Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX Hands-On Preview

Find out about the GPU that's twice as powerful as the PlayStation 3's RSX in our GeForce 8800 GTX hands-on report.

The Windows Vista era won't officially begin until Microsoft finally ships its new operating system next January, but PC game enthusiasts will get next-gen PC graphics performance a few months early because Nvidia is ready to ship its new GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS video cards. The GeForce 8800 series GPUs are designed specifically to support DirectX 10, but the chips also feature a new unified shader architecture that will speed up performance in DirectX 9 games on Windows XP.

Nvidia is only shipping the high-end GeForce 8 GPUs for the holiday season. The GeForce 8800 GTX has a $600 MSRP, and the slightly less-powerful GTS will retail for $450. [Update 11/9/06: Online retailers are currently selling the cards for $50 over MSRP.] Instead of the usual 512MB or 256MB memory sizes, the GTX has 768MB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 900MHz and the GTS has 640MB clocked at 800MHz.

Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB reference card.
EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB retail card.

Choosing the premium GTX model will get you 128 floating-point processors, compared to 96 processors on the GTS. The GTX processors are also faster, clocked at 1.35GHz, which is 150MHz faster than the GTS's 1.2GHz processors. If those processor speeds seem higher than usual, it's because they are--Nvidia clocked the GeForce 8800's processors independently from the rest of the GPU core for higher performance and to increase performance-per-watt power efficiency. The GeForce 8800 has a record-breaking 681 million transistors, twice as many transistors as the GeForce 7900. Nvidia recommends a 450W power supply for GTX-based cards and 400W for GTS cards. The GTX card also requires two PCIe power connectors.

GeForce 8800 GTX GeForce 8800 GTS
Price $600 $450
DirectX DirectX 10, SM4 DirectX 10, SM4
Transistors 681M 681M
Core speed 575MHz 500MHz
Stream processors 128 96
Shader speed 1.35GHz 1.2GHz
Memory 768MB 640MB
Memory speed 900MHz (1.8GHz DDR) 800MHz (1.6GHz DDR)
Memory interface 384-bit 320-bit

Unified Shader Architecture

Traditional graphics processors have separate shader processors dedicated to pixel or vertex processing. The GeForce 7900 GTX, for example, has 24 pixel shaders and 8 vertex shaders. The problem with shader specialization is that games can't always balance out the right ratio of pixel and vertex work to keep shaders of both types running at full efficiency--you'll always end up with idle pixel or vertex shaders in any given time.

The GeForce 8800's unified shader architecture doesn't distinguish between pixel and vertex work--it all runs through the same processor pool. If a frame is light on triangles but heavy on pixel shading, a GPU with a unified architecture can balance the workload to make sure all the processors are properly engaged. A traditional GPU might run all of its pixel shaders at full capacity, while half of its vertex shaders sit idle in that same situation.

Image Quality

On the image-quality side, gamers no longer have to choose between blinding light or jaggy-free graphics. Nvidia has finally added support for antialiasing with high dynamic range lighting. The GeForce 8800 also features a new 16x coverage sample antialiasing mode that provides 16x AA quality at the cost of 4x AA.

Rollover image to see comparison between HDR lighting and HDR lighting with antialiasing.

The GeForce 8800 is also ready for Blu-ray and HD DVD high-definition video playback. The chip can support HDCP (provided the board manufacturer adds the encryption ROM), and the GPU's extra computational power has let Nvidia improve image quality for H.264 and VC-1 high-definition video content by enabling spatial-temporal deinterlacing, inverse telecine, noise reduction, and edge enhancement video postprocessing effects.

Thread Computing

The last GPU generation brought us the first general-purpose-GPU applications that could take advantage of the graphics chip's floating-point, parallel-processing capabilities. However, the GPGPU model is still limited because applications are restricted to the graphics API and a less than ideal memory structure that forces the GPU through additional passes to iterate on data.

Nvidia has added new hardware to the GeForce 8800 specifically for nongraphics computation on the GPU. The GeForce 8800 has a dedicated thread-execution manager and shared data cache designed to keep processors well fed and highly efficient. Nvidia has also developed a complete SDK, including math libraries and a C compiler that will make it easier for programmers to access the GPU's hardware. Gaming applications include physics, but Nvidia chief architect David Kirk believes that the thread-computing-enabled GPU will play a more significant role in supercomputing. It'll be "one of the most effective ways to solve large problems because it'll be easier to program than traditional parallel devices," according to Kirk.

What do you think of the GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS? Are you getting one now or will you wait until next year?

