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Pre-OC Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 and 260

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Crysis...

No sooner had we finished our in-depth game benchmarking of this summer’s latest graphics cards and architectures, then the first pre-overclocked partner cards began to arrive.

Claiming performance increases of up to 12 percent, we decided to put these warranty covered overclocks to the test, and see just how much extra performance you get by paying extra for that bit more juice.

While we might have bestowed the ATI Radeon HD 4870 with a coveted excellence award, what is not so excellent is the degree of control AMD is exerting over its board partners, slowing the release of pre-overclocked versions of the Radeon HD 4870 and HD 4850, which are still a ways off from reaching customers.

Be assured once pre-overclocked versions of these cards do reach retailers, we’ll be doing a comparison ATI overclocked roundup too.

In contrast, Nvidia has seemingly given its board partners full reign over what speeds they ship GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280 graphics cards at, although they are as usual limited by Nvidia’s reference design coolers. This has meant that heavily overclocked versions of these cards are on sale within weeks of the product launch, and from what we can ascertain, availability is fair throughout the GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280 range (although whether this has more to do with pricing versus ATI’s cards than Nvidia’s production rates isn’t clear).

Pre-OC Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 and 260 Introduction

Today we’ll be looking at a three cards; from BFG its GeForce GTX 280 OCX, from Asus its GeForce GTX 280 Top and from Zotac its GeForce GTX 260 Amp!. All the cards involved utilise reference Nvidia reference coolers, but come with their core, shader, and memory clock speeds significantly increased over and above the reference versions. We’ll be running them through the same field of real world gameplay tests, and trying to ascertain if paying for a pre-overclocked card is really worth the extra cash involved.