While the release of the GeForce GTX 295 back in January regained Nvidia the crown of fastest single graphics card (in most games at least). The GTX 295 hasn’t been the success it perhaps could of been, with high production costs thanks to Nvidia’s dual PCB design keeping prices close to £400 and out of the reach of many.
With AMD’s Radeon HD 4870 X2 priced around £100 cheaper and offering comparable performance in many games, it’s been hard to look beyond the red team when it comes to premium graphics card recommendations, as our last few buyers guides have shown.
However, all is not lost for Nvidia’s latest dual GPU monster, with the GTX 295 having just received a significant redesign six months into its life cycle aimed at slashing production costs and making the card much more competitive when it comes to the consumer price. Although, just to keep customers guessing, Nvidia won’t be officially rebranding the card since the underlying belly is much the same.
Click to enlarge - the retail version of the card will be fully sticker'd up - our review sample was an early model
The biggest difference with the remixed GTX 295 is the move from a twin PCB card to a single 10.5” PCB: a first for Nvidia since it started doing them back with the 7950 GX2 all those years ago. This has brought with it an entirely redesigned cooling system, with a single 80mm fan mounted into the centre of the card blowing down and over the twin GPUs either side. However, this change means that only half of the card’s heat is directed towards the rear vents and out of your case, with the heat from the second GPU exhausting directly into your chassis.
Click to enlarge - removing the shroud reveals the revised cooling system
Beneath the shroud that directs the card’s airflow over the respective GPUs we find that each GT200 GPU now has its own personal heatsink, composed of two copper heatpipes running firstly through a large copper thermal contact plate, then up into a small array of aluminium cooling fins aligned with the airflow from the centre fan. Cooling the card’s other components, including the 1,796MB of GDDR3 and the NVIO chips, is handled by a large aluminium plate that sits atop the card. This also benefits from the airflow provided from the central fan. Cooling is rounded off by two aluminium plates fitted to the rear of the card, where the second half of the GDDR3 is fitted.
Click to enlarge - the GPU heatsinks are surprisingly small
While the layout and structure of the card might have changed significantly, the specs are identical to the original GTX 295. The card still makes use of two 55nm GT200b GPUs running at 576MHz, still packing 480 stream processors (240 on each GPU) running at 1.242GHz. Each GPU still has 896MB of GDDR2 running at 999MHz (1,998MHz effective) at its disposal. However, while the out of the box specs are the same, we’re hopeful that the improved cooler will unlock some more overclocking potential.
Specifically we have the Gainward version here, that offers what can only be described as a pretty measly bundle. The limited inclusions include single DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI adapters, an S/PDIF connector, the requisite installation guide and driver disc. There's no premium additions like a HDMI cable for example.
Gainward offers a full three year warranty on all it's cards, although after the first year during which returns are handled by the original retailer, you’ll need to send the faulty card directly to Gainward’s office in Germany for an RMA at your own expense. Do be advised though that absolutely any tinkering with the card will void the warranty, as some of the frankly epic photos on Gainward’s website demonstrate.