||NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB Performance Preview
December 11, 2007 Brandon Sandman Bell
Summary: With a 650MHz GPU and 1625MHz shaders, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB delivers performance rivaling the 8800 GTX while costing less. In this article we take a look at the stock 8800 GTS 512MB, SLI, as well as two factory OC'ed cards to see how the new GPU stacks up. See how the card performs inside!
| GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB Performance Preview||Page:: ( 1 / 14 )|
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With games like Crysis bringing a single GeForce 8800 GT to its knees at max settings, enthusiasts were glad to hear that a faster G92 derivative was in the works, but there was universal disdain that the 8800 GTS brand was being used yet again: between the original GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB and 320MB, and the recently released refreshed G80-based GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB GPU with 112 stream processors enabled (we reviewed EVGA’s 8800 GTS SSC card right here), end users were afraid that a fourth GTS SKU would add to the confusion.
Yet here we are just a few weeks removed from the first rumors popping up, and sure enough NVIDIA is indeed releasing another GeForce 8800 GTS SKU, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. And as the rumors initially indicated, the new GPU is powered by NVIDIA’s 65-nm G92 GPU.
Based on the card’s name, you’d naturally assume the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is a little slower than its 640MB predecessor – 640MB is greater than 512MB right? NVIDIA’s own official pricing on the card reinforces this assumption – officially the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB carries an MSRP of “$299-$349” while the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB retails for “$349-$399” according to NVIDIA – but guess what folks, in all the tests we conducted today the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB outperforms the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, and even the refreshed 640MB GPU with 112 stream processors! This is all due thanks to the blazing clock speeds on the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. Have a look at the following chart which summarizes NVIDIA’s current GeForce 8800 lineup as of today:
|GeForce 8800 Series Comparison|
|GeForce 8800 Ultra||GeForce 8800 GTX||GeForce 8800 GTS 640/320MB||GeForce 8800 GT||GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB|
|# of Stream Prcessors||128||128||96||112||128|
|Core Clock Speed||612||575||500||600||650|
|Shader Clock Speed||1500||1350||1200||1500||1625|
|Memory Clock Speed||1080||900||800||900||970|
|Texture Fill Rate||39.2||36.8||24||33.6||41.6|
|PCI Express 2.0||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
As you can see, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB boasts clock speeds that are considerably greater than its direct predecessor, the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB. In fact, the clocks on the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB are greater than the recently refreshed GTS 640MB cards like the EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC, which was previously the fastest GTS 640MB card on the market. At 650MHz core/970MHz memory, the clocks on the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB are even greater than the GeForce 8800 Ultra! In addition, the G92 GPU inside the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB sports 128 stream processors, just like the 8800 GTX and Ultra.
What separates the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB from NVIDIA’s flagship offerings is its memory interface, which is just 256-bit versus the 384-bit memory interface found in the GeForce 8800 GTX and Ultra. With its narrower memory interface, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB takes a backseat to the GeForce 8800 GTX/Ultra under the most demanding graphics settings with AA/AF, but as you’ll see in our benchmarks, the GTS 512MB definitely gives the more expensive GeForce cards a run for their money overall.
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A word on pricing
As most of you know by now, NVIDIA’s guidance on pricing has proven to be rather inaccurate for the most part lately. According to NVIDIA, pricing on the GeForce 8800 GT was supposed to fall within the $199-$249 range, but actual street prices have actually ranged anywhere from $209 for a GeForce 8800 GT 256MB, all the way up to $300+ for a loaded GeForce 8800 GT 512MB that is overclocked from the factory. Without a doubt some of this has been caused by retailers gouging consumers, but as the days go by it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that NVIDIA’s PR/marketing team are coming up with estimated MSRPs that aren’t in line with reality.
For the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB for instance we’ve been told by NVIDIA PR that boards would sell for between $299-$349. However, late Monday morning, less than 24 hours before launch, we received word from NVIDIA’s board partners that cards would actually sell in the $349-$399 range!
