Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 review

£324
Price when reviewed

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Nvidia. The California-based GPU producer has released two new high-end products that aim to take back the performance crown from ATI’s market-leading line-up.

The high-end GTX 295 was one of the quickest cards we’d ever seen, but suffered from a high price. The GTX 285 is a cheaper, single-chip card – a 55nm shrink of the GT200 core that powered the GTX 280.

Clock speeds are even faster than the original GTX 280: the core clock is up from 602MHz to 648MHz, the shader clock is tweaked up to 1,476MHz from 1,296MHz, and memory is now clocked at an effective speed of 1,242MHz instead of 1,107MHz. So the GTX 285 should trump ATI’s fastest single-chip offering, the Radeon HD 4870 for pure speed – if not on price.

On-board memory remains at a respectable 1GB of GDDR3 – it’s rumoured that GDDR5 memory will finally arrive on Nvidia cards towards the end of 2009.

In our tests the GTX 285 gave a healthy performance boost over the old GTX 280. Though our Crysis benchmark showed little difference at lower resolutions, the 285 came into its own at the extreme resolutions for which it will surely be bought.

In our 1,600 x 1,200, very-high quality test, the GTX 285 managed a playable 30fps, a 25% improvement over the original card’s 24fps.

Call of Juarez saw a jump in performance too, with our high-quality result rising from 36fps to 39fps, with the very-high quality test up from 18fps to 20fps.

This is far quicker than ATI’s best single-GPU offering – the Radeon HD 4870 managed just 22fps in our high-quality Crysis benchmark – but then the GTX 285 is a much more expensive card. At ?266 it competes with ATI’s dual-GPU cards, the 4850 and 4870 X2, which we’ve found for ?230 and ?295 respectively.

And in our benchmarks its performance against these cards was lacking. In our 1,920 x 1,200, very-high benchmark, the GTX 285 ran at 27fps: the HD 4850 X2 managed 30fps, with the HD 4870 X2 improving this figure to 35fps.

In our high-end Call of Juarez test the 20fps score of the Nvidia card at 1,920 x 1,200 and maximum-settings was easily bettered by both ATI cards, which hit 30fps and 38fps respectively.

In the face of this performance, it’s difficult to recommend the GTX 295 over the cheaper and faster Radeon HD 4850 X2. If you’re determined to fall on the green side of the fence, then the GTX 285 is the fastest single-chip card in Nvidia’s current line-up.

But if you’re simply looking for the best performance the HD 4850 X2 is both faster and cheaper, while the HD 4870 X2 is quicker still and costs only £29 more. Either way, when it comes to value, Nvidia’s latest still can’t compete.

Core Specifications

Graphics card interface PCI Express
Cooling type Active
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 285
Core GPU frequency 648MHz
RAM capacity 1,024MB
Memory type GDDR3

Standards and compatibility

DirectX version support 10.0

Connectors

DVI-I outputs 2
DVI-D outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
Graphics card power connectors 2 x 6-pin

Benchmarks

3D performance (crysis) low settings 30fps

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