XFX 280GTX XXX Edition

Packaging and Appearance

Packaging & Appearance
 
XFX have long been the leaders in packaging, so it should come as no surprise that the XFX 280GTX XXX edition, costing £356.69 from Scan, be packaged with the same high standards XFX have previously set. True to form, the product arrives in a very sleek matt and gloss finished outer package with neon green trademarks, along the Alpha Dog set as the backdrop. The only difference between this box and the stock 280GTX is a very subtle additional sticker, no doubt making it a nightmare for warehouse staff to identify! To the rear, we see the usual 'Key Features' along with the claim that the GTX280 is 50% faster than previous generations.
 
Box Front Box Rear
 
The sides of the packaging are nothing extra ordinary with the 'Nsist on NVidia' emblem to the left hand side and the recommended requirements along with a PSU advisory situated along the bottom of the box. A 630W PSU with a 12v current rating of 40A or more is the order of the day or if you are rich enough for SLI 280GTX XXX's, a 680W PSU will be required.
 
Side small Side large
  
Taking the outer sleeve off the package, we find a traditional but sturdy lime green box emblazoned with the XFX logo. Opening that box, we find a very securely packed GTX280 GTX XXX, contained in an anti-static bag. There is not a chance in hell, bar a nuclear blast, that the card would get damaged in transit with excellent packing like this. Beneath the card and the layer of foam, we find the driver CD, the excellent Assassins Creed game and manuals for the card
 
A cardboard separator houses a molex-6 pin adapter, HDMI Audio cable and VGA-DVI adapter. So everything you need to get started. There is a little minor point and that is there is no molex-8 pin adapter so please make sure your PSU has an available PCIe 8pin before buying as unlike the ATI cards which can be powered via 6pin, the GTX280 definitely needs an 8 pin supply or it will not post.
 
Inner Box Nvidia Inside
 
Accessories
 
The card itself measures 10.5" x 4.4" x 1.5" (LxWxH) so will fit in any case that an 8800GTX will. The actual card is fully encased in a plastic and metal frame that serves to both channel air through over the card and lower the possibility of static discharge. The case is then emblazoned with full length XFX 'stickery' that is going to be there for the duration. I was tempted to rip the sticker off to gain access to the GTX's innards but I doubt I would have been able to do so without destroying the look of the card, which I'm certain XFX wouldn't have been too happy about! Rest assured the stickers will not come off on their own accord.
 
Card front Card back
 
Side View Horizontal view
 
Taking a closer look at the card, we see that the fan is the same size and specification as it's sibling GTX260's, in fact, apart from the stickers and obviously the performance, you would be hard pushed to tell one card from the other. Nowhere on the card is there any notification that this is a XXX edition either which is a little surprising but given the clockspeed attained it would be doubtful that there are many yields capable of such a speed that would warrant a different design.
 
Card end 2 Card end 1
 
 A neat little touch on the 200 series of cards is an SLI tab. This removable tab gives access to the SLI keys should you wish to use them. If not, then the rubber tab keeps them hidden away out of harms way without destroying the sleek lines of the card.
 
Access denied access granted
  
Last of all, we come to the business ends of the card. Firstly and as stated previously, you will need both a 6pin and 8Pin PCIe power cables. Disappointingly, the PCIe power sockets do not light up red/green as with the 9800GX2 but it is really only cosmetic, as the card will refuse to allow your PC to post should you not supply it with the correct power cables.
 
The backplate is a pretty standard affair with 2x DVI ports (1 x VGA adapter included) and an S-Video port. There is also a tiny green LED that notifies you when the card is powered on. Below the connections is the main vent area.
 
Power requirements Backplate
  
So, a very strong showing from XFX with class leading packaging and a stunning looking card. Although the card is a  reference design, the stickers are top quality glossy affairs and not some dodgy, paper type ones that peel off after an hours use. The card feels solid, heavy (but not overly so) and because of the casing should last the test of time. I do have some concerns about the heatsink getting clogged with dust and the inevitable cleaning required. With no easy access to the card itself, the only way to clean the heatsink would be by the use of compressed air cannisters but even then you have no way of knowing that the heatsink is clean and dust free. Not really a concern initially and not XFX's fault as it is a standard design but something worth thinking about if you intend to keep the card for a few years.
 
