication on the GPU; this move is the main reason for the loss of the 8-pin PCI E connector. The smaller die size also brings with it lower power consumption and less heat. What this results in is the card being able to be over clocked higher than the GTX 280.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


What we have is a core at 648MHz (GTX 280: 602MHz), shader clock of 1476MHz (GTX 280: 1296MHz) and the 1GB of GDDR3 carrying a 2484MHz clock (GTX 280: 2214MHz). The aim from NVIDIA was to get an extra 10% performance out of the card. Whether or not this happens, only time will tell.

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 (GTX 280), Forceware 180.87 and 181.20 (GTX 285)


Just as we did with the GTX 295 last week, we tested the card initially with what came on the CD. Once we got some updated drivers we then saw what kind of performance increase they offered. We'll today be comparing the new GTX 285 against the GTX 280 along with ATIs top cards, the HD 4870 and 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.


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Straight away, in our first test we see a nice bump in performance when compared to the GTX 280. The new GTX 285 manages to have no problems against the HD 4870, while it does lag slightly behind the dual GPU behemoth from ATI.

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.


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


PT Boats has always favored NVIDIA cards and we see the GTX 285 is able to beat out the HD 4870 X2 in this case. We also see that compared to the GTX 280 the only real gains are seen at the highest resolution.

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).


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


CINEBENCH tends to lean towards the ATI cards and here we see the GTX 285 fall behind. Compared to the GTX 280, there is no real gain under this test.

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.


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Under WIC we can see a nice boost in performance when compared to the GTX 280. Also, at 2560 x 1600 it's the only single GPU card that's able to break that 30FPS minimum which is great.

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.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


At the lower resolution the GTX 285 performs well against the HD 4870 X2, but as we get to 2560 x 1600 we see both cards perform very similar. Compared to the GTX 280, we also see a small FPS increase which does actually manage to result in around the 10% mark NVIDIA claimed.

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.


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Far Cry 2 has been a big game for NVIDIA and we can see at the highest resolution we're over that 30FPS barrier. Compared to the HD 4870 X2 in the minimum department, there is very little difference. In the average department, though, the X2 is considerably quicker.

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.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Clear Sky does nothing for the NVIDIA cards and while the GTX 285 does give us a boost when compared to the GTX 280, its performance is nothing to write home about.

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.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Under Left 4 Dead we see the GTX 285 offer us that 10% performance increase at the higher resolution which keeps in line with what NVIDIA had hoped for.

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

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Turning on AA and AF, the GTX 285 manages to really power through; we're almost at the 30FPS minimum. Dropping from 8x to 4x should just give us the increase we need, making Far Cry 2 not only look great, but also run well.


World In Conflict

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


We can see again the GTX 285 manages to be just ahead of the dual GPU HD 4870 X2 in the important minimum department. We also again see that 10% performance increase that we've mentioned before.


Left 4 Dead

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


We continue to see that 10% performance increase when compared to the GTX 280, but this time the extra GPU from ATI does come in handy.

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.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Under WIC we continue to see that nice increase in performance when compared to the GTX 280. The increase in speeds actually help us break that important 30 FPS minimum barrier that the GTX 280 just kept missing.

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.


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


XP puts all the single GPU cards quite close together when it comes to performance. It seems that NVIDIA hasn't pulled off the same performance as we see 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.

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Lastly, we see the GTX 285 offer some pretty poor scores under Clear Sky, no thanks to the game really not favoring the green team.

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.


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Due to a shroud not covering the back of the GPU, the temperature looks higher when compared to the GTX 280, but actual readings on the 280 without a shroud are closer to the 70c mark.


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).


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Noise levels don't really bring any surprises with it being a bit louder than the GTX 280 and slightly up on 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.


GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 285 Graphics Card


Thanks to the move to 55nm, power has come down. We can see at idle it draws the least amount of power, while at load it draws less than 10% more than the HD 4870 which is much slower for the most part.

Final Thoughts




The GTX 285 is really nothing more than an over clocked GTX 280 based on 55nm technology. Now, if NVIDIA didn't have a new card like the GTX 295 coming out along side it, this would probably annoy us like the whole 9800 GTX+ release.

The name change this time around isn't really that confusing and not only is the performance increase seen across the board, but the drop in power used along with the move to dual 6-pin PCI E connectors does warrant it.

Upgrading from a GTX 280 to a GTX 285 is pretty much pointless and it's going to be a hard decision to make. If you can get a good price for your GTX 280, the move to a GTX 295 would be nice, thanks to the smaller power draw and extra performance the card offers.

Looking closer at the GIGABYTE card, there isn't a whole lot to say. The package is light, but with most newly released cards this isn't really uncommon. The cooler is standard which is again of no surprise and the clocks are reference. Ultimately, GIGABYTE let the card do the talking and it says "Hello, I'm a cooler and faster GTX 280."

We have a great card here that is going to be a nice upgrade for people with a HD 4870, GTX 260 or anything lower. For the most part it sits behind the HD 4870 X2, but this isn't a surprise thanks to the extra GPU present on the ATI offering.

Ultimately we have a good card here which is great practice for NVIDIA to enter the 55nm market.

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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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