Asus GeForce GTX 280 TOP
UK Price (as reviewed): £374.84 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $499.99 (ex. Tax)
Three years (parts and labour)
Our second pre overclocked GTX 280 comes from Asus, under its TOP line of high end overclocked cards. As before it’s based on the stock GTX 280 cooler, with altered core, shader and memory clocks to increase performance.
The card is incredibly well presented in a high quality compartmented box within the glossy outer, and well packed in a moulded foam casing to protect the card during transit. The quality presentation continues inside, with a magnetised Asus disc wallet, and leather Asus mouse pad (yeah, really) setting the tone that this is a high quality product. However, the rest of the bundle is a lot sparser than the BFG card, with one DVI to VGA adapter, the usual dual PCI-E six pin to PCI-E eight pin and dual Molex to PCI-E six pin connectors, an HDTV component breakout cable, a quick start manual and a driver/software disc.
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While enough to get the card up and running, the omission of a DVI to HDMI adapter is a blow to the bundle, and is certainly becoming something we’d expect to see included with graphics cards as the market for HTPCs continues to grow, especially from the ultra high end products like the TOP range. Do you really
care about a free mouse mat and disk wallet? It's an extra for the sake of something else.
Asus has also chosen to not include any games in the bundle, although Asus’ own Gamer OSD and Smart Doctor software are included. Smart Doctor allows you to easily overclock the card using simple slider bars, as well as control the cooling fan’s speed and displaying GPU core and RAM temperatures, although most of these abilities are available in Nvidia driver control panel anyway.
Gamer OSD is a screen shot and video capture utility; very much like FRAPS, but with the added ability to live broadcast your gaming antics. While both included applications have free alternatives, it’s still nice to see Asus include these easy to use options and they are far more applicable than a cheap mouse mat!
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The card is once again a reference design GeForce GTX 280, with branding stickers used to denote the board partner. The Asus GeForce GTX 280 TOP is certainly pretty striking, covered in an urban camouflage motif, with the near mandatory bow totting fantasy girl included too – although interestingly there’s nothing externally to identify the card as a GeForce GTX 280, let alone a more expensive TOP, which seems a shame considering the prestige involved in owning such a high end card.
Underneath the design though, we find what makes these pre-overclocked cards to attractive, with Asus ramping up the core, shader, and memory clocks to the highest levels we’ve seen in a pre overclocked GeForce GTX 280. Asus have increased the core clock from 602MHz to 670MHz, an improvement of almost 12% over the reference design. The shader and memory have also been boosted, from 1,298MHz to 1,460MHz and 2,214MHz to 2,430MHz respectively. However, these clocks are only very slightly above those of the BFG card but the price is still lower.
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Asus provides a comprehensive three year warranty, that doesn’t require any form of registration or activation for you to take advantage of. While admittedly not as long as the BFG card’s warranty, the advantage of not having to register your purchase is a plus, and means that as long as you have proof of purchase, you’re warranty will be safe.
Asus also have both USA, UK, and European RMA centres, so no matter where your card should go wrong, you won’t have to ship it back to Taiwan for a replacement.