Now once you see the benchmarks, you’ll see why the MSRP is so close to the GeForce 8800 GTX, but this is quite a bit higher than the $299-$349 we were told to expect in the weeks ahead of the card’s launch.
| Board Analysis||Page:: ( 2 / 14 )|
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As you can obviously see in the pictures, NVIDIA has come up with a brand new board design and cooling unit for the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. The most notable change obviously goes to the new cooler, which is a dual-slot design that’s unlike anything we’ve seen on a graphics card before.
The card’s fan continues to be mounted offset of the graphics core for greater efficiency and longer life, although now the fan is mounted lower than the rest of the body of the heatsink. In addition, the fan is tilted at an angle away from the GPU towards the power circuitry on the right edge of the PCB of the graphics board. Hot air from the card’s fan is still exhausted outside the case.
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So why did NVIDIA’s engineers decide to indent and tilt the fan? Our guess is that this change was made to improve airflow when two cards are combined together for SLI. As we’ve mentioned numerous times in the past, with conventional SLI cooling setups, the uppermost card runs hotter than the bottom card. This is because airflow going into the top card is restricted by the card directly beneath it. By shifting the fan so that it’s mounted lower on the board, NVIDIA manages to squeeze a few extra millimeters for the card’s fan to draw in more air, and thus help keep temps lower. Another change you’ll notice is that the shroud runs the entire length of the board and isn’t enclosed on the right side, this allows air from the fan to run over the capacitors and other VRM on the right edge of the board. On previous GeForce 8800 GTS and GTX cards these components weren’t actively cooled by the GPU fan.
This provides a steady stream of air to these components that wasn’t available with previous cooling designs.
With all that being said, the PCB of the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB still gets quite hot under load, especially when overclocking. The fan itself operates quietly even under overclocked situations though.
Instead of evaluating the performance of NVIDIA’s reference GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB board, we’ve received a trio of retail board’s from NVIDIA’s board partners. Let’s take a look at the cards…
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ASUS EN8800 GTS 512MB TOP
The TOP in ASUS’ EN8800 GTS stands for Top Overclocking Performance, and that’s exactly what ASUS has accomplished, as the card is clocked higher than any GTS board we’ve seen to date. Unlike the standard GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB which runs at 650MHz on the graphics core, ASUS runs the GPU on their board at 740MHz and the stream processors at 1.8GHz (an improvement of 175MHz over the stock GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. To finish the package off, ASUS then clocks the board’s memory at 1035MHz (2.07GHz effective), which is 65MHz higher than the stock GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB.
As you can imagine, these higher speeds have a profound impact on performance, allowing the EN8800 GTS TOP to deliver performance that is quite competitive with the GeForce 8800 GTX in some cases. In the past year or so, ASUS has also brought back Smart Doctor and bundled it with their TOP line of cards. Like the latest build of Riva Tuner, Smart Doctor can be used to overclock the graphics core and memory, as well as the stream processors. NVIDIA promised this feature would be coming to nTune at the beginning of this year, but up to this point stream processor adjustment hasn’t been provided in nTune.
Besides overclocking, ASUS Smart Doctor can also be used to monitor temps and voltages, as well as fan speed.
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EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB
For their e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB, EVGA has opted not to overclock the GPU and memory, running at the stock NVIDIA-sanctioned factory speeds. Instead they’re distinguishing themselves from other NVIDIA board partners by including EA/Crytek’s hit first-person shooter Crysis! EVGA is the only manufacturer bundling Crysis with their GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB card at this time.
EVGA continues to provide their 90-day Step Up program, which allows you to trade in your existing EVGA graphics card to a faster model as long as it occurs within 90 days of the initial purchase, as well as their lifetime warranty program and toll-free tech support in North America.
The e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB bundled with Crysis officially sells for an MSRP of $359.99.
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XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX
Last but certainly not least is XFX’s GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX Edition. As long time readers of this site should know by now, XFX’s XXX line is their flagship offering. These cards are clocked at higher speeds than the rest of XFX’s lineup based on a given GPU.
