NVIDIA GTX 280 Performance Revealed - MSI N280GTX

Test Setup & Overclocking

Test Setup
 
A common mistake made when benchmarking graphics cards is that the rest of the PC system isn't sufficient enough to test the GPU to its limits. This results in a bottleneck situation, where the system can only run at the speed of its slowest component. For this reason, the test configuration chosen below has been specially selected to give each of the graphics cards on test the headroom they require in order to produce the best results.
 
System Specs
 
A selection of games and benchmark suites has also been chosen to test each of the cards with several game engines. Each of the cards will be run at both low and high resolutions with varying levels of texture filtering to represent the use of the card with both small and large screen sizes.
 
3DMark05
1024x768 / 0xAA / 0xAF (Default)
1920x1200 / 4xAA / 0xAF
 
3DMark 06
1280x1024 / 0xAA / 0xAF
1920x1200 / 4xAA / 0xAF

3DMark Vantage
1280x1024 / Performance Mode
1900x1200 / Extreme Mode
 
Quake4
1280x1024 / Ultra / 4xAA / 4xAF
1920x1200 / Ultra / 4xAA / 4xAF
 
Unreal Tournament III
1280x1024 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
1920x1200 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
 
Call of Duty 4
1280x1024 / Max / 4xAA / 4xAF
1920x1200 / Max / 4xAA / 4xAF
 
F.E.A.R
1280x1024 / Max / 4xAA / 4xAF
1920x1200 / Max / 4xAA / 0xAF
 
BIOSHOCK
1280x1024 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
1920x1200 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
 
Crysis
1280x1024 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
1920x1200 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
 
At present, the 3850x2, 3870x2, 9800GTX and 9800GX2 are among the highest performing graphics cards currently available on the market, and for this reason we will be placing the GTX 280 head to head with a stock clocked version of each of these cards. Due care and attention will also be observed when changing between each of the cards, with a fresh install of Vista being deployed to the test system with every driver installation.
 
A recent feature to enter the Overclock3D GPU review system is the "Cost per FPS" scale. This scale gives a rough indication of which card offers the best bang per buck based on the price of each card at the time of this review. Under normal circumstances, this scale would be based on the exact retail price of each card from a single retailer. However, as MSI have only speculated a release price of £420 for the GTX 280, we will be using this figure along side the current retail price for the remainder of the cards as listed at aria.co.uk.
 
Specifications
 
When viewing the CPF results for each card, we obviously need to take into consideration that the launch price of the MSI N280GTX will be much higher than the rest of the cards listed as they have all had 6 months+ to settle into the market. Nevertheless, it will still be interesting to see if the increased performance of the GTX 280 comes anywhere near to justifying its launch price. In addition, with the release of ATI's 4800 series on the horizon, we will also be using the same scale to perform a comparison of both NVIDIA's and ATI's flagship cards.
 
 
Overclocking
 
Using the NVIDIA nTune utility along with it's inbuilt stability tester to test for artifacts, the maximum overclock we managed to achieve on the GTX 280 was 718mhz / 1273mhz /1436mhz for the GPU, Memory and Shaders respectively. This gave a reasonable 11% increase in our 3DMark Vantage score (5063 to 5624 @ Extreme settings) and an impressive 20% increase in our Crysis 1900x1200 results (40.38fps to 48.12fps).
 
GTX 280 GPU-Z
 
Now lets get on to the benchmarks...
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Most Recent Comments

16-06-2008, 09:01:03

JN
"NVIDIA's new flagship GPU, the GTX 280 is finally here! We pitch it against the best of the rest to see just how well it performs."

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...151355907s.jpg

MSI N280GTX (GTX 280) Review

16-06-2008, 09:09:38

PV5150
Stellar review as always Jimbo...I'm so getting me one of these.

16-06-2008, 09:13:14

FarFarAway
I'm not

Yes it's the fastest single card currently but tbh it's not anything particularly special

My 8800 GTX stays put

16-06-2008, 09:20:00

Silentsnake
mhhh not that impressed with the card was planning on selling my EVGA 9800 GX2 to buy this but dont look like much point is their ?

