Test Setup and Benchmark Results
Time to put the card to the test. I swapped my good old E8600 for the i950 as a daily rig. For the tests I used to the same ones as in the the Asus GTX 285 Matrix
and MSI GTX 275 Lightning
review. The Futuremark synthetic tests opted for are : 3DMark01, 3DMark03 and 3DMark06. For the Game tests I opted to go for games that have an integrated benchmark. This makes my life far easier and I must say that the included benchmark tools work pretty fabulous. I had some issues with Left4Dead, results not really being constant enough. Making it one of the reasons it was swapped for the new Resident Evil 5 fixed benchmark. As we are amongst Nvidia based cards I opted to use the MSI GTX 275 Lightning and the GTX 280 as comparison. Gigabyte claims this card can come close to a GTX 275 out of the box. Can it maybe handle MSI's pre OC'ed card too ?
Here's a rundown on the test rig :
Windows XP with SP3 was used as OS (will swap to Windows 7 soon). Latest WHQL Forceware drivers from Nvidia's website were used : namely the 191.07 one. Keep in mind that the main objective is to compare the potential of this Gigabyte card here. Again this is by al means not intended to be a common graphic cards roundup (you've read too many already).
Game tests run at 1280 x 1024 and 1920 x 1200 resolution with the integrated benchmark tool, High detail settings selectedFarcry 2Tom Clancy's HawXResident Evil 5 Fixed Benchmark
We took the average FPS from three game runs (all after a fresh reboot). Maximum FPS means nothing if your minimum FPS drops too much, making a game unplayable. Since I'm used to playing First person shooters my own personal minimum limit is 60 FPS. If I can't keep that steady I'm lowering detail levels or if I can sell my wife I'll buy new hardware.
I ran the Gigabyte card out of the box and with the following overclock (fan speed still on AUTO) :
Like always, this card can do even more even if we up the fan speed to the max. Take note that not all cards clock the same and your final overclock can vary. For a stock cooler these are really high clocks to manage. I can vouch that the cards temps really stayed within the sub 75°C all the time during testing and stress tests. Even when I fired up ATI tool and chose to stress for artefacts the cooler on AUTO managed the heat amazingly well.
Synthetic wise, this card is a bomb. On the 3DMarks, it just crushes a reference GTX 260 SP216 card. Its higher clocks and uber ram clocks even can manage to stay ahead of a reference GTX 275 card. There's some serious potential under the hood here. When being overclocked to 725GPU speeds and the rams at 1350mhz it even eats the MSI Lightning card and its bigger brother the GTX 280 for breakfast. Note that this overclock is bulletproof on my card, during all of the synthetic and game testing. Higher clocks could be achieved with eg 3DMark01 but eg would lockup in 03. Now how does this reflect in our game tests ?
Comparing this card to a reference GTX 260 seems not fair at all. Averaging at least 10 more FPS is really amazing. The GTX 275 also has to give in and is no match for this factory overclocked monster. The extra added overclock doesn't yield much extra performance, meaning Gigabyte's engineers have chosen the clocks wisely. A good speed/stability ratio is a must for a gaming card. Benchers will be bale to hunt down them extra points with this offering for sure.
When upping the gaming resolution to 1920 x 1200, the performance of this card remains stunning. The Super Overclock Card still giving the far more expensive and higher rated Nvidia cards a slap on the bottom. This really is a GTX 260 on steroids. Nothing to be ashamed off if your neighbour at the LAN asks what Videocard you are running. If he laughs, just give him a run for his money :p I know you can do it with this card :)