EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB KO ACS3
Package and Accessories
This card comes in a standard-sized and reservedly designed box that is painted an ascetic mix of black, white and green. The box shows the model name as well as some basic technical info such as the type and amount of graphics memory, type of the interface, and the support of HDCP. The box design is identical for the entire GeForce 8800 series from EVGA, so the model name and the graphics memory amount are indicated by stickers and the picture shows a GeForce 8800 GTX rather than a GTS.
There is a window in the reverse side of the box you can read the serial number of this sample of e-GeForce through. The contents are laid out neatly in the box compartments while the graphics card itself is firmly fixed in place with special struts. Besides it, we found the following in the box:
- 2 x Molex → 6-pin PCI Express power converter;
- Two DVI-I → D-Sub converters;
- Universal YPbPr/Composite splitter;
- S-Video cable;
- User’s manual;
- EVGA brand name stickers for the case front panel;
- CD disk with drivers;
- DVD disk with Dark Messiah of Might and Magic game.
The manual, stickers and discs are in EVGA’s traditional paper envelope. The company didn’t economize on cables and adapters, but included only one game. Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is a lucky mix of RPG and 3D shooter genres supported with advanced visuals and a realistic physics model. It surely makes a nice addition to the graphics card.
Thus, the EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB KO ACS3 gets our praises for its packaging and accessories. The discreet package design without an excessive use of color leaves an impression of a professional product, and its moderate size won’t poise any problem as you are carrying the purchased product home. Besides, this product has an interesting feature of another kind which we’ll tell you about in the next section.
PCB Design and Cooling System
The EVGA product looks unusual for a GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB due to its modified cooling system that is indicated in the product name with the abbreviation ACS3. It spells out as Advanced Cooling System 3.
The card does look unique at first sight, but is it really such? Does the patent on ASC3, mentioned on the cooler casing, denote an original invention? We’ll discuss this shortly. Right now let’s browse through the EVGA card’s specification.
Like the Asus EN8800GTS 320MB, the EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB KO ACS3 graphics card is equipped with Hynix HY5RS573225AFP-11 memory that has an access time of 1.1 nanoseconds and is capable of working at a frequency of 900 (1800) MHz. But the use of fast memory is more justifiable here than on the ASUS card because the EVGA product comes with increased default clock rates. Its memory is clocked at 920 (1840) MHz which is somewhat higher than the rated frequency of the chips even. This frequency growth ensures a considerable bandwidth growth, from the reference card’s 64GB/s to 73.6GB/s. This is going to have a positive effect on the EVGA card’s performance in high resolutions and with enabled full-screen antialiasing.
The graphics core is configured in the standard way with 96 streamed processors, 24 TMUs and 20 ROPs, but works at a higher frequency than on the reference card, just like the memory chips. The manufacturer declares a core frequency of 588MHz for this graphics card, but the real core frequency is 594MHz due to the peculiarities of the GeForce 8800 clock generator. The frequency of the shader processor domain is 1450MHz. Such characteristics are going to give this version of GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB an edge over the standard one in gaming applications.
The modification of the cooling system attempted by EVGA needs a special mention. This is indeed a modification rather than an original solution as you may think at first. The rectangular casing conceals the familiar design we described in our earlier reviews of GeForce 8800 series cards:
Nvidia’s reference cooler is designed well, and the replacement of the casing is a purely cosmetic change that has little bearing on its functioning. The electrolytic capacitors hardly need cooling while all the elements of the GeForce 8800 GTS that really require cooling have it originally. The EVGA ACS3 system has another peculiarity, though: there is an additional heatsink that takes heat off the reverse side of the PCB in the GPU area.
That area indeed gets very hot at work, so this solution seems logical. However, there are a lot of small elements on that part of the PCB and the heatsink contacts it through a rather thick elastic thermal pad. Such pads don’t have good thermal conductivity, especially when thick, so this heatsink may prove to be not only useless but even harmful, creating a so-called heat bag and preventing the reverse side of the PCB from being cooled by the air flow from the fan installed on the back panel of the system case. But if the thermal pad conducts heat well enough, the additional heatsink may be useful and have a positive effect on the card’s overclockability. We’ll check this supposition out later on.
So, the EVGA ACS3 cooling system installed on this graphics card is a version of the reference cooler with a differently shaped casing that is complemented with a heatsink that takes heat away from the reverse side of the PCB. This solution makes the product original, but can hardly affect its operation much.