Sparkle GeForce 8800GT Cool-Pipe3 512MB review

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Page 2 - Specifications & Bundle

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 rerence 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?

Sparkle GeForce 8800 GT Special Edition

Sparkle recently released this rather special passively cooled card. Passively cooled simply means there are no active parts cooling the GPU. Therefore while retaining the nicest noise-level you can imagine, heat is building up somewhere which needs to dissipate. And with a 8800 GT .. you'll have a lot of heat to get rid of. Therefore you'll notice that the card follows reference specification throughout the board. This means default clocks to make sure you have optimal heat-performance ratio's. Let's place it in a table:

table_tl.gif blank.gif table_tr.gif
8800 Ultra
8800 GTX
GeForce 8800 GT BFG
8800 GT OC
Sparkle 8800 GT
Stream (Shader) Processors 128 128 112 112 112
Core Clock (MHz) 612 575 600 625 600
Shader Clock (MHz) 1500 1350 1512 1560 1512
Memory Clock (MHz) x2 1080 900 900 900 900
Memory amount 768 MB 768 MB 256/512 MB 512 MB 512 MB
Memory Interface 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
HDCP Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two Dual link DVI Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
table_bl.gif blank.gif table_br.gif

The card will be released in two versions. One with a new cooler-master cooling device equipped with 3 heatpipes keeping the VGA chilled and stable. And the one we are testing today, with high RPM fan which is unfortunately too loud. More on that later though.

That's just good. So included in the box you'll find:

  • GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB w/ passive cooler
  • Driver CD
  • HDTV block (3-way RCA component)
  • 6-pin to Molex power cable x1
  • manual / quick install guide
  • VGA->DVI dongle
  • SVideo cable

Sparkle GeForce 8800GT Cool-Pipe3 512MB

The good people from Sparkle 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'll pretty much guessed I think.

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