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nVidia GeForce GTX 295 - nVidia GeForce GTX 295
This design does raise the age old concern of heat being pumped back into the case rather than straight out the back, which can lead to overheating. However, when you're running a card that pumps out as much heat as this one does - its Thermal Design Power is 289W - you simply have to accept that your case will need to be well ventilated so this shouldn't concern you too much.
Despite the significant heat, the GTX 295's fan manages to be reasonably quiet. However, there's a noticeable gentle whoosh even when the card is idling, so it's far from silent, and when at full pelt there is a peculiar fluttering noise that I initially thought might be because of the fins hitting something inside the card. After borrowing a second card and confirming this was something both cards did, I concluded it was just a symptom of the aerodynamics of the cooling mechanism and shouldn't be something to worry about.
Also, it's worth pointing out, the GTX 295's big rival, the ATI HD 4870 X2, has a noticeable idle noise, and has a slightly louder whooshing noise at full pelt but lacks the slight fluttering effect. It's essentially impossible to say if either is better or worse but as with the heat output issue, noise is just something you have to accept when using such a powerful card.
The GTX 295's output configuration is slightly different to what we're used to. Instead of two dual-link DVI ports and a multi-format analogue video output, we still have two dual-link DVI sockets but they're now accompanied by an HDMI port. While some people may lament the lack of analogue outputs, we think all those connections have long since had their day and they probably should've gone the way of the dodo a long time ago. Of course, the DVI ports still support VGA connection by way of a DVI-to-VGA dongle, which in the case of this ASUS ENGTX295 that we were provided with, comes in the box along with a dual-Molex to six-pin PCI-Express power adapter and a dual-six-pin PCI-Express to eight-pin PCI-Express adapter.
Asus also includes a code that you can use to save yourself 10 per cent on a selection of games, the full details of which you can find on the nZone website. The last little extra you get with this particular card is a neat little leather 12 disc CD wallet.
Unsurprisingly, this card requires both a six-pin and an eight-pin PCI-Express power adapter so you'll need a hefty modern power supply to run it - despite the inclusion of power adapters in the box, you'll still need a power supply with either a six-pin and an eight-pin or three six-pin connections and a maximum power rating of at least 680W.
Of course, if you want to take advantage of the SLI connection that sits atop the card, you'll need an even bigger power supply still. However, I'm sure if you were considering spending the best part of £800 on two of these cards to run a quad-SLI system, you won't mind spending an extra few hundred on a new power supply.
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