Overall, I'm very impressed with the presentation and as stated previously, it is something we have become accustomed to with XFX who are without doubt, second to no-one in this department.
 
Lets take a look now at the main feature of the review, PhysX.
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Most Recent Comments

16-09-2008, 07:26:10

w3bbo
"PhysX has been a failure for AGEIA in the past, can XFX and NVidia conjour up some interest in game physics with the latest XXX edition of the GTX280?"

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...100850312l.jpg

Read the full review here.

16-09-2008, 07:57:41

Mr. Smith
Q. What is innovative about this product?

I don't understand why it was given that award. Decent review, lacking on game benchmarks though /

16-09-2008, 08:15:24

w3bbo
No offence intended m8 but did you actually read the review or just skim over it? The review was aimed more towards PhysX, something I don't feel has had enough exposure. I could easily have benched it against a number of other cards which has been done time and time again. We have already reviewed a stock GTX280 so the overclocked 280 would give a predictable increase in scores and make for some pretty bland reading. I did include some benchmarks against other cards at the end to show the 'predictable' outcome so felt little need to emphasize that fact by running it on 6 or 7 titles. I would like to have seen some more benchmarks run on PhysX enabled games but they are few and far between as it is new and INNOVATIVE technology, incorporating PhysX into a GPU.

I just wanted to show some of the benefits other than raw FPS otherwise every review would be the same, which is not what people want to read imo - maybe I'm wrong?

16-09-2008, 08:44:39

Rastalovich
Good review, I like the smell of this card.

Thing Mr.Smith may be leaning at with the PhysX aspect is.. well.. the 9800GTX will do the PhysX too, and so on.

%age of "good" games that come out and those games that utilize PhysX isn`t that big a margin. Sure it isn`t wildly touted as it could be, but I`m often surprised to notice the blue spinning lights of the PhysX card come on in games I had no idea used it. In particular users of the UT3 engine, and there have been a few.

I`d buy this card over a 4870x2 whenever presented the choice tbh.

16-09-2008, 08:45:09

Bungral
I had a little read of this before bed last night. Some of the physics stuff looked good like shooting the cloth.. That was pretty cool. Will have a proper read later though.

One thing I did notice was that on the opening page I think it is when you mention how much it's overclocked from factory stock speeds you only actually mention how much one of the clocks is up by MHz.. You give 11% but I really couldn't be dealing with working it out and had to go find the other review for stock clocks as I couldn't remember (even though I owned one ).

Very small thing and just me being picky

16-09-2008, 08:54:57

w3bbo
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'
Good review, I like the smell of this card.

Thing Mr.Smith may be leaning at with the PhysX aspect is.. well.. the 9800GTX will do the PhysX too, and so on.

%age of "good" games that come out and those games that utilize PhysX isn`t that big a margin. Sure it isn`t wildly touted as it could be, but I`m often surprised to notice the blue spinning lights of the PhysX card come on in games I had no idea used it. In particular users of the UT3 engine, and there have been a few.

I`d buy this card over a 4870x2 whenever presented the choice tbh.
The thing is PhysX has not really been touched on in any great detail in graphics cards reviews, at least none that I have read and what better way to try it out than with a flagship card? This is something I thought would be of interest to folk aswell as put a different take on the review rather than stick to the norm. A predicatble review is a boring review that no one wishes to read - hence the emphasis on PhysX which hopefully some folk have found interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Bungral'
I had a little read of this before bed last night. Some of the physics stuff looked good like shooting the cloth.. That was pretty cool. Will have a proper read later though.

One thing I did notice was that on the opening page I think it is when you mention how much it's overclocked from factory stock speeds you only actually mention how much one of the clocks is up by MHz.. You give 11% but I really couldn't be dealing with working it out and had to go find the other review for stock clocks as I couldn't remember (even though I owned one ).

Very small thing and just me being picky
Fixed - cheers m8.

16-09-2008, 10:45:27

SuB
hey nice review nice to see something on physx for a change,

btw what is the cover/plastic tab near the 2 power inputs with an speaker icon on it?

(sorry if this was mentioned i just have no idea what it is)

16-09-2008, 11:12:07

gotmaxpower
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='SuB'
hey nice review nice to see something on physx for a change,

btw what is the cover/plastic tab near the 2 power inputs with an speaker icon on it?

