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ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB
ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB

February 5, 2007







TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions



We'll start the article with a story how NVIDIA and AMD/ATI created a hybrid method of launching Hi-End products. Do you remember 3dfx, which bought STB "upon itself", abandoned its partners, and started manufacturing video cards on its own? You surely remember how it all ended. Memorials in the list of NVIDIA trademarks.

ATI had also been reclusive until 2001. It didn't let any other companies manufacture video cards based on RADEON or RAGE 128/PRO (prior to radeons). But the disaster with 3dfx finally brought the Canadian company round. Since that time we have two camps of video card manufacturers: based on GPUs from ATI and from NVIDIA. Some companies gladly manufacture both types of video cards. However, Diamond Multimedia had manufactured video cards based on NVIDIA RIVA 128/TNT and 3dfx Voodoo2 even before 2000. The same concerns Creative - this company left the market of video cards.

Thus, ATI manufactured (to be more exact, ordered) few cards on its own after 2001. They were labeled "Built By ATI". All other cards were manufactured by partners. They bought processors from the chip maker, probably memory chips as well (it used to be fashionable some time ago - to sell CPU+memory kits). NVIDIA has never manufactured its cards on its own. It has always sold processors or those kits. Like the first cards, reference designs were manufactured by one of grand partners of NVIDIA.

But everything changed in 2002. There started to appear entire series of video cards for various price segments, not just new accelerators. The most expensive models were quite complex. The 256-bit memory bus appeared. So the production of GeForce FX 5800 (NV30) and RADEON 9700 (R300) was started at no-name plants. NVIDIA and ATI monitored the manufacturing process. And their partners, who used to manufacture cards on their own, had to content themselves with buying ready cards from the chip makers. Yes, it was done for such complex devices to pass the unified quality control. The chip makers were confident that all uber expensive products would meet all proper requirements.

This policy of manufacturing Hi-End cards has survived up to now. And now, all GeForce 7900 GTX, 7950GX2, 8800-series cards are manufactured at Flextronics and Foxconn plants, supervised by NVIDIA and by its orders. Partners just buy ready cards, not chips. The same situation concerns RADEON X1800, X1900/1950. Only the X1950 PRO, as a simpler product, is allowed to be manufactured by partners. So there are practically no plain reference cards based on this GPU. The other Hi-End cards are manufactured at Celestica, Foxconn, PC Partner plants under strict ATI's control. Moreover, all such cards are examined right in the office, in Toronto. It raises their prime cost (it's the stupidest idea to transport them from China to Canada and then back to distribution centers in South Eastern Asia). I guess the updated AMD company will change this situation and the common sense will prevail.

So we have learnt one more time that GeForce 8800 cards (all of them!) are manufactured at third-party plants. ASUS, MSI, Leadtek, etc just add their labels, bundle the cards, pack them as they please, and sell them through their channels. Neither NVIDIA nor AMD could have sold their products on such a grand scale through their own channels. Even though we cannot refer to NVIDIA and AMD as just chip makers now. They just design GPUs and order them at TSMC. Besides, they design video cards and order them at some plants.

We mean only the most expensive video cards. All cards below $300 are manufactured by partners. They buy chips and manufacture cards on their own.

In the light of the above said, we are actually going to examine reference cards GeForce 8800 GTX/GTS.

Video Cards



ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E
GPU: GeForce 8800 GTX (G80)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 575/1350 MHz (nominal — 575 (1350) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 900 (1800) MHz (nominal — 900 (1800) MHz)

Memory bus width: 384bit

Vertex processors: -

Pixel processors: -

Unified processors: 128

Texture processors: 32

ROPs: 24

Dimensions: 273x100x32 mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: black.

RAMDACs/TDMS: in a separate chip.

Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware).




ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E
GPU: GeForce 8800 GTS (G80)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 513/1200 MHz (nominal — 513 (1200) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 800 (1600) MHz (nominal — 800 (1600) MHz)

Memory bus width: 320bit

Vertex processors: -

Pixel processors: -

Unified processors: 96

Texture processors: 24

ROPs: 20

Dimensions: 220x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: black.

RAMDACs/TDMS: in a separate chip.

Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware).






ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E
The video card has 768 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in twelve chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.1ns memory access time, which corresponds to 900 (1800) MHz.




ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E
The video card has 640 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in ten chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.2ns memory access time, which corresponds to 800 (1600) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS


Comparison with the reference design, back view
ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS


We'll have to repeat ourselves, because we already reviewed such cards. The card based on 8800 GTX is very long. In fact it's the longest video card for games we have ever tested. So it may not fit in some PC cases. You should keep it in mind. Besides, your PSU must have two power cables. PSU requirements are very high - no less than 450W, guaranteed 20A along the 12V line. The PCB contains a 384-bit bus. All chips are covered by a single cooler.

