|EVGA Geforce GTX275 CO-OP PhysX Edition|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by David Ramsey - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Sunday, 07 February 2010|
Page 13 of 14
PhysX Edition Final Thoughts
NVIDIA's had it rough for the last 18 months or so. Their introduction of the GTX 280 card last year was quickly eclipsed by ATI's Radeon 4800 series, which offered most of the performance of the GTX 280 at a much lower price. Within weeks early adopters who paid $600 for their new GTX 280 cards saw prices tumble by 20% or more. Still, NVIDIA managed to hang onto the performance crown, tweaking the G200 GPU to produce the GTX 285 and doubling them up to produce the monstrous GTX 295. But the recent introduction of ATI's 5800 series cards took even that victory from NVIDIA, offering superior performance at a lower price. Still, more than twice as many participants in the Steam Hardware Survey use NVIDIA graphics cards as use ATI graphics cards.
If you're in the market for a video card in the $300-$400 price range, you have a choice to make: do you go with an ATI card, with better frame rates and DirectX 11 advantages such as tessellation, advanced SSAO, and better performance on multi-core CPUs, or do you go with NVIDIA, and get CUDA and PhysX? Arguably the ATI card's features will be realized in more games than will PhysX, but enthusiasts interested in this level of card will often make their decision on an emotional level: to the NVIDIA loyalist, nothing beats PhysX effects and high-performance folding, whereas the ATI fan can't understand why someone wouldn't want better frame rates and and the very latest DirectX features.
Until the Fermi-based GTX 470 and GTX 480 cards are released, hopefully sometime in March 2010, PhysX and CUDA remain NVIDIA's only real advantages over ATI. ATI's working on things like DirectCompute and OpenCL, but CUDA has an immense head start, strong developer support, and an increasing number of game titles whefre PhysX is used to improve the gameplay.
I was initially disappointed in EVGA's design: surely, I thought, it would be better to include a more robust GPU like the 260 for PhysX work. But as the benchmarks showed, the GTS 250 is (for now at least) the sweet spot for PhysX processing, as even the much more powerful GTX 280 GPU provided only fractionally better performance.
EVGA sells individual GTS 250 and GTX 275-based cards in both stock and overclocked versions. At the time of this writing, an EVGA GTS 250 video card with the same 738MHz core clock as the GPU on the test card sells for $149.99 at Newegg. An EVGA GTX 275 card with a 633MHZ clock sells for $269.99, so both cards together would total $419.98, considerably more than the $349.99 the GTX 275 CO-OP PhysX Edition sells for. You save $70, gain an extra PCIE X16 slot, and only have to come up with two PCI-E power cables instead of three...really, it's a win all around, as long as you want or need PhysX. If you're willing to live without it, an extra $50 or so will buy you a Radeon 5870, which will provide substantially better frame rates and DirectX 11 support.
The GTS 250 GPU on the card can be useful even if you're not playing a PhysX-enabled game: devotees of Folding@Home will appreciate its presence, and an increasing number of CUDA-enabled applications such as the Badaboom Media Converter can make good use of it as well.