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EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E, Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E

February 26, 2007






TABLE OF CONTENTS

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



Events in 3D graphics world, to be more exact in the 3D industry, are getting intense again. AMD will launch new products by the end of March. Being aware of it beforehand (to be more exact, suspecting that the 8800 GTX will be overthrown), NVIDIA is preparing updated products in the same segment, but with different combinations of frequencies, pipelines, and memory buses. So, we'll soon see battles between marketing departments, fans, and sales managers.

Be reminded though that these battles will be fought for the purse of potential users of the new video cards. We should keep in mind that the market of video cards is already overheated. Will the new products be very popular? - The question is open. The 8800 GTX cards sell very well, despite their very high prices. But will their owners, which cards are not even dusty, upgrade them for a better model? And what about fixing multiple bugs in drivers? We wrote about them many times. - We'll wait and see.

As for now, let's return to our muttons, to what we already have. Here is the current situation: various GeForce 8800 GTX cards with labels from different vendors, but manufactured at a couple of plants by NVIDIA's orders. Even though the reference cooling system is very efficient, none of NVIDIA's partners has even tried to equip these cards with their own solutions, anything special and interesting.

And finally we can see a changed design in a product from EVGA. It lacks water cooling. But its frequencies are still raised. Engineers just enlarged the heat exchange surface at the cost of the cooler enclosure. They installed an additional heatsink at the back of the card. Everything else is the same. Of course, the company selects samples that can work at increased frequencies. We know that the price of this product is higher by $45.

Peculiarities of this card will be described below.

Our today's article will also include a review of the 8800 GTX from Palit. Running a few steps forward, I can say that it's a regular GTX card without any individual peculiarities. But our readers may like its price.

These cards are currently the most powerful 3D accelerators for games.

Video Cards



EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E
  • GPU: GeForce 8800 GTX (G80)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 625/1460 MHz (nominal — 575/1350 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 1000 (2000) MHz (nominal — 900 (1800) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 384bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 128
  • Texture processors: 32
  • ROPs: 24
  • Dimensions: 270x100x33 mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).
  • PCB color: green.
  • 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).




Palit 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: 270x100x33 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).






EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E
Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E
Each video card has 768 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in twelve chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.0 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 1000 (2000) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E


Comparison with the reference design, back view
EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E


Our examination proved that all the cards were indeed based on the same PCB. That is they are typical representatives of reference cards. I repeat that all such cards are currently not manufactured by NVIDIA partners. The Californian company places orders at third-party plants and then sells ready cards to its partners.

That's why all 8800 GTX cards are as like as two peas. Except for overclocked models, of course - they have already appeared on the market. Even in this case, they differ only in raised frequencies, the cards preserve their reference design. However, the product from EVGA has a unique cooler. It will be described below. There have recently appeared GeForce 8800 cards with green PCBs. A number of users, inspired by some conjectures and fantasies, interpreted this change of color (from black to green) as a bugfix. They broadcast in forums that all black cards are buggy. They are ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Only the first lot of cards was defective (these cards are long gone!) They were called back and replaced. So don't trust these fantasies and buy GeForce 8800 GTX with a PCB of any color. Why did NVIDIA decide to roll back to the original green color - the reason is simple: a lion's share of such cards is manufactured by Flextronics - this plant traditionally manufactures cards lacquered green. The share of the other plant, which manufactures black cards, has been reduced. That's all.

It should be noted that EVGA products, including this card, enjoy the 3-year warranty.

There is a company logo at the side of the cooler for modders and owners of PC cases with windows.




All these 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 in 8800-series cards are Dual-Link ones, 7600-7300 cards may have only one suck jack 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.

Both cards require additional power supply (via TWO CONNECTORS!), so each card has two black 6-pin connectors. In case your PSU does not have cables with such connectors, the bundle includes two splitters to connect to any Molex.

Now about the cooling systems.

EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E
All 8800 GTX cards actually use the same cooler. With the launch of the 8800 series we roll back to the old turbine design with a fan at one end of a closed heatsink that drives the air through.

This solution has a number of advantages.

Firstly, the device drives ALL hot air out of a PC case.

Secondly, the turbine is very large and slow, so it's quiet even under heavy loads.

Thirdly, efficiency of the cooling system is reinforced by heat pipes at the side of the heatsink.

The cooler is not heavy, as copper is used only for the plate that touches the GPU. Other components are made of aluminum alloy.

We found out that the cooling system worked very efficiently in all cases and did not allow the core temperature to rise above 85°C. But on the whole, both 8800 cards get very hot during operation, their PCBs may even burn your fingers. So you'd better install a good ventilation system inside your PC case.

What concerns modifications introduced by EVGA, they have to do only with the cap of the cooling system. Insides of the cooler remain the same, but the cap has been enlarged, it's almost the length of the entire PCB. Thus the cooler covers the card completely. There is also a small heatsink at the back side. It uses a thermal gasket to channel the heat away from the PCB near the core.

This solution has a lot of advantages owing to the enlarged heat dissipation surface area. But it also has some cons. For example, not all motherboards can accommodate such a card, because its cooler (2 slots wide) may not allow to plug periphery (for example, SATA cables). All manufacturers just love placing it right after the PCI-E slot.










Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E

This one has a standard cooling system. It's actually the same cooler as we have already examined above, but it's less massive.

In other respects, all the above said holds true for this model as well.












We monitored temperatures of these cards using RivaTuner (written by A.Nikolaychuk AKA Unwinder) and obtained the following results:

Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E




EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E




Even when the core is overclocked to 625 MHz, its temperature does not cross the dangerous line - I've already mentioned it. And fan speed does not grow much, so there is practically no noise.

Bundle

EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E
The bundle is rather ascetic. There are no bonuses, only labels. The box contains User Manual, CD with drivers, component output adapter, two external power splitters, two DVI-to-VGA adapters, S-Video cable. And various fliers.


Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E
This product has a similar bundle. There are no TV cables, but the bundle includes Spellforce2 (game).




Packages

EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E

It's a small box made of stiff cardboard. There is a cut-out at the back to show the serial number (to make sure that the box contains exactly what is written on the box). That's an old tradition with EVGA products.

The entire bundle is arranged into sections inside. The card is packed into two bags and secured with distance bars.







Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E

This box is not very big either. But it's a very bright package of an unconventional form: the lid of the box is a truncated pyramid. It looks as if it was forced out by the large card inside the box. The card itself is buried in porolon in a separate small box. So there must be no dangling inside.






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 7.1; NVIDIA Drivers 97.92.

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 settings. 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

If you understand 3D graphics, you may draw your own conclusions from the diagrams below. If you are interested in our comments on test results, you may read them after each test. What concerns beginners and those who just started to look for a video card, we shall include some detailed explanations.

Firstly, you should look through our reference materials on modern video cards and their GPUs. Note operating frequencies, support for modern technologies (shaders), as well as a pipeline architecture. You should understand that the 8800 family of accelerators abolished the notion of a pipeline. These cards have streaming processors, which process shader commands in a game. Texture units process pixels (applying textures, filtering) by themselves, that is the processes are fully divided. Data are written into a memory buffer, as always, only after texture operations. The old procedure was to take a triangle, calculate it with shader commands, apply texture(s), filter it, and send it along; this procedure is not used anymore. It's up to a driver to decide what to do for each streaming processor. The same applies to texture units.



ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference

NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900-8800 Reference

Secondly, if you have just faced the problem of choosing a video card and are at a loss, our 3D-Video section offers articles about 3D basics (you will still have to understand them - when you run a game and open its options, you'll see such notions as textures, lighting, etc) as well as reviews of new products. There are just two companies that manufacture graphics processors: ATI (it has been recently bought by AMD and now bears the same name - AMD) and NVIDIA. So most information is divided into these two sections. We also publish monthly 3Digests that sum up all comparisons of video cards for various price segments.