(sorry if this was mentioned i just have no idea what it is)
IIRC, thats SP-DIF.

Really not sure though.

16-09-2008, 12:36:43

w3bbo
Its an HDMI audio output.

Cheers for all the constructive criticism guys. After all, a review is only as good as the feedback it receives and if there is anything you would like to see added or omitted in future reviews please let us know.

16-09-2008, 12:42:36

Luigi
Nice one The card gets slaughtered by the 4870x2 though

16-09-2008, 13:56:28

k4p84
I've got a couple of vanilla XFX GTX280's turning up in a few days.

Lets see if i can OC them to match

16-09-2008, 14:08:10

Hassan
Enjoyed every bit. Nice one webbo. http://forum.overclock3d.net/oc3d/icons/icon14.gif

16-09-2008, 14:23:38

w3bbo
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='teknokid'
Nice one The card gets slaughtered by the 4870x2 though
The 4870x2 has two GPU's though and in Unreal Tournament at least, the GTX280 returns the favour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='k4p84'
I've got a couple of vanilla XFX GTX280's turning up in a few days.

Lets see if i can OC them to match
Lets hope so - best of luck

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Hassan'
Enjoyed every bit. Nice one webbo. http://forum.overclock3d.net/oc3d/icons/icon14.gif
Cheers m8y.

16-09-2008, 17:08:16

Zoot
Great review and really interesting from the Physx point of view.

I agree about Physx not really offering much to date, but now it really has the potential to take off and that is refreshing to see.

As for the card itself, I can honestly say that if I was to go out and buy one of the Flagship cards today I would without doubt get the 280 on account of it being a single GPU job.

16-09-2008, 17:12:13

Rastalovich
Think the emphasis for PhysX in games is going to be bulstered by the fact nVidia has it now.

For so long we`ve see the nVidia logos greeting us each time we load a game, I do feel the same pushing and dev co-operation will lend it`s weight to PhysX.

Give it til Q1 2k9, if the games don`t arrive, then it`ll have failed it`s promotion.

16-09-2008, 17:21:02

w3bbo
If there is one thing NVidia are good at it's marketting. NVidia are invariably bigger than ATI and so will no doubt push the physX onto game developers. I honestly don't expect PhysX to fade like it did with AGEIA.

16-09-2008, 17:44:41

FarFarAway
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Mr. Smith'
Q. What is innovative about this product?

I don't understand why it was given that award.
I'm with Mr.Smith on this one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='webbo'
I just wanted to show some of the benefits other than raw FPS otherwise every review would be the same, which is not what people want to read imo - maybe I'm wrong?
THIS I agree with, the review was excellent and it's great to see something different., nicely done.

BUT the actual product is no more innovative than anything else currently on the market - where's the XFX 280GTX XXX Edition's unique innovative feature above the all the rest of the GPU's out there?

16-09-2008, 18:55:11

w3bbo
I can see what you are saying but afaik NVidia PhysX has not been touched on in any of the other GPU's capable of running it. Sure we have reviewed other GPU's capable of PhysX but the 'innovative' PhysX incorporated in the GPU has not been recognised and therefore was something I wanted to reward with the 'award' - recognition of an innovation that had been missed previously.

Maybe I am missing the point and you don't think that it is innovative that PhysX no longer requires a separate card costing 80+?

17-09-2008, 02:08:55

doug2507
Big thumbs up from me. I've not read a single review of a 280 that delves into the depths of the PhysX side of life. Its good to see something different and get a bit of an eye opener into something else. It just goes to show that its not a total hammering by ATi when you factor in games that can utilise the PhysX element. I for one shall be basking in the eye candy now possible when i crank up my 280's.

I can see the point about the innovation award. Its the whole range of 280's that should be awarded it. Not specifically aimed at one card as they all possess the PhysX. Open to interpretation and pernicketyness.

17-09-2008, 02:49:50

PV5150
Nice review mate and I do appreciate the PhysX angle, however I have to agree with what has been said previously about the 'Innovation Award'. If you give it to this card, then you really ought to award it to all GTX 280's in order to be fair across the board.

