|ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix GeForce GTX 260 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 14 May 2009|
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ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix Conclusion
The presentation of the ENGTX260 Matrix was well above average, not surprising for an item in one of their premium product lines. The retail box design is fairly subtle, no strange looking humanoids, just some medieval metalwork set off against a matte black background. The front panel swings open to reveal a double-wide inner panel that showcases some of the significant features, including the supplied software, iTracker and GamerOSD. The inner packaging is a series of black, folded cardboard modules, the largest one with a polyethylene insert, a static dissipative bag and the card itself. The smaller ones hold the manuals, CDs, adapters and cables.
The appearance of the product itself is a mix of function and styling. Unlike the boxy versions of the GTX260 cards that first appeared, the ASUS ENGTX260 only covers up what needs to be covered in order to make the cooling system function. There are some definite downsides to this approach, mainly the recycling of heat generated by the GPU into the case. However, if you've got a case that has enough airflow in the right direction and locations, you may not be affected. The glossy black fan shroud and dark PCB set off the silver of the heat sink fins nicely, and there is no denying the pleasing aesthetics of the circular style of HSF. The fine and regular spacing of the fins, as they approach the center of the assembly echoes bespoke manufacturing at its best.
The build quality of the product is well above average, especially the assembly of the PCB with its hundreds of components, all precisely positioned and soldered. You do see some variability in this from different suppliers; it's not a given. In addition all the components and materials are first rate.
What more can be said about the performance of a GTX260-216? The ASUS performs like a reference design when first plugged in. After that, fire up the supplied iTracker software and overclock it to your heart's content. Feel free to max out both the fans; they're quiet enough to run at full speed, unlike some of the radial blowers found on the boxy units. When you're done gaming, two-three clicks later, you can throttle it back down to power-save mode and sleep easy knowing that you aren't wasting excess energy, heating up the planet with unused clock cycles.
The ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix is not currently listed for sale in the US... yet. The only place it shows up is on the ASUS Global sight right now, so it's difficult to measure value for this product. There is a wide price range for GTX260-based video cards; Newegg lists them from $169.99 to $264.99, all of them 896MB versions with 216 shader cores. Of course the highest price models are factory overclocked on the order of 675MHz-GPU Core and 2300MHz-RAM. For the end-user's sake, let's hope these vendor supply the higher spec memory chips on those cards.
The ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix occupies the middle ground of enthusiast video cards. It's not going to be the cheapest, and it's not going to be the fastest. There are GTX260 cards out there with 1.8GB of memory, and if you want to get massive about overclocking the GPU, an extreme cooler or liquid cooling is a must. But unless you really feel the need to roll your own, there are more cost effective ways of getting higher performance. Benchmark Reviews is filled with reviews of newer, faster variants of the NVIDIA 200 series, and the latest from ATI if that's your preference. For a price point (TBD) though, the GTX260 acquits itself quite well, and this card from ASUS is certainly a well built example of the breed.
Certain applications, such as FOH, thrive on this platform, so it may be the absolute best choice for some. It earns a recommendation, primarily because it hits the mark it aims at, which is a fairly narrow segment of a fairly narrow market. If you are in that sliver of the pie, it's worth taking a look.
+ Cooling Capacity
- All the heat from the GPU stays in the case
Final Score: 8.7 out of 10.
Recommended: Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval.
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