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We can’t take the performance of an engineering-sample board with early drivers as gospel, but the benchmark results have us hungry for shipping product!
Few things piss us off as readily as new architecture that offers only incremental improvements in performance. Fortunately for Nvidia, that’s not the case with the GeForce GTX 280. Assuming the drivers that ship with this card deliver performance as good as these beta versions, Nvidia will have another in what has been a long list of winners on its hands.
The GTX 280 delivered real-world benchmark numbers nearly 50 percent faster than a single GeForce 9800 GTX running on Windows XP, and it was 23-percent faster than that card running on Vista. In fact, it looks as though a single GTX 280 will be comparable to—and in some cases beat—two 9800 GTX cards running in SLI, a fact that explains why Nvidia expects the 9800 GX2 to fade from the scene rather quickly.
We’re especially pleased with the performance delta we observed with Crysis: Even with the resolution at 1920x1200, 4x antialiasing enabled, and all the game’s other quality settings on high, our engineering sample delivered the game at more than 30 frames per second running DirectX 9. Games still run slower on Vista, however; Crysis, for example, shed about eight frames per second running DirectX 10, but it was still twice as fast as a single 9800 GTX. And remember, we tested an engineering sample running on pre-release drivers.
The GTX 280 absolutely clobbered AMD’s dual-GPU Radeon 3870 X2, delivering superior overall benchmarks in both Windows XP and Vista. The one bright spot, oddly enough, was the X2’s Crysis performance in Vista: AMD’s part managed to run the game two frames per second faster than Nvidia’s latest. The single GTX 280, on the other hand, was more than twice as fast running the RTS World in Conflict under Vista.
|Prototype GTX 280||PNY 9800 GTX||PNY 9800 GTX in SLI||MSI Radeon 3870 X2|
|3DMark06 Game 1 (fps)||43.9||31.3||57.6||46.6|
|3DMark06 Game 2 (fps)||38.8||24.8||45.9
|3DMark Vantage: Game 1 (fps)||17.5||8.0||15.3||9.5|
|3DMark Vantage: Game 2 (fps)||14.5||7.7||14.8||9.5|
|Unreal Tournament 3 (fps)||76.5||75.4||81.4||63.6|
|Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts (fps)||47.8||37.5||40.1||41.7|
|World in Conflict (fps)||31.0||19.8||29.0||13.0|
|Best scores are bolded. Nvidia-based cards are tested with an EVGA 680i SLI motherboard; AMD-based cards tested with an INtel D975BX2 motherboard. Intel 2.93GHz Core2 Extreme CPUs and 2GB of Corsair DDR RAM used in both scenarios. Benchmarks performed at 1920x1200 resolution on ViewSonic VP2330wb monitors.|