17-09-2008, 04:07:23

Diablo
Do 2 4870X2 out perform a pair of 280s in SLI? I heard that it scaled poorly in Xfire. Is the cooling on this xxx the same as normal, because I had very little difficulty on getting higher clocks, I was just worrying about the heat (2 cards = viable alternative to a heater)

I wonder when forceware 180 comes out and see whether the cards are better optimised then?

17-09-2008, 04:52:55

doug2507
All the 280's have the same cooling as std apart from the 2 w/c ones from BFG and EVGA afaik.

17-09-2008, 05:01:01

Mr. Smith
Get your quotes on!

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='webbo'
No offence intended m8 but did you actually read the review or just skim over it? The review was aimed more towards PhysX, something I don't feel has had enough exposure. /snip
No offence taken, I appreciate you put a lot of work into the review and it was an interesting spin to look at physx but I remember the big fuss 2 years ago about the physx card on this site, for it then to be revisited again a year later here and then for nvidia to take it on and add it in the 9800 series and now to see it again... It just isn't innovative if it has been done before on nvidia gpu's and there isn't anything innovative about this particular 280 which was my point. I don't want any animosity between a fellow member so in future I'll explain my points fully...

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'
Think Mr. Smith may be leaning at with the PhysX aspect is.. well.. the 9800GTX will do the PhysX too, and so on.

%age of "good" games that come out and those games that utilize PhysX isn`t that big a margin. /snip
Bingo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='webbo'
If there is one thing NVidia are good at it's marketting. NVidia are invariably bigger than ATI and so will no doubt push the physX onto game developers. I honestly don't expect PhysX to fade like it did with AGEIA.
I'd like that to be true but my gut feeling is that if after 2 years physx isn't getting off the ground, will it ever?

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
I'm with Mr.Smith on thisone.

THIS I agree with, the review was excellent and it's great to see something different., nicely done.

BUT the actual product is no more innovative than anything else currently on the market - where's the XFX 280GTX XXX Edition's unique innovative feature above the all the rest of the GPU's out there?
QFT and I did say it was a decent review in the first place!

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='PV5150'
Nice review mate and I do appreciate the PhysX angle, however I have to agree with what has been said previously about the 'Innovation Award'. If you give it to this card, then you really ought to award it to all GTX 280's in order to be fair across the board.
QFT.

It was an interesting read and it has sparked debate and interest so I'dsay the review was a hit

17-09-2008, 05:09:41

Diablo
I thought all cards had the same cooling solution, just wanted to make sure before putting the clocks sky and and suddenly smelling burning silicon

17-09-2008, 05:31:36

w3bbo
Ok fair one - maybe this card alone does not deserve the innovation award. But somewhere along the line NVidia should have been commended for incorporating PhysX into their cards no? Surely it would be unfair not to give any of the cards the award, much the same as it wouldn't be right to give them all the award as by now the 'innovation' should no longer be innovative. As you all rightly say, the 280 is at the end of a long line of cards capable, so it should really have been the very first review of a card by NV that was capable of PhysX.

Sadly, this is the first time PhysX has been explored on a GPU at OC3D due to it being missed in previous reviews and as such, the first time we have really become aware of the innovation, so it only seems right, that this is where the innovation award is awarded. It is no good burying our heads in the sand, denying that it isn't innovative as it has been done before. It may well have been done before but when did it get recognised? When was the award handed out previously?

Sorry guys, but the innovation, albeit delayed in being awarded, is here to stay.



They don't still stone people for handing out awards do they?

17-09-2008, 05:41:36

Diablo
I think its a good card but doesn't add anything new because even a vanilla card can be OCed. It is a great review for exploring Physx, something of which I hope we see more of in the future.

With forceware 180, will we be able to use any 8,9 or 200 series for physics processing? If does it have to be SLIed because an albatron 8600GT PCI card looks good for that?

17-09-2008, 05:45:04

Mr. Smith
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='webbo'



They don't still stone people for handing out awards do they?
Blaspemy!

17-09-2008, 05:49:14

w3bbo
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Mr. Smith'
LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Diablo'
I think its a good card but doesn't add anything new because even a vanilla card can be OCed. It is a great review for exploring Physx, something of which I hope we see more of in the future.