16-06-2008, 09:29:08

!TIMMY!
For a single GPU it does perform very well @ 1900 x 1024. I also like the cooling as it takes the hot air out of the PC.

16-06-2008, 09:44:11

Azza
Excellent review as always.

If I win the lottery any time soon then I may buy one.

16-06-2008, 10:23:49

Colossous
A bit dissapointing methinks ! After all the hype and the fact that its more expensive than the Gx2 you'd think it would be way ahead in those games !

16-06-2008, 10:29:41

Ham
Looking at the 3Dmark vantage result, i wonder if it will do better for future games, rather than current ones.

16-06-2008, 10:49:23

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Ham'
Looking at the 3Dmark vantage result, i wonder if it will do better for future games, rather than current ones.
Thats what I was wondering. I really wish I still had the 9800GX2 to see what result that got.

16-06-2008, 10:54:23

Colossous
Its a good point but if you bought this card with an eye to the future you would possibly be dissapointed because there was newer faster cards available then, depends if you're a serial upgrader i suppose !?

16-06-2008, 11:01:17

Rastalovich
It`s a good read and a good layout too.

I like the cost per frame. Even with it`s downfall IF the alledged ".. with a price drop of $xx/xx shortly after" actually happens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
I'm not

Yes it's the fastest single card currently but tbh it's not anything particularly special

My 8800 GTX stays put
.. u know, with only a 20" Dell in the house atm - I can see where u`r coming from. (even tho I know ur sporting 24" urself).

Maybe I`ll w8 till I go 24" and package the idea of the 2 together. I`m in the middle of cpu/mobo/memory/drive upgrading things atm, so time will tell.

Good card tho imo, if I`m buying for a new rig - I`d get one.

16-06-2008, 11:02:42

Toxcity
Brilliant review as always Jimage.

Not overly impressed by performance, so the 9800GX2 stays.

16-06-2008, 11:04:06

ionicle
good review

nice looking card, but it seems performance upgrades atm seem to come in small incraments...

16-06-2008, 11:12:44

JN
Cheers for the feedback guys. Shame I'm not going to get much longer with the card to test some of the other features, but hey ho...on to the next review

16-06-2008, 11:40:44

Rastalovich
Some rediculous pricing going around. From 430 ish to about 520.. for 20 more mhz.. and slower memory by a squeaze.

I`d seriously look for a european retailer.

16-06-2008, 11:54:03

Silentsnake
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
Cheers for the feedback guys. Shame I'm not going to get much longer with the card to test some of the other features, but hey ho...on to the next review
so jim what do you think mate? is it worth replacing the GX2 or keep it?

i guess you have had the the chance of working with both cards therefore your word is probably the most reliable

16-06-2008, 16:13:49

Bungral
Good review Jimbo.

Looking at it.. If you have a GX2 it can't be worth switching.

Fact is yes it will give off less heat and be quieter and have the stability of a single GPU but if none of those bother you then you're getting roughly the same FPS at a slightly lower price.

However, with the results being so close and the 280 actually beating the GX2 in a few of the benches, I should think with a driver upgrade or two it may well overtake the GX2 in a few of them and extend its lead in the others.

Technically it is new architecture so it's probably not just a case of updating and tweaking the drivers like they may have been able to do with say, the 9800GTX. I think my point is that there may be higher yields from a driver update than with the previous generation.

Yeah.. That's what I mean

16-06-2008, 16:43:24

Silentsnake
yh ok with driver it may improve by what a max of 5fps

buying a gx2 will be cheaper and ok maybe run abit slower but think about sticking these babies in SLI once the prices are forced down by the newer cards

i would love to see how these cards sin dual sli compete against GX2 in quad sli

i think the newer series will be doing this "WE LOVE GX2"

16-06-2008, 17:13:46

Bungral
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Silentsnake'
yh ok with driver it may improve by what a max of 5fps

buying a gx2 will be cheaper and ok maybe run abit slower but think about sticking these babies in SLI once the prices are forced down by the newer cards

i would love to see how these cards sin dual sli compete against GX2 in quad sli

i think the newer series will be doing this "WE LOVE GX2"
Well ya could always go Tri Sli with the 280 which "should" spank up the Quad Sli GX2.

