XFX 280GTX XXX Edition

Conclusion

ConclusionXFX GTX280 XXX
 
Before writing this review, I did a little reading about PhysX to refresh the memory and the signs were not good. PhysX of old appeared to be a flashy add on that did little to appeal to the gamers palate. Online competitive players will no doubt tweak the game config until it no longer resembles the original title anyway and have little time to stand back in awe at the special effects PhysX has to offer. However, as the results show, frames-per-second can actually be increased, quite dramatically, by the use of PhysX and until ATI get Havoc on the scene and release some reliable drivers to complement it, NVidia may have the upper hand once more. With over 150 titles due for, or already released, PhysX it seems, is slowly being incorporated into today's games world.
 
As for the XFX GTX280 XXX, there is little doubt this is the fastest single GPU on the market today. With blistering GPU and memory overclocks, there is simply no single GPU to touch it at the moment. These overclocks however, come at a small cost - roughly £28. Not a bad price to pay when you consider those overclocks are written into the cards BIOS, so it will run those clocks at 'stock', are warranted and require no fine tuning with utilities such as Rivatuner. You won't need to flash the BIOS yourself to gain such clocks (thereby invalidating the warranty and possibly killing the card), no volt mods are required either. What you pay for is what you get - the fastest single GPU on the planet.
 
So where should your money go? Before I got my hands on the GTX 280, it really was a 'no brainer'. The 4870x2 is the fastest card out there at the moment - FACT. Nothing, not even the GTX280 XXX can touch it in non PhysX games. It is on a par with the GTX280 XXX price wise but with the 4870x2 giving greater, raw performance, XFX are relying heavily on brand loyalty. The GTX's power consumption is considerably lower than the 4870x2. It also won't suffer from the dreaded 'micro-stutter' dual cards seems to be plagued with. The GTX, as it is a single GPU, does not need any fancy on-board crossfire/sli chip nor does it require Crossfire/SLI enabled games to perform at its peak. What it does need are more PhysX enabled games and although there are more games in the pipeline, no-one can say for sure whether PhysX is here to stay this time but by the performance increases available and the eye candy on display today, I certainly hope so. 
 
So, call me an optimist, call me a lunatic, call me anything you want because all things considered, the XFX GTX280 XXX is where my money would go at the moment. You may however, want to wait a little while until the '+' cards are unleashed upon us, or perhaps an XFX GTX 280 GX2 XXX+ edition (now that would be something worth getting tongue tied over!) but that's another story for another time.
 
The Good
- PhysX
- Presentation second to none
- Overclocked heavily from stock
- Quiet
 
The Mediocre
- Lack of PhysX enabled games
- The Price
 
The Bad
 - Still behind the 4870x2 on raw performance despite being overclocked.
 
 
Gamers Choice Innovation
 
 
Big thanks to XFX for providing us with the GTX280 XXX edition for this review. Discuss this review in our forums.
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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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