Zotac GTX285 Infinity Edition PCIe Graphics Card Page: 1
Introduction
 
Picture the scene. You buy Nvidias latest single core GPU, the GTX285. You hurriedly unpack it, try it out and find your overclocking is hampered by heat and the noise is also an irritation. You decide to purchase an aftermarket waterblock and attach it to the GPU. After plenty of head scratching getting the block to fit, worrying about the block leaking, worrying about the mount on the GPU you finally plumb it into your waterloop and boot up for the first time. A mixture of green lines and obscure tears and sparkles greats you on screen with the faint smell of burnt silicon being emitted from your PC - FAIL!
 
If you're the type who craves speed but has neither the money to risk £300 by fitting your own water block or the patience to screw each individual screw alternatively to ensure you get the correct mount, then the Zotac GTX285 Infinity edition may be just the graphics card for you. Being a Pre-overclocked, watercooled card all the hassle and risk is taken out of the equation, no more nibbled SLI chips, no more crushed memory IC's. The card arrives with a pre-fitted, very stylish looking waterblock from Danger Den, so you can be assured of the manufacturing quality. Not only that but the Zotac GTX285 Infinity is also overclocked way past any of the competition on the market at present with 722MHz on the GPU, 1584Mhz on the shader and 2700MHz DRAM speed.
 
Here's what Zotac had to say about their product:
 
Embrace the world’s fastest graphics processor with the new ZOTAC GeForce GTX 285 Infinity Edition. Featuring a supercharged GeForce GTX 285 graphics processor and custom cooling enhancements, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 285 Infinity Edition is ready to take on the latest 3D games and applications at extreme high-definition resolutions of 2560x1600.

A pre-installed water-block provides the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 285 Infinity Edition with superior cooling capabilities. The all-copper water-block equipped ZOTAC GeForce GTX 285 Infinity Edition is ready to integrate with existing or new water-cooling systems for lower operating temperatures and noise levels.
 
 
Specification
 
The following specification was taken directly from the Zotac product page:
 
Graphics Processing Unit
- NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 285 @ 722 MHz engine clock
- 240 Processor Cores @ 1584 MHz
- Dual 400 MHz RamDAC
- Max. Resolution @ 2560 x 1600 

Memory
- 1 GB GDDR3
- 2700 MHz memory clock
- 512-bit memory bus

Bus Support
- PCI Express 2.0 (compatible with 1.1) 

3D Acceleration
- Microsoft® DirectX®10 support
- Unified Shader Model 4.0
- OpenGL 2.1
 
Let's take a look at the product itself and more specifically the Danger Den waterblock Zotac have used to cool the GTX285... 


Zotac GTX285 Infinity Edition PCIe Graphics Card Page: 2
Packaging & Appearance
 
The exterior of the package is well presented with all the usual product features featured such as PhysX capability, 1024MB GDDR3, Cuda, PureVideo and SLI displayed in emblem format. There's also an Infinity 'signature' printed as part of the box which is nice to see rather than a sticker which seems to me to be something of an after thought by other manufacturers. The two stickers that are welcome on the box are RaceDriver GRID and 3DMark Vantage signifying the freebies that are included with the Zotac GTX285 Infinity. Good choice! The rear of the box goes on to describe the features of the GTX285 more in-depth with PhysX and CUDA taking pride of place. 
 
Box front box rear
 
Yet more features are displayed on the left panel of the box with Nvidia 'Graphics Plus' being the theme. Video processing up to 20x faster, Image processing with 'silky smooth performance', 3D Stereo and again PhysX are just some of the features the card has to offer. The alternate side displays the specification and minimum system requirements. The minimum being a 550w PSU with a 12v current rating of 40A required along with 2x 6-pin PCIe power connectors needed. This isn't exactly true as Zotac include a Molex to 6 pin power adapter should your PSU be found lacking in this department.
 
