MSI N280GTX-T2D1GOC, GeForce GTX 280 Redux

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Our Test System and 3DMark Vantage

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on an Asus nForce 790i SLI Ultra based Striker II Extreme motherboard powered by a Core 2 Extreme QX6850 quad-core processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring these test systems was enter their respective BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS, and installed the latest DX10 redist and various hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Intel and NVIDIA Powered

Hardware Used:
Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3GHz)

Asus Striker II Extreme
(nForce 790i SLI Ultra chipset)

Reference GeForce 9800 GX2
Reference GeForce GTX 260
EVGA GeForce GTX 280
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X2

2048MB Corsair DDR3-1333 C7
(2 X 1GB)

Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Western Digital "Raptor" 74GB
(10,000RPM - SATA)

Relevant Software:
Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
DirectX June 2008 Redist

NVIDIA Forceware v177.39
ATI Catalyst v8.8b

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Unreal Tournament 3 v1.2**
Crysis v1.2*
Half Life 2: Episode 2*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars*

* - Custom Demo
** - FRAPS, Custom Demo

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DirectX Gaming

3DMark Vantage

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which y isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Extreme preset option, which uses a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200, with 4X anti-aliasing and 16X anisotropic filtering.

In our 3DMark Vantage testing, the MSI N280GTX offered up exactly the kind of performance we expected, clocking in right next to our other GeForce GTX 280 cards from EVGA and Asus.  MSI's card is clocked slightly slower than both the EVGA and Asus cards, with a 650MHz core speed versus 670MHz for the others.  In addition, its memory clock is set slightly slower as well, at 2300MHz (1.150GHzx2 - GDDR3) versus the others at 2420MHz (1.21GHzx2 - GDDR3).  As you can see, this doesn't equate to much of a deficit though, at least as far as 3DMark Vantage is concerned.  Finally, you can see that the Radeon HD 4870 X2 dual GPU card has a bit more performance headroom here, but again, it also commands a significant price premium.

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