We're hearing a lot about NVIDIA these days, but unfortunately much of it is pretty negative as well. We're hearing about poor yields on the GT 300, a delayed launch date of the model and also low supply of popular GTX 200 series models.
The worst thing about all the information is most of it seems to be true. Sure, we've got the GT 220 and GT 210 launch, but a lot of people simply find it hard to get excited about these low end models, even though it's NVIDIAs first 40nm card.
The model we continue to see from NVIDIA partners is the GTX 260+; it went through many variations since its launch and for the most part has offered some great performance. Today we see Galaxy launch a new series with the model; the new series is labeled the Razor Edition and we hope that it manages to stand out a bit.
The GTX 260+ from Galaxy is the first NVIDIA based graphics card to get taken through our new benchmark line-up which includes testing under Windows 7. Before we get into those numbers we'll have a look at the package Galaxy has put together and also take a closer look at the card itself.
The overall package doesn't show us anything we haven't really seen before; we've got a bit of information on the front of the box and all the normal cables we're accustomed to seeing. As far as extras go, we can see that Galaxy's own overclocking software Xtreme Tuner is included.
Not sure if you noticed, but on the front of the box Galaxy made mention that the Razor Edition GTX 260+ is a single slot card. This is pretty noticeable when you look at the card, especially across the bottom where we can see the heatsink pops up only slightly.
The thin cooler means we've got a smaller fan sitting on the left side of the setup. In the middle we can see a heap of copper over the core. The overall design is that the small fan pushes cool air to the right over the copper heatsink to help keep the core as cool as possible.
To be honest, though, just looking at the card we find ourselves quite worried. The GTX 260+ has never really been that cool of a card so we hope that the numbers we see here aren't too high. The other issue we're also worried about is the noise, as these small thin fans can pump out quite the dB.
Looking around the card, we have a pretty standard setup. At the back we have our two power connectors which come in the form of two 6-Pin PCI-E connectors. Closer to the front we have our SLI connectors which give us the ability to run up to three of these cards together.
Looking at the connectivity side of things, we've got a Dual-Link DVI connector on the right side of the plate, while moving over we've got a native HDMI port and on the far left we have a S-Video port which is something we've been seeing less and less off lately with all the new HD 5000 cards from ATI and even the higher end GTX 200 series.
Looking at the specifications, there isn't anything that should surprise you. The clocks are all stock which means the core clock comes in at 576MHz and the shader at 1242MHz.
The 896MB of GDDR3 of course gets the same treatment with it coming in at 2000MHz DDR. While 1998MHz DDR is considered stock, it's not unusual for companies to bump it up 2MHz to give us that even sounding 2000MHz DDR clock.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel Core 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 Kingston Hyper X PC3-16000 2000MHz DDR CL9 (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Kingston)
Operating System: Windows 7
Drivers: NVIDIA Forceware 191.07
Like we mentioned in our Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X review, a new testbed means we've got nothing to compare the new cards we test against. So with that said, we've compared the GTX 260+ Razor Edition from Galaxy against another standard GTX 260+.
As far as game numbers go, we won't find anything different with both cards coming in at the same speed. Our main focus will be just seeing how the GTX 260+ Razor Edition from Galaxy performs in our new games and see if the model is still capable of pushing out some good numbers in today's hottest games.
The main numbers we'll be looking at between the two cards is the cooling and temperature numbers. We hope that the Galaxy single slot cooler doesn't cause the card to run too warm. We also hope that the small fan doesn't bring us any worrying noise levels. We'll find this all out and more in our benchmarks as we push on and wind things up.
Let's get started!
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.
We see the GTX 260+ offers some good numbers under Vantage. Over 11000 in the P preset is nothing to sneeze at, nor is a score of over 4500 at the X one.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark (DX10 & DX11)
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/products/unigine
New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.
Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out. If it does it will be included along with the DirectX 10 results.
Both GTX 260+ cards perform close to each other, which isn't a surprise. As we've only just added this benchmark to our line-up, it's a little hard to determine ultimately how good these results are this early on.
Benchmarks - 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).
That typical mid 6000 score under CINEBENCH with our NVIDIA cards; this is a pretty standard score we see from NVIDIA and moving to Windows 7 doesn't effect the performance here.
Benchmarks - Badaboom
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 184.108.40.206
Developer Homepage: http://www.nvidia.com//
Product Homepage: http://www.badaboomit.com/
Badaboom eliminates the frustration of video conversion by providing users with speed, efficiency, quality, and a sleek interface. In a practice that used to take several hours, Badaboom converts feature-length movies in a matter of minutes while keeping the videos looking crisp and clear.
By harnessing the power of NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs, Badaboom offloads the CPU to allow users to continue browsing the Internet or checking email without decreased system performance, making transcoding high-quality video fast, easy, and painless.
Note: With the requirement for a CUDA enabled graphics card to run Badaboom, this means that we can only use NVIDIA based cards for this test.
We convert an AVI version of The Lion King that comes in at 851MB to a 2500kbps 1.4GB MP4 for the iPhone. While we understand that the MP4 version of the file is bigger, we've chosen the maximum bit rate simply to put the most amount of pressure on the cards we test.
