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It's quite clear that the nVidia GeForce GTX280 performs superbly and, unlike the recent spate of dual-chip cards we've seen, this performance is consistent. Ok, it doesn't absolutely annihilate everything that came before it, like the 8800 GTX did when it arrived, but there's a large enough step up that those looking to upgrade their 8800 GTXs have a worthwhile option. Especially as more and more game will become dependent on the extra shader hardware that GT200 provides.
We also like the card's physical layout with the protective covering of the whole card and LEDs to indicate correct power configuration being welcome additions, while the tried and tested black casing, and a great cooler remain from previous cards. Apart from ATI continuing to have the upper hand when it comes to the way audio pass-through is enabled, we really can't find fault with the GTX280.
One area where the GTX280 inevitably falls down is in its peak power draw but then it's only as high as we would expect and is still lower than some cards that have come before it. Take into account the incredibly low idle and video decoding power usage, as well as support for HybridPower and you've got a card that shouldn't worry you too much when it comes to your electricity bill.
The only factor that really concerns us is price as nVidia has really put the squeeze on, milking every last drop of profit it can while it still has the performance lead. It's not a surprising move, and we're sure its competitors would do the same if they had a chance. However, it's still lamentable. Moreover, while the GTX280 is undeniably the fastest card around, it isn't that much faster. Certainly not enough to justify paying twice as much as a 9800 GTX. Indeed, were we to recommend anything right now it would be to go and buy two 9800 GTX cards and run them in SLI (a topic we may cover shortly). Either that or wait for our review of the GTX260 to see how that stacks up.
We can find absolutely no fault in the GTX280 when it comes to performance and it has all the features most gamers should care about. Unfortunately, nVidia has played hard ball with the pricing and we simply can't recommend buying one at the £400 - £450 asking price.
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