||EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB Superclocked Review
February 12, 2007 Brandon Sandman Bell
Summary: Interested in a cheaper DX10 GeForce 8800 card? If so, then you'll want to check out the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB. Up for review today is EVGA's 320MB GTS board, the e-GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB Superclocked. Everything on this card has been overclocked, with the stream processors and graphics core running at the same speed as the GeForce 8800 GTX! See how this board performs in comparison to the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB and the rest of the 8800 lineup in this review (here's a hint, you'll be surprised to see it outrunning the 640MB GTS card in some cases)!
| Introduction||Page:: ( 1 / 16 )|
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Last November NVIDIA stunned the 3D graphics world with the debut of their GeForce 8800 family of graphics cards. Initially launching with two cards, the GeForce 8800 GTX and the GeForce 8800 GTS, the 8800 family delivered revolutionary performance with the added benefit of DirectX 10 support.
The G80 GPU housed inside these cards is built like no other NVIDIA GPU before it; this time around NVIDIA has started with a blank piece of paper.
G80’s revolutionary architecture
Instead of a vector-based GPU like G70, for G80 NVIDIA has incorporated a scalar architecture. NVIDIA’s engineers found that scalar operations were being used more frequently and that these scalar computations were difficult to compile and schedule efficiently on a more traditional GPU like G70. For G80 NVIDIA also broke up the traditional pixel and vertex shaders as we’d previously known them, opting instead to integrate their so-called stream processors.
NVIDIA’s stream processors are fully programmable and are equally at home working on pixel, vertex, or geometry shading. They can even be used to handle physics processing when Havok FX games begin shipping later this year. This unified design can lead to substantial performance and efficiency gains over previous architectures. To deliver breakthrough shading horsepower NVIDIA has packed in dozens of stream processors inside G80, in the case of GeForce 8800 GTX, NVIDIA integrates 128 stream processors, while GeForce 8800 GTS boasts 96 stream processors. The stream processors run at their own clock speed that’s independent of the rest of the graphics core. In the GeForce 8800 GTX for instance, the stream processors run at 1.35GHz, while the rest of the GPU runs at 575MHz. To keep the GPU fed with data, the GeForce 8800 GTX also sports a wide 384-bit memory interface, providing up to 86.4GB/sec of peak memory bandwidth. That’s just over 35GB/sec more memory bandwidth than the GeForce 7900 GTX. Keep in mind that NVIDIA’s GeForce 7600 GT tops out at just 22.4GB/sec.
All this new circuitry comes at a huge cost though. G80 is easily the most complex graphics processor that’s been released to date, consisting of approximately 681 million transistors. That’s over twice the number of transistors as NVIDIA’s previous flagship, G71, which contained around 278 million transistors, and both GPUs are built on the same 90-nm manufacturing process. Just for a little perspective, even Intel’s quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX6700 CPU weighs in a little slimmer at 582 million transistors and it’s built at 65-nm. What does this mean for consumers? In short, GeForce 8800 chips are pretty costly for NVIDIA to make, particularly in comparison to their previous generation GeForce 7900 GTX cards. As a result, street prices for GeForce 8800 GTS cards start around $400 ($350 after mail-in rebate at some e-tailers) and quickly go up from there, while GeForce 8800 GTX cards typically sell for $550+ online.
In other words up to this point GeForce 8800 cards have been prohibitively expensive. In order to reach critical mass, a cheaper GeForce 8800 was needed. Today that card has arrived in the form of the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB.
| The GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB||Page:: ( 2 / 16 )|
Because so much of the GeForce 8800 GTS carries over intact on the 320MB board, NVIDIA claims the board will perform similarly to a stock GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB card at lower resolutions, only at 2560x1600 will performance really start to suffer according to NVIDIA. Of course as always we’ll be testing the board extensively in our suite of games to see how it performs.
The really sweet part about the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB though is its price; NVIDIA expects boards to start right around $299, with higher-end factory overclocked boards selling for around $329-$349. The rest of NVIDIA’s GeForce lineup is priced as follows:
|GeForce Pricing As of 02/07 Source: NVIDIA|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||$599-$649|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||$399-$449|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB||$299-$349|
|GeForce 7950 GT||$249-$299|
|GeForce 7900 GS||$179-$199|
|GeForce 7600 GT||$129-$159|
|GeForce 7600 GS||$99-$129|
|GeForce 7300 GPUs||<$89|
As you can see, the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB basically occupies the spot once held by the GeForce 7900 GTX in NVIDIA’s lineup. As a result, expect 7900 GTX boards to slowly fade away as they’re replaced by the 8800 GTS 320MB. Initially we were quoted an MSRP of $329 for higher end 320MB 8800 GTS boards, but apparently newer SKUs bumped that figure up to $349 just last Friday. At that price point, some GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB boards may be priced awfully close to some stock GeForce 8800 GTS cards, which are quickly approaching $350 or less at some online retailers. But as we’ll show you in the benchmarks, these factory overclocked 320MB GTS boards can sometimes outperform the stock GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB cards. In particular, EVGA’s e-GeForce 8800 GTS Superclocked is one such 8800 GTS 320MB board that has been highly overclocked. Let’s take a closer look at the board…
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The EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS Superclocked 320MB
EVGA follows the exact same formula used previously on their e-GeForce 8800 GTS Superclocked 640MB card, for their 320MB SKU. The graphics core on the Superclocked cards runs at 576MHz (76MHz faster than a stock 8800 GTS), while the stream processors are overclocked to 1.35GHz (that’s 150MHz higher than the reference GTS card). These are the same speeds as a stock GeForce 8800 GTX by the way, ensuring that both Superclocked boards will be terrific performers.
