|ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix GeForce GTX 260 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 15 May 2009|
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ENGTX260 Matrix Detailed Features
Since cooling performance is such an important part of the Matrix product line, it makes sense that ASUS wouldn't skimp on the fans. One look at the complex 3-D contour on the fan blades shows that they have optimized the performance for this application. Straight finned heatsinks only need one dimensional air flow; the circular finned heat exchangers employed here need a mix of airflow; some straight through, and some outward, in a radial direction. Some of the cheaper coolers with this type of fin arrangement use a simple paddle-wheel type of impeller, which is noisier and less efficient. I ran both of these fans at 100% for a good deal of the test period and they were admirably quiet.
Power requirements are met from two auxiliary PCI-E connectors, of the 6 pin variety. This is a common feature of most of the NVIDIA 200 series cards. The 10.5" length of the card necessitates putting them along the upper edge, which is generally convenient for access, but not as slick for us OCD cable management types. Next to the power connectors is the S/PDIF connector for your HDMI interface needs. Mounted to the board, along the edge is a steel stiffening rail, a premium touch not always seen or appreciated in this ultra competitive, cost-cutting market.
Memory is handled by fourteen Samsung 2M x 32Bit x 8 Banks Graphic DDR3 Synchronous DRAM, in 136 Ball FBGA packaging, for a total of 896 MB. The K4J52324QH-HJ1A modules are rated for 1.0 GHz operation, but higher binned parts are available for 1.2GHz and 1.3GHz clock speeds, with a small bump in voltage.
The stock clock rates are right at the maximum rated speed for this chip, but we'll see if there's any more performance to be had later, during the testing portion of the review.
Many hardware products come with utility software bundled along with them. For most of recorded PC history, this software wasn't worth the price of the storage media it was burned on. That's starting to change; for the past year or so there have been several products that shipped with usable monitoring and control, and other utilities. ASUS continues the trend here, with two utilities that I used during the review. The one I used the most is iTracker, that monitoring and control part, I just mentioned. Normally, I would just load up RivaTuner and go, but iTracker provided all the functionality I needed, was straightforward to use, and didn't have any strange behavior during operation. I know, those sound like pretty minimal requirements, but until recently, most software supplied by PC hardware vendors didn't meet them.
This is where the true nature of the ASUS Matrix products comes to light. They're built for tweaking. ASUS clearly expects every Matrix customer to take advantage of the flexibility and performance reserves they've built into these products and maximize their performance on an individual basis. Just like the gunnery sergeant said, "There are many rifles, but this one is mine."
There are four default profiles loaded into iTracker, and three user-defined profiles can be created and saved.
Shown above are the settings I used to test the overclocking performance of the ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix. They're not extreme settings (8-10%); in fact they match the factory overclock of another GTX260 board we've reviewed here at Benchmark Reviews. I thought it would be interesting to see if any differences would pop up.