As Frankie goes to Hollywood once sang; welcome ... to page two. Now if you already read our reference review you might want to skip to the next chapter.
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, 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 card is based on NVIDIA's new 0.65nm silicon. Is this a respin product you ask? Yes and no, but 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'd might even think it can beat a GTX. Well, at the end of the pipeline there this thing 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 the topic 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 the new transistor count has risen a little. Don't be scared now, ready? 754 Million transistors. Now is that sexy, or what?
Galaxy GeForce 8800 GT Special Edition
So then Galaxy will soon release this rather special edition GeForce 8800 GT, and they are doing a couple of tricks that might make this product more interesting for sure. Galaxy Technology prepared one of the first non reference products based on G92 chipset on the market which by itself is an achievement.
Some major modifications have been made to push the card harder and make it more overclocking friendly. Example; the PCB has been changed to dissipate the heat in a more efficient manner, GPU power management has been redone with a 3-phase power circuit. And hey .. did you spot that HDMI output on that black colored shim already ?
GeForce 8800 Ultra
GeForce 8800 GTX
GeForce 8800 GT
BFG 8800 GT OC
Galaxy 8800 GT OC
Stream (Shader) Processors
Core Clock (MHz)
Shader Clock (MHz)
Memory Clock (MHz) x2
Two Dual link DVI
The card will be released in two versions. One with a Zalman cooling device keeping the VGA chilled and stable. And the one we are testing today, with high performance fan. More on that new cooler later though.
That's just good. So included in the box you'll find:
GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB Xtreme Tuner edition
Xtreme Tuner CD
HDTV block (3-way RCA component)
6-pin to Molex power cable x2
RCA SPDIF connector + guide wires
manual / quick install guide
The card weirdly enough will be delivered with reference core clock speeds; yet with a lot of overclocking potential. Memory is clocked significantly faster then default. We can verify this with a low-level BIOS dump:
The good people from Galaxy 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.
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