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					Nvidia's GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB




http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-8800-gts-512-mb,1743.html
1:02 PM - December 12, 2007 by Florian Charpentier
Source: Tom's Hardware US

Table of content

         1 - Introduction
         2 - Specifications
         3 - Sparkle And Gigabyte Cards, The Review
         4 - The Review, Continued
         5 - Test Drive Unlimited
         6 - Supreme Commander
         7 - Age Of Empires 3
         8 - The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
         9 - World In Conflict
        10 - Unreal Tournament 3
        11 - Crysis
        12 - Call Of Duty 4
        13 - Power Consumption
        14 - Conclusion

Introduction

The availability of mainstream or high end 3D cards has always been more or less random. This is at least true
for retail cards that constitute a tiny minority. Basically, there have always been two problems: on one hand the
waiting time between a product's review and its availability for sale can be between one or two months. On the
other hand you have to consider the real and continued availability of those cards after this delay. This came to
the fore during summer 2004 with the unavailability of the GeForce 6800 Ultra and GT as well as the X800 XT
PE and XT.

Since then Nvidia has been using this state of play to its advantage by trying to systematically call for hard-
launches, meaning the availability in online retailers at the same time as the reviews are published. It's a strategy
that paid off in front of Ati's inaction, as they took more time before doing the same thing. The first problem was
thus almost eradicated and it's a real improvement by those manufacturers. CPU founders and hard disk
manufacturers should really learn from it! However, in regards to the real and continued supply, it's actually the
opposite. As much as it's understandable (although regrettable) that the transistors monsters that are high-end
chips may know some manufacturing difficulties, it's more detrimental that manufacturers launch mainstream
products with excellent performance/price ratio knowing full well they won't be able to ensure supply. Yet today,
although products based on G80 or R600 are available, those based on RV670 (Radeon HD 3850 and 3870) and
even more so those using G92 (GeForce 8800 GT) are almost impossible to find or come with price tags far
greater than those announced.




Unreal Tournament 3

Of course, the fact that the two latter chips use more advanced processes and are victims of their success explain
the problem in part. However this new trend is regrettable. If the availability of a new version of the GeForce
8800 GTS (512 Mo) Compare Prices on 512 MB GeForce 8800 GTS Video Cards should logically make
things worse, Nvidia claims on the contrary that it'll be the landmark of a new beginning for the recently
launched cards. By the way, what is this new 8800 GTS really worth?
Join our discussion on this article!

Specifications

There's actually little to know about the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 Mo. It takes back the G92 chip introduced with
the renowned 8800 GT, but in a boosted version as it maintains the 128 stream processors of the 8800 GTX. It
confirms, by the way, that the G92 isn't limited to the 112 stream processors activated on the 8800 GT. That's not
all since clock wise we now see 650 MHz for the GPU and 1625 MHz for the shaders, which is another increase
compared to the 8800 GT. Basically, the latter had made the GeForce 8800 GTS 320 MB and 640 MB obsolete
and this new 8800 GTS 512 MB brings shame, at least on paper, to the 8800 GTX (17% less efficient) and the
8800 Ultra as well (7% less efficient)!

                                Main cards' specifications
GPU                               8800 GTS 640 8800 GT 512           8800 GTS 512    8800 GTX
GPU Clock                         500 MHz      600 MHz               650 MHz         575 MHz
Shaders Clock                     1200 MHz     1500 MHz              1625 MHz        1350 MHz
Memory Clock                      800 MHz      900 MHz               970 MHz         900 MHz
Width of the Memory Bus           320 bits     256 bits              256 bits        384 bits
Memory type                       GDDR3        GDDR3                 GDDR3           GDDR3
Memory Capacity                   640 MB       512 MB                512 MB          768 MB
Number of Pixels/Vertex Pipelines (24)         (28)                  (32)            (32)
Number of texturing units         24           56                    56              32
Number of ROP                     20           16                    16              24
Throughput                        230.4 GFlops 336 GFlops            416 GFlops      346 GFlops
Memory bandwidth                  64 GB/s      57.6 GB/s             62.1 GB/s       86.4 GB/s
Number of transistors             681 millions 754 millions          754 millions    681 millions
Process                           0.09µ TSMC 0.065µ TSMC             0.065µ TSMC     0.09µ TSMC
Die's surface                     484 mm²      324 mm²               324 mm²         484 mm²
Generation                        2007         2007                  2007            2006
PureVideo                         1            2                     2               1




