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Appeared on: Thursday, January 17, 2008
XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition


1. Specifications - Retail Package

For Nvidia the year 2007 was rather successful with the introduction of many new series and various models, covering all range of users, from the typical one to the enthusiast. The recent update of the G92 GPU bring us the GeForce 8800 GTS with 512 MB of memory that promises high performance at an affordable price. The prices of the new cards ranging from $299 to $349 and the most noticeable update is the new PCI Express 2.0 support and the second-generation of NVIDIA's PureVideo HD. Compared to the original GeForce 8800 GTS 640/320MB cards with 96 stream processors, the new version gives a further boost in performance with 128 stream processors. In other words, you can expect a performance loss with the lower priced 8800GTX. Those figures sound very good to my ears. But how this card stands compared to the recently released 8800GT series? We will find out today in this review...

- XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition (PV-T88G-YDD9)

The XFX 8800GTS 512MB is an improved version of Nvidia's generic 8800GTS with a massive of 678MHz core, 1700MHz of shader and 986MHz  of memory clocks that place it above the 8800GT and close to the 8800GTX 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 8800 series 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
8800 GTS 512MB
650 1625 970 512MB 256-bit 64 41.6
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 XFX's 8800GTS 512MB retail package is rather small and follows the usual design of XFX for their graphics card models. There are several logos in front that separate this product from others with the most noticeable being the "Alpha Dog Edition" label meaning higher clocks than the generic 8800GTS 512MB cards.

Opening the retail box unveils its contents, everything is well organized.

The XFX 8800GTS 512 includes the usual for a graphics card, one D-Sub15-to-DVI converter and an S-Video cable. Two discs are included, one with drivers and one with the "Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions" retail game! The bundle also includes the 'Do Not Disturb' door knob hanger like the other Alpha Dog series cards, pretty cool!

The XFX 8800GTS 512 follows Nvidia's reference cooling solution with a dual slot design. The graphics card is 23cm in length so be careful, there might be some issues with crammed cases.

SLI is possible with the addition of an extra 8800GTS 512MB card...

You need a 6pin power supply to operate this graphic card.

After installing the graphics card we can find more details about its main features and specifications. The GPU core runs at 678MHz, while the memory at 986MHz and the Shader clock at 1700MHz . Compared to the generic solution, it has a small advantage, but not much, at least according to our taste... Nevertheless, this card should perform very good when it comes to overclocking since it's manufactured with a 65nm process, but later with that...

- Full specification

Graphics Engine
GeForce™ 8800GTS 512
Video Memory
512MB GDDR3
Engine Clock
678MHz
Memory Clock
1.97GHz (2x986MHz 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 DVD-ROM (Lost Planet Extreme Condition)
1x CD-ROM (Utilities & Driver)


2. Tests and Setup

All test were conducted with the a PC setup as follows:

In the 8800 series, the 3D control panel has some minor changes. User can now set the AA mode,

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

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

We used many games and applications to evaluate each graphics card's performance, we will separate them in two categories:

DirectX 9

DirectX10


3. Testbed DirectX9, DirectX10

For all the tests we used the default settings for 3DMark05 as following:

Again we left all the default settings:

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

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

COF offers a build-in benchmark that was used to measure the performance of each 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 being reported as "Snow" and "Cave":

We used the following visual settings for all the tests:

We set maximum details under game preferences:

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

We used the build-in benchmark and all the details were set to HIGH

- Testbed DirectX10

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


4. 3DMark - Hall Of Fame Comparison

Before starting our tests, lets find out what we should expect from the XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition. In 3D Mark 05 we did noticed a small difference compared to the 8800GT series, especially the overclocked versions.

Passing to the 3D Mark 06, the XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition is faster than the XFX 8800GTS Alpha Dog Edition only by  97 points. That gives us some clues about the graphic card's performance...


5. Scalability AA/AF

In this page we will see how the XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition performs under various games and up to 16xQ AA? First lets see how F.E.A.R.'s performance is affected after enabling the anti-aliasing and the Anisotropic filtering. The XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog Edition had the highest performance until the 4xQ AA rendering mode and frankly, we didn't noticed a better performance up to 16xAA for the XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition....

Passing to Prey, we noticed that the XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition was the fastest card in all modes, up to 16xAA. There is a difference compared to the 800GT generic series, but both the 8800GT overclocked cards (XFX and Inno3D) were very close.

