November 8, Nvidia announced its new graphics processor G80 along with two G80-based graphics cards, a flagship GeForce 8800 GTX and a less advanced, yet more affordable GeForce 8800 GTS. They have come to replace the GeForce 7900 GTX and the dual-chip GeForce 7950 GX2 models, the last-generation solutions based on an architecture that traces its origin back to the 2-year-old NV40 processor and even incorporates some features of the still older NV35.
We discussed the G80 architecture in this review in which we scrutinized GeForce 8800 GTX, the senior model of the family. We also covered the problems of image quality and performance in theoretical benchmarks. The new graphics card did well in every case, surpassing last-generation solutions such as ATI Radeon X1950 XTX and Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX.
So, there was no doubt about the huge potential of the new solution from Nvidia, yet we couldn’t make our final verdict because the theoretical benchmarks didn’t show the full picture. In such benchmarks the whole computing power of the unified-architecture GPU is dedicated to solving only one problem, which is not the case with real applications, i.e. with 3D games, where performance of any graphics solution is determined by a number of various factors such as the specifics of the particular game engine and all the technical characteristics of the GPU such as its memory bandwidth and memory controller design, the number of TMUs and ROPs, core clock rate and shader processor design.
What we mean to say is that there is no quick and simple way to find out how good a new graphics card is going to be under real gaming conditions. You can only check this out by testing it in different games of different genres. That’s what we’ve done with our GeForce 8800 GTX.
Since we had to deal with a completely new architecture as well as with a graphics card that claimed to be the fastest solution on the market, we decided to benchmark it in more games than usual to give you a more detailed picture of its performance.
We want to apologize for a month-long delay in preparing this important review. It is due to some troubles we encountered when testing the graphics card. We’ll tell you about the nature of the troubles at the end of the article. Right now, let’s see what the GeForce 8800 GTX can do!