The G92 strikes back, more powerful than ever

Of course, once again memory becomes the decider. On the one hand we have capacity; because the GTX is still
equipped with 768 MB whereas the new 8800 GTS comes with only 512 MB Compare Prices on 512 MB
GeForce 8800 GTS Video Cards , which is less than the 640 MB of the previous version. On the other hand we
have the bandwidth. When the chip's clock reaches 970 MHz it allows it to be on par with the previous 8800
GTS despite the 256 bits bus limitation. The GTX also displays a "third lung" which gives it 39% more
bandwidth. Let's see what this means practically.

Sparkle And Gigabyte Cards, The Review

The GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB strays physically from the smaller 8800 GT first and foremost with regards its
dual-slot cooling system. A bigger heatsink/fan duo was indeed necessary to maintain the quiet level of
performance found on the GeForce 8800 (even if there are obviously a few variations between models). The
heatsink has a copper base on top of which are placed three heat pipes that spread heat over the entire aluminium
fins. The first one is cleverly placed as it forces the fans' air flow to pass closer to the base. The latter is still
radial and signed by Delta but differs compared to the one found on the previous GeForce 8800 GTS and GTX
(which is a good sign). It's slightly smaller (a diameter of 7 cm instead of 7.5 cm), has more blades (which
traditionally optimize the air flow in slow regime), is less powerful (4.1 W instead of 5.8 W maximum) and is
slightly inclined in order to send the air flow closer to the base. Even though temperatures may exceed 100°C
there are no such thing as small improvements.
Sparkle's 8800 GTS 512 MB (front)




and its back... A model similar to that of the reference design

By the way, the PCB used here is the one from the GeForce 7900, which allows savings on production and
development costs.

In regards to outputs, as with the 8800 GT, the two DVI-I output must be dual-linked (to manage 30" monitors
and their 2560*1600 resolution) and HDCP (cryptographic norm that is becoming more and more inescapable)

DVI dual-link HDCP

PCI Express 6 pins

The card reviewed was signed by Sparkle. Aside from a sticker on the cooling system and the fan, it's bundled
with a DVI-> VGA Adapter, a Molex-> PCI Express 6 pin adapter, a cable for TV and an another one for
HDTV. Software wise, only the traditional driver CD is given. It's clear that this bundle is a little poor and
Sparkle will have to compete in the price war in order to gain recognition.

The Review, Continued

On the other hand, the Gigabyte card we received is carving its own path. Aside from a blue and shorter PCB
(19.8 cm against 23 cm for the reference design, which should make all the difference in certain casings) thanks
to a simplified power supply stage, Gigabyte replaced the original and impressive cooling system with a more
modest Zalman VF700 AlCu which is an aluminium and copper hybrid. Apart from a little weight-loss, it also
allows the card to occupy only one slot at the back of the case although the size of the cooling system still
prevents the usage of a card next to this 8800 GTS 512 MB. The only down sides are the heat that is no longer
rejected directly outside the case and the RAM (still Qimonda 1 GHz) that no longer has a heatsink, although it's
still being cooled by the fan's air flow.

The more attractive Gigabyte model

The difference in size is obvious

We note as well that this card doesn't support Triple-SLI, which is exclusively for the 8800 GTX and Ultra (you
have to admit that without it, those two cards no longer have anything in their favour on paper)

Test Setup

                          Hardware
CPU          Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 (3 GHz)
Motherboard Asus P5K3 Deluxe
Memory       Kingston 2 x 1024 MB in DDR-3 800 5-5-5-15-21
Hard Disk    Hitachi T7K250 250 GB
DVD ROM Optical Drive DVD Asus 12x
Power Supply Tagan U15 Easycon 530 W
                          Software
OS           Windows XP Pro
             ForceWare 169.06
Drivers
             Catalyst 7.11
For this review, we spread the results for each game on three different charts, each chart corresponding to a
resolution (with or without antialiasing) and thus to a type or flat screen.

