BFG Tech GeForce GTX 295Manufacturer: BFG Tech
$499.99 (ex. Tax)
Lifetime (ten years outside USA and Canada)
BFG Tech was the first Nvidia add-in-board vendor to get a final retail GeForce GTX 295 to us ahead of the launch. We'd be lying if we said it was vastly different to the reference GeForce GTX 295 card we've got, but there are some subtle changes in order to incorporate BFG's branding.
One question we asked Nvidia before we published our original preview was how partners were going to brand the card because the heatsink's design would prevent partners from using massive stickers to differentiate – this is one thing that has changed. The area where the Nvidia arrow was on the reference card has changed slightly – there are fewer perforations, enabling some room for BFG Tech to get its own branding on the card.
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Despite this though, we can't help but feel the area severely limits what partners can do to the card. Whether or not that is a good thing, of course, is a matter of personal opinion, but I'm sure the partners would like a bit more space to differentiate their designs.
In addition to the branding on the front of the card, there is another bit of BFG Tech's branding along the top edge of the card in between the heatsink vents and the power connectors. This, frankly, is more important than the branding on the front anyway, as that's what you can see when the card is installed in your system.
The board design incorporates an improved heatsink, which Nvidia says is capable of dissipating more than 289 watts of power – this, incidentally, happens to be the maximum quoted board power for the GeForce GTX 295. This is a massive improvement over the GeForce 9800 GX2’s heatsink from our perspective as that particular design actually cooked certain SLI certified motherboards
. There are times when the fan gets fairly noisy, most notably in Quad SLI, but the noise is generally limited to gaming at high resolution – that's not a big concern frankly, since you're probably wearing headphones or have your speakers turned up when you're gaming anyway.
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The design also does away with the shiny painted finish of the GTX 2xx family as well; instead, soft touch paint has been used for a matte look and feel. We like this, and it's an evolution of the shiny design – the only thing we didn’t like about the old finish was how it attracted finger prints.
One thing that Nvidia hasn’t really fixed though is the placement of the power connectors – each PCB has its own power connector (one six, one eight) and they are opposite each other like they were on the 9800 GX2. Nvidia has removed the metal that surrounded them on the GX2 (and made it incredibly difficult to plug the cables in), but that’s not our issue. The issue is that they’re still directly opposite each other, which means removing them requires fingers thinner than a scalpel blade – can they not be slightly offset to make removal slightly easier?
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Moving onto the bundle, it follows what we've come to expect from BFG these days – there is a DVI-to-VGA dongle, a single six-pin PCI-Express supplementary power connector, an eight-pin PCI-Express supplementary power connector, an HDMI cable and a S/PDIF cable. There's also a driver CD, a quick install guide, a couple of case stickers and a voucher for 30 percent off any power supply in BFG's range. A nice touch.
It comes as no surprise to see that there's no game bundled with the card – BFG hasn't done that on any of its recent cards, and it chooses to instead focus on providing a better warranty for its customers instead.
One area where all BFG Tech graphics cards always excel is their warranty. The company offers a ten year warranty on its products in Europe (because of EU legislation) and a lifetime warranty across the Atlantic in the USA and Canada. The only downside is that the warranty does require activating directly with BFG within 30 days of purchase in order to get the full term, otherwise you'll just be limited to a statutory one-year warranty - that's a fair shake in our opinion, but it's something you need to be aware of.
In addition, BFG also offers its customers free 24/7 technical support via a free 1-800 number, (it's a USA number, you'll need to use SkypeOut to call it free of charge from elsewhere), or via email. The RMA process itself is all handled by UK/USA based RMA centres, so don't worry, you won't have to pay for a FedEx to the States should you have problems with your card.
BFG Tech also has a 100-day trade up programme, but it's only available in the United States at the moment. We're told that it is coming to Europe, but when, we don't know. All we know is that the logistics of the programme are still being worked out for the European market.