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Maximum PC Staff Jun 29, 2009

BFG GeForce GTX 295

At A Glance

Mobo

The fastest card you can put in a PCI-E slot. Two GPUs really are better than one.

Mofo

Only 896MB of effective frame buffer. Hot and doesn't exhaust well.

With speed to burn, this dual-GPU videocard delivers SLI in a single PCI-E slot

Just in case you missed our review of the new GTX 295 reference board last month, we’ll revisit the high points. To make a GeForce GTX 295, Nvidia sandwiched a fairly large heatsink between a pair of boards—that’s one kick-ass sandwich!

The GTX 295’s GPUs are basically modified GTX 280 GPUs. They’ve got the same shader core configuration as the GTX 280, but Nvidia shrunk the chip’s die from 65nm to 55nm, and lowered the core clock speed to 576MHz (the same as the GTX 260). These two adjustments help keep power requirements and heat generation under control, while the full complement of 240 shader cores keeps the frame rate up in shader-limited benchmarks, such as Crysis and Far Cry 2.

The GTX 295’s memory configuration is also similar to the GTX 260’s. Each GPU is paired with 896MB of GDDR3 clocked at 999MHz, connected to the GPU by a 448-bit bus. Where ATI increases memory bandwidth on the 4870 family of cards by using quad-pumped GDDR5 memory, Nvidia is still using double-pumped RAM with a wider bus. The upshot is that the 4870 X2 has a tiny memory-bandwidth edge. In reality, it’s probably not something you’d ever notice.

The performance story hasn’t changed much from our last review, despite new driver revisions from both ATI and Nvidia. Even in shader-limited tests that typically favor ATI’s massive array of 800 shader processors (Crysis and 3DMark Vantage), the GTX 295 managed to outpace ATI’s fastest. Indeed, the BFG card laid down the smack in every single benchmark we test, a rare feat.

This card fits into a single PCI Express slot, but it will cover the adjoining slot, as well. It requires both 6-pin and 8-pin PCI-E power connectors and a decent 680W power supply to run. BFG equipped its board with a pair of dual-link DVI connectors and a single HDMI output.

It’s fast, it’s beautiful. ‘Nuff said.

Benchmarks

BFG GeForce GTX 295
ATI Radeon 4870 X2 (Diamond)
Driver Version
181.22
9.1
Crysis 4x AA/Very High (fps)
30.4
29.7
Crysis no AA/Very High (fps)
37
31.5
Call of Duty (fps)
115.9
105.5
Vantage Game 1 (fps) 28.95
23.91
Vantage Game 2 (fps)
21.87 19.36
Far Cry HQ, 1920x1200, no physics, no AI (fps)
80.26 69.14
Far Cry HQ, 1680x1050, no physics, no AI 86.42 73.1
Best scores are bolded. Benchmarks are run on an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9770 Extreme, with 4GB of memory running Windows Vista. Crysis and 3DMark Vantage are run at 1920x1200 with 4x AA and 8x anisotropic filtering, unless otherwise noted. Call of Duty is run at 2560x1600.
THE VERDICT

BFG GeForce GTX 295

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