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nVidia GeForce GTX 260 review




  • Recommended by TR
nVidia GeForce GTX 260


Our Score:


The GTX 280 is, on average, the fastest single graphics card you can currently buy but it also comes with a seriously hefty price tag, which most of us would simply never consider stretching to pay. This fact was driven home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer by ATI, just a week or so later, when it released its own brand new card, in the form of the HD 4870, and proved that great performance didn't have to cost the earth.

Were this the end of it, nVidia might have had a hard time for the next few months as the vast majority of people recognised the limited reason for paying an extra 40 per cent for only (on average) 10 per cent more performance. However, this isn't the end of it because nVidia also just released the GTX 260, which uses the same GT200 chip as GTX 280 but has a few bits of it disabled, so it's slightly slower, but most importantly it costs less. So let's see how it stacks up.

Apart from the slower clock speeds, the GTX 260 is essentially just a GTX 280 with two Texture Processing Units (TPCs) disabled and two ROP blocks also disabled. Because of the way the ROPs are linked to memory this also means the amount of onboard memory has also been reduced to 896MB and overall memory bandwidth has come down to 111.9GB/s.

As the GTX 260 uses the same GT200 chip found in the GTX 280, it's safe to assume that GTX 260s are being made from GT200 cores that have some slight defects. By disabling the defective area, the rest of the chip can still be used without any problems. This rescues revenue for nVidia from otherwise wasted chips and also provides us with cheaper cards that have close to the same performance. This is a theory that is reinforced when you look at the way GT200 is laid out.

The processing units and texture units are separated into distinct sections on the chip with each section working, in a sense, independently. So, if there is a problem in one of the sections of processing cores (the top left one, say), the associated (i.e. neighbouring) texturing units and ROPs can also be disabled without much difficulty.

I won't cover the intricacies of the GT200 architecture in this article, as you can read all about it in my GTX 280 review. Instead I'll move straight to looking at the card itself. And, of course, the performance figures after that.


July 11, 2008, 8:31 pm

When you say it comes with no games, what is the picture on the front of the box saying 'free game', with a picture of Neverwinter Nights 2, doing there?


July 11, 2008, 8:46 pm

Oh, right you are. I've got so many cards on my desk it's hard to keep track of them all. I've corrected this now.


July 11, 2008, 11:01 pm


Too many cards you say? Maybe I could help take care of one or two ;-)


July 11, 2008, 11:02 pm

i think the crossfire support thing might be the most defining feature in this battle. is there any information on how the GTX 260 performs overclocked against the HD 4870?


July 13, 2008, 12:44 am

Overall your review is well done. However, your review doesn't fully address the running temperatures of the cards reviewed with a graph. Other reviews I've read are showing the two new Radeon cards as running much, much hotter than the two new GTX200 cards. Dangerously too hot! I want a Radeon 4870, but I'll probably be buying the GTX260 instead because of the huge difference in operating temperatures. I will be buying in one month, exactly. The Radeon card manufacturers have until then to release a Radeon 4870 with their own cooler design, as the reference cooler is not up to the task.


July 14, 2008, 3:18 pm

Well, I was also concerned at the running temperatures of both ATI's cards but they seem perfectly stable. Also, if there was any real worry about the operating temperatures, ATI would've fitted better coolers. It's not in its interest to have its cards fail so I'd trust them. As you say, though, if you are concerned you could wait a short while for board partners to release cards with alternative coolers.


November 12, 2008, 11:13 am

THe card's are designed to be able to handle the high temp's. Doesn't mean I want those high temp's in my case to begin with. I also don't like driver's I have to constantly fidget with to keep working right. I've stayed away from teh Red camp for those two reason's. Teh Green offering's work, and they work very well.

Jeff 4

January 22, 2010, 11:34 am

I just ordered a "custom built" Dell system. Every component in the basic build was upgradeable when ordering except the power supply and the video card. They're an nVidia GeForce GTX260 with a 475 watt PSU.

Did I make a mistake? I'm no expert and didn't notice the PSU was so small relative to the ones that other builds have, (all 800+W or better) Am I going to have trouble with this relatively small PSU and the nVidia GeForce GTX260 card ?

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