ASUS EN GTX295 review
Author: Luka Rakamaric
Date: 06 Apr 2009
When ATI released its Radeon HD 4870X2, it temporarily took the flagship position from NVIDIA’s GTX 280. Dual chip cards have been present on the market for quite some time now, like ATI’s Rage Fury MAXX in 1999 or Gigabyte’s dual 6600GT card. However, it was NVIDIA who first launched 7900GX2 and 7950GX2 cards with a feature that they have kept since then, the dual PCB. And while 7950GX2 was hampered with not so great driver support and inadequate cooling, the 9800GX2 rectified the cooling problem with an innovative positioning of the second PCB. The chips now faced each other, so only one double sided cooler was necessary. The GTX 295 is only an evolution of that design, with the only practical difference being the next generation of GPUs.
The GeForce GTX 295 is based on a weird combination of GTX 260 and 285 cards. The GPUs have the shader count (240) and production process (55nm) of a GTX 285, but they use the frame buffer size (896 MB) and clocks (576/1242 MHz) of the GTX 260. The GPU has seven ROP partitions, totaling up to 28 ROP units, and each partition is connected to 128 MB of 999 MHz GDDR3 memory, totaling to 896 MB. Now take all of these numbers, and multiply it by two, as there are two PCBs with those elements on board. They are connected via a form of internal SLI. In times where ATI’s products use GDDR5, the choice of GDDR3 might seem weird, but NVIDIA’s GTX 200 series of chips has a 512 bit memory bus, versus the 256 bit on ATI’s side. It is more expensive, but there isn’t the need for GDDR5 memory as equal performance can be achieved. But in case you are wondering, the GTX 200 does not even support it so memory choice is a no brainer.
The cooling solution of such a card is always a big part of the card’s success of failure. NVIDIA did an excellent job on the 9800GX2, probably still under the impression of the 7950GX2 failure. The cooling on the GTX 295 is just an evolution of that design, with a bit more efficiency. The one thing we didn’t like is that the card now seems to pump more hot air into the chassis than before. But with a combined load power consumption of 290 watts, the heat has to go somewhere. The black finish of the card has a rubbery feeling to it, much nicer than the previous polishy one which tended to get greased and dirty.
Since the GTX 200 technology has been on the market for some time now, we won’t go into the details of the design, for that you can check our original article and GTX285 review.
We used our usual test setup:
- Intel Core 2 Quad QX9650
- ASUS Striker II Extreme 790i SLI
- OCZ PC3-16000 2x2 GB
- Western Digital RaptorX 150GB
- PC Power & Cooling Turbo Cool 1KW-SR
- HP LP3065 LCD
Let's see our testing results.