More demanding games with more details might prove harder to play if you decide to enable the antialiasing. Company Of Heroes after 2x AA stretches the system enough even if it's a RTS, so users might want to avoid enabling AA, unless they're equipped with a high end graphics card. The XFX 8800GT 512 Alpha Dog Edition proved to be faster/equal to other 8800GT cards.


6. Test Results DX9

Many users are still using Windows XP and DirectX 9. In this page we list the test results from various games with similar configurations all tested at a 19" monitor set to aresolution of 1280x1024 .

First lets see how our graphics card performed under a very popular game, Crysis. The Crysis demo showed that even with all the details set to HIGH, the game is playable even at 1280x1024, without of course any AA/AF enabled. The final results showed 37.65 FPS for the XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition.

Passing to Half Life 2 Episode 2, without any AA mode enabled, the XFX 8800 GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition was faster only by 0.11FPS...

In the Lost Planet game, the 8800GT SLI had a very good performance scoring 127 FPS in average performance, however no AA mode was enabled so visual quality is considered medium. In cave test all cards performed equally. The XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition scored 102 FPS, pretty good performance, and of course higher than other 8800GT cards.

Lastly, Unreal Tournament 3 was very playable with an average of 82 FPS in all the benchmarks.


7. Test Results DX10

Passing to DX10 and Windows Vista (32bit), we maxed all possible visual details for all the tested games. This way we can identify if a graphics card can be used for high quality gaming and therefore greater gaming experience. Starting with Company Of Heroes, under D3D10 shaders the game is really stunning. The XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition didn't performed very well, assuming this has something to do with the beta drivers we used.

Call Of Juarez is one of the first titles with full DX10 support. The Benchmark gives rather low frame rates in all the cards. The XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition is only one FPS faster than the other tested 8800GT cards.

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% less compared to what we got under the DX9 benchmarks with all the details set to HIGH. The XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition showed a very good performance with a massive of 35.77 FPS, compared to the other 8800GT cards. Of course the different driver version could gives some explanation about the higher performance difference

Lastly, Lost Planet is also affected when all details are maxed out. The XFX 8800GT 512 Alpha Dog Edition performed the same as the other 8800GT cards.


8. Overclocking/Noise/Heat

The XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition comes pre-overclocked. This doesn't mean you can't give a further boost. The easiest way to do so, is by using RivaTuner. However the latest 2.06 version doesn't support this model so you have to do some manual work

The overclocking testing stability was confirmed with 3DMark 06 and Crysis benchmark.We managed to get the card working up to 752/1009/1886 with normal fan speed

and much higher with the fan working at full speed

With this little overclock we managed to get some improvements in 3DMark 05/06 scores, but nothing to get you excited.

3DMark 05 Normal OC
XFX 8800GTS 512 OC 13844 13960
3D Mark 06 Normal OC
XFX 8800GTS 512 OC 9177 9348

It's possible with a different Vmod setting and an aftermarket cooler, the XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition to go even higher than what we managed to achieve. Most of the time, the noise produced by the card's fan was normal and overall the cooling system is efficient to keep the GPU cool even at full load.


9. Conclusion

Nvidia released in 2007 many new models, including the recent ones, the 8800GT and the 8800GTS 512. In this review we tested the XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition that clocked higher than the generic 8800GTS 512MB models. With an 678MHz core, 986MHz memory and 1700MHz shader clocks it's very fast or close to a 8800GT series...? Yes that's correct. We expected the 8800GTS 512 to perform much higher at least compared to the "generic" 8800GT series. We've seen an increased performance of 10%, but with the 8800GT overclocked cards we had already tested, we witnessed similar and even equal performance. The only case we achieved much higher FPS was at the game Crysis, but then again we used a newer driver that supposed to fix the performance after all.

The XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition retail package is a full with the Lost Planet retail game included as well as cables and converters. The performance difference is not that high, but possible users should keep in mind that the 8800GT series do seem to suffer from heat problems and the possibility to have a good and stable overclocked card is rather unlikely. On the other hand, the 8800GTS 512 series is using a dual slot cooling system and it's proved to be easily overclocked. Looking at the retail price can be an indicator for future buyers:

XFX 8800GTS 512 Alpha Dog Edition
224.99 Inc VAT
XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog Edition XXX
197.98 Inc VAT

The difference of 27.01 for the two cards could be a judging indicator for possible buyers. Again we are satisfied with the new 8800GTS 512 series, even if we expected a higher performance.



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