On the memory side EVGA clocks the board at 850MHz (1.7GHz effective), which is 50MHz higher than your typical GeForce 8800 GTS card. As a result of the higher memory speeds, the e-GeForce 8800 GTS Superclocked tops out at 68GB/sec of peak memory bandwidth, an improvement of 4GB/sec over stock.
The rest of the board is similar to NVIDIA’s reference board design for the GeForce 8800 GTS. You’ve got the same dual-slot cooling that runs nearly silent even under load, making the card ideal for use in a low-noise environment like a home theater PC, while the board is also outfitted with two dual-link DVIs and supports HDCP. As an added bonus, the card comes bundled with a copy of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic on DVD-ROM, while hardware accessories bundled with the card include your typical assortment of goodies: two DVI adapters, a power adapter, and S-Video and component video cables.
| Test Systems||Page:: ( 3 / 16 )|
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800
ASUS P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP
2GB Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4
ATI Radeon X1950 XTX 512MB
BFG GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB
EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX ACS3
EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS Superclocked 320MB
PNY GeForce 7950 GT
300GB Western Digital Caviar SE
Windows XP Professional SP2
Company of Heroes 1.3
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Battlefield 2142 1.10
Call of Duty 2 1.3
Far Cry 1.33
Quake 4 1.3
| 3DMark 06||Page:: ( 4 / 16 )|
3DMark 06 – Direct3D
| Battlefield 2142||Page:: ( 5 / 16 )|
Battlefield 2 – Direct3D
| F.E.A.R. Performance||Page:: ( 6 / 16 )|
F.E.A.R. – Direct3D
| Oblivion Mountains HDR||Page:: ( 7 / 16 )|
Oblivion – Direct3D
| Oblivion Foliage HDR||Page:: ( 8 / 16 )|
Oblivion – Direct3D
| HL2 Lost Coast HDR||Page:: ( 9 / 16 )|
Half-Life 2 Lost Coast – Direct3D
| Company of Heroes||Page:: ( 10 / 16 )|
Company of Heroes – Direct3D
| Far Cry||Page:: ( 11 / 16 )|
Far Cry – Direct3D
| Quake 4||Page:: ( 12 / 16 )|
Quake 4 – OpenGL
| 16xCSAA Performance||Page:: ( 13 / 16 )|
| 8xMSAA Performance||Page:: ( 14 / 16 )|
| Ballistics Report||Page:: ( 15 / 16 )|
GeForce 8800 core: The G80 GPU inside the GeForce 8800 is a technological tour de force. The shader core of the GeForce 8800 GPUs is comprised of 96 stream processors all working in parallel to deliver unmatched gaming performance. Each of the stream processors can handle pixel, vertex, or geometry shading, as well as physics. Oh, and don’t forget that G80 is the world’s first GPU that’s 100% DirectX 10-compliant, with support for shader model 4.0.
The GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB also supports NVIDIA’s Lumenex Engine, delivering 16xCSAA for even better image quality.
Superclocked clock speeds: As its name implies, EVGA overclocks their e-GeForce 8800 GTS Superclocked board from the factory for added performance. Not only are the graphics core and memory overclocked, the stream processors are as well. EVGA clocks them at 1.35GHz, the same speed as the GeForce 8800 GTX, while the graphics core runs at 575MHz, which is also the same speed as the GTX. Meanwhile, the board’s memory runs at 850MHz, this is 50MHz higher than the stock GeForce 8800 GTS.
Because of these changes, EVGA’s e-GeForce 8800 GTS Superclocked outperforms the stock GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, despite having half the onboard memory.
EVGA warranty/support: EVGA backs their card’s up with one of the best warranties in the business. As you probably know, EVGA’s cards are backed by a lifetime warranty, this means you’re covered if something happens to your card 1 year from now, or 5 years from now. Say for instance a fan fails, with EVGA’s lifetime warranty, you’re covered.
The warranty is quite extensive as well, covering everything except physical damage to the card. This means you can’t void your card’s warranty by overclocking or by mounting a third-party cooler on the card (provided the board or GPU isn’t physically damaged in the process). EVGA also has a history of providing great support to their end users, they actively monitor their forums, and provide a toll-free 24/7 tech support line if you run into problems.
Step-Up: EVGA’s Step-up program allows EVGA customers to trade-in their existing EVGA graphics card for the latest and greatest model available, as long as the upgrade occurs within 90 days of the initial card purchase. EVGA customers simply pay the difference between the two cards to complete the transaction.
This allows prospective EVGA owners to purchase a faster graphics card if the original doesn’t meet their needs (say for instance, your bonus at work comes in and you decide to Step-Up to an EVGA 8800 GTX), or upgrade if NVIDIA introduces newer technology. The only downside to Step-Up is that you can only use it once, so you should use it wisely.
The future: While the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB put up good performance with today’s games, the jury is still out on how well the card will perform with the first wave of DX10 games, which we’re assuming will be more demanding on the graphics card. Unfortunately we won’t be able to answer this question for many more months.
| Final Verdict||Page:: ( 16 / 16 )|
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