Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The new GeForce GTX 285's performance falls right where you'd expect it to--just slightly ahead of the GeForce GTX 280, but behind the flagship GTX 295. Throughout our testing, the reference GeForce GTX 285 performed right about on par with, or barely faster than a GTX 280. However the higher core, shader, and memory clock frequencies of the EVGA GeForce GTX 285 SSE Edition gave it a larger edge in performance over the GTX 280. Overall, the dual-GPU powered Radeon HD 4870 X2 and GeForce GTX 295 are faster and more powerful than the GTX 285 in games that scale well with multi-GPU configurations, but the GeForce GTX 285 is the fastest single-GPU powered graphics card available today, hands down.
First, let's be clear. We really like the GeForce GTX 285. Its performance is excellent, its power consumption is lower than the previous generation, especially while idling, and thanks to NVIDIA's efforts PhysX and CUDA support now offer more tangible benefits to end-users than ever before.
The GeForce GTX 285's pricing puts it in somewhat of a tough spot though--at least for now. The EVGA GeForce GTX 285 SSC Edition we tested here is priced at $439. Lower-clocked reference cards will come in closer to the $399 mark. That puts them in the same range as the Radeon HD 4870 X2, thanks to its recent price cut and about 15% to 20%, higher than current street prices on the GeForce GTX 280. In the current 3D graphics landscape, it's tough to justify the additional investment currently necessary for a GTX 285. This may very well change in the next few weeks, however, so pay attention to pricing if you're in the market for a new graphics card.
Despite the pricing, which is likely to change anyway, the GeForce GTX 285 is a very strong product. As we've mentioned, it's the fastest single-GPU powered solution on the market today and that should make it very attractive to anyone building a new rig, or upgrading from the previous generation. Finally, we're happy to see NVIDIA continuing to make strides, optimizing their core GPU architecture and executing so well on roadmap releases in their potent 3D Graphics lineup.