Final thoughts and rating
NVIDIA set out to win back the single-card performance crown and has undoubtedly succeeded. Despite openly admitting that "many enthusiasts would appreciate the ability to purchase a powerful single-GPU card", it appears the only way for NVIDIA to topple AMD's 4870 X2 is with a tag-team card of its own.
The cynics - and, admittedly, myself included - will argue that stitching two powerful cards together via internal SLI isn't the most graceful means of achieving performance supremecy. But, who cares? When the goal is framerate domination - and the internal SLI jiggery pokery goes unnoticed - it needn't matter how the huge amount of performace is delivered.
As expected, it's now AMD's turn to attempt to scupper NVIDIA's product launch and it's doing so by conveniantly lowering the asking price of the Radeon HD 4870 X2 - it's now available in Europe at a cost of €369 (approximately £330). At around £70 less than NVIDIA's offering, it's still a very tasty prospect, and for the consumer, a price war at the ultra-high-end can only be a good thing.
Irrespective of AMD pricecuts, and to NVIDIA's credit, the GeForce GTX 295's architectural efficiency manages to beat out the Radeon HD 4870 X2 in two of the other key non-performance areas - the card is significantly cooler and consumes far less power. All this whilst keeping relatively quiet, too.
There's also a small matter of parrel compute power. Armed with a total 480 stream processors, this is a card that's tailored to make the best of PhysX and CUDA technologies. NVIDIA claims "2009 will be a remarkable year for PhysX gaming", and highlighting the fact that pixel rendering isn't the be-all-end-all, it promises to work with major game developers to deliver "great SLI scaling on all major titles before or on the day of launch".
At present, CUDA and PhysX remain nonessential technologies, but considering that the GeForce GTX 295 offers the fastest single-card performance of today and the GPGPU promise of tomorrow, it's quite the prospect for the user who demands the best.
Nonetheless, the GeForce GTX 295's target market is a small one, and the enthusiast looking to pick one up is likely to find £400 a small price to pay for what is the fastest single-card graphics solution available on the market today.
For those who prefer to stick with single-GPU solutions, there's the GeForce GTX 285...
The fastest single graphics card in the world
Architectural efficiency results in decent temperatures and lower-than-expected power draw
Comes complete with framerate bragging rights
The not so good
Premium price, the world's fastest never comes cheap, this one costs more than a PlayStation 3
Bundle doesn't include any games
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NVIDIA (BFG) GeForce GTX 295
NVIDIA set out to win back the crown of "fastest single graphics card in the world", and it has. They don't come any quicker than this.
NVIDIA (BFG) GeForce GTX 295
The BFG GeForce GTX 295 1,792MB can be purchased from Scan.co.uk at a cost of £459.17.
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