XFX GTX 260 XXX SLI Performance

XFX GTX260 XXX SLII endeavoured to write this review without any preconceptions of the outcome. Ask on most forums which card is ‘best’ and the reply will most likely be HD 4870. Best is, however, a figure of speech. If you are talking bang per buck then I have to agree that the HD 4870 is perhaps the better buy than the GTX260 XXX. If you are talking overall power then I would have to edge towards the GTX260 XXX, especially if you are gaming at a higher res and prefer to slap on some AA/AF filtering. The main advantage the GTX260 XXX has over its rival is the additional memory which enables the GTX260 XXX to take less of a hit once the trimmings are applied. With the GTX you are getting a cherry picked card from a top tier manufacturer that has been speed binned for performance. XFX have also included a very good game, which inevitably adds to the cost of the overall package.
The ATI HD 4870 has made some very significant advances in the way it handles AA/AF and no longer appears crippled when those settings are applied which is in stark contrast to its 3870 sibling. NVidia however, has continued their slow advance, so while the ATI has made up a lot of ground with the HD4870 and price performance it is clearly better than the GTX260 XXX, I feel the GTX260 XXX is ever so slightly the better performing card, if judged on performance alone.
Potential buyers however, would do well to look at the price per frame comparison charts we have in this review before making a final decision. It is clear that the ATI blows the NVIDIA card out of the water in this department and at this price point, in the current economic climate, every ounce of performance per pound counts.  Perhaps the major disadvantage the XFX GTX 260 XXX has is its price. Weighing in at a little under £235 it is certainly not cheap (although considerably cheaper than before and you get a free game with the XXX version!). For another £50 or so, the higher spec GTX 280 could be had. Even the 9800GX2, which has tumbled in price, can be had for around a similar price point, if you can still find one. So it seems NVIDIA has become a victim of its own success and unless further price cuts are made or leaps in performance then the immediate future could be a bleak one.
If it were my money on the table then I would have a very hard time deciding between the two. Their can be no doubting the ATI 4870 is a fantastic card for the money. The XFX GTX260 XXX on the other hand has a very slight performance advantage but for that slight advatange you are paying a £50+ premium. The decision therefore would perhaps be decided on how much you value that little extra performance.
The Good
  • Best in the business at packaging
  • Sublime looks
  • Quiet
  • Overclocked (XXX) edition = great performance
  • Included game (Assassins Creed)
The Mediocre
  • Heat output still higher than we’d like
  • Missing power LED’s
The Bad
  • Excessive price – not far from GTX280 territory
Overclock3D Performance Award
Big thanks to XFX for providing us with two GTX260 XXX cards aswell as the 790i Ultra board for review. Discuss this review in our forums.