side 1 side 2
 
Opening the box, we see that the graphics card is very well displayed with a plastic window covering the whole unit for both protection and aesthetics. The card is solidly packed in Styrofoam to prevent unwanted movement with a separate compartment for the accessories. Speaking of accessories, the Zotac GTX285 Infinity has all the essentials you need to get going with a DVI-VGA adapter, DVI-HDMI adapter, 2 Molex - 6-Pin adapters and an S/PDIF pass through cable allowing the on-board audio to be used in collaboration with the HDMI feature.
 
open box accessories
 
The card itself is a standard GTX285 (with a tweaked BIOS). What is plainly obvious though is that this card is no ordinary GTX285. The waterblock sat in place of the standard air cooler is a joy to behold and while I wouldn't go so far to say it was a masterpiece in design, it certainly looks the part, especially with the backdrop of a black PCB. Both the top and bottom of the block allow different configurations of the included 3/8" G14 threaded barbs to be used so that SLI can be added to you system without the barbs getting in the way.
 
card top card bottom
 
The barbs themselves appear to be very similar to the standard Hi-Flow barb but only 3/8" barbs are included in this package so you may wish to purchase additional barbs should this size not be to your liking. Care should also be taken when choosing additional barbs to ensure that they are short threaded as a standard barb will not fit flush with the block due to the thread length. The copper section of the card is elegantly swooped around all the major components of the card not requiring cooling with additional cutouts for those section which stand proud such as the PCIe power ports of which there are 2x 6 pin.
 
barbs PCIe
 
The card is obviously SLI enabled and as mentioned previously the top and bottom of the waterblock is threaded to allow configuration of the barbs to best suit your setup which is ideal for those intending to SLI, or indeed TRI-SLI three of these cards together. Sadly the backplate is not a single slot design which is a shame as the dual slot backplate may prove a hindrance to those wanting to use that I/O area for an additional expansion card.
 
SLI 
 
Removing the acrylic top of the block was a painless affair but as with any acrylic top, extra care should be taken when re-attaching the block because of the nature of acrylic cracking under pressure. The top is thick enough to prevent all but the most clumsy of builders but accidents do happen. The rubber seal fits snuggly in a channel surrounding the block and in testing, no leaks were apparent. The block itself is a full length copper affair with Danger Dens trademark dimpled/rough effect on the copper. I'm not a big fan of this effect as it makes cleaning the block so much more difficult. Luckily for me the card arrived in pristine condition but I can imaging after use, oxidizing fingerprints will materialize which look unsightly at best.
 
acrylic block
 
The block is held in place by 11 screws, each having a rubber grommet to prevent shorting. The card was not bowed in anyway which is unusual for a full cover block and a welcome sight. Removing the block was very easy thanks to the use of paste and thermal pads which didn't prove to be too adhesive to the card.
 
screws card
 
Taking a closer look at the card you will notice that the main section cooling the GPU is in fact, a thermal pad. This is opposite to what we are used to seeing with thermal pads usually being used on the memory and VRM's and paste on the GPU. It only remains to be seen if this pad hinders or helps temperatures. The contact on all components was very good, especially considering paste was being used as opposed to pads. However, the machining finish on the GPU was less than desirable with lots of score marks left over from the process which may prove to hinder the performance of the block during heat transfer.
 
pad Card naked
 
Directly above the GPU are a number of channels inside the block that while crude and dated in design will increase the surface area of that section ensuring the best possible heat transfer is in that particular area. You wouldn't dream of putting a CPU block like that in your loop but it seems GPU block manufacturers do not put as much thought into cooling a GPU which is a shame when you consider the benefits that could be had. Nevertheless, the block is a very good looking block, well manufactured and as it is a full copper block it will not deteriorate though galvanic corrosion assuming your waterloop consists of the same material.
 
GPU channels
 
So then a very nice looking and no doubt powerful card indeed with some great accessories. I do however, have concerns over the basic design of the block and the method of heat transfer from GPU to water but on some occasions simplicity is best and looking at the block, restriction should not be an issue so there isn't any worries there. The cooling performance however,  remains to be seen.
 
Let's take a look at the setup I will be using today and put the card through it's paces in the overclocking section... 


