The GeForce 8800 GT cards
We’ve gone over some of the key differences between the GeForce 8800 GT and the 8800 GTS/GTX on the previous page, but we’ve prepared the following table to help sum things up:
|GeForce 8800 Features Comparison|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||GeForce 8800 GT|
|# of Transistors||681M||681M||754M|
|Core Clock (including dispatch, texture units, ROPs)||575MHz||500MHz||600MHz|
|Shader Clock (Stream Processors)||1350MHz||1200MHz||1500MHz|
|# of Shaders (Stream Processors)||128||96||112|
|Memory Clock||900MHz (1.8GHz effective)||800MHz (1.6GHz effective)||900MHz (1.8GHz effective)|
|Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)||86.4GB/sec||64GB/sec||57.6GB/sec|
|# of ROPs||6 (24 effective)||5 (20 effective)||4 (16 effective)|
Not depicted in the table above is the GeForce 8800 GT 256MB. This is the $199 SKU we alluded to earlier. We’ve been told that this board will be launching in a few weeks and that “add-in card partners are free to set their own core and memory clocks.”
. If you happen to be shopping for one of these cards, buyer beware, as you may not be getting a board that runs at 600MHz core/900MHz memory. AMD’s board partners have played it loose with the clock speeds of the 2600 XT GDDR3 in the past, so this move was likely made to give NVIDIA’s board partners some room to compete more aggressively on price when RV670 arrives next month.
Fortunately, the base clock speeds for the GeForce 8800 GT 512MB are set in stone and most of the initial boards will run at stock clock speeds, although some manufacturers will also be offering factory overclocked cards as well. In fact, we happened to include one such card from MSI in this article.
Basic GeForce 8800 GT cards will start at $249 and go up in price from there depending on features.
New reference board design
If you’re already pretty familiar with the reference board design of the GeForce 8800 GTS, you won’t even recognize the GeForce 8800 GT!
As you can see, the GPU is cooled by a single-slot heatsink/fan unit, allowing the card to fit more easily in small form factor cases and other cramped environments. The PCB measures approximately 9” in length, which is the same length as the GeForce 8800 GTS. At the end of the card you can also see the 6-pin power connector. We’ve been told that the maximum power draw of the card is 105 watts and officially NVIDIA’s system requirements call for a 400W power supply with 26 amps on the 12V rail for single-card operation.
The cooling unit itself is quite long. At the heart of the cooler is a copper heat pipe, which is then surrounded by a long aluminum heatsink that stretches 7” in length. This heatsink is not only responsible for helping to keep the GPU cool, but also the memory modules and other board-level components. The heatsink is then shrouded by a metal faceplate which helps to spread air from the card’s fan across both the left and right sides of the board. You can spot vents on both ends of the faceplate.
NVIDIA continues to mount the fan offset of the graphics core to increase the effectiveness of the fan, and to help prevent it from dying a premature death (besides dust, the number one enemy to a fan’s motor is heat and the area directly above the GPU is one of the hottest spots on a board). The fan itself runs very quiet, quieter in fact than a GeForce 8600 GTS and like a GeForce 8800 GTS or GTX the fan is barely audible even under load. The 8800 GT fan will generate quite a bit of noise when you first boot up your PC from a cold boot, but the fan’s RPMs quickly settle down after a few seconds.
One additional benefit of enclosing the majority of the card in a shroud is that it protects the board’s components from being damaged. We have a feeling there are some awfully interesting horror stories behind this, and can imagine that UPS’ claims department in particular is glad to see this.
Rather than review the GeForce 8800 GT reference board we’ll be taking a look at shipping, retail GeForce 8800 GT cards. Already we’ve received boards from MSI and XFX, and once our FedEx driver arrives in the next few hours, we expect to also have cards from EVGA and Leadtek. This is clearly a hard launch with immediate availability.
MSI NX8800GT-T2D512E OC
As far as we can tell, MSI is first out of the gates with a factory overclocked GeForce 8800 GT card, the NX8800GT-T2D512E OC. The NX8800GT-T2D512E OC relies entirely on the NVIDIA reference board design with the obvious addition being that it’s overclocked out-of-the-box, running at 660MHz core, 1650MHz on the shaders, and 950MHz memory (1.9GHz effective). These speeds are 9% faster than the stock 8800 GT on the graphics core and shaders, and 5% faster memory.
In order to keep price down, MSI skips including a game bundle. As a result we’ve been told that the board has an MSRP of $249. If this price holds true at retail, this card is certainly priced to move. Strangely enough, the board only shipped with one DVI adapter (perhaps to further help keep price down?). MSI also includes a power adapter, S-Video cable, and component video output cable for hooking the card up to an HDTV.
XFX GeForce 8800 GT Alpha Dog Edition
Arriving right around the same time as the MSI NX8800GT-T2D512E OC was the XFX GeForce 8800 GT Alpha Dog Edition. The Alpha Dog Edition is XFX’s entry level GeForce 8800 GT 512MB SKU and relies on the standard 8800 GT reference board design and stock clock speeds.
Inside the card’s packaging were quite a few accessories beyond the graphics card. For starters XFX includes a copy of Company of Heroes on DVD-ROM. Also included with the copy of Company of Heroes is a CD containing the latest patch you’ll need to play the game with DirectX 10. While this is a very neat tie-in idea, Company of Heroes is a year old now. XFX also offers a newer DX10 game as a bundle, Lost Planet, but apparently this didn’t make it over to the Alpha Dog Edition. Funnily enough, XFX also includes a tag you can hang on your door that reads “I’m gaming, Do Not Disturb”.
Here’s a word of advice though, use the tag on your significant other at your own peril.
To finish the Alpha Dog package off, XFX also includes two DVI adapters, an S-Video cable, and a component video output block. The XFX GeForce 8600 GT Alpha Dog Edition carries a $249 MSRP.
If the stock speeds aren’t good enough and you want a little more performance, XFX will continue to provide their Extreme and XXX Edition SKUs. The XFX GeForce 8800 GT Extreme will run 40MHz faster than the Alpha Dog Edition at 640MHz. XFX’s product literature for the 8800 GT lists a “TBD” for the Extreme, but unless XFX has tinkered with the speeds in the board’s BIOS, the stream processors on the 8800 GT normally run 2.5 times faster than the graphics core, yielding a clock speed of 1600MHz (640MHz core x 2.5) for the stream processors. We did get a confirmed speed of 950MHz (1.9GHz effective) for the memory. Extreme boards will sell for an MSRP of $279.
At the top of the heap for XFX is the GeForce 8800 GT XXX Edition. The XXX board runs at even higher speeds, XFX’s specs list a 670MHz graphics core and 975MHz memory (1.95GHz effective). Again, XFX lists a TBD for the shader speed, but we’re going to assume that XFX is sticking to the 2.5 ratio and that the shaders will therefore run at 1675MHz. If these speeds pan out, this would make the XFX GeForce 8800 GT XXX one of the fastest 8800 GT boards on the market. Getting your hands on all this performance will set you back $299.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be gathering as many additional GeForce 880 GT cards as we can for a good old-fashioned roundup FiringSquad style. Keep your eyes peeled for it.