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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
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Appeared on: Monday, December 24, 2007
Gainward 8800GT


1. Introduction

nVIDIA last month introduced a new series of graphics cards based on the 8800GT, with full DirectX 10 support. The latest batch of games (Crysis, Hellgate: London, Gears of War, etc...) really need a powerful GPU, and nVIDIA provides such a solution at an affordable price tag of €245 and upwards.

Gainward, an nVIDIA partner, released their own version of the 8800GT series, based on the nVIDIA reference design. We have already tested two overclocked versions of the nVIDIA 8800GT from XFX and Inno3D, so we turned with keen interest to see how Gainward's graphics solution would stand up, especially considering that it has lower core and memory clock frequencies.

- Gainward 8800GT (PN: 8927)

The Gainward 8800GT can be considered as a basic nVIDIA 8800GT with a massive 600MHz core, 1500MHz shader and 900MHz memory frequencies that place it above the 8800GTS series. More-over, it has 512MB of on-board memory with 256 bits of bandwidth.

Below is a table that illustrates the major features of the various 8800 models in terms of core/shader/memory clocks and interface bandwidth.

  Core Clock (MHz) Shader Clock (MHz) Memory Clock (MHz) Memory Amount Memory Interface Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec)
GeForce
8800 Ultra
612 1500 1080 768MB 384-bit 103.7 39.2
GeForce
8800 GTX
575 1350 900 768MB 384-bit 86.4 36.8
GeForce
8800 GT
600 1500 900 512MB 256-bit 57.6 33.6
GeForce
8800 GTS
500 1200 800 640MB or
320MB
320-bit 64 24
GeForce
8600 GTS
675 1450 1000 256MB 128-bit 32 10.8
GeForce
8600 GT
540 1190 700 256MB 128-bit 22.4 8.64
GeForce
8500 GT
450 900 400 256MB 128-bit 12.8 3.6
GeForce
8400 GS
450 900 400 256MB 64-bit 6.4 3.6

- Retail package

The Gainward 8800GT retail package follows the usual design of Gainward models. There are several logos on the front that highlight this product's features, with most noticable being the Bliss 8800GT PCX logo, and at top right the PCI-Express v2.0 logo.

The retail box opened...

The Gainward 8800GT includes the usual goodies for a graphics card. However, we did notice that there's only one D-Sub15-to-DVI converter. But if your power supply doesn't include a six pin PCI-e molex connector, Gainward has included one.

The Gainward 8800GT follows the nVIDIA reference cooling solution for a single slot card. The graphics card is 23cm in length, so there may be some issues with smaller or crammed cases.

SLI is possible with the Inno3D 8800GT OC edition...

You need the 6pin power supply feed to operate this graphics card.

After installing the graphics card, we can see more details about its main features and specifications. The CPU core runs at 600MHz, while the memory at 900MHz and the Shader clock at 1500MHz. Other 8800GT overclocked cards we have tested, ran at higher frequencies so it will be interesting to see the performance difference later on in our review.

- Full specification

Graphics Engine
GeForce™ 8800GT
Video Memory
512MB GDDR3
Engine Clock
600MHz
Memory Clock
1.80GHz (2x900MHz DDR3)
Memory Interface
256-bit
Max Resolution
2048 X 1536
Bus Standard
PCI Express x16
HDTV Output
Yes, S-Video to HDTV Out
VGA Output
Yes, With DVI-VGA adaptor
TV Output
Yes, S-Video to Composite
Dual DVI Output
Yes
Adapter/Cable Bundled
1x DVI to VGA adapter
1x HDTV-OUT adaptor
Software Bundled

1x CD-ROM (Tomb Raider Anniversary)
1x CD-ROM (Utilities & Driver)


2. Tests and Setup

All test were conducted with the same PC setup:

With the 8800 series, the 3D control panel has some minor changes. Users can now set the AA mode:

and select up to 16x Antialiasing, even with a single card:

While for SLI, we have more anti-aliasing modes:

We used several games and applications to evaluate the card's performance. We separate them into two categories:

DirectX 9

DirectX10


3. Testbed DX9 and DX10

3D Mark 05 (v1.2.0)

For all tests, we used the default settings of 3DMark05 as follows:

Here too, we left all settings at default:

For all tests, we used the retail version with the v1.08 patch applied. We maxed all details for processor and disabled Soft Shadows. AA/AF were set as specified in each test.

We used the retail version with the v1.2.0 patch applied. For all tests, we used hocbench with Guru3D timedemo

COH offers a built-in benchmark that was used to measure the performance of the graphics card. All visual quality settings are maxed out:

In order to benchmark the graphics cards, we used the Demo version that includes a "Performance Test" function. There are two test results from two different animated courses that are characterised as "Snow" and "Cave":

We used the following visual settings for all tests:

We set maximum details under game preferences:

and used the Unreal Tournament III benchmark utility to measure the performance of the graphics card with several timedemos. Note, that bSmoothFrameRate  was set to FALSE to disable frame-rate smoothing/ limiting.:

We used the built-in benchmark and all details are set to HIGH

- Testbed DirectX10

We used the built-in benchmark and maxed out the shadows quality.