Performance Notes

We tested almost all of our cards, including the GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS, on EVGA's new nForce 680i SLI motherboard, but we had to break out the Intel Bad Axe motherboard for the ATI CrossFire testing. We put the GeForce 8800 cards up against the current high-end GeForce 7900 GTX, and Radeon X1950 XTX single-card performers, as well as the top dual-card solutions, including the Radeon X1950 XTX CrossFire and the GeForce 7900 GTX SLI. We chose to omit our GeForce 7950 GX2 and Quad-SLI numbers from the printed results because we need more time to verify a few odd performance results. When comparing frame rates, keep in mind that the GeForce 8800 GTX retails for significantly less than the dual-card setups.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 @ 3.2GHz, Intel 975XBX (for CrossFire), EVGA nForce 680i SLI, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA HDD, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB, Radeon X1950 XTX 512MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia ForceWare 96.94, Nvidia ForceWare 93.71, ATI Catalyst 6.10.

What do you think of the GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS? Are you getting one now or will you wait until next year?

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 @ 3.2GHz, Intel 975XBX (for CrossFire), EVGA nForce 680i SLI, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA HDD, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB, Radeon X1950 XTX 512MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia ForceWare 96.94, Nvidia ForceWare 93.71, ATI Catalyst 6.10.

Conclusion

The GeForce 8800 GTX is the fastest video card we've ever tested. The GeForce 8800 GTX took the top spot in almost all of our tests, including 3DMark06, Company of Heroes, Oblivion, and Need for Speed Carbon. The card's only loss was to SLI and CrossFire in F.E.A.R., but we can't fault the 8800 GTX much for losing to two $1,000 dual-card setups.

The GeForce 8800 GTS also performed well. It pulled away from the pack in Company of Heroes, Oblivion, and Need for Speed Carbon but fell back to the main group when we enabled a few of the more challenging graphics settings. Note that we were finally able to place Nvidia GPUs in the Oblivion test with antialiasing enabled. GeForce 7 series GPUs simply couldn't run games with HDR lighting and antialiasing enabled at the same time.

We haven't tested the GeForce 8800 cards in Windows Vista on DirectX 10-enabled games yet. We can't wait to see how the GeForce 8800 runs DX10 games like Crysis, Alan Wake, Unreal Tournament 2007, and Hellgate: London. If it plays those games as well as it plays DX9 games, the GeForce 8800 will be the card to get this holiday season.

What do you think of the GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS? Are you getting one now or will you wait until next year?

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Discussion

1180 comments
kittupathak60
kittupathak60

have this card, performance is good but as the newer cards arrive it is inevitably going to go into oblivion, though it now supports physX due to the CUDA technology by nvidia..right now though the best card in th market seems to be not a nvidia but ati 4870x2.. also the G92 architecture is better...

Staryoshi87
Staryoshi87

This 8800GTS 640mb is a real monster. I may pick up another one now that it's down to $250... or perhaps I should bite on a 9800GTX instead :) S'all good.

Ibanez423
Ibanez423

It's twice as powerful and the same price as a PS3. Anyway dnp25 you should get some facts right. Sure it has more processors. But they are clocked at half the speed of the processors of the GTX and GTS. Do the math idiot. Anyway the 2900 XT just barely beats the 8800 GTS and it uses alot more power so the 8800 GTS is alot more of a bargain since your power bill isnt as high and its cheaper than the 2900 XT by like 50 bucks. Plus the annoying whine from its fan is also a reason to stay away. NVIDIA FTW!

sangoanuta
sangoanuta

Incredibly how the HD2900 can't beat the 8800GTX HD2900 - F.E.A.R. 1600 x 1200 = 59 fps 8800 GTX - F.E.A.R 1600 x 1200 = 84 fps

marlonsm
marlonsm

quote: nvidia 8800gtx 128 stream processors,ati 2900xt 320 stream processors do the maths haters. actually, i've read something that shows that 8800gtx has 128 phisical stream processors(each one doing 2 calcs/clock), but 256 logical, and 2900xt has 64 phisical stream processors(each one doing 5 calcs/clock), but 320 logical ones, so saing 2900xt has 320shaders is like saying P4 with HT is a dual-core, it's just AMD/ATI marketing so unless games start being optimized just to 2900xt, send 5 commands to the stream procs at once(whichis hard to happen, but may be used in Ruby demo), it won't be using all 320stream procs.

dnp25
dnp25

nvidia 8800gtx 128 stream processors,ati 2900xt 320 stream processors do the maths haters.

