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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

Crysis Benchmark Results

Crysis uses a new graphics engine: the CryENGINE2, which is the successor to Far Cry's CryENGINE. CryENGINE2 is among the first engines to use the Direct3D 10 (DirectX10) framework of Windows Vista, but can also run using DirectX9, both on Vista and Windows XP.

Roy Taylor, Vice President of Content Relations at NVIDIA, has spoken on the subject of the engine's complexity, stating that Crysis has over a million lines of code, 1GB of texture data, and 85,000 shaders. To get the most out of modern multicore processor architectures, CPU intensive subsystems of CryENGINE 2 such as physics, networking and sound, have been re-written to support multi-threading.

Crysis offers an in-game benchmark tool, which is similar to World in Conflict. This short test does place some high amounts of stress on a graphics card, since there are so many landscape features rendered. For benchmarking purposes, Crysis can mean trouble as it places a high demand on both GPU and CPU resources. Benchmark Reviews uses the Crysis Benchmark Tool by Mad Boris to test frame rates in batches, which allows the results of many tests to be averaged.

The very first thing we discovered in the low-resolution tests was how seemingly poor the Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GX2 GV-NX98X1GHI-B performed, since each overclocked G92 9800 GTX was able to outperform the two G92 GPU's that refused to shine bright in this low-resolution test. Even without Anti-Aliasing turned on, Crysis keeps the entire field of G92 competitors around 60 FPS. It's clear that the CryENGINE2 is a heavy hitter, as the insanely overclocked ZOTAC 8800 GT AMP! Edition outperforms the older MSI GeForce 8800 GTX OC NX8800GTX-T2D768E-HD by almost 3%. But without a real strain on the GPU, these products all compare relatively well across the field...


...and then there's the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280. With only 0.79 Megapixels to display at 1024x768, the GTX 280 outperforms the overclocked GeForce 8800 GTX by 39%, and the newer 9800 GTX by 21%.

Low-resolution testing allows the graphics processor to plateau maximum output performance, which thereby shifts demand onto the system components. At the lower resolutions Crysis will reflect the GPU's top-end speed in the composite score, indicating full-throttle performance with little load. This makes for a less GPU-dependant test environment, is helpful in measuring the maximum output performance in the test results.

At the 1280x1024 resolution our results mirror what gamers using a 19" LCD monitor would experience, and the performance is beginning to slip into the less-desirable 30 FPS threshold for acceptable performance. In terms of general performance, all of these products maintain the same performance ratio as before, except for the 9800 GX2 which seems to hold its ground.


Thanks to the AA optimizations in the G90-series GPU, all of the products based on this chip with easily outperform both of the older G80 GPU's by a significant margin as the resolution is raised and bandwidth demands are increased. It's obvious that the 65nm G90 core architecture is to be credited, and perhaps the new PCI Express 2.0 interface which allows twice as much graphics data bandwidth also played its part.


For widescreen users, our benchmarks below indicate that the older 8800 GTX just barely matches the level of performance found in the ZOTAC 8800 GT AMP! Edition. Testing in high-pressure Crysis also seems to have effected the GeForce GTX 280, which is barely ahead of the GeForce 9800 GX2 dual-GPU graphics card.


Heading into the 1920x1200 resolutions produced on the SOYO DYLM26E6 used for testing, Crysis forces 2.3 million pixels to be processed by our graphical test products. Surprisingly, the overclocked 8800 GTX has plateaued with the AMP!'ed 8800 GT at high-resolution, where as the other G90-based GPU's all maintained a rather constant performance ratio between one-another throughout the Crysis benchmark tests. The GeForce GTX 280 and the 9800 GX2 seem to still be neck-and-neck for our 1600x1200 testing.


While the overclocked Foxconn GeForce 9800 GTX clearly outperformed the AMP!'ed 8800 GT by nearly 11 frames per second on average, the entire collection of graphics cards looks miserable against the 9800 GX2 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280.

At the end of our Crysis testing at the widescreen resolution of 1920x1200, Foxconn's 9800GTX-512N certainly showed that newer video games may be more enjoyable with 9800 GTX series, but the GTX 280 outperformed it by nearly 50%. While the GTX 280 does trail behind the dual-GPU 9800 GX2 by a mere 4%, the GTX 280 dominates the overclocked MSI 8800 GTX by an astounding 74%!

We would have loved to add high-level post processing effects results in this list, but since the other comparison products would likely fail to produce usable frame rates we have decided to hold off and publish a new set of tests when we publish the upcoming ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition reviews.

In our next section, Benchmark Reviews switches to video-output only benchmarking, and uses Lightsmark for an apples-to-apples comparison of raw graphics performance on NVIDIA's new GTX 280 graphics card.


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