That is of course if you have more money than sense.

Edit: 5fps can be the difference between playable and unplayable my friend!

Edit Edit: You wouldn't happen to have a GX2 would ya?

16-06-2008, 17:23:21

Toxcity
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Bungral'
Technically it is new architecture
Nope, it isn't.. same old G92 chip renamed and with 112 more shader processors. That is all. And I could imagen the heat output being close to the GX2s as well.

16-06-2008, 17:29:40

Mr. Smith
You might think I'm biased because I own a GX2, but you know if I thought the 280 was worth it I would buy one in a heartbeat.

The thing is I don't think it is worth it. In this review the 280 loses out to the GX2 in most of the tests. Looking around at other reviews the numbers are all over the place, making it hard to come to any conclusions.

Sure the drivers might squeeze some more out of the card but I can't see it being a significant number of FPS.

If the Vantage tests are anything to go by (280 beats GX2) the 280 will fair MUCH better in future games, it would seem current games aren't making full use of the new architecture.

Overall it's an OK card in the same way the GX2 is an OK card. I'm still waiting on the 'next 88GTX'.

Oh, Silentsnake - GX2's in sli scale terribly and the only game it really works is cod4. May be get 260's in sli if you want a dual card setup.

Decent review Jim but for me the card gets a meh.

16-06-2008, 17:34:55

Bungral
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Toxcity'
Nope, it isn't.. same old G92 chip renamed and with 112 more shader processors. That is all. And I could imagen the heat output being close to the GX2s as well.
Only during full blown 3D gaming. It downclocks itself to next to nothing for normal 2D usage. Think I read somewhere 25w or something. 35w - 50w even watching hi-def video.

Also there is a lot more new shizzle in there than in the previous updates. While not totally new, it's still got some new architecture in there.

16-06-2008, 17:38:20

Bungral
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Mr. Smith'
You might think I'm biased because I own a GX2, but you know if I thought the 280 was worth it I would buy one in a heartbeat.

The thing is I don't think it is worth it. In this review the 280 loses out to the GX2 in most of the tests. Looking around at other reviews the numbers are all over the place, making it hard to come to any conclusions.

Sure the drivers might squeeze some more out of the card but I can't see it being a significant number of FPS.

If the Vantage tests are anything to go by (280 beats GX2) the 280 will fair MUCH better in future games, it would seem current games aren't making full use of the new architecture.

Overall it's an OK card in the same way the GX2 is an OK card. I'm still waiting on the 'next 88GTX'.

Oh, Silentsnake - GX2's in sli scale terribly and the only game it really works is cod4. May be get 260's in sli if you want a dual card setup.

Decent review Jim but for me the card gets a meh.
Yup... Agreed. Not worth the upgrade from a GX2 if you aren't experiencing any issues with it.

I desperately need an upgrade from my GT now though and my girlfriends parents are hopping over the pond at the end of the month. The question is what card do I get them to bring back for me. Can get the 280 for about $650 so 325 - 340. I could live with that after selling my GT for 100-ish. Only a 225 layout.

Edit: I really really wanna see how these things overclock before taking the plunge though ..

16-06-2008, 18:05:59

Silentsnake
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Bungral'

Edit Edit: You wouldn't happen to have a GX2 would ya?
LOL noooooooo course i dont

16-06-2008, 18:14:07

Bungral
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Silentsnake'
LOL noooooooo course i dont
Coulda guessed!!!

I aint knocking the GX2 at all.. If you have that the there is no reason to switch. I'm just thinking from someone who doesn't have a top top end card and is looking at buying one.. ie. me!

It's a toughie. Might be tempted by a GX2 if they suddenly drop in price in the next week or two.

Edit: Found this but don't know how much I believe it.

