ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 graphics card

NVIDIA unleashes the GTX275 graphics card against the ATI Radeon HD 4890

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ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3
  • ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3
  • ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3
  • ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3

Pros

  • Decent performance, cool idle temperatures, audio passthrough

Cons

  • Inferior overclocking potential compared to the Radeon HD 4890, power hungry

Bottom Line

NVIDIA's latest mid-range graphics card provides decent performance without the eye-gouging price tag. It won't smash the Radeon HD 4890 out of the park in every situation, but it does put up a good fight.

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With NVIDIA's GTX275 chipset at its core, ASUS' ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 is NVIDIA's answer to ATI's competitive Radeon HD 4890. Though it might have less memory and a lower clocked graphics processor, the ASUS ENGTX275 graphics card puts up a fight against the Radeon HD 4890 — but it doesn't always come out on top.

The NVIDIA GTX275 GPU (graphics processing unit) is an underpowered version of the GTX285 chipset, using the same 55nm die at a clock speed of 633MHz (the GTX285 runs at 648MHz). The ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 also has 896MB of GDDR3 memory — the GTX285 uses 1GB — and offers memory bandwidth of 127GB per second.

Despite lower clocks and less memory, the ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 graphics card has a thermal design envelope of 219 watts, higher than the 204W consumed by the GTX285. Provided you have a power supply capable of 550W or greater, this shouldn't be a problem (obviously using two of the cards in an SLI configuration will make even greater demands on your power supply).

The ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 is 267mm long, making for a tight squeeze in smaller cases. Two HDCP-capable DVI ports are available, along with an S-Video output port. The graphics card supports audio output through its DVI ports, but requires an internal SPDIF connection.

Though the graphics card doesn't quite have the cooling capacity of the ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G, the single fan manages to keep core temperature at 48 degrees Celsius when idle, reaching 73 degrees under duress. ASUS also provides improved fan control through its bundled SmartDoctor overclocking utility, which reduced idle temperatures to 43 degrees during testing.

The card has minimal overclocking potential compared to the ATI Radeon HD 4890 graphics card. Using SmartDoctor, we boosted core clock speeds from 633MHz to 700MHz and memory from 2268MHz total to 2400MHz, which only yielded a slight performance increase from 33.88 frames per second to 34.31fps in Crysis: Warhead. Beyond this, the graphics card became unstable.

We conducted our benchmarks on a testbed with a Intel Core i7-965 CPU, 6GB of DDR3 RAM and a Western Digital 300GB VelociRaptor hard drive, installed in an Antec Skeleton case and running the 64-bit edition of Windows Vista.

In Futuremark's 3DMark06, the ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 graphics card scored 9028 points, a poor result considering the ATI Radeon HD 4890 scored 10,509 points. In 3DMark Vantage, however, the ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 scored much higher than the Radeon HD 4890: X5508 compared to X4718 points.

In Half Life 2: Episode Two, the ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 ran at 132.35fps while the ATI Radeon HD 4890 graphics card managed 131.42fps. The ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 came out ahead in Far Cry 2 where it scored 55.36fps (the Radeon HD 4890 performed at 48fps) and the DirectX 10 version of Lost Planet where the GTX275 managed 52.45fps compared to the Radeon HD 4890's 34.45fps. In Crysis: Warhead the ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 scored 33.88fps and in Call of Juarez it managed 49fps; these scores are inferior to the ATI Radeon HD 4890 which scored 35.1fps in Crysis: Warhead and 60.3fps in Call of Juarez. The results show that the ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 can outperform the ATI Radeon HD 4890 sometimes but won't consistently beat it.

The ASUS ENGTX275/HTDI/896MD3 graphics card puts up a fairly strong fight against the ATI Radeon HD 4890. Since there is no clear winner between the two video cards, choice ultimately comes down to price and brand loyalty.

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