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So just how fast is NVIDIA's Fermi graphics card? We find out.

by Tarinder Sandhu on 19 January 2010, 16:56


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The promise

* The Fermi and GTX 285 numbers were provided by NVIDIA, in NVIDIA-controlled conditions, at an event in Las Vegas*

NVIDIA divulged further details on its upcoming DX11 'Fermi' GF100 GPU architecture during an event held just after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Providing the meat on the bones that were laid out back in October 2009, NVIDIA is set to deliver Fermi at the start of March 2010, according to senior representatives present.

What NVIDIA kept close to its chest were the finer details that would, once released, define performance. There was no mention of clock-speed, frame-buffer sizes, heat, power, or, well, any real performance metric that could be inferred by looking at the architecture.

Towards the end of the day-long presentations, however, the graphics goliath took time out to compare a Fermi GF100 card against the fastest single-GPU card that's currently available from the green stable, the GeForce GTX 285.

Again, we repeat that no mention was made of Fermi clock-speeds, but it would be sensible to imagine that NVIDIA wanted to create a good impression and therefore had a well-screened, high-frequency card in the box.

As an update, an NVIDIA spokesperson contacted us and said that 'Well, all I can say is that it was not final and not running final clocks. Final perf will be higher'.

Anyway, here's the Far Cry 2 result from a GeForce GTX 285.

GeForce GTX 285 - click to enlarge

What you see here is that the built-in DX10 benchmark was run at 1,920x1,200 at the ultra-high-quality preset and with 4x AA. The GeForce GTX 285 returns an average frame-rate of 50.32fps with a maximum of 73.13fps and minimum of 38.4fps. In short, it provides playable settings with lots of eye candy.


NVIDIA wanted to demonstrate that it had made significant performance improvements from one generation to another. The GF100 card was concurrently run through the same test and produced the following result's page:

NVIDIA pre-production Fermi - click to enlarge

Take a closer look at the picture and you will be able to confirm that the settings are the same as the GTX 285's. Here, though, the Fermi card returns an average frame-rate of 84.05fps with a maximum of 126.20fps and a minimum of 64.6fps. The minimum frame-rate is higher than the GTX 285's average, and the 67 per cent increase in average frame-rate is significant.

So Fermi is faster than GTX 285, that's of no surprise, right? How about quickly comparing it to the fastest single-GPU card from the competition, the Radeon HD 5870 1,024MB, and the current best of 'em all, Radeon HD 5970?