In overclocking tests, we were able to push the GeForce 260 GTX from 576/1242/999 MHz (GPU/ALU/memory) to 648/1397/1184 MHz, or 12% and 18% respectively. That’s good, and let us squeeze out a gain of 16%, or 8.4 frames per second, at 2560*1600 with Test Drive Unlimited – only 6% slower than the 280 GTX!

Except that obviously we overclocked it too – from 602/1296/1107 MHz to 655/1410/1290 with very good stability, for gains of 9% and 16%. Test Drive Unlimited again benefited from the boost with a 13% increase in frame rate



Also found some dude doing tri sli 280s with LN2. Nut job . Before that though he did some overclocking on air and got up to 710MHz core, 1528MHz shaders and memory clocked a little lower than above at 1196MHz.

16-06-2008, 19:53:07

Hatman
Sooo basically... this brand new spanking card cld still get whiped by 2x 8800GT SLI in quite a few things.

For over double the price??

Sounds gd..

16-06-2008, 20:06:57

Brooksie
Isn't as good as i'd thought it be.

16-06-2008, 20:57:40

pafk0o
After reviews that i have read now i know i wont upgrade my rig until Intel will drop their new cpu on market, card is very good but it work in full performance on highly overclocked CPU`s ,i will stick to my 8800gt sli company for now .... and this price 400 ouch. dont want to think how much will cost gx2

16-06-2008, 21:06:21

Socks
PREORDERED!!!

not...

Wouldnt mind one, but, my 8800gtx is staying firmly in place, especially as i have just bought the watercooling for it.

Not a bad card though, and as Ham says, I do honestly wonder how well it will be with better games, it should be interesting to see.

All we need now are some good game. XD

16-06-2008, 21:16:05

pafk0o
hehe Mario Bros should be good for start to test it ;]

16-06-2008, 21:30:42

pafk0o
uh last comment here , i must admit that after 5 reviews i`m starting to love this card . Good job

17-06-2008, 00:04:32

usman.zx10
after reading about this card all day at work.. im not really feeling it.

i really thought it was going to be amazing. the funny thing is im in the market for a new video card, but for me.. the thought of shelling out 600 bucks for a new card is kinda scary. After all is said and done, im still very curious about the 4870x2.

from what the rumors have been saying that 1 4870 is equal to 1 3870x2. Those to me are some big words.

I think I am ultimately going to go the 3870x2 route.. and if I want better performance I should be able to pick up a second 3870x2 for even cheaper considering the new generation is on its way.

Jim, when are you gettin the new ATI lineup? I am desperately lookin here to make a good decision.. even tho im kind of bound to ati due to chipset..

17-06-2008, 01:14:27

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='usman.zx10'

Jim, when are you gettin the new ATI lineup? I am desperately lookin here to make a good decision.. even tho im kind of bound to ati due to chipset..
4850 should be by end of week, 4870 still has no definite release, but possibly a week later. As for the x2's absolutely no idea on those yet.

17-06-2008, 01:33:05

PV5150
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
I'm not

Yes it's the fastest single card currently but tbh it's not anything particularly special

My 8800 GTX stays put
I'm still on my 8800GTS 640mb and I want to upgrade to the fastest current card (whether it be single or dual-GPU). I'm going to wait until ATI's offering is on the table and then I'll choose.

17-06-2008, 05:24:18

Jaster
Nice review...Jim pulling one out of the hat as usual...nice card...but to be frankly honest theres been no giant leap here...other then in price...we need to see that jump in technology like we saw when the 8800gtx came out...I think Nvidia are too interested in CUDA and Phys-x to be bothered putting a fantastic card into development...over the last 8 months just how many cards have they released....and how different are those cards compared to the previous generation.. I still think that there are serious software issues that need to be resolved in all fields of programming...and that as current hardware goes weve hit a ceiling where the software really needs to catch up....like a few people have said maybe we will see better performance with newer software...and I think even Nvidia see this problem, hence CUDA, if CPU's can't keep up and software sticks to the path its going we'll just bypass them both ... ...

17-06-2008, 08:45:00

Bungral
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Hatman'
Sooo basically... this brand new spanking card cld still get whiped by 2x 8800GT SLI in quite a few things.