In the case of the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX, XFX clocks the board at 678MHz core and 986MHz on the memory. This is just a minor boost over the standard core and memory specifications of the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB, suggesting that with the exception of ASUS, NVIDIA’s board partners are playing it safe this round with the clocks until they have more time to thoroughly test the cards for extended periods at higher speeds. If you recall NVIDIA and their board partners played it safe with the original GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS launch a year ago, sticking with the reference specifications until factory OC’ed boards had been more thoroughly tested. This is particularly important for companies like EVGA and XFX, as they both provide lifetime warranty guarantees.
Besides the XXX Edition board, XFX will also be producing a second SKU that runs at the stock speeds. This board will be known as the XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB Alpha Dog Edition (Part Number PV-T88G-YDF). Both cards ship with a copy of the DX10 game Lost Planet.
According to XFX, their GeForce 8800 GTX XXX will sell for an MSRP of $379.99 while the Alpha Dog will carry an MSRP of $349.99.
| Test Systems||Page:: ( 3 / 14 )|
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800
EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard (for GeForce cards)
ASUS P5E3 Deluxe WiFi AP (for Radeon cards)
2GB Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4
ATI Radeon HD 3850 256MB
ATI Radeon HD 3870 512MB
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB (500MHz core/800MHz memory)
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX (575MHz core/900MHz memory)
Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme (680MHz core/1.0GHz memory)
XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB (600MHz core/900MHz memory)
XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB XXX (650MHz core/800MHz memory)
ASUS EN8800GTS 512MB TOP (740MHz core/1035MHz memory)
EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB (650MHz core/970MHz memory)
XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX (678MHz core/986MHz memory)
300GB Western Digital Caviar SE
Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
Company of Heroes 1.71 (running DX9)
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Call of Duty 4
Half-Life 2 Episode Two
Lost Planet DX9
World in Conflict
| F.E.A.R. Performance||Page:: ( 4 / 14 )|
|F.E.A.R. Performance 1600x1200x32|
|Card||Min FPS||Max FPS|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB||36||170|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB XXX||30||150|
|Radeon HD 3870||21||127|
|GeForce 8800 GT 256MB||28||133|
|Radeon HD 3850 256MB||19||108|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||46||221|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB||40||194|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||32||154|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC 640MB||36||179|
|Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme||39||188|
|ASUS EN8800 GTS 512MB TOP||42||207|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX||42||197|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB SLI||59||383|
| Company Of Heroes DX9||Page:: ( 5 / 14 )|
|Company of Heroes Performance 1600x1200x32|
|Card||Min FPS||Max FPS|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB||55||280|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB XXX||53.2||253|
|GeForce 8800 GT 256MB||46||218|
|Radeon HD 3870||41||232|
|Radeon HD 3850 256MB||41.1||200.5|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||70||295|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB||59||252|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||38||184|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC 640MB||48||215.2|
|Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme||56||239|
|ASUS EN8800 GTS 512MB TOP||64.9||271|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX||62||257|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB SLI||84||352|
| Oblivion||Page:: ( 6 / 14 )|
|Oblivion Performance 1600x1200x32|
|Card||Min FPS||Max FPS|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB||39||53|
|Radeon HD 3870||34||46|
|Radeon HD 3850 256MB||29||41|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB XXX||5||9|
|GeForce 8800 GT 256MB||29||41|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||56||78|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB||43||58|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||31||42|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC 640MB||38||52|
|Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme||43||59|
|ASUS EN8800 GTS 512MB TOP||47||63|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX||44||60|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB SLI||77||91|
| World In Conflict||Page:: ( 7 / 14 )|
|World In Conflict Performance 1600x1200x32|
|Card||Min FPS||Max FPS|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB||22||57|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB XXX||13||50|
|Radeon HD 3870||14||44|
|GeForce 8800 GT 256MB||11||46|
|Radeon HD 3850 256MB||11||36|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||26||72|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB||21||66|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||18||52|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC 640MB||23||62|
|Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme||21||68|
|ASUS EN8800 GTS 512MB TOP||23||70|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX||21||67|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB SLI||23||96|
| HL2 Episode 2||Page:: ( 8 / 14 )|
| Lost Planet DX9||Page:: ( 9 / 14 )|
| Call Of Duty 4||Page:: ( 10 / 14 )|
|Call of Duty 4 Performance 1600x1200x32|
|Card||Min FPS||Max FPS|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB||38||81|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB XXX||34||73|
|GeForce 8800 GT 256MB||31||70|
|Radeon HD 3870||30||58|
|Radeon HD 3850 256MB||27||48|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||43||99|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB||42||93|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||35||70|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC 640MB||39||83|
|Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme||42||93|
|ASUS EN8800 GTS 512MB TOP||42||96|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX||43||94|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB SLI||62||174|
| BioShock DX9 4xAA/16xAF||Page:: ( 11 / 14 )|
|BioShock Performance 1600x1200x32|
|Card||Min FPS||Max FPS|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB||30||91|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB XXX||2||7|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||59||123|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB||42||96|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||28||72|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC 640MB||34||90|
|Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme||42||95|
|ASUS EN8800 GTS 512MB TOP||46||103|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX||43||98|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB SLI||78||188|
| Crysis DX9 2xAA/16xAF||Page:: ( 12 / 14 )|
Crysis – Direct3D
|Crysis Performance 1600x1200x32|
|Card||Min FPS||Max FPS|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB||24.3||35.4|
|Radeon HD 3870||16.3||22.6|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GT 256MB XXX||5.7||12.3|
|GeForce 8800 GT 256MB||5.4||11.5|
|Radeon HD 3850 256MB||4.9||10.5|
|GeForce 8800 GTX||27.5||41.4|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB||26.7||39.5|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB||19.3||29|
|EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC 640MB||23.9||36.1|
|ASUS EN8800 GTS 512MB TOP||28.1||41.9|
|XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX||27.9||40.6|
|GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB SLI||37.4||70.5|
| Overclocking||Page:: ( 13 / 14 )|
| Conclusion||Page:: ( 14 / 14 )|
To prevent this from occurring, this board should have been designated the GeForce 8900 or GeForce 8850.
Rather than stubbornly keeping the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB at the $349-$399 mark in their lineup, NVIDIA also needs to let the 640MB die. NVIDIA maintains that there are some cases where the 640MB outperforms GPUs like the 8800 GT 512MB and 8800 GTS 512MB, but in most cases the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is the faster card overall.
NVIDIA’s PR team is also a little misleading when it comes to board pricing. While we’ve been told that the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB will be priced in the $299-$349 by NVIDIA PR, as best as we can tell, it looks like actual street prices will start around $349 for a baseline GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB card and work their way closer to the $400 mark for a factory overclocked board with all the trimmings. This is quite a bit more than what we were told in the weeks leading up to the board’s official launch.
Given the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB’s outstanding performance though, this higher price tag is definitely justified. The 8800 GTS 512MB cards blazed through all of our benchmarks, with performance generally falling anywhere between the GeForce 8800 GT and the GeForce 8800 GTX, while a card that’s been overclocked can put up numbers that are higher than the GTX in some cases.
If you’ve got $400 to spend on a graphics upgrade this Christmas, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is without a doubt the card we recommend. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB ends up stealing sales away from the GeForce 8800 GTX. Factory OC'ed GeForce 8800 GT cards like the Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT 512MB Extreme are also tempting, if you need to save a little money these cards can be found for around $300 and frequently outperform the stock GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. Finally, at the sub-$200 mark, AMD's Radeon HD 3850 is the clear choice right now.
Thanks to its high clock speeds, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is probably the card most enthusiasts will lust after. The GeForce 8800 GTX and Ultra are still faster overall when you really crank up the AA and screen resolution, but for the majority of gamers playing at 1600x1200 or 1920x1200 with a little AA, the GeForce 8800 GT and 8800 GTS 512MB are quite capable. When you factor in overclocking, the 8800 GTS 512MB card is even more tempting. But thanks to its confusing naming, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB may have a tough time capturing mindshare in comparison to other cards like the 8800 GT and GTX. Only time will tell on that one though...