Clad in black with NVIDIA's logo embossed on its heatsink enclosure, the reference board that we received from NVIDIA seems to have gone through a lot, with its scratched surface. But of course, we couldn't care less and quickly plugged it into our test system for a run.
Just to repeat again, the core is at its stated default of 602MHz, while the GDDR3 memory runs at 2214MHz. Its 240 stream processors meanwhile are at 1296MHz. The GeForce GTX 280 has a 512-bit memory interface, with 1GB of memory made up of 16 Hynix memory modules (rated at 0.8ns). There's also an external chip to handle the display I/O, presumably because the core is already so huge that it would be pushing it to squeeze that portion of silicon within. This same approach was also used on the original G80 core.
When running, the smart fan is relatively quiet and we couldn't distinguish it from the heatsink of the CPU. However, this was at around 40% fan speed. When we manually pushed it to 100% in NVIDIA's Control Panel, it was quite loud so if you're planning to do that for overclocking purposes, take note of the potential din. The board itself is rated by NVIDIA to be operating within its thermal threshold as long as it's under 105 degrees Celsius and according to them, it should be around 80 degrees under typical conditions.
Despite its ability to adjust clock speeds dynamically in order to conserve energy during idle periods, you'll still need quite a decent PSU for a single GTX 200 GPU based board. Besides having the right connectors (6-pin and 8-pin for the GTX 280), the PSU should be able to provide at least 40A on the 12V rail for the GTX 280 and 36A for the GTX 260. We'll be looking at some numbers from actual testing of the power consumption of the GTX 280 later.