For over double the price??

Sounds gd..
Only way I'd consider Sli is on a 790i which would mean dropping another 180 quid on a mobo. If I already had a Sli mobo then I might consider just buying another GT though. That said I don't think I can be arsed with dealing with Sli.

Single GPU FTW!

17-06-2008, 08:55:14

Bungral
I think both Nvidia and ATI have caused themselves problems by releasing these dual core / pcb cards. If you look at what Nvidia have done with the 280 over the previous next best single core card (9800GTX), it's quite impressive. They were pulling the very last bit out of G92 by sticking two of them together with sellotape and then by doing so kinda made this release not so impressive. If they had a GX2 of this on the cards then that would be quite nice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jaster'
Nice review...Jim pulling one out of the hat as usual...nice card...but to be frankly honest theres been no giant leap here...other then in price...we need to see that jump in technology like we saw when the 8800gtx came out...I think Nvidia are too interested in CUDA and Phys-x to be bothered putting a fantastic card into development...over the last 8 months just how many cards have they released....and how different are those cards compared to the previous generation.. I still think that there are serious software issues that need to be resolved in all fields of programming...and that as current hardware goes weve hit a ceiling where the software really needs to catch up....like a few people have said maybe we will see better performance with newer software...and I think even Nvidia see this problem, hence CUDA, if CPU's can't keep up and software sticks to the path its going we'll just bypass them both ... ...

17-06-2008, 09:04:19

Jaster
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Bungral'
I think both Nvidia and ATI have caused themselves problems by releasing these dual core / pcb cards. If you look at what Nvidia have done with the 280 over the previous next best single core card (9800GTX), it's quite impressive. They were pulling the very last bit out of G92 by sticking two of them together with sellotape and then by doing so kinda made this release not so impressive. If they had a GX2 of this on the cards then that would be quite nice!
Yeah i bet these are the dogs in tri sli, and they are by quite a margin for a single core card,

but the point on software being rarely optimised and poorly supported in any multi core platform, either CPU or GPU, really needs to be addressed, I think Nvidia have took steps in the right direction and I think microsoft are lagging a bit, although I do know my dad recieved a crap load of stuff from Microsoft (hes an MCE) about optimization for dual, tri, quad and 8way CPU's last week, (believe me I laughed for an hour, he may be MCE but jeez, my mrs knows more) and we have yet to see what ATI are bringing to the table, especially with the whole intel/havok situation that was released last week,

I think that probably over the next 18 months more interesting and beneficial developments to us enthusiasts will happen in software, and not hardware, but I think everyone will agree....(in a northern accent) 'bout bloody time'

17-06-2008, 11:56:40

rrjwilson
Good review Jim.

New architecture you sods, stop refurbing!

17-06-2008, 17:25:19

Hatman
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Bungral'
Only way I'd consider Sli is on a 790i which would mean dropping another 180 quid on a mobo. If I already had a Sli mobo then I might consider just buying another GT though. That said I don't think I can be arsed with dealing with Sli.

Single GPU FTW!
790i + 2x 8800GT would still be cheaper then a GTX280 lol.

Could probably buy some DDR3 in that price bracket to go with it!!

18-06-2008, 04:24:38

JN
Review updated with overclocking results.

18-06-2008, 04:30:53

Toxcity
Not a bad little clocker is it.

Nice work Jim.

18-06-2008, 08:16:36

Bungral
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
Review updated with overclocking results.
Mmmmm yummy... *goes to look*

Ooooo well good... Impressive results!!

18-06-2008, 08:35:48

Rastalovich
What version of nTune did u use on that ? and was it 64bit Vista OS ?

The clocking looks pretty decent. With some nailed on cooler would do a fair bit more.

Still doesn`t budge me tho atm. nVidia will have to bank on my current card going south, then I`d get one as the fastest single slot available from them atm.

Would indeed be mouth watering vS 48xx range testing. I have a feeling AMD/Ati are going to wipe the floor with pricing.