Having a look at one of our new NVIDIA exclusive benchmarks, we see the GTX 260 is able to convert our 851MB AVI file to a more iPhone friendly MP4 format in around the 7 min 40 second mark.
Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5
Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com
Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
With no minimum being seen, we want to get an average of around 60 FPS. We can see that the GTX 260+ does a good job of achieving this at all resolutions including the ultra high 2560 x 1600.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.03
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.
The GTX 260+ continues to perform strong. While the card does fall behind at 2560 x 1600, we can see that at 1920 x 1200 we're a good 5 FPS over that 30 FPS minimum we need for a decent gaming experience.
Benchmarks - World in Conflict
World in Conflict
Version and / or Patch Used: 220.127.116.11
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).
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 that is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards. We use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
World in Conflict isn't really loving the GTX 260+; the cards perform below 30 FPS at all resolutions which is a bit disappointing. Upon moving the detail down, we won't have any trouble getting a smooth experience at 1680 x 1050. Moving any higher up the resolution table, though, might be a little harder and will require a more significant drop in detail.
Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.rocksteadyltd.com
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com
Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.
Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.
Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, while ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.
Across the board we can see the GTX 260+ perform strong at all resolutions with PhsyX turned off.
Turning PhysX on paints a bit of a different picture, with a lot more load being placed on the card we can see that the cards struggle to get 30 FPS at the lowest resolution. In a situation like this we would ultimately suggest turning PhysX off if you want to game at a higher resolution.
Benchmarks - Darkest of Days
Darkest of Days
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.phantomefx.com
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com
Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.
The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.
Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High, Darkest of Days takes advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, while NVIDIA based cards will be tested at Low and High.
PhysX set to High
With PhysX running the GTX 260+ is put under a lot of pressure. With no minimum given we want to see an average of around 60 FPS and unfortunately we're not really anywhere near that.
Benchmarks - BattleForge
Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ea.com
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com
The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.
But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.
Note: Supporting DirectX 11, we have separated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared, you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.
DirectX 10 (NVIDIA and Older ATI Cards Only)
Looking at the numbers here, we're probably not going to run into any trouble playing at 1680 x 1050, but any higher and we're going to want to drop the detail.
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.
Resident Evil 5
With the detail cranked right up we can see that the GTX 260+ is running into a bit of trouble here.
Far Cry 2
We again see with the detail cranked right up the GTX 260+ does struggle to hit that 30 FPS minimum we want to see.
World In Conflict
Nothing different to our tests above; the GTX 260+ is better aimed for 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. 2560 x 1600 isn't the best choice and cranking up the detail does nothing for the numbers.
Temperature and Sound 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.
This is what we've been waiting for all along. Now, what we need to pay attention to here is that the standard GTX 260+ has a shroud covering the back which is going to bump a few degrees off the stock model. So with that said, the numbers we're getting from the Razor Edition which is getting a temperature directly off the PCB is very impressive considering its single slot design.
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).
One of the most important tests with a card like this has to be the sound one; we said the small fan was a concern for us. But as you can see, getting a reading from above the cooler shows a good job, giving us numbers similar to the stock 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.
Power draw between the two cards are pretty similar with nothing to really worry about in both the idle and load areas.
While the GTX 260+ might be feeling a bit long in the tooth for us, the model continues to give us some excellent numbers in today's games. Sure, we're not seeing the big numbers at 2560 x 1600, but really that doesn't come as too much of a surprise due to the age of the model.
Getting a bit more specific about the Galaxy version, the model is great and the new Razor Series which refers to single slot coolers should bring with it some exciting variations on popular models. The last decent performing single slot card we saw was the HD 4850 and the heat that model was putting out was so worrying that most ATI partners opted for a dual-slot solution. What we can see here is that Galaxy is able to half the width of the card with the temperature and noise numbers being surprisingly good.
As far as the bundle goes, there isn't anything too exciting on offer. The front of the box does mention that the 3D Vision Discover glasses are included in the bundle, but our sample unfortunately didn't come with it. These are 3D Glasses that let you try out the 3D Vision technology that NVIDIA offers. If you liked it you could buy a 3D Vision enabled monitor along with the 3D Vision kit. Without the glasses we didn't get a chance to see how it looks, but we do have a 3D Vision kit in the lab just waiting for a capable monitor which is due in the next week or two.
The hero of the card is the cooler and it's great to see that it deserves that title. In all seriousness, with the numbers we're seeing from the cooler we were a bit surprised that Galaxy didn't choose to bump the core and memory clock slightly, but this can of course be done yourself anyway.
Single slot cards really have their place in the market, especially higher end ones with native HDMI. Be it for a home theater system with a small case or a system where the slot next to your video card is needed, there's people who are going to want this model.
It's good to see Galaxy is attacking the popular GTX 260+ again with something different. If you're after a decent performing single slot card, you really can't go wrong with this model here. On the other hand, if you're looking for more gaming performance maybe the dual slot OC model we've looked at in the past from Galaxy would be a better option.
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