Whatever the resolution, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB comes in just behind the 8800 GTX, which manages to
keep the lead. Nevertheless, the gap isn't bigger than 10%. However, we notice that the performances of the new
8800 GTS have difficulties distinguishing themselves from the 8800 GT under Test Drive Unlimited. The
increase is only of 8% whatever the resolution (give or take 1%), which is disappointing knowing the gap in raw
throughput reaches 24%. TDU is using a lot of textures and is quite sensitive to memory bandwidth, which
doesn't really evolve.

Supreme Commander

The GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB is surely the most interesting card to use under Supreme Commander (the same
goes for the 8800 GT 512). In 1280*1024 filters disabled, it manages to be slightly more powerful than the GTX.
They both play the cat and mouse game in all the other resolutions, despite the notable price difference. This isn't
however a big surprise since the 8800 GT 512 MB was already quite close to Nvidia's high end. Between the two
G92 cards, the gap fluctuates, with variables of up to 15% in this instance.

Age of Empires 3

Age of Empires 3 is always interesting to analyze because of its pixel shading demands. Thus it's no surprise to
see the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB emerging in this game, and for the first time, as a clear leader. This is true
even if its lead doesn't exceed 6% compared to the GTX and hits between 13 and 15% compared to the 8800 GT
(in 1600*1200 and 1920*1440).

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

In 1280*1024, filters enabled or not, the GTX manages to keep a slight advantage over the new 8800 GTS. It
remains true in 1600*1200 but only when the filters are active. Without them, the 8800 GTS takes the lead. In
1920*1440, the score obtained, without antialiasing, is the same between the two cards, whereas we get a
surprise as the 8800 GTS takes the lead when filters are activated. Its superiority over the 8800 GT doesn't
exceed approximately 10% in this case.

World in Conflict

Results under World In Conflict, and with antialiasing disabled, are impacted by a dependency on the processor
and a random character a little more noticeable than usual. Therefore the hierarchy was established and is one
which records the results with antialiasing enabled. In this game, if the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB outperforms
the 8800 GTX, it's only when filters are de-activated. Otherwise the superior bandwidth and memory capacity of
the older card appears to be crucial. The 8800 GTS only really outperforms the 8800 GT in 1920*1440 to reach
between 8 and 11%.

Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3 displays clear results and its use of numerous detailed textures makes the enabling of
filters very taxing on performances, which are sometimes divided in half or more. Whatever the circumstances,
the 8800 GTX remains untouchable, its lead being greater when antialiasing is enabled (12 to 17% against 2 to
8% otherwise). Here again, the gap between the 8800 GTS and the 8800 GT remains small. However, the
previous 8800 GTS is quite far behind.

After being the ultimate card for the Supreme Commander gamer, the 8800 GTS 512 MB appears to be in the
same position for this little game that only a few people know about. Namely: Crysis. It is superior to the GTX in
the end but its lead falls seriously as we move up in resolution and in filters. This is so pronounced that in
1280*1024 + antialiasing 4X and in 1600*1200 + antialiasing 4X, the GTX takes back the lead. Overall, Crysis
seems to be more sensitive to the GPU's power than the memory bandwidth. In regards to the lead of the new
GTS over the old GT, it varies between 11 and 16%. The fact remains that 1600*1200 isn't comfortably playable
with this 8800 GTS 512 MB, even though we weren't using a high level of details.
Call of Duty 4

With Call of Duty 4, the 8800 GTX remains untouchable, no matter the resolution. Its lead over the 8800 GTS
512 MB varies between 7 and 16% filters disabled and between 10 and 16% when enabled. Quite logically, it
follow that the 8800 GT which has a similar bandwidth, is barely outperformed.

Power Consumption

Here's the power supply's total consumption. This sums up the consumption of the configuration as a whole
including the Tagan U15 530 W power supply losses, which are 20% on the range of power considered here.

As expected the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB, which is based on the G92, raises the power consumption
compared to the 8800 GT but not excessively. The rise in the configuration's power consumption reaches 7 W
when idle and 18 W when in peak (this is once the PSU losses have been subtracted). It allows the card to remain
below the level of the previous GeForce 8800 GTS, but also below the HD 3870 in peak. While idle, the more
advanced process used by AMD allow it to keep the upper hand. This value is without a doubt the most
important when it comes to electrical costs and the PC's carbon-footprint from global use.

