ECS Geforce 8800 GT Dual Turbo 512MB
Posted by Hilbert Hagedoorn on: 01/29/2008 02:00 PM [ 0 comment(s) ]
Specifications & Technology
Now if you already read our reference review you might want to skip to the next chapter as we always start off with the 101 on the refence based technology.
So, what we are looking at today is the 8800 GT. A product that should (and will) replace that somewhat handicapped 8800 320MB GTS, not only in performance yet also in price. Honestly, that 320 MB 8800 GTS ever since the beginning was my sweet spot graphics cards wise; yet the moment DX10 games became available, it also became more apparent that DX10 is utilizing the framebuffer quite extensively. Mark my words, when DX10 actually becomes popular, your graphics adapter is best off with 512MB memory or higher. It makes a lot of sense, as the shader code is much more complex and thus longer, the texture limit sizes are bumped up ... and we as gamers demand more and more eye candy from our games which in the end requires a shitload of computational muscle. Hey, we demand the best gaming experience ever for our money, so the toll we set on the gaming and graphics industry is and should be high.
The new GT cards are surely pretty to the eyes. A nice slim single slot design. The silicon powering that this card is based on is NVIDIA's new 0.65nm silicon. Is this a respin product you ask? Yes and no. Not exactly, but kinda. As it's pretty much the good old G80 (GTS/GTX/Ultra) core yet with some exceptions, the fabrication processed was moved from 90nm towards 65 nm, meaning a smaller die-size, likely resulting in lower core voltages, more energy efficiency and perhaps better clock speeds. The one thing that is very odd, yet interesting though, is that the 8800 GT has an increased amount of shader processors over the GTS series (while being a cheaper product). For example a 8800 GTX has 128 of these processors, the GTS has 96 yet now the GT has 112 activated Shader processors.
Interesting, because if you take a peek at the clock speeds you might even think it can beat a GTX. Well, at the end of the pipeline there are these things called ROPs and that's where the GT (16 ROPs) is a little castrated over the GTX (24 ROPs). There's a new optimization of ROPs' compression algorithm being applied on the GT though.
Next to that, this product is utilizing enough memory, yet the GTX is addressing the memory bus faster (384-bit) opposed to the 8800 GT with 256-bit. The performance differential is small though, as our benchmarks will show. Further freak stuff, theoretical fillrate 42.000 MPixels, 57.6 GB/sec memory bandwidth.
So since we gently, yet firmly, touched on the topic of memory, these cards without a doubt will be available in both a 256 and 512MB versions. This, however, is the 512Mb release. My direct hint here, for the sake of DX10 gaming, please purchase a 512MB version. The memory clocks will be 900 MHz (x2), the core frequency 600 MHz and for the freaks, the shader domain is clocked at 1500 MHz. These values are all pretty high, judging from the specs this product will position itself in-between the GTS and GTX. So that's a tad confusing, from a branding point of view the GT is faster than GTS, yet does run on a slightly slower memory-bus. Anyway; if you like to learn about shaders or the generic GPU architecture please have a look at the GeForce 8800 GTX article as it's explained in depth. Bear in mind that this product has exactly the same features as any other Series 8 products, with one distinction.
Media wise this GPU has the new VP2 (Video Processor 2) core embedded into the silicon. This means great Purevideo HD support in both acceleration of media files, yet also post-processing and enhancing them. Despite the new VP2, the unit hasn't evolved and still doesn't fully accelerate VC-1, no real big deal to be honest. HDMI support is also integrated on the chip. Also worth mentioning is that the 8800 GT is fully PCI-Express 2.0 compliant. Not at all important though as 16GB/sec bandwidth over PCI-Expess 2.0 is not something this card will even remotely use, ever.
Due to the new VP2 embedded core, optimizations to the new transistor count has risen a little. Don't be scared now, ready? 754 Million transistors. Now is that sexy, or what?
ECS GeForce 8800 GT Dual Turbo
In my introduction I already explained that what ECS did is pretty impressive, especially for an original OEM manufacturer it's nice to see something else than a 100% reference based product.
At first glance you'll get a little scared though as the cooler as supplied by Arctic cooling is just massive. The GeForce 8800 GT as tested is equipped with a Arctic Accelero S1 cooler. The interesting part here is that if you have a well ventilated PC with good airflow ... you might be able to run the card passive, without any fans. Fortunately, ECS also provides you with two easy to attach low-noise fans (hence the dual in the product name). We strongly recommend you to use the supplied fans by the way. As our tests will show, they make a spectacular difference yet barely any noise.
There are a couple of downsides though. The heatsink is just huge. Without the fans you are looking at a dual-slot cooler, if you opt to use the fans, you'll use up three slots. There's another negative though, if you where planning SLI (two cards bridged) then forget abut it as the S1 heatsink will block the SLI finger.
Next to the cooler we'll spot a very reference like PCB, nicely blue colored. Stated in many of my reviews already, I like details and if you look at the photo shoot on the next pages you'll even notice that the RAM chips have been equipped with little RAM heatsinks. It's stuff like that I can really appreciate. Despite the aesthetics, ECS also pre-overclocked the card a little, shifting it a notch up compared to the NVIDIA reference specifications. Have a peek in the table:
So as you can observe, we see an additional 50 Mhz on the core frequency, roughly 100 Mhz extra on the shader processors and the memory is roughly 100 MHz faster as well (effective).
That's just good. So included in the box you'll find:
- ECS GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB w/ S1 cooler
- dual Arctic Cooler fans
- Driver CD
- HDTV block (3-way RCA component)
- 6-pin to Molex power cable x1
- manual / quick install guide
- VGA->DVI dongle
The folks from ECS are offering you a two year warranty with this graphics card. And at this price-level it's okay. So in a tidbit we'll dive into a photo-shoot where we'll show you all of the lovely aesthetics of this product, as there are quite a few of them to be seen.
First we'll talk a little about power usage, noise levels generated by cooling, and heat, although the noise levels, you've pretty much guessed I think.
The GeForce GTX 560 we'll review in this article comes from ECS, out of the three products GTX 560 tested today here on Guru3D.com this one is reference clocked, has a reference design and a reference cooler. So this product will be the baseline performance product. Now that does not mean a sober product contrary, baseline performance is pretty good for the money. And next to that, we all know you'll gain the most from the less expensive products one you go and tweak them.
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