Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 review

£350
Price when reviewed

It’s clear that Nvidia needs something special to reverse its ailing fortunes. Ever since ATI’s mightily impressive Radeon HD 4000 cards waded into the market Nvidia has been on the back foot, consistently releasing cards that aren’t quite quick enough and just a tad too expensive.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 review

This latest release, the GeForce GTX 295, heralds a significant change in Nvidia’s high-end graphics cards – it’s the first GTX part built from the ground up on a 55nm die.

This is the same size of die that has been used by ATI for its entire Radeon HD 4000 series of cards, including the Radeon HD 4870 X2 – the fastest card we’ve ever seen.

The GTX 295 is a dual-GPU part, much like the older GeForce 9800 GX2, with two GTX 260 cores crammed onto a pair of PCBs. The card’s core clock speed stays at 576MHz, and there’s a double helping of 896MB GDDR3 RAM.

Physically, the card is one of the largest and heaviest we’ve ever seen: its 275mm long, double-height and tips the scales at a positively porcine 1.21kg.

As well as two DVI-I ports, the card houses an HDMI socket (our BFG sample card included a 6ft HDMI cable, too) and a couple of status lights.

One of these indicates the correct output to use in an SLI arrangement and another glows green to indicate if the card is getting enough power.

In our Crysis tests, the latest GeForce delivered astonishing results. Our low, medium and high tests were dispatched with ease – hitting 134fps, 81fps and 62fps respectively.

In our very high quality test, run at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200, the GTX 295 managed 39fps, compared to 35fps from the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2.

Impressive Crysis performance continued at higher resolutions. The GTX 295 maintained 39fps at 2,058 x 1,536, and only began to judder at 25fps when we upped the resolution to 2,560 x 1,600. Clearly this card is capable of gaming at the optimum levels of quality and on the largest of monitors.

Call of Juarez performance was less clear-cut. While still delivering excellent results, the GTX 295 was slower than ATI’s quickest dual-GPU offering. In our highest-quality test at 1,920 x 1,200, the Nvidia card could only manage 31fps compared to the 38fps of the HD 4870 X2.

There are a couple of caveats, however. The usual high-end graphics card demons of noise and heat rear their ugly heads: the GTX 295 is one of the loudest cards we’ve heard recently.

Unless your chassis has some form of noise damping, your ears will be assaulted by an irritating whirring. We also found the card ran extremely hot – approaching 70 degrees Celsius when running at full blast.

The other major drawback of the GTX 295 is one common to other recent Nvidia cards – the price. While keen gamers can pick up an HD 4870 X2 for around ?317 exc VAT, acquiring the GTX 295 will set you back at least ?350.

It may be one of the fastest cards on the market, then, but there’s not enough clear ground between this and its ATI rival to make it worth the extra cash. Only the most desperate of framerate junkies need apply.

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