XFX GTX 260 XXX SLI Performance

Packaging & Appearance
I have long been an admirer of XFX packaging as it is not only pleasing to the eye but, perhaps more importantly, the contents are very tightly packed ensuring that the product reaches you in perfect condition.
The exterior is adorned in NVIDIA green and is typical of XFX packaging of late. The Alpha Dog still makes an appearance albeit more of an afterthought than previous incarnations. The outer sleeve is matt in appearance with the features glossy and embossed. The product is much classier than a lot of the competitors designs who rely on scantly clad elves or demons with ridiculously oversized weapons – while I have nothing against scantly clad women, even those with pointy ears, I feel less of a ‘geek’ buying a more sublime packaged product. The exterior of the outer sleeve takes you through the various features the GTX260 has to offer as well as boasting a 50% increase over previous generation cards. 
XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition Box Front XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition Box back
XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition Interior Box XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition Open box
The box in a box à la Matryoshka doll effect is once more apparent with XFX packaging as the faux exterior is just a sleeve, the real box is inside and very sturdy box it is. Opening the box we eventually find the GTX260 sandwiched between two eggshell foam inserts. This is the type of packing I love as you can be assured that, bar a nuclear blast, the GPU won’t come to any harm during transit. 
XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition Contents
Above we see the contents (minus the GPU) of the package. Apart from the usual manuals, driver disk and VGA/DVI adapter we see XFX have also thoughtfully included a molex to 6-pin PCIe power adapter should your PSU only have one PCIe power cable. Also included is an S-Video cable as well as a free copy of Assassins Creed. It’s unusual to find companies bundling games that are actually good so a big thumbs up to XFX for that.
 Double Trouble Front and back
XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition Side 1 XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition Side 2
The card itself is adorned in a full length sticker that (once again) has very thoughtfully been protected by a removable plastic film to ensure the card isn’t scratched during (un)packing. A solid black metal frame with a plastic outer cover protects the vital components and as well as looking very sleek but also serves to stave off any unwanted static damage that may occur (static precautions should, however, still be taken when handling any hardware!).
The card is quite heavy because of this but heavy in a reassuring way. The length of the card is on a par with previous generation 8800GTX so please check that this card will fit in your case as it will overhang the motherboard slightly. The angled fan section is a great idea from NVidia ensuring that the fan is not blocked should you wish to SLI the card. In testing the 1800 rpm fan was both quiet and powerful, only noticeable on initial boot up and under heavy loading conditions. Heat dissipation was very good with the majority of the hot air being exhausted through the rear of the card. The ‘front’ of the card however was also hot to the touch which is the norm for all current NVidia cards of this design.
XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition  Card end XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition Card backplate
At the rear of the card we see the now standard DVI ports along with an S-Video port. Of notable absence is the missing LED power indicators which I’m sad not to see as these were a very useful feature of the GX2 and 280 cards.
 XFX GTX 260 XXX Edition SLI revealed 4x 6 Pin PCIe required
A neat idea from NVidia is the SLI cover plate ensuring that the SLI tabs (of which there are two) are not damaged and are also hidden from view when SLI is not required keeping the streamlined look of the card intact. Unlike its bigger brother the GTX 260 eradicates the need for an 8pin PCIe power connector instead using the more widely available 6 pin version. You will however need 2x 6pin PCIe connectors to run the card,  Next to the PCIe connectors is the tiny HDMI audio output port if required. 
SLI 790i Ultra GTX 260 SLI
As you can see these are long cards that overhang the edge of the motherboard. Externally they are almost identical to the GTX280 bar the missing LED’s on the PCI backplate. Visually the cards look stunning, especially in an SLI setup but but looks are nothing without performance so without further delay lets put them through their paces with our standard benchmark suite.