NVIDIA launched their 55nm revision of their GeForce GTX 280 graphic core with much fanfare. The 55nm GeForce GTX 285 and GeForce GTX 295 were designed and built to compete for the performance crown with lower power consumption resulting in higher clock frequencies. The 55nm GeForce GTX 260 however was more or less launched in silence. Unlike it’s more powerful brethren, the 55nm GeForce GTX 260 isn’t meant to drastically increase performance, rather it is a cost-cutting measure that will help bolster NVIDIA’s finances.
NVIDIA has been in a rough position with its high-end cards utilizing gigantic and expensive cores. AMD has been applying some welcome pressure with its smaller albeit less powerful cores and has more or less run rampant in the $150 to $300 price range with its cheap HD 4850 and HD 4870 lines. This move from 65nm to 55nm however will help turn the tide. The 55nm shrink makes the cards cheaper to produce, won’t require such heavily engineered PCBs, and in turn helps manufacturers cut costs.
Like the 65nm GeForce GTX 260, the 55nm revision has stock clocks of 576MHz core, 1242MHz shader, and 1998MHz GDDR3. Equipped with with an identical 896MB GDDR3 frame buffer, these cards are identical to 65nm cards in functionality albeit with a TDP of 171W versus 182W for the 65nm revision. Expect though for manufacturers to utilize this lowered power consumption to release cards with higher than stock clock frequencies.
Today, we will be reviewing the Palit GeForce GTX 260 Sonic edition. Equipped with an aftermarket cooler and a modest overclock of 625MHz core, 1348MHz shader, and 1100MHz GDDR3, it looks to be a decent representative of future 55nm GeForce GTX 260s. Before we start our testing let’s take a peek at the bundle and the card itself.