Sephiroth228
Sephiroth228

Meh..this card will suck soon...I wouldn't buy it yet, especially since dx10 games don't even exist on the market as of now =\

SS11SS
SS11SS

I'll be buying a single 8800 GTX, but won't be running it on vista till its at least on service pack 1, and with FINISHED drivers, but i have a feeling it'll run like a charm on Windows XP Professional SP2 :)

Henkect
Henkect

I bought the geforce 8800 Gts, and i downloaded CyberLink Powercinema to watch Tv. But says i need a tv tuner device, dosnt it come along with the geforce ? if it dosnt, shall i buy the tv tuner device? will it work to watch tv then? and how do i get the tv tuner to work. Hope its okey to be asking this here :)

kezsim
kezsim

im savin up to get two of these and a SLI mother board, imagine how fast that will be.

BoBKiD
BoBKiD

There has been a disturbance in the ... force lately over at the official nVidia forums. 8800 buyers are complaining about the bad quality vista drivers (which are still BETA) and the "vista ready" but not-so-ready-after-all nVidia promises. Check http://www.nvidiaclassaction.org for more info.

generallion
generallion

omg!!! just waitin for my xams to get over and booom gonna get my comp upgraded wit this baby!! :P

micahk
micahk

i just ordered my 8800 gts from futureshop, i just got a new computer with vista its a AMD x2 5200+, with 2gb ram. My old computer was a piece of....never mind. I can't wait till i get this new card, and play oblivion, and fear at max. I only have a 19 inch. Woot!

MichaelSullivan
MichaelSullivan

I thought my 7800GTX was good, but this just takes the mick!

karimbissar1992
karimbissar1992

I have this card but sacrificed upgrading my age old P4 3Ghz HT cpu.... Still runs great though! Oblivion max settings (ish) runs at 40+ no probs Im gonna OC this baby soon

imrlybord7
imrlybord7

the 9800 isn't coming out for like a year. And you should just get an 8800gts when ati r600 comes out. Or you could wait for 8600 or 8900 to come out

limbizkit
limbizkit

any one know how can we recognize B2 or L2 revision from tha box of core 2 duo E6400 ? is there any sign ??

tasaras
tasaras

when will the 9800 come out so i will know worth buying the 8800 gtx

GRB_4Life
GRB_4Life

[Kind of old News] It's no longer a question. "NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA) IS the worldwide leader in programmable graphics processor technologies." - http://www.nvidia.com/object/IO_38910.html ATI had some good stuff but they just didn't prevail. Hopefully AMD can make something of them.

jacyp
jacyp

hiway2hell: core 2 duo extreme are highly superior to any AMD 64 Athlon FX processorin the present days. Intel engineers just redesigned all his processor architecture when they realized that was the problem with their dual core processors. Their technology right now is unbeatable. AMD needs to redesign their processors as well.

v3i
v3i

i dont think there is a need of 8800 right now as this year as i suppose all the games will also be released in sp2 along with vista.so i will wait another year. i am reight now happy with my 7600 gs

hiway2hell
hiway2hell

Its not really core duo. Its really..... I guess you could call it quad-duo because it comes with 4 proccessing cores.

hiway2hell
hiway2hell

Renn: Would u reccommend the Intel Core 2 duo extreme over the AMD 64 Athlon FX

raymondkiley
raymondkiley

lol i work 5 days a week making only 7.10 and i make only 234$ a week so dont forget to count in taxes plus most people have to pay bills it would take me forever to buy that card

renn
renn

Go with the core duos, intel is definatly leading the way in processors right now.

Nulify
Nulify

WWAWW!! i can't imagine if this GPU was installed on Mac Pro.

RonBorG
RonBorG

anyone got a physix card?

RonBorG
RonBorG

1 week old gtx w/ old school p4 3.6 x 4 gig crucial ddr2 4300 :( 4 75 gig raptors raid 0 650 watts works for me.. 24" wide just finnishing up exstraction point............money was worth it to me

hiway2hell
hiway2hell

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Cronjob
Cronjob

Alchael, don't be retarded. Where do you think you're going to get a job cleaning for $20/hr in America? We contract our cleaning out to companies who then in turn hire illegals for $5/hr.

hiway2hell
hiway2hell

i do have a good PC but i am tired of my 6800 and am about to buy an Alienware that comes with the 8800 GTX but i just dont know to choose from the Intel Core or the Athlon FX

hiway2hell
hiway2hell

i am trying to decide between two Alienware ALX Computers. What do u guys prefer. Intel Core 2 Extreme or AMD 64 Athlon FX

