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Conclusion

The next-generation graphics card from Nvidia has passed through our tests and it’s time to do some summarizing.

All-Around Champion

Well, there’s no doubt the GeForce 8800 GTX has every reason to claim the championship title. It delivers fantastic performance and in most cases easily beats the best multi-GPU platforms of the last generation: Radeon X1950 XTX CrossFire, GeForce 7900 GTX SLI and GeForce 7950 Quad SLI. The number of benchmarks in which this graphics card with only one GPU on board proves to be faster than dual- or even quad-chip solutions is impressive indeed:

  • Battlefield 2
  • Battlefield 2142
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Far Cry
  • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One
  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Tomb Raider: Legend
  • X3: Reunion
  • Neverwinter Nights 2
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Titan Quest
  • Company of Heroes
  • Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends

So, Nvidia triumphs in 14 out of 23 games we performed our tests in.

The GeForce 8800 GTX is especially good when you enable high-quality full-screen antialiasing like 8x MSAA or 16xQ CSAA. The developer has paid attention to this operation mode and endowed the new card with appropriate characteristics. Having 32 TMUs, 24 ROPs, and 768MB of fast graphics memory accessed across a 384-bit memory bus, the GeForce 8800 GTX feels at ease in modern 3D games even when you enable the most resource-consuming of antialiasing modes it supports, namely 16xQ CSAA.

The GeForce 8800 GTX is so strong that there’s generally no sense in using ordinary 4x antialiasing in resolutions like 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 because the card’s performance will be limited by the CPU, whereas 8x MSAA or 16x CSAA provide a much better-looking image.

Besides that, the GeForce 8800 family is free from the problem with anisotropic filtering quality that used to plague the previous generation of Nvidia’s graphics cards. This has a positive effect on the image quality, too.

No One’s Perfect

Nvidia is triumphing, no doubt, but like any other cutting-edge product, the new graphics card is not free from drawbacks that mar its victory somewhat.

  • First, the graphics card is incompatible with certain mainboards for some reason
  • Second, this excellent product with huge potential comes with a driver that has loads of problems

These are temporary problems, of course. New versions of ForceWare will correct the performance and stability issues, and gamers will have a $599 graphics card with unprecedented performance and excellent image quality. We hope Nvidia will make haste with that unless they want the reputation of such a promising product suffer.

Shopping Instructions

Nvidia’s G80 processor incorporates as many as 681 million transistors while the use of 0.09-micron tech process has made the chip larger and its power consumption and heat dissipation, higher. GeForce 8800 GTX is thus a very complex and large graphics card, but the developer has managed to solve the problem of dissipating so much heat quite successfully.

However, before you purchase a GeForce 8800 GTX, make sure that:

  • This 27.9cm-long add-on card can fit into your system case. Although a majority of ATX cases for top-end gaming PCs and workstations produced in the last 5 years are compatible with full-size expansion cards, you should check this out anyway as it won’t take much of your time.
  • Your system case is ventilated well.
  • Your power supply has a wattage of 450W or higher and can yield a current of 30A on its 12V power rail. Also make sure that 450W will be enough to power up all the components of your particular PC configuration.
  • Your power supply has two 6-pin power connectors for graphics cards.
  • The graphics card you are buying has its R520 resistor with a correct rating and a marking of 40C (more information is given in the review above).

You should also have a powerful enough CPU and enough of system memory and a monitor that supports resolutions of 1600x1200 and higher. As you could see in the tests, a CPU released less than a year ago doesn’t allow the GeForce 8800 GTX to reveal its potential fully in some games even if you enable full-screen antialiasing.

And finally, you should be aware that the ForceWare driver is not yet well optimized for the GeForce 8800 GTX.

Highs:

  • Unprecedented level of performance in most of today’s games
  • Superb performance in extremely high resolutions
  • Superb performance in high-quality antialiasing modes
  • Supports the new CSAA method of antialiasing
  • Wide choice of antialiasing modes
  • Supports FSAA and floating-point HDR simultaneously
  • Excellent quality of anisotropic filtering
  • Unified architecture with 128 shader processors
  • Future-proof with support for DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0
  • Supports hardware decoding of H.264 and other HD video formats
  • Efficient cooling system
  • Relatively low noise level

Lows:

  • Imperfect drivers
  • May be incompatible with some mainboards
  • Specific requirements to the power supply and to the PC case size (even though, this is rather a peculiarity than a drawback)
 
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