4. 3DMark Hall Of Fame

Before starting our tests, let's find out what we should expect from the Gainward 8800GT. Over at 3D Mark 05, we noticed a difference of 139 points compared to the overclocked 8800GT cards.

In 3D Mark 06, the Gainward 8800GT is behind by 138 points. This is an indication that the card will perform slower than our previously tested 8800GT cards.


5. Scalability AA/AF

The nVIDIA 8800GT promises high frame rates, even when AA/AF is enabled. But how well can this card perform with up to 16xQ AA? First, let's see how F.E.A.R. performance is affected after enabling Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering. The XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog Edition, produced the highest performance up until the 8xQ AA rendering mode, since after that point, all 8800GT graphics cards perform similarly. The Gainward 8800GT follows the same performance hit as the other 8800GT cards, and as was expect its performance is lower...

Passing to Prey, we noticed is that at 2xAA both 8800GT cards performed lower than with 4xAA. We can't be sure if that's a driver bug or simply a problem in the benchmark algorithm. The Gainward 8800GT performed lower in all cases..

More demanding games with more details might prove harder to play if you decide to enable anti aliasing. Company Of Heroes after 2x AA stretches the system enough even though the game is a RTS, so users might want to avoid enabling AA, unless they're equipped with an nVIDIA 8800GT graphics card. The Gainward 8800GT really showed a mixed performance with strange results, we are not very sure where the problem is...


6. Test Results DX9

We saw that the 8800GT cards performed very well with the various games. Let's now see how well the cards handle the newest release games, like Crysis. The Crysis demo showed that even with all details set at HIGH, the game is very playable at 1280x1024, but without any AA/AF enabled. All tested 8800GT graphics cards performed more or less the same, with only small differences.

Moving on to Half Life 2 Episode 2, without any AA mode enabled, the Gainward 8800GT card was more than an equal fro the overclocked and SLI 8800GT cards.

In the Lost Planet game, the 8800GT SLI produced very good performance, with 127FPS average performance. However, no AA mode is enabled so visual quality is considered as mediocre. In the cave test, all cards performed equally well. The Gainward 8800GT was somewhat slower, with 90FPS.

Lastly, Unreal Tournament 3 was quite playable with an average of 80FPS in all the benchmarks. Despite the difference in clock frequencies, all nVIDIA 8800GT based cards performed more or less the same.


7. Test Results DX10

We now take a look at DX10 and VISTA (32bit). We maxed all possible visual details for all tested games. This way, we can identify if a graphics card can be used for high quality gaming, offering greater gaming experience. Starting with Company of Heroes, under D3D10 shaders, the game is really stunning. The Gainward 8800GT was only one FPS slower than the other 8800GT cards.

Call Of Juarez is one of the first titles with full DX10 support. The Benchmark produced rather low framerates with all cards. Again, the Gainward 8800GT was slower by only two FPS in the worst case.

The Crysis Demo can work either under Windows XP or under VISTA and DX10. With DX10, users can enable Very High details for Crysis. This implies a massive performance hit, since most cards performed 50% down, compared to what we saw under the DX9 benchmarks with all details set to HIGH. The Gainward 8800GT card managed 18.20 FPS, while the XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog Edition was slightly faster with 19.67FPS

Lastly, Lost Planet also impacted on performance when all details are maxed out. The Gainward 8800GT was again by 2~3FPS slower than the other tested 8800GT cards.


8. Conclusion

The Gainward 8800GT is a "generic" version of nVIDIA's 8800GT series. It has 600MHz core, 900MHz memory and 1500MHz shader clock frequencies. This gives an indication of its relative performance level compared with other 8800GT based cards that come already overclocked from the factory. The performance difference in most cases depends on the visual settings details and rendering modes, as well as the game titles.

We have provided several pages with results in this review, but to sum it up, when you use AF/AA rendering modes, above 8x AA, the performance differences are minimal to none. If you plan to run at high speeds without any AA/AF, then you will see differences of up to 10~12FPS, depending on the game title and visual details.

The retail package for the Gainward 8800GT, is good with a retail game included (Tomb Raider Anniversary), cables and converters. So, what's left to compare? The retail price of course. Looking through the same online shop, we found a difference between the Gainward 8800GT and XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX, of up to €41:

Graphics card
Price
Gainward 8800GT
€266
XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX
€307

The price difference isn't perhaps all that great, so the performance gain is probably the deciding factor here and depends on your gaming needs. If you can afford the extra €41, go for it, otherwise, the Gainward 8800GT is a fine choice as well.

We don't think there's anything more left to say. The nVIDIA 8800GT series platform is a winner for price/performance. With Xmas around the corner, buyers should take a good look at all proposals and decide what's best for them. But with an nVIDIA 8800GT card in your system, you cannot really go wrong...



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