So I was doing some research on the GTX 280 I acquired through a friendly trade awhile back and I found some interesting stuff.
The GTX 280 in question has a few differences between it and any of the other ones I could find. The main one being the metallic heatsink visible in the picture. I don't if the difference is in material or just color having never handled another reference-ish 280. The fan also runs quiter than most do based on what I read. Possibly due to the better cooling from the heatsink? I'm not sure.
The card also overclocks very well, better than what I had expected. I don't remember exactly what I had it runnning at (It's been awhile since I swapped out my 6950 for testing purposes) but I went over 100Mhz past the stock clocks on both the core and memory without an increase in voltage. I was impressed but I haven't compared my results to anyone elses.
Cosmetically it's also a little different. Upon recieving it I thought someone had peeled of the sticker you would normally find on a reference GTX 280. Upon taking a closer look there was no residue and the green that was visible is actually a layer of material beneath the outer shell of the card. The black is cut out in the shape of the green which makes it visible (If that makes sense). It also has a backplate and I'm pretty sure it's metal.
The bracket that connects it to the case is a little bit wobbly feeling. Not as solid as any other card i've felt. The DVI ports, or the part where you screw in the DVI cables to can be unscrewed and screwed back in. They look like motherboard stand-offs.
What I think I have is an Engineering Sample GTX 280. The only other card I could find that was like mine was an engineering sample, hence my thought on this. The other person had said that his card had a specific serial number on the inside the gave him confirmation on the fact that it was an engineering sample. I haven't opened mine up to check.
What i'm asking is should I do this? (Open it up and check). Also, if there's any interest i'd gladly throw it back in my system and do some benchmarks. I personally find items like this interesting to know and learn about and i'm hoping some of you guys will as well.
Below I've attached a picture I took of it with my iPhone so the quality isn't the greatest. Hopefully it's enough to show you what i'm working with.