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Review: NVIDIA ForceWare 180: GeForce GTX 260 performance realised?

by Parm Mann on 25 November 2008, 10:52


Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaqab

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System setup and notes


Readers will be interested to know that NVIDIA has quietly dropped the asking price of its 216-core GeForce GTX 260 over the past few weeks. Today, the card can be ordered from the likes of Scan.co.uk for around £200, and we'll therefore be pitting it against a direct competitor - AMD's Radeon HD 4870 1GB, available for a touch over £200.

The question is, for a user seeking to spend £200 on a graphics card, do NVIDIA's new drivers create a discernible performance difference that'll sway our HEXUS.bang4buck rating? We'll be pitting them against one another and we'll throw in GeForce GTX 260 results when using ForceWare 177.79 for good measure.


Graphics cards AMD Radeon HD 4870 (1GB) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 (896MB, 216 cores, ForceWare 180.48) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 (896MB, 216 cores, ForceWare 177.79)
Current pricing, including VAT £211 £193 £193
Shader model 4.1 4.0 4.0
Stream processors 800 216 216
GPU(s) clock speed (MHz) 750 576 576
Shader clock speed (MHz) 750 1,242 1,242
Memory clock speed, effective (MHz) 3,600 1,998 1,998
Memory bus width (Bits) 256 448 448
CPU Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 LGA775 (3.0GHz, 12MB L2 cache, quad-core)
Motherboard MSI X48 Platinum (X48+ICH9R) EVGA CK-132 NF79 (nForce 790i Ultra SLI)
Motherboard BIOS v2.3 (07/07/2008) P06
Mainboard software Intel Inf nForce 15.17
Memory 4GB (2x 2GB) Corsair XMS3 DMX DDR3-1333
Memory timings and speed 9-9-9-24 1T @ 1,333MHz
PSU Cooler Master Real Power Pro 1,000W GIGABYTE Odin GT 800W
Monitor Dell 30in 3007WFP - 2,560x1,600
Disk drive(s) Seagate 500GB - 32MB cache - SATAII (ST3500320AS)
Graphics driver Catalyst 8.11 ForceWare 180.48 ForceWare 177.79
Operating system Windows Vista Business SP1, 64-bit


3D Benchmarks 3DMark Vantage b1.0.2 - default performance test
Company Of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
v2.301: DX10 - ultra quality
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.5 (demo_00010.dem, map Valley): OpenGL - vhq
GRID v1.2 - custom-recorded benchmark - ultra quality
Call Of Duty 4
v1.7.568 custom HEX benchmark: DX10 - highest quality


Real-world gaming benchmarks were run at 1,680x1,050, 1,920x1,200 and 2,560x1,600, although the highest resolution wasn't run with Race Driver: GRID due to substantial slowdowns in the game, leading to inconsistent and unrepeatable results via our FRAPS-recording method. We've also added in decent amounts of image quality, too.