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Zotac GeForce GTX 285 & GTX 295
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by Rob Williams on January 27, 2009 in NVIDIA-Based GPU

When NVIDIA released their GTX 285 and 295 earlier this month, they successfully reclaimed the performance crown for both single and dual-GPU graphics cards. We’re finally putting both of these models through our grueling testing, in both single card and SLI configurations, to see just how much value can be had when compared to previous offerings.

Mirror’s Edge

What was the last first-person game on the PC to truly blow you away, or offer some unique gameplay experience? New first-person shooters come out quite often, and while some show off some new features and gameplay twists, few of them truly regenerate the genre like we’d hope. Mirror’s Edge is a title that strived to do just that, and for the most part, I’d have to say they’ve done a great job.

First and foremost, Mirror’s Edge isn’t so much a first-person shooter as it is a first-person adventure game, because for the most part, combat isn’t the main focus. Throughout some of the few levels I played through, at times there could be a full ten-minute span without even seeing a single person, which is actually somewhat refreshing. The game focuses on figuring out the best way to get from point A to point B, heavily utilizing the parkour style of travel.

Most levels in Mirror’s Edge offers a similar level of system-intensity, so I based our choice on one that was fun to play through, and one that allowed an easily-replicable run-through. It takes place in chapter six, “Pirandello Kruger”, and Checkpoint A. We begin in a large building, behind a window, looking out at the city. Our run-through takes us outside of this building, down to the street and up to the top of the building shown to the right in the above screenshot.

In this particular title, 50 FPS is for the most part what I consider to be a desirable frame rate. Although the game is playable with much lower, it’s far from being as smooth as it could be, and in a game that requires quick reflexes, smooth gameplay is a must.

With that said, almost all of the cards could handle the game through all three of our resolutions, and with 4xAA to boot. ATI’s HD 4870 X2 had a hard time keeping up to everything else, while the HD 4870 1GB fell right behind the GTX 260/216 in all tests, which isn’t too much of a surprise. The ATI results here may not be truly correct, however, and I’ll talk more about that on the final page of this article.

Mirror’s Edge – PhysX Testing

If there’s one title that’s been burned in editor’s brains over the course of the past few months, it’s this one. NVIDIA has been quite pro-active in making sure we know how great the game is, and with its heavy use of PhysX, it’s not hard to understand why they believe that. Luckily though, as I mentioned above, the game is actually quite fun, and unique, so I think it deserves to be pushed a little bit.

Since Mirror’s Edge is really the first commercial game to feature PhysX use throughout, I thought it’d be appropriate to test each card with the technology enabled, since it’s generally going to be something that people would want. Bear in mind, though, that ATI cards are automatic losers, simply because they are unable to accelerate PhysX on the GPU like NVIDIA’s cards can. For that reason, their cards are going to be unable to handle PhysX computation reliably at any resolution, regardless of the CPU. Using the old-school PhysX dedicated card would rid this problem, however.

Similar to our original tests, each card, aside from ATI’s, was able to handle the game just fine up to 1920×1200. That’s a great thing, because even the modest GTX 260/216, which can be had for around $250 nowadays, delivers the cool physics effects along with 4xAA, at great resolutions. There’s some great value to be had there.

2560×1600 changes things up a bit, but that’s no surprise. For the best performance there, while retaining 4xAA, a GTX 285 and above will work swimmingly, although the next few cards below that should be enough for most people as well. At the worst, Anti-Aliasing could be disabled to gain back the few FPS that are lost, but even that might not be needed.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB x 2
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
118.680 FPS
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB x 2
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
88.346 FPS
Zotac GTX 295 1792MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
70.562 FPS
Zotac GTX 285 1GB AMP!
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
51.733 FPS
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
48.385 FPS
Palit GTX 280 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
44.806 FPS
Diamond HD 4870 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
41.452 FPS
XFX GTX 260/216 896MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
38.122 FPS
Palit HD 4870 X2 2GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA
35.297 FPS

With PhysX disabled and Anti-Aliasing cranked up to 8xAA, the game remained playable on most of the GPUs here, but most specifically with the GTX 285 and higher. For PhysX to be enabled with 8xAA and 2560×1600, a serious GPU configuration is needed, and for that, a GTX 295 and higher will be required for the smoothest gameplay. Without it, though, most of the cards here can handle 8xAA just fine.