Summary: With its 2-ounce copper PCB and 1200MHz memory, Gigabyte's GV-N275UD-896H is one of the first GeForce GTX 275 cards on the market to deviate from NVIDIA's reference design. See how it compares to the stock GTX 275 in today's review!
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 275’s spec sheet. Derived from the same 55-nm GT200b GPU powering NVIDIA’s flagship GeForce GTX 285 and GTX 295, the GeForce GTX 275’s 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 – if you can call it that – 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 285’s memory running at 1242MHz, nearly 10% faster than the 275’s 1134MHz. As a result, the GeForce GTX 285 enjoys a memory bandwidth advantage of over 30GB/sec – 159GB/sec versus 127GB/sec.
If you aren’t 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 today’s market, this is very important.
That’s 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 isn’t quite the case. To properly appreciate what Gigabyte’s done here, you have to pull off the card’s heatsink/fan cooling unit.
The most notable Ultra Durable VGA trait that separates Gigabyte’s 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. You’ll also notice that the PCB Gigabyte uses is blue, rather than the traditional charcoal black NVIDIA uses.
But it doesn’t stop there. To further boost the board’s 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. It’s the same dual-slot heatsink/fan unit that’s 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 OC’ed slightly however, with Gigabyte opting for 1200MHz memory (2400MHz effective).
This is an adapter that’s pretty commonly included on most high-end cards today, so it’s a bit of a glaring omission on Gigabyte’s part. Also included with the card is Gigabyte’s driver CD, and manual.
Intel Core i7-920
6GB OCZ Reaper HPC DDR3-1600
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 216 core
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
ATI Radeon HD 4890 1GB
300GB Western Digital Caviar SE
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit w/Service Pack 1
Call of Duty 4
Ultra Durable VGA: While many of Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable VGA features are already found in the GeForce GTX 275 reference board design from NVIDIA, one feature that Gigabyte can tout that gives them an edge is their 2-ounce copper for the inner layer of the PCB.
Price: Right now the GV-N275UD-896H is priced at $249.99 on Newegg with a free copy of Call of Duty: World at War OEM bundled inside. The free copy of World at War is actually part of a special promotion NVIDIA is doing exclusively with Newegg, and isn’t unique to Gigabyte’s GTX 275 card.