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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 Video Card E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards
Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 16 June 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 Video Card
GT200 GPU: Why Now and What's New?
GeForce GTX 280 Specifications
GTX 280 Features
NVIDIA Hybrid Technology
GeForce GTX 280 Closer Look
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark06 Benchmarks
Crysis Benchmark Results
Lightsmark Frame Rates
SupComm: Forged Alliance Results
World in Conflict Benchmarks
GTX 280 Temperatures
GTX 280 Power Consumption
GT200 GPU Final Thoughts
GeForce GTX 280 Conclusion

GeForce GTX 280 Temperatures

This section is probably the most popular for me, not so much as a reviewer but more for my enthusiast side. Benchmark tests are always nice, so long as you care about comparing one product to another. But when you're an overclocker, or merely a hardware enthusiast who likes to tweak things on occasion, there's no substitute for good information.

Benchmark Reviews has a very popular guide written on How To Overclock the NVIDIA GeForce Series video card, but it was published shortly after the 8th generation of GeForce products was launched. Currently we are preparing for a more updated article, with additional information on shader overclocking and temperature control as the newest GeForce products are made available. Once published you can expect more detailed information than what is shown below, as for now the temperatures depicted are GPU core temperatures at idle and under load.

To begin my testing, I used ATITool v0.26 to record GPU temperatures at idle and again at high-power 3D mode. The ambient room temperature was a comfortable 22.1°C and the inner-case temperature hovered around 34°C. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 reference video card recorded 46°C in idle 2D mode, and increased to 78°C in full 3D mode.


I must admit that 78°C is not the coolest-running GeForce product I have ever tested. Since the metal underplate acts to dissipate heat, you don't really want to touch it after loaded use. Prior to testing with Forceware v177.34 and writing this review, there were two times during "test" game play that my system suffered nv4_disp.dll driver crashes with pre-release beta Forceware driver v177.26. Both of these times the GTX 280 had hovered around 78°C for a period of twenty minutes or more... just as my "test" session was getting good. I realize that mine is an early reference build of the GTX 280 video card, and the first driver was an early pre-release, but it's still worth mentioning.

Editors Note 06/17/2008: It didn't occur to me until I received two other GTX 280 video cards for testing, but the early reference model NVIDIA offered for testing did not increase fan speed as the load was raised. The fan would operate in low-power mode, which might explain the higher temperatures.

Keeping in mind that GT200 is an entirely new graphics processor, you can relate this product launch back to the day G80 processors launched in the GeForce 8800 series. What this means is that the graphics processor will undergo a some level of fabrication refinement over time, and new GPU will be binned for faster products, similar to how the GeForce 8800 Ultra was one year ago. Adding to the improvements that refinement will undoubtedly bring, you can expect cooling to become improved with more efficient die processes.

The most favored feature of past upper-level GeForce designs has been the focused exhaust design. Heated air recirculating around inside the computer case is could reduce stability for your sensitively overclocked computer system. While 78°C isn't terribly hot under full load, it's still more than ten degrees hotter than the 9800 GTX, which means that there's some room for improvement. But here's a little fact you probably didn't know: the GT200 GPU is designed operate safely up to its 105°C thermal threshold. What happens after that? Believe it or not, if the GPU exceeds this temperature the clock speed will automatically be dialed down to avoid damage.


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