Top positive review
110 of 115 people found this helpful
on October 15, 2012
It's 9.5 inches inches long, but it seems to sometimes give a 7950 a run for its money, which costs about $100 more for the good ones, and whose reference card clocks in at 11.5 inches. Battlefield 3 runs butter-smooth at 1080p, even with maxed settings. ENB shader mods and texture packs in Skyrim don't slow it down (though a high amount of mod-enhanced foliage will cause even this card to strain at times). Metro 2033 runs fine at high settings.
It takes pretty much everything I can throw at it -- and it does it pretty much silently. The full "shroud" over the card ensures some noise absorption *and* reduced ambient heat inside the case. When you add adaptive Vsync, PhysX and CUDA into the mix, there's a lot to like. You can also force FXAA in the control panel when you encounter a game that won't accept your usual anti-aliasing settings and/or does not have any of its own.
It has a 192-bit memory bus, which is unusually small. But this doesn't seem to make much difference at 1080p. It's not very overclockable, but when I can get nearly 7950 performance out-of-the-box at $230, and it needs just one PCIe cable (mounted on the side for better case ergonomics), I can't really complain.
The Gallium 0.4 drivers in Fedora 17 and Linux Mint produce a slightly fuzzy image, though. I had to install Nvidia's proprietary drivers -- not the easiest process -- to get a crisp image. Not big enough of a deal to take a star off, IMO.
**Update Jan 27 2013:** Everything's still working fine. I have updated the drivers several times without glitches. The card continues to run quietly and powerfully. Installing proprietary drivers in Linux is still pretty much necessary to get proper image fidelity (or even full desktop resolution, in most cases), but the process is noticeably easier just a few months after writing my original review. The Mageia 3 beta is the only Linux distro I've found that will not at least give me a command prompt, if it fails to load the desktop environment. On the Windows side, the recently released "GeForce Experience" software should make performance optimization much easier for people who are new to PC gaming, or if they have busy lives and not enough time to keep up on all the gearhead stuff. That piece of software does an all-or-nothing toggle, though, so it's not ideal.
I have yet to encounter any game that struggles at 1080p, but I figure it's better to have the performance and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
**Update Feb 2014:** I no longer use this card, but the GTX 660 is generally still a very good choice for 1080p. AMD's cards are not competitively priced now, thanks to the crypto-coin mining thing, so I've edited this review to reflect that market shift. Shadow Play (built into their "GeForce Experience" software) is becoming one of the nicest screen recording packages out there, and it's free. The GTX 650 Ti Boost is also pretty good, as long as you go with the 2GB version. 1GB is okay, but I think you'll benefit from the extra gigabyte of video RAM when a game uses high-resolution textures.