Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
Manli Graphics GTX295
NVIDIA's latest beast of a graphics card, courtesy of Manli.
- Unrivalled performance, HDMI with audio passthrough
- Extremely heavy and big, high price tag, some inconsistent DirectX 9 performance
If size, weight and price are of no concern, then Manli's GTX295 graphics card is a logical choice. It will offer unrivalled performance in almost all situations
Price$ 989.00 (AUD)
The Manli Graphics GTX295 is a high-end graphics card that employs two NVIDIA GTX200 series GPUs. It provides unrivalled performance in almost all situations and there is little we can fault it for — save its weight and its price tag.
Manli's GTX295 graphics card has the same premium specifications as the ASUS ENGTX295. The dual-GPU card boasts a total of 1792MB of GDDR3 memory at a clock speed of 1998MHz over a 896-bit memory interface, rivalling the AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. The core clock speed is only 576MHz, compared to the Radeon HD 4870 X2's standard 750MHz, but clock speeds are never the full story.
A black shroud covers one of the Manli GTX295's two printed circuit boards, housing a single fan which distributes cool air to both GPUs and the memory modules. Louvers and a heatsink over the GPUs extract excess heat during operation. The cooling method isn't as excessive as those found on cards like the ASUS EAH4870 MATRIX/HTDI/512MD5, but it works effectively. As the GTX295 chipset matures, cards with more extravagant cooling solutions are likely to be released.
During testing, the fan and louvres kept the card to a reasonable idle temperature of 54°C; it only reached 76°C under duress. The fan isn't silent but its volume is still acceptable at full speed.
Given the size of the card, it is surprising that a single fan can keep it this cool. At 267mm in length and taking up two PCI slots, the GTX295 is nothing short of massive. Most ATX cases should accommodate it with some effort, though if you're planning on a Quad SLI configuration — that is, two of these dual-GPU behemoths side by side — don't expect much space for any other internal expansion. Weighing in at 1.2kg, the card is sure to take full advantage of all of those newfangled motherboards touting multiple copper layers for increased strength.
Beyond the two standard DVI ports found on most modern video cards, the Manli GTX295 also offers a HDMI port, complete with an audio passthrough that can be connected to your motherboard's internal SPDIF connection using the supplied cable. The card's power needs are close to excessive — you'll need a 6-pin and 8-pin connections to even power up the card. Manli doesn't provide a power supply wattage recommendation, but given that the card is quite similar to the ASUS ENGTX295 680W certainly wouldn't go astray. Just in case the fan spinning up doesn't alert you, the card has a small LED located near the DVI and HDMI ports to let you know if it is working.
Thankfully, that power does translate to performance. We ran the Manli GTX295 graphics card through a bevy of tests on our updated graphics testbed: a Vista 64-bit machine running an Intel Core i7 965, with 6GB of DDR3 RAM and a Western Digital VelociRaptor (WD3000GLFS) hard drive, installed in an Antec Skeleton case.
We ran the card through Futuremark's synthetic benchmarks — 3DMark 06 and the more recent 3DMark Vantage. The Manli GTX295 scored 9688 points in the former — a comparatively low score — but managed a more respectable X8556 points in the latter. The 3DMark Vantage score is a huge increase over the X6328 scored by the ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G.
In our DirectX 10 gaming benchmarks, the Manli GTX295 scored 74.25 frames per second in Far Cry 2, and a similar 74.3fps in Call of Juarez. On the DirectX 9 front, the zombie-infested Left 4 Dead achieved 81.76fps, while the less intensive Half Life 2: Episode 2 was a breeze for the Manli GTX295 at 129.87 frames per second. Half Life 2: Episode 2 proved the only game in which the GTX295 graphics card lost to the ASUS EAH4870X2/HTDI/2G, which scored a marginally better 137.27fps. Nevertheless, in all other tests Manli's NVIDIA card came out on top.
If you want top-of-the-line performance, Manli's GTX295 is certainly the best choice at the moment. Unfortunately, given its price tag it will be out of reach for many.
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