Noise, Temperatures, Overclocking

The GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB doesn't appear to be louder than the 8800 GT, which is a very good thing. The
fan was quiet and didn't accelerate during our benchmarks. No worries here.

Let's note that this reduces our interest in the Gigabyte version that replaces the heatsink with the VF-700-FS01
from Zalman. The latter doesn't correct a potential flaw on the original version but on the contrary, cancels the
requirement for a heatsink on the memory chips.

In regards to temperatures, we picked up a drop of approximately 5°C when compared to a GeForce 8800 GT in
the same conditions. This is thanks to the prominent cooling system. We obtained 55°C in idle and 85°C in peak.
Those values are lower than those found on the Radeon HD3870. Given all of this, the GeForce 8800 GTX and
its much less evolved processes are only slightly hotter in idle (58°C) and remains 1°C below the 8800 GTS 512
MB in peak.

Overclocking

Where overclocking is concerned, we were quite surprised. We thought the GPU, already pushed to high
frequencies and equipped with 128 stream processors would not gain much compared to the memory. The
opposite was true. We've been able to push the G92 of the 8800 GTS 512 MB from 650 to 776 MHz (+19% or
500 GFlops, meaning 44% better than a GTX!). All this is really impressive and a good sign regarding the G92
yields. However, the memory didn't support more than a 3.5% increase, by reaching 1004 MHz with difficulty.
This is perfectly reasonable for a memory chip certified to run at 1 GHz. In the end, with a game quite
demanding in raw throughput like Age of Empires 3, we gained 9%.

Conclusion

Overall, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB is interesting for a few reasons Compare Prices on 512 MB GeForce
8800 GTS Video Cards . Based on a largely more powerful G92 (24%) than the one on the GeForce 8800 GT, it
manages to outperform the GeForce 8800 GTX. The latter has sometimes got the upper hand (Age of Empires
III, Crysis), but is more often than not beaten (Test Drive Unlimited, STALKER, Unreal Tournament 3, Call of
Duty 4) or is on a par globally (Supreme Commander, Oblivion, World In Conflict). It all depends on the nature
of each game and its demands in shading. Memory-wise, we remain at the same level as the GeForce 8800 GT;
whether it is in capacity or in bandwidth (it only increases by 8%).

Given its £150-170 (€200-240) price tag, the choice between a GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB and the 8800 GTX is
clear despite the fact that the latter is the only one to maintain the triple SLI support. Let's note that the GeForce
8800 GTX is at the end of its lifespan and should quickly disappear. On the other hand, the unbalanced character
of this new 8800 GTS which almost only counts on its raw throughput to outgrow the 8800 GT 512 MB shows
its limitations. The latter is taken back by only 10% on average although its price tag is roughly 20% lower. The
performance-price ratio remains in favour of the 8800 GT and the gap between the two is too small to really be
significant.

We should note that this 8800 GTS 512 MB gives Nvidia the ability to present another card next to the 8800 GT
without being ridiculous. Compared to the previous 8800 GTS, the increase is quite important with 31% on
average when put against the 640 MB version. With regards to availability, Nvidia promised it'll be on our
shelves; we'll see what it really is in a few of days.

Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB After the 8800 GT earthquake, Nvidia own with its new 8800 GTS a second
coherent card in its catalogue. The evolution of performances compared to the previous 8800 GTS is interesting,
yet by counting on computational power alone, the card has difficulties seperating itself from the 8800 GT.

The Pros

          Performances almost equivalent to that of the 8800 GTX for a cheaper price
          Decline in power consumption and with quiet performance.
          PureVideo 2

The Cons

          A performance/price ratio less appealing than that of the 8800 GT, which isn't much less efficient.

Performance Roundup

The averages obtained for each card and for each game exclude Crysis, which doesn't change the ranking, but
simply couldn't be tested using the same resolution as the other games. Similarly, the numbers obtained with
STALKER are found in averages taken with filters disabled, but since the game hasn't been tested with
antialiasing on, it's excluded from the averages taken with filters, which boosts the card's results, STALKER
being really demanding.

Join our discussion on this article!

Tom's Hardware - http://www.tomshardware.com

				
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