Pricing and Closing Thoughts
Power Consumption and Noise

Just kidding.  As I mentioned in our test configuration page, NVIDIA asked us to not put our final judgment to these cards noise levels and power consumption as they still might be adjusted with a firmware update before the CES launch period.  My first impressions though put the GTX 295 in a good light with minimal noise (especially when compared to the fan on the HD 4870 X2 card at full speed) and power consumption on par with other dual-GPU solutions. 

I’ll have complete analysis of the power efficiency of this new part in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

What, no Crysis?

You might be wondering where some of the staple benchmarks are in our review like Crysis (or Crysis: Warhead), Bioshock, GRID and others – they are coming.  NVIDIA didn’t give us much time with this card so I went with the most recent and relevant titles sitting closest at hand on our test bench.  I think that our four real-world gaming examples and 3DMark Vantage can paint a pretty clear picture of what the GeForce GTX 295 can produce in terms of gaming experiences and the results are impressive.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 Preview - Performance King Returns - Graphics Cards 61
Kind of sexy…

I will be able to let you know if you can finally play Crysis the way it was intended in that updated review I keep hinting at early next year.

Pricing and Availability

According to NVIDIA, the GeForce GTX 295 will be available immediately on its release date, January 8th.  The price?  A somewhat reasonable suggested retail price of $499.  Considering that today the absolutely lowest price I have seen on a Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB card is $479, that actually gives the GeForce GTX 295 1792MB card a, gasp, bargain feel?  Well, not quite, but it is definitely a far cry from the $649 releases we have seen from NVIDIA’s previous dual-GPU based graphics card solutions.  The GeForce GTX 260+ will run you anywhere from $245 to more than $350 and considering the GTX 295 is essentially a combination of two of these GPUs (and could be consider dual GTX 280s as well) the $499 price tag still seems not-too-horrible.  While I still won’t be able to tell you that a $499 video card is a bargain, I can certainly say I have seen much, much worse price/performance offerings from both NVIDIA and AMD/ATI.

While NVIDIA is unfortunately missing the Christmas buying season, just barely, maybe with this preview they are hoping to have enthusiasts save up all their cash gifts for a nice after-holiday purchase.

More than Graphics

NVIDIA is definitely making a big push for their “Graphics Plus” initiative that is educating users on the other uses for NVIDIA GPUs besides graphics explicitly.  We have been following this closely with our look at GPU-based consumer-level transcoders and even the Quadro CX and Adobe CS4 enhancements that take advantage of GPU processing.  PhysX is another aspect of this push and thanks to news of EA and THQ pushing the software technology to all of their titles, it might still make an impact on the world of PC gaming.  NVIDIA is hoping we will see some more AAA titles like Mirror’s Edge taking advantage of the technology too – its one advantage that the AMD can’t yet match. 

Final Thoughts

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 has definitely taken back the top performance spot from AMD and the HD 4870 X2 card – a new king has been crowned.  We still have some questions to answer before giving our unequivocal thumbs up on it including noise and power consumption, but at first glance both of those look like they are in check and within reasonable limits.  By combining two 55nm GT200 GPUs into a single graphics card design NVIDIA was able to reassert leadership in the market – a move the company was in desperate need of.  More 55nm parts are likely on the way as well which should keep margins up for NVIDIA in a time when increased competition has put a lot of pressure on them from many sides. 

Keep your eyes on PC Perspective on January 8th for a full review of the GTX 295 but I think this preview likely gives enthusiasts all the information they need: the fastest graphics card on the market can be yours for under $500. 

Be sure to use our pricing engine to find the best prices on NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards and anything else you might need:

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