18-06-2008, 08:44:16

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'
What version of nTune did u use on that ? and was it 64bit Vista OS ?
It was the latest from the normal nvidia site mate. Not sure what version, but I can check later if needed.

OS was Vista 32Bit SP1

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'

The clocking looks pretty decent. With some nailed on cooler would do a fair bit more.

Still doesn`t budge me tho atm. nVidia will have to bank on my current card going south, then I`d get one as the fastest single slot available from them atm.

Would indeed be mouth watering vS 48xx range testing. I have a feeling AMD/Ati are going to wipe the floor with pricing.
From what I've heard "around", the 4870 will be able to turn out some decent numbers but not enough to give NV anything to worry about. The 4870x2 however should obliterate all.

...that is until NV decide to make a 280 GX2 which would clean up yet again.

18-06-2008, 08:44:50

Silentsnake
to be honest my experience with nvidia hasnt been that great!

i had a 8800gtx had its replaced Twice

ive had the 9800 gx2 for less then a month and it has been replaced already

blue screens and high temps are some of the things that come free with nvidia cards lol

i like ATI but they have been one step behind hopefully with this card ATI will shine

18-06-2008, 08:49:28

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
It was the latest from the normal nvidia site mate. Not sure what version, but I can check later if needed.

OS was Vista 32Bit SP1

From what I've heard "around", the 4870 will be able to turn out some decent numbers but not enough to give NV anything to worry about. The 4870x2 however should obliterate all.

...that is until NV decide to make a 280 GX2 which would clean up yet again.
Reason I ask was the last time I installed Vista on my gaming pc, somewhere along the line I had to use rivatuner.. don`t remember totally why, but I know I used to use nTune and found it ok.

I have to reinstall either today or 2morrow and would prefer to use nTune.

18-06-2008, 08:51:38

Jaster
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'

Would indeed be mouth watering vS 48xx range testing. I have a feeling AMD/Ati are going to wipe the floor with pricing.
Agreed, interesting to see how ATI are gonna hit back, especially with them doing a few PR events like cinema 2.0 and AMD/ATI Game Initiative....the 48xx range has got to be something special to put them back on a competing foot...time will tell....

19-06-2008, 02:59:28

doug2507
Well, i've cancelled the order for my GX2 SSC and i'm going to bite the bullet and get 2x 280 GTX. May as well take full advantage of the 790i and go with a proper sli setup. Am i right in thinking it would be a waste of getting a factory oc'd gpu's and that i'd be better off getting stock ones and clocking them myself?

19-06-2008, 03:05:48

Jaster
Depends on the card, but most non factory oc'd cards can be oc'd easily, running my gx2 at the evga SSC edition settings with no problems, probably could squeeze more out of it if I put the fan up...i adjusted the fan once though and it sounded like a vacuum cleaner....

20-06-2008, 08:35:21

niky_d
Great review Jim. Nice performer, but the price tag is too much for my pocket. Will you make a review with the gtx260 too? That would be great, because this one is more in my price rank.

Thx again for the review, mate.

20-06-2008, 08:37:33

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='niky_d'
Great review Jim. Nice performer, but the price tag is too much for my pocket. Will you make a review with the gtx260 too? That would be great, because this one is more in my price rank.

Thx again for the review, mate.
Yeah I'm sure we will. Just getting some of the ATI ones done at the mo, then we'll pick up whatever we left behind

20-06-2008, 09:13:54

niky_d
Thats great mate. I was hoping for the ati reviews too. Let the gpu war begin .

20-06-2008, 10:52:05

PP Mguire
Ive seen loads of reviews and i agree with what somebody said. I believe newer games and updated drivers will take advantage of this monster. I think this because looking at Vantage scores with single, SLI, and Tri-SLI it ranks supreme over even the GX2. Im also firmly believing (By seeing many different reviews) that this card is being held back by CPU.

With that being said, how well do you think one of these would perform on my 939 system if say i had availibility to 4gig DDR500, x64 Ultimate, and an Opty 175 thats reached 3.1ghz on air? (Serious question guys)

Looking forward to the reivew of the ATI lineup as well.
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