Zotac GTX285 Infinity Edition PCIe Graphics Card Page: 3

Test Setup

To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configurations used in this review can be seen below:
 

i7 Rig

CPU: Intel Nehalem i7 920 Skt1366 2.66GHz (@3.8 Ghz)
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Memory: 3x2GB Corsair DDR3 1600mhz @ 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU: Zotac GTX285 Infinity Edition
Graphics Drivers: Supplied by Asus
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
Radiator: Thermochill PA120.3 (3xYL DSL-12)

Pump: Laing DDC18w (XSPC top 1/2")

 
During the testing of the setups above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.

To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
 
3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games
• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Oblivion

• Race drive: GRID
• Call of Duty IV
• Unreal Tournament III

Power Consumption

Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Because of this, the readings below are of the total system, not just the GPU. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of Furmark.

 
 
Looking at the results makes for depressing reading until you consider that this is the full system draw, including the water setup (18w pump, 3x120mm fans and a fan controller) so consideration should be given to that fact. However, the GTX285 was never a power efficient card even in stock form so add the fact that this is a heavily overclocked edition and considering the added power consumption of the water setup and things start to look a little better.
 
Temperatures

Temperatures were taken at the factory clocked speed during idle in Windows and after 10 minutes of running Furmark with settings maxed out (2560x1600 8xMSAA). Ambient temperatures were taken with a household thermometer. As we use an open test bench setup consideration should be given to the fact that the temperatures would likely increase further in a closed case environment.
 
 
 
With a 24c ambient temperature, the Zotac GTX285 Infinity hit a maximum 35c when idle in windows Vista and 67c under Furmark load. The load temperature could have been better as 67c for a watercooled GPU is nothing remarkable, especially when you consider that the Asus GTX285 hit 82c under the same conditions and that was air cooled albeit lower clocked. I would think replacing the thermal pad with paste would result in better temperatures but the weak design of the GPU block could also have an effect.
 
Overclocking
 
For our overclocking tests I used Rivatuner which worked perfectly with our setup. More than can be said for the latest version of nTune which resulted in BSOD when we tried to run it. To test stability I ran 3D Mark 06 and a few runs of Crysisbench.
 
stock overclock
 
Pre-overclocked cards are frequently clocked just below their maximum so I was surprised the Zotax GTX285 Infinity still had a little more to give. While the Core was pretty much maxed out I did manage an extra 160MHz on the memory. The effects of the overclock can be seen below:
 
 
Not the best of performances from a GPU thus far with a high power draw, average temperatures (for a watercooled card) and meager overclocking due to the pre-overclocked condition.

Let's see how the card performs in OC3D's suite of 3D benchmarks...

 


Zotac GTX285 Infinity Edition PCIe Graphics Card Page: 4


3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis

As expected, the GTX285 Infinity outstrips it's stock clocked twin by a fair margin. The card also puts in a very good performance against its ATI rivals, beating them soundly in all tests at all resolutions save for the dual GPU 4870x2.

Let's see if this transfers over to our real world gaming benchmarks. 



Zotac GTX285 Infinity Edition PCIe Graphics Card Page: 5

 
Unreal Tournament 3 is the highly anticipated game from Epic Games and Midway. The game uses the latest Unreal engine, which combines fast gameplay along with high quality textures and lighting effects. All benchmarks were performed using UTbench with a fly-by of the DM-BioHazard map. As usual, all benchmarks were performed 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
GRID
 
Race Driver: Grid is a visually taxing game that presents a challenge to any graphics system. Results were recorded using FRAPS to log the average FPS over a 2 minute race. To ensure consistency, the same track, car and general path of travel was used in each of the 5 benchmark runs for each graphics card, with an average FPS being calculated from the median three results.
 
 
 
 
 
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full feature set. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions along with fast game play. Using the in-built Call Of Duty features, a 10-minute long game play demo was recorded and replayed on each of the GPU's using the /timedemo command a total of 5 times. The highest and lowest FPS results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
Again the stock GTX285 is put firmly in it's place by the GTX285. GRID is still a weakness for the Nvidia cards with the ATI GPU's soundly beating them on all counts. Call of duty IV gave predictable results with the Nvidia cards again taking the lead. The biggest surprise of the day was the GTX285's performance in Unreal Tournament III, soundly beating all the cards, including the dual GPU's on the lowest resolution while putting up a good fight when the resolution and filters were increased.

