Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card

NVIDIA expands the GTX 200 series to compete with the new ATI Radeon HD 4890 from AMD. How does the new GeForce GTX 275 go? - We find out today.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sun, Apr 5 2009 9:53 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Gainward

Introduction


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card



It's been a while since we've had one of those horrible launches, but it doesn't come as a surprise that NVIDIA are the first to have one after all this time. Over the past two weeks there's been a war between NVIDIA and AMD in regards to NDA times on the HD 4890 and GTX 275 graphics cards.

I've had HD 4890 samples coming in for a few weeks now. With that said, I chose not to test the card straight away, because as we draw closer to NDA we see new drivers come out. What ended up happening, however, is that we saw the NDA change for these cards a few times. The HD 4890 was originally set to release two days before the GTX 275; ATI then put the pedal down some more and it was released almost a week early.

In response to this, NVIDIA pulled their NDA forward to the day after the HD 4890's new launch. While this was all happening, HD 4890 samples were in hand but GTX 275 ones hadn't shipped yet; not just for me, but most writers around the world. Three days before the NDA was up on the GTX 275, three companies confirmed that NVIDIA made a last minute change to the memory clock and decided to drop it, hence the delay for samples. Apart from a few reference cards, this was going to be a paper launch, which was something that we had not become accustomed to seeing.

Finally, with the GTX 275 now in hand, let's take the time to see exactly what's going on with it. But before we look at its performance up against other NVIDIA cards and the HD 4890, let's see what Gainward has done with the package for this particular offering.

The Package




Looking at the package, we don't see anything too different here. We've seen Gainward use this design for a bit now. Across the top of the box we can clearly see the brand while moving down we can see a number of NVIDIA logos along with the mention of 3DMark Vantage.

Gainward GTX 275 Graphics Card


Across the bottom we can see the model, which is of course the GTX 275. We can see it packs 896MB of GDDR3 memory and some of the main features are mentioned like DX10, Dual DVI and more.

Gainward GTX 275 Graphics Card


Turning the box over, we have a bit more information on the features and technology that is implemented into the card. Also taking up a large portion of the box is some information in regards to SLI and Tri SLI along with what's exactly needed to get it up and running.

Gainward GTX 275 Graphics Card


Opening up the package and diving inside, we can see the manual and driver CD which also includes Expert Tool, a piece of software that is for Gainward users which lets you overclock. We also have a note that gives us a bit of information and a key for 3DMark Vantage. If you choose to download it, you can make full use of the program thanks to the included key.

Gainward GTX 275 Graphics Card


Left to right in the cable department, we have a dual molex to 6-pin PCI-E connector, S/PDIF loopback cable, component / RCA-out dongle, DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI connector.

The Card




Shifting our attention toward the card itself, we can see that we're not looking at a reference design here. Gainward has opted for the dual fan cooler that we've seen on a few cards from them now. It manages to take up the whole card, not letting us see a whole lot of anything else.

Gainward GTX 275 Graphics Card


Looking closely behind the fans, we can see the heat pipes, aluminum fins along with some signs of copper. This is a really nice cooler that has proved to perform well in the past and hopefully it continues to do a good job on the GTX 275.

Gainward GTX 275 Graphics Card


Going for a quick spin around the card, there isn't anything that you wouldn't expect to see on a GTX 200 series graphics card from NVIDIA. At the back of the card we have two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors that are needed to power it. We also have another connector; here is where the S/PDIF loopback cable is connected and in conjunction with the DVI to HDMI connector you can get not only video, but audio through the graphics card.

Gainward GTX 275 Graphics Card


Closer toward the front of the card, we have two SLI connectors which gives us the ability to run up to three of these bad boys together. While we won't be making use of them today, they're something we certainly intend to make use of at a later date.

Gainward GTX 275 Graphics Card


In the I/O department we can see two Dual-Link DVI connectors along with our standard TV-Out port. Above this we have some vents that let the hot air escape. I have to admit it was a bit surprising to see that no HDMI was included natively, since we've seen more and more NVIDIA cards offer this over the past few months. However, this isn't a huge deal with the connector included in the package that has the ability to carry sound.


Specifications

Below we can clearly see the numbers; 633MHz core clock, 2268MHz DDR memory clock on the 896MB of GDDR3 utilizing a 448-bit bus and a 1404MHz shader clock. How's this compare to the other NVIDIA offerings? - Compared to the GTX 285, there's not a whole lot as far as MHz goes with that card utilizing a 648 / 2484 DDR / 1476 MHz setup. Where the GTX 285 does have the jump on the GTX 275, however, is a 512-bit memory bus. It also carries 1GB of GDDR3, but this isn't a huge deal. Compared to the GTX 260, both cards carry the same amount of memory and bus width, but the clocks are a fair bit lower on the 260 with a 576 / 1998 DDR / 1242MHz setup.

Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


How's this compare to the HD 4890, though? - Stream processors are a big one; 800 on the HD 4890 compared to 240 on the GTX 275. ATI clearly have it there, but in the bus width department ATI use a 256-bit bus against the 448-bit. Of course, in the memory clock department it's all over the place, thanks to GDDR4 the HD 4890 having a 3900MHz QDR clock.