The 8800GTS-based card also has a PCB with a 384-bit bus. But it actually uses only 320 bit, because two chips are missing, just empty seats. That's one of the ways to cut down a High-End solution to make it cheaper. By the way, we've heard that this very PCB layout, just slightly reinforced, but just as long, will be used for the updated 8800GTX cards. These cards will be 220 mm long, not 270 mm.

Let's proceed.

The cards have TV-Out with a unique jack. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV-set via S-Video or RCA. You can read about the TV-Out in more detail here.

Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • 2048 × 1536 × 32bit ×85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 × 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface (both DVI jacks with Dual-Link)

What concerns MPEG2 playback features (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on all modern video cards does not exceed 25%. What concerns HDTV and other trendy video features, we are going to sort them out as soon as possible.

Now about the cooling systems. ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E and ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E are actually equipped with the same cooler.

It's a powerful imposing device that channels the heat from GPU and memory chips out of a PC case. The turbine is slow, so despite high power consumption, both cards are rather quiet and do not overheat, although the 8800GTX is on the brink of it.

You cannot remove this card from a computer right after you switch it off - you'll burn your hands.

Bundle

ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E; ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E
Both cards have identical bundles. User manual, CD with drivers, King Kong (game), DVI-to-d-Sub and S-Video-to-RCA adapters, component output adapter, external power splitter, and a bonus - leather CD album.




Packages

ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E; ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E

It's a large glossy package with a cardboard box inside. The card and bundled components are well secured inside, so dangling is out of the question. Box dimensions are traditional of ASUS. I don't know why a window (to show off the card) was removed.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Intel Core2 Duo (775 Socket) based computer
    • CPU: Intel Core2 Duo Extreme X6800 (2930 MHz) (L2=4096K)
    • Motherboard: EVGA nForce 680i SLI on NVIDIA nForce 680i
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM Corsair 1142MHz (CAS (tCL)=5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=5; Row Precharge (tRP)=5; tRAS=15)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA
    • PSU: Tagan 1100-U95 (1100W).

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitor: Dell 3007WFP (30").
  • Drivers: ATI CATALYST 6.12; NVIDIA Drivers 96.97.

VSync is disabled.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (with/without HDR), maximum settings.

  • Call Of Juarez (Techland/Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (HDR), demo (demo Tests were run with maximum quality. The batch file is included.

  • FarCry 1.4 (beta) (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0b/3.0 (with/without HDR), 3 demos from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings. We used HDRRendering=1 for HDR tests

  • PREY 1.01 (3D Realms Entertainment / Human Head Studios / 2K Games) — OpenGL, shaders 2.x, demo003 (40MB!). Tests were run with maximum quality. The batch file is included.

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, trilinear filtering.

  • Serious Sam II 1.068 (Croteam/2K Games) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (with/without HDR), batch file to start the test. It's the standard demo0002 that comes with the game. Tests settings — maximum.

    We express our thanks to our reader, Vozniuk Valery AKA Px, for his batch file to run this game.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.08 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

  • Company Of Heroes (Relic Entertainment/THQ) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0, startup batch file. When you start the game, you should go to options, choose the graphics section, and press the test button. Tests were run with maximum quality.

  • 3DMark06 1.02 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0c, multitexturing, test settings — trilinear,



Video cards' performance

You may download the results in Excel format (Office 2003) archived in RAR 3.0 or ZIP.





Conclusions

ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E is the most powerful video accelerator to date. As this product is actually not manufactured by ASUS, just a reference card, all the above-said applies to it. Our readers won't find anything new in this card. Just the bundle with an interesting game and a stylish CD album. The quality of the card is up to the mark, we have no gripes with it. But you should take into account that such cards may get very hot, so a good ventilation system inside your PC case is a must.

ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E - all the above-said holds true. This product is a tad weaker than the previous model. It does not get that hot, but your PC case still requires a good ventilation system. The 8800 GTS is very good for its price (recommended $500, not inflated $700 in Russian retail). We haven't tested the cards in overclocked modes, because we already reviewed such cards. And overclocking potential depends on a given sample.

The choice is up to our readers, as always. We just provide information about this or that product. But we don't give you direct instructions what products to choose.

You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.










Our Excellent Package award






is given to...

  • ASUS EN8800GTX (GeForce 8800 GTX) 768MB PCI-E
  • ASUS EN8800GTS (GeForce 8800 GTS) 640MB PCI-E





ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference

NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900 Reference




We express our thanks to
ASUSTeK Russia
for the provided video cards




PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by TAGAN




                               The Dell 3007WFP monitor for the testbeds was kindly provided by NVIDIA












Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

February 04, 2007


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