Let's move on..

 



Zotac GTX285 Infinity Edition PCIe Graphics Card Page: 6

 

 
Crysis is without doubt one of the most visually stunning and hardware-challenging games to date. By using CrysisBench - a tool developed independently of Crysis - we performed a total of 5 timedemo benchmarks using a GPU-intensive pre-recorded demo. To ensure the most accurate results, the highest and lowest benchmark scores were then removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 

Oblivion from Bethseda is now an 'old' game by today's standards, but is still one of the most visually taxing games out there. The benchmark was run in the wilderness with all settings set to the maximum possible. Bloom was used in preference to HDR. The test was run five times with the average FPS then being deduced.
 
 


Ubisoft has developed a new engine specifically for Far Cry 2, called Dunia, meaning "world", "earth" or "living" in Parsi. The engine takes advantage of multi-core processors as well as multiple processors and supports DirectX 9 as well as DirectX 10. Running the Far Cry 2 benchmark tool the test was run 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being omitted and the average calculated from the remaining 3.
 
 
Results Analysis
 
Another set of good results for the GTX285 Infinity with a fantastic run in Far Cry 2. It is clear that the GTX285 Infinity is a top performing card being the best single GPU on test by a fair margin in the majority of the benchmarks we have run today.
 
Let's move on to the conclusion...


Zotac GTX285 Infinity Edition PCIe Graphics Card Page: 7
Conclusion
 
The Zotac GTX285 Infinity edition is the fastest single core GPU we have tested to date at OC3D. It absorbed everything we threw at it, chewed on it a while and spat it back out. The performance really is that good. Being an Infinity edition, it's also clocked to the high heavens and is cooled sufficiently with the very good looking Danger Den full cover GPU block ensuring that heat will not be an issue.
 
I would have liked the block to be attached more thoughtfully with a thin layer of paste instead of the thermal pad as I believe this would have brought temps down further. The load temperature was certainly nothing to shout from the rooftops about.and while it was well within the realms of safety, even when overclocked past its pre overclocked state, I expected it to run cooler than it did. This could be down to the waterblock itself as the design is very basic with the GPU channels reminiscent of early CPU waterblocks. It seems GPU waterblocks have some catching up to do if they are to match the cooling properties of CPU waterblocks. This is not a fault of Zotac though as the block is not manufactured by them but I do believe their are better solutions on the market.
 
The packaging is fantastic with a well presented box and protected padding contained therein. The accessory list is complete and the two software additions in the form of 3DMark Vantage and Race Driver:GRID are most welcome. I would have preferred the card to come with a single slot backplate, freeing up the use of an extra expansion slot and a choice of barbs would have been nice but this is a minor oversight on Zotacs part.
 
All in all I was impressed with the Zotac Infinity, it's performance is second to none in the single core GPU market, the packaging and presentation was excellent and despite my reservations of the GPU block it cooled the card well enough throughout my testing. The one stumbling block for this card could be the price. The air cooled Zotac GTX285 AMP! Edition retails for around the £310 mark so adding the price of the waterblock as well as the additional, higher overclocks,could see this card retailing around the £400 mark. For that money we are well into 4870x2 territory and knocking on the door of the GTX295 so it would then be hard to justify such a high price tag. You could buy your own GTX285 and fit the waterblock of your choice yourself but you risk damaging the card or at best, invalidating the warranty. The Zotac GTX285 Infinity takes these risks out of the equation and it features an extended warranty for your peace of mind (5 years when registered).
 
If money is no object and you want a hassle free, no fear, watercooled and pre-overclocked GPU then the GTX285 is the perfect solution. The only problem you might have is finding somewhere that stocks them!
 
  
 
Thanks to Zotac for providing the GTX285 Infinity Edition for todays review. Discuss in our forums