Both cards utilize a 55nm GPU and both are priced at the around the same point. One will be cheaper than the other, though, as a price war begins between manufacturers; not good for them, but good for the consumer who gets a better bang for buck at the end of the day.

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 9.2, Catalyst 8.14.10.0647 (HD 4890), ForceWare 185.65


With this being our first GTX 275 review, we've compared it to a number of cards today. We see where the GTX 275 sits between its big and little brother, the GTX 285 and GTX 260. We also compare the card against what it's supposed to go up against, the HD 4890.


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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


No surprise here with the NVIDIA offerings coming out way ahead, this thanks to the PhysX implementation in Vantage.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card



PT Boats has always shined for NVIDIA offerings and here is no different. We see the GTX 275 win across the board when compared to the HD 4890. Compared to the other NVIDIA offerings, we see the card sitting exactly where you would expect; smack bang in the middle between the two.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


CINEBENCH has always gone to the ATI offerings and here is the same with the HD 4890 coming out ahead. The GTX 275, however, doesn't sit too far behind with it in line with the other NVIDA offerings.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


In the important minimum department we see the GTX 275 get a win at the higher resolutions. At 2560 x 1600 we can see that it's a good chunk faster with it being almost playable. A small drop in detail is all we need to be able to play at 2560 x 1600.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Again the GTX 275 manages to perform well and against the other NVIDIA cards it sits between them as it should.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


We don't see anything too different here to what we've seen all along. The GTX 275 performs between the other NVIDIA offerings and at the higher resolutions it's better than the HD 4890. What's particularly interesting and also fantastic here is that the GTX 275 is able to break that magic 30 FPS minimum at 2560 x 1600, which is a massive 6 FPS better than the HD 4890 and also the difference between the game being playable and not at this resolution and settings.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Clear Sky, as you would expect, goes to the red team. As we have come to expect, though, the GTX 275 sits between the two other NVIDIA cards.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Both the HD 4890 and GTX 275 perform quite similar here, even at the higher resolution. 2560 x 1600 isn't going to be a problem for either card here.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


NVIDIA has always performed significantly better than ATI under this setup; no difference here and again we see the card sit between the GTX 260 and GTX 285, as you would expect.


World In Conflict

Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


The GTX 275 manages to get another leg up on the HD 4890 here with it being only 2 FPS from that needed 30 FPS minimum.


Left 4 Dead

Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


ATI manage to pull out a slight win here.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Above a 30 FPS minimum at 2560 x 1600 shows the extra power on offer here from the green team.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


At the highest resolution we see the GTX 275 pull out a win, while below that the HD 4890 has it. The thing about this, though, is we only need 2 FPS to get over 30 FPS and a small detail drop will get us this. The HD 4890 on the other hand needs 4 FPS; a greater detail drop is going to be needed.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


Again we see the GTX 275 sit between the other two NVIDIA offerings and compared to the HD 4890 it lags under this test; no surprise, though, as we've mentioned today and so many times before, this game does heavily favor the ATI offerings.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


The cooler seems to do a good job with temps on the GTX 275 falling to similar levels as that of the GTX 260, which puts us at almost 11c cooler than the HD 4890.


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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


The nice temperatures do come at a noise cost with the card being the loudest NVIDIA one. It still manages to be quieter then the HD 4890, however.

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 GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card


At idle we can see the GTX 275 sits a good chunk below the HD 4890. In the load area, though, we can see there's really nothing between them.

Final Thoughts




Did NVIDIA need to release this card? - Yes and no. They ultimately needed something that sits in the same price range as the HD 4890. Having a look online at the real pricing of these cards, we can see that the HD 4890 does come in cheaper than the GTX 275.

The GTX 275, however, is really consistently faster, so does this mean it would be the better choice? - Well, honestly, not really. If you want to game at 2560 x 1600 the GTX 275 is just able to cut it for the most part, but if you've got a monitor that can handle this resolution then hopefully you have the bank account to accommodate a higher end card like the GTX 285 or GTX 295.

At 1920 x 1200 both cards are pretty playable in most games, so why spend the extra money buying a GTX 275? - The main reason is that you can run your games with slightly more detail.

At the end of the day, the HD 4890 is, for the most part, slightly slower at playable resolutions and slightly cheaper. What we have are two cards that ultimately represent the same value for money. If you can spend a bit more and want a bit more performance which will let you have slightly more detail at 1920 x 1200, then the GTX 275 is a good choice. Slightly less detail, cheaper but still playable at 1920 x 1200; the HD 4890 is the better choice.

What we would have preferred to see is NVIDIA drop the pricing on the GTX 285 to combat the HD 4890 instead of offering another new model. What it all comes down to, though, is we have a nice card here and Gainward has mixed it up a bit with the cooler. Now we need some OC models to see what the card is really capable of. There's no reason why when overclocked it won't be able to take down a stock GTX 285.

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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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