XFX GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition Review
After a pretty slow summer, PC gaming is finally beginning to heat up. In the last month we’ve seen the debut of several blockbuster gaming titles including Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, Call of Duty: World At War and most recently, Left 4 Dead.
Gamers planning their upgrades around these games have a wealth of cards to choose from, and thanks to new GPU price cuts you can build a pretty powerful PC for gaming without draining everything out of your bank account. Just think, a year ago NVIDIA’s $300 GeForce 8800 GT was flying off the shelves; retailers couldn’t keep the card in stock for more than a few hours before it sold out. Today that same $300 buys you a
Radeon 4870 1GB or 216-shader GeForce GTX 260.
The 216 shader GeForce GTX 260 is the newest addition to NVIDIA’s GPU lineup, although officially the NVIDIA website
still doesn’t acknowledge its existence, and the new GPU shares the same GTX 260 name as its 192-shader predecessor. Apparently the launch was kept lower key than usual to help move inventory of older 192-shader GTX 260 cards.
The 216 shader GTX 260 does exist though, and NVIDIA is moving quickly to phase out the 192-shader GeForce GTX 260 in favor of the more powerful 216 core model.
Today we’re here to take a look at one 216-shader GeForce GTX 260 card, XFX’s GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition.
Dissecting the XFX GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition
Physically XFX’s GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition is based on the exact same reference board design and cooling as every other GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280 card on the market. In case you didn’t know, at the high-end NVIDIA makes all their board partners use the same board design. More specifically, NVIDIA manufactures all of the cards for their partners (board production is usually farmed out by NVIDIA to Flextronics or Foxconn), so all GTX 260 and 280 cards come off the same production line regardless of the card manufacturer.
NVIDIA does this to ensure a consistent level of quality across the line. Board partners are free to go beyond the stock clock speeds, but other than this, no modifications to the reference design are allowed.
Because of this policy, when you’re determining which GeForce GTX 260 card you should purchase, the hardware itself isn’t as important as other factors such as price, game bundle, warranty/support, and the clock speeds of the card(s) you’re interested in purchasing. It’s in these categories that the XFX GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition really excels.
In terms of clock speeds, the card is OC’ed to speeds that are higher than any 216-shader GTX 260 that’s been announced to date. The graphics core runs at the devilish clock speed of 666MHz, the number of the beast. This is 11MHz higher than BFG’s GeForce GTX 260 OCX MAXCORE, and 90MHz higher than NVIDIA’s stock core clock speed. Running alongside the graphics core are the shaders, which are clocked at 1404MHz, a speed which is 162MHz faster than stock.
To boost performance even further, XFX also kicks up the memory clock, it runs at 1150MHz. In comparison the stock memory speed for the GeForce GTX 260 is 999MHz.
The clock speeds aren’t the only feature to admire on the Black Edition though. Like all XFX cards, the board is backed by XFX’s double lifetime warranty. This program provides lifetime warranty coverage for the original card owner as well as the card’s second owner, all both users must do is register the card with XFX.
In terms of the game bundle, the card ships with a free copy of Far Cry 2 inside the box. The rest of the card’s packaging includes a DVI adapter, HDMI adapter, power cable, and pass thru cable for running audio over HDMI.