With forceware 180, will we be able to use any 8,9 or 200 series for physics processing? If does it have to be SLIed because an albatron 8600GT PCI card looks good for that?
The 'Big Bang 2' drivers are said to include the following :

* Multimonitor support for SLI

* Display Port support

* OpenGL 3.0

* Hardware video transcoding

* GPU PhysX support

* Performance optimizations

Whether the physX support is aimed at using, say, a low end card for PhysX only and a high end card for other GPU calculations I couldn't say but it would certainly be a neat way of utilising your old NV GPU's.

For those who want to give PhysX a try out, here is the latest driver:

http://www.nvidia.com/object/physx_8.09.04_whql.html

17-09-2008, 05:54:07

Diablo
I'm in the rather annoying position of having a really nice sound card and not wanting to get rid of that in order to stick a third x16 card in. Hence the pure power of a PCI bus card (try saying that while eating)

17-09-2008, 05:56:49

w3bbo
I'm fairly confident SLI 280GTX's will be able to handle PhysX m8.

17-09-2008, 05:59:05

k4p84
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='webbo'
But somewhere along the line NVidia should have been commended for incorporating PhysX into their cards no?[/SIZE]
Is the addition of Physx not just a driver/software update? They did not own Ageia when the 8 series was been made yet it is now Physx capable.

ED

17-09-2008, 06:00:28

Diablo
My mentality: Can something else be put on? If not, why not, if so...new parts here we come. This is mainly why the case is a rats nest of wire, has a 220mm fan on the outside and has one drive bay left...

17-09-2008, 08:14:57

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='k4p84'
Is the addition of Physx not just a driver/software update? They did not own Ageia when the 8 series was been made yet it is now Physx capable.

ED
Afaic, the initial release of the nVidia variant of the Aegia drivers was merely a recompile of the existing source.

They happened to use the gpu, they could equally have used the cpu, and what it looks like they`re point towards was a selector for the user to use whatever they chose.

The code must be either that good, or that well structured, that they were capable of adapting it in whichever fashion they wanted. This could be cos it was perhaps dev`d as a cross platform or simply x86 for giggles and final compile for the pci physx cards.

Either way, it was obviously easy for nVidia to cope with and manipulate to an extent. I feel they automatically discounted the cpu calculator in preference to gpu/physx-pci-card as the gains are that much greater.

Get some gaming companies rolled in tbh !!

17-09-2008, 10:20:00

Diablo
I reckon that as Physx was coded in C, the PCI card could handle that, and as the 8 series onwards have got CUDA (C with a bit of adaptation) it wouldn't be too difficult to use the graphics chips in the way described above

19-09-2008, 14:20:19

Diablo
Sorry for the double post, but:

What were the temperatures for the 280GTX XXX? I have an Asus card (air cooled) that is OCed to about 645MHz and one (the primary) sits at 72 on load, the second sits at 80 (after a quick 2 hour stint on crysis at max settings and 8xQ aa)

22-09-2008, 16:19:03

PP Mguire
The 4870x2 had such a hit in FPS with enabled PhysX becasue the calculations had to be done on the cpu which means obviously youll take a hit in FPS where with the Nvidia card the calculations are done on the GPU meaning greater FPS.

People need to realize what exactly PhysX is and does before judging it and performance vs eye candy.

PhysX is nothing but added on eye candy which is going to actualy stress whatever its run on more. The GTX had the upper and becasue it can calculate PhysX faster than a CPU in case of the 4870x2. So if you enable that PhysX button expect a drop in FPS, not an increase. Vantage on the other hand gets an increase becasue the calculations are done on the GPU ratehr than the CPU so obviously youll get more FPS. Games though, are the opposite.

Also, saying lack of PhysX games is actualy quite untruthful. There are alot more PhysX enabled games than you might think. Devs just dont make a big stink about it like they did with UT3....which imo was a flop.

24-09-2008, 12:58:24

SuB
afaik physx was implementable because of the unified shader unit things.

Because the 8 series were the first to use these they are the first to be able to use physx, i think its the same in the 280's they have SO MANY unified shaders they have more spare for doing physics calculations. thats my view on it anyway? i don't think there is any EXTRA hardware per-se its just the way the code was adapted, and the shaders adapted to be able to calculate complex physics?

I got a physx card when i got my 8800gts before the ownership change and can compare the performance between the 2 and honestly (oddly) the 8800 kicks its ass :| which is shocking.

but then those 'unlock a 100% performance gain' drivers never appeared for the physx cards that they were on about on release.
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