Gigabyte GV-N275UD-896H GeForce GTX 275 Review
Itís been an amazing year for enthusiasts looking to upgrade on the cheap. Just when you thought retail prices couldn't get any better, a month or so later, they're even cheaper!
This description applies most fittingly to the graphics card market. Take the latest midrange GPU releases from ATI and NVIDIA for example. Even though the Radeon 4890 and GeForce GTX 275 were just introduced to the public a little over a month ago, prices on these cards have already fallen dramatically. Over the weekend Radeon 4890 1GB cards were selling for as low as $199.99 after rebate on Newegg, while GeForce GTX 275 boards could be had for $225. Back in April these cards sold for about $250.
For enthusiasts who have grown accustomed to spending at least $300 or more on a new graphics card, these kinds of prices are simply unbelievable!
To understand how significant these price cuts are, particularly for NVIDIA, you simply need to glance at the GeForce GTX 275ís spec sheet. Derived from the same 55-nm GT200b GPU powering NVIDIAís flagship GeForce GTX 285 and GTX 295, the GeForce GTX 275ís most distinctive feature is its 240-shader architecture. This is the same number of shaders as the GTX 280 and GTX 285. To further boost performance, NVIDIA clocks the GTX 275 within 5% of the GTX 285 on the graphics core and shaders.
Its only real shortcoming Ė if you can call it that Ė is on the memory subsystem, where NVIDIA utilizes seven 64-bit memory controllers for a 448-bit memory interface. The GTX 285 features eight 64-bit memory controllers yielding a 512-bit memory interface. NVIDIA bumps up the memory clock on the GTX 285 pretty significantly too, with the 285ís memory running at 1242MHz, nearly 10% faster than the 275ís 1134MHz. As a result, the GeForce GTX 285 enjoys a memory bandwidth advantage of over 30GB/sec Ė 159GB/sec versus 127GB/sec.
If you arenít gaming in a memory-bound situation like say 2560x1600 with 8xAA though, the GeForce GTX 275 delivers most of the graphical performance of the GTX 285 at a lower price. Considering the value conscious nature of todayís market, this is very important.
Thatís why when Gigabyte invited us to check out their latest GTX 275 card, the GV-N275UD-896H, we gladly accepted the invitation.
Tweaked Ultra Durable VGA design
At first glance, the GV-N275UD-896H looks like your typical GeForce GTX 275 reference board, but that isnít quite the case. To properly appreciate what Gigabyteís done here, you have to pull off the cardís heatsink/fan cooling unit.
Underneath, youíll find that while the general layout is similar to NVIDIAís reference design, Gigabyte has made a few changes.
For starters, Gigabyte uses more powerful capacitors. As an Ultra Durable VGA card, their GTX 275 board utilizes all-solid capacitors sourced from Japanese manufacturer Sanyo. Other Ultra Durable VGA features that the GV-N275UD-896H supports is Samsung GDDR3 memory, low RDS MOSFETs, and ferrite core chokes, although keep in mind that these traits are already found on the GTX 275 reference design. (NVIDA also uses solid capacitors on the GTX 275 reference design as well.)
The most notable Ultra Durable VGA trait that separates Gigabyteís GTX 275 card from others is their use of 2 ounces of copper for the inner layer of the PCB board versus the 1-ounce inner layer used on other boards. This helps to keep the temperature of the PCB board down, which should hopefully lead to lower temps for other board-level components such as the GPU and memory. Youíll also notice that the PCB Gigabyte uses is blue, rather than the traditional charcoal black NVIDIA uses.
But it doesnít stop there. To further boost the boardís cooling capacity, Gigabyte also adds a small aluminum heatsink for cooling the MOSFETs located at the back of the board.
The GPU cooling Gigabyte employs comes straight from NVIDIA however. Itís the same dual-slot heatsink/fan unit thatís also in use on the revised GeForce GTX 260 with 216 shaders.
Clock speeds and accessories
In terms of clock speeds, Gigabyte clocks their GV-N275UD-896H board at the stock GTX 275 frequencies for the graphics core and stream processors: 633MHz core/1404MHz shaders. The memory is OCíed slightly however, with Gigabyte opting for 1200MHz memory (2400MHz effective).
This speed is 66MHz higher or about 5% faster than the stock GeForce GTX 275.
In terms of accessories, Gigabyte ships the GV-N275UD-896H with two 6-pin PCIe power adapters, a DVI adapter, and the audio passthrough cable youíll need to send audio over HDMI. A DVI-to-HDMI adapter isnít bundled with the card.
This is an adapter thatís pretty commonly included on most high-end cards today, so itís a bit of a glaring omission on Gigabyteís part. Also included with the card is Gigabyteís driver CD, and manual.