As what seems to be a growing trend in the video card market, Gigabyte chose to use the familiar (and well established) NVIDIA reference design in the GA-GF2560. Although this keeps costs down and quality high, due to the fact that little research and development needs to be carried out it takes away from the originality that can be implemented in the card. A few features, however, set the GA-GF2560 apart from other reference SDR cards that we have reviewed.

The GeForce core is cooled via a low profile fan and heatsink attached to the GPU with thermal tape and press pins. The fan on the card does deserve mention due to the fact that Gigabyte chose not to use the same generic fan as is found on many other GeForce cards. Instead, Gigabyte uses a fan reminiscent to the old 486 fans commonly found on DX-66s. While it may appear inefficient, the fan choice actually allowed for very high overclocked speeds, as described in the overclocking section.

Also worth noting is the lack of Gigabyte's unique dual cooling system which is used on many other Gigabyte cards. The most obvious reason for this is the fact that the cooling setup found on the GA-GF2560 works fine at the NVIDIA mandated speed of 120/150 MHz. In the past, Gigabyte has used their dual cooling system to allow for a stock overclock, sold as a turbo feature of the card. Because NVIDIA appears to have capped the speed that they will allow manufactures to ship the cards at, Gigabyte had no benefit from using the dual cooling. While this feature would have made for a great overclocking card, Gigabyte could not justify the cost of the system considering that the extra cooling would not result in any stock speed increase (due to NVIDIA's mandated speed).

As with other reference design cards, the GA-GF2560 has a total of 32 MB of SDRAM, achieved by placing sixteen 2 MB 5.5 ns EliteMT SDRAM chips on both the back and front of the card. Rated at 183 MHz, the 5.5 ns RAM is not the fastest RAM we have seen on an SDR card (that title goes to the 5 ns chips on the Leadtek SDR card). It is interesting that all SDR cards reviewed thus far all contain EliteMT RAM chips. This is quite a change from the days of the TNT2 where RAM chips changed not only from card to card but manufactures sometimes opted to switch SDRAM chips on individual cards themselves. With a 183 MHz rating, it is pretty much guaranteed that overclocking will be possible. Just how much the memory clock can be pushed depends on the RAM batch itself, a fact described in the overclocking section.

The available S-Video out option found on our test card is powered by the commonly found Brooktree 869 chip. As is the trend with TNT2 cards with TV-out, it seems that most manufacturers are opting to use this high quality chip in their GeForce cards as well. As described in our Picture This: TV-Output Comparison, the Brooktree chip produces high resolution and allows for the output to be displayed both on an external television as well as the computer monitor (as long as the two resolutions are the same). This feature is a nice addition to any GeForce card, especially as the computer becomes the centerpiece of a home entertainment system.

Index Overclocking

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