Jose619
Jose619

ahahaha...alcheal wants to kill people for a 8800 GTX??? people have lost there minds...

hamadatoon
hamadatoon

I actually need 8800 GTX with 600$ in Egypt 3600 pound !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????? I will wait until next 5 yeas!!!!!!!!!!!!!

alchael
alchael

To all unfortunate poor folks out there, there's a solution! If you live in the US of A, there's plenty of money to be made there if you're not so lazy and stupid, given your IQ level doesn't fall near the moron threshold. I just wish I live there, I could've made lots of bucks and I'm willing to do anything from licking Ferarri tires clean to assassinating Columbian druglords. If I were in USA, I could buy that musclebound Geforce 8800 GTX in one week time! How? Find a job, say, cleaning houses or killing people (easy mode) that gets you paid not less than 20 bucks an hour. Work on that for 5 hours a day for 6 days...and voila! GeForce8800GTX! .:. Geforce 8800 GTX = $600. Cash/Day: $20/hour x 5 hours = $100 Cash/Week: $100 x 6 days = $600 Therefore, I conclude that Geforce 8800 GTX = $600 and I could earn it in a week! For once in your life, get your fat, lazy ass out there and start working for that Geforce 8800 GTX!

RDW101
RDW101

Oh.. mine is a GTX... btw, I started out with 2 of them in SLI BUT!!! more problems than it's worth... dropped back to a single GTX... the way to go... dualvision cannot be employed if in an SLI configuration...

RDW101
RDW101

I have it! It is AWESOME.. F.E.A.R. at maximum everything.... 75FPS Min 150+ Average.. ona 6700 core2duo..

celeborn51
celeborn51

Man I also ordered my GTS yesterday, and I'm just desperated to put it in. I wanna see the Lord of the Rings The White Council that I think it will arrive on this end of the year , on this massive destruction video card. yeah!!!!

Jose619
Jose619

damn....it does seem like the R600 is going to blow out the 8800 GTX. ehh but thats what they all say....well some. just cant wait to see the real deal benchmarks. see who has the last laugh on the 1st ever dx10 cards.

jeanart
jeanart

I think I'll wait some DX10 games reviews with the 8800 GTX and when crysis will be in store (end of the year) I'll get a maingear F131 with 2 8800 GTX and a quad core CPU!!! : p CRYSIS WILL BE S.I.C.K.!!!

Cronjob
Cronjob

I don't care what ATI has coming out. They burned their bridges with me some time around 2000 when I bought a high end card (I can't even remember what it was anymore as that was about fifteen cards ago for me). It was horrible. There were a number of games I could not even play as the entire screen was just constantly gray. There were a number of very well known problems with the card and it was many months before they released the first driver or firmware updates. I believe it was at least four months and possibly as long as six or seven. By the time the drivers finally fixed the problem, it was no longer the high-end card it was purchased to be! NVIDIA, on the other hand, has always provided great, quality, frequently updated drivers and shown a lot of love to their customers. It will take a lot to ever sway me back to trying out an ATI card, just as it has taken a long time to sway me back to trying an Intel CPU (which I may do in the next machine I build, after more than a decade of AMD-only).

Thornorway
Thornorway

I have just build a new gamer PC with the Geforce 8800 in and its a pretty sight, connected the box to the 42 " HD ready TV and played all night. This baby really kicks a**

fel_rossi
fel_rossi

Intel Boxed Core2 Duo E6400 Processor - 2.13 GHz (clocked at 2.66) AOpen 1000Watt DDR2-800 Corsair TwinX (3 x 1GB) DDR2-800 - 6-Layer,DOMINATOR IDE 0 Seagate Barracuda 7200 250GB Gigabyte nVidia 2 x GeForce 8800GTX Asus P5N32-E Sli Motherboard Runs the game 100% with all eye candy set to max Is great

dpryan101
dpryan101

I just ordered the GTS yesterday. The GTX was tempting but I only have a 19" monitor so the extra muscle of the GTX really wouldn't be necessary. Lets see if this card hold strong over the next year or two as Nvidia claims it will.

Klash47
Klash47

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Bazz3442
Bazz3442

Im getting a 8800 GTX in a few days. I was still apprehensive about some compatibility issues that might arise with my older hardware and software, but this article cleared all that up. I mostly looking forward to the DX 10 game Crysis, and I will have the best card to play it on when its released, later this year.

BounceDK
BounceDK

Find out about the GPU that's twice as powerful as the in our GeForce 8800 GTX hands-on report. Why on earth are you comparing PC & console hardware? LOL