Thirdly, have a look at the tests of the EVGA card. Performance of the standard 8800 GTX card has been reviewed many times. The card from Palit is no different. So I'll only note that all tests without exception demonstrate the leadership of the 8800 GTX, it's advantage may reach dozens of percent.

FarCry, Research (No HDR)



Test results: FarCry Research (No HDR)




Note that the advantage of the EVGA product over the standard 8800 GTX grows together with the resolution. It evidently indicates benefits of the increased memory bandwidth due to the increased frequency (from 900 MHz to 1000 MHz).

In other respects, the card from EVGA is a leader.

FarCry, Research (HDR)



Test results: FarCry Research (HDR)




Well, the advantage of the new card is evident here as well. The fact that there is almost no difference between the cards without antialiasing and anisotropy indicates only that this game cannot load modern top accelerators. Performance is limited by system resources.



F.E.A.R.



Test results: F.E.A.R.




EVGA GeForce with a black cooler is again in the lead, the breakaway is large. It's only outperformed by the dual-GPU GeForce 7950GX2. But its total shader power is really great. Besides, there are 24+24=48 texture processors instead of 32, like in the 8800 GTX.



Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (No HDR)



Test results: SCCT (No HDR)




A similar situation. The unquestioning power of four (!) G71 processors is stronger than a single 8800 GTX, even if overclocked. Well, I think our readers will excuse such a trifle, considering the cost of Quad-SLI based on G71.



Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (HDR)



Test results: SCCT (HDR)




Enabled HDR has almost no effect on the layout of forces.



Call Of Juarez



Test results: PoJ




Wow! That's the most interesting case! Just look at the huge performance gain figures! But if you have a look at the diagrams, FPS results are not very high. This game kills even top accelerators with its complexity!

BUT DON'T FORGET THAT 8800-SERIES CARDS WITH THE LATEST DRIVERS (mid February - Version 97.92) DEMONSTRATE GRAVE ARTIFACTS IN THIS GAME. SO IT'S TOO EARLY TO BE HOPEFUL. PERFORMANCE MAY DROP, WHEN THE BUG IS FIXED. Performance gains may become not very impressive.



Company Of Heroes



Test results: CoH




The tandem of 128 streaming processors and high operating frequency still gets its dividends, the EVGA products is beyond competition.



Serious Sam II (No HDR)



Test results: SS2 (No HDR)




It's a similar situation. And again I ask beginners not to faint at the sight of zero or even negative performance gains! It only means that the potential of this video card in a given resolution and under a given load is much higher than allowed by system resources (that is the CPU lags behind this video card. Yes, it does! Even such a powerful one as Intel Core2 Duo X6800). And when nothing depends on a video card, results may vary within 2-5%. Both ways.



Serious Sam II (HDR)



Test results: SS2 (HDR)




It's a similar situation. Even in case of HDR, no AA+AF, performance is still limited by the system resources.



Prey



Test results: Prey




The same situation here. Besides, an OpenGL game with an engine from id Software will always favor NVIDIA products (for various reasons - fine-tuned NVIDIA drivers, optimizations of the game for Californian technologies).



3DMark05: MARKS



Test results: 3DMark05 MARKS






3DMark06: SHADER 2.0 MARKS



Test results: 3DMark06 SM2.0 MARKS






3DMark06: SHADER 3.0 MARKS



Test results: 3DMark06 SM3.0 MARKS




All the three synthetic tests demonstrate again that the EVGA product possesses exceptional shader power. It easily outperforms all its competitors.



Conclusions

EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E is a very interesting product. If its real price is not raised too high versus regular 8800 GTX cards, we can safely recommend this product. But before you buy this product, you should make sure that such a card can be installed into your PC case and that the huge long black cooler will not touch some motherboard components.

Palit GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCI-E is a standard 8800 GTX. The old game in the bundle is not a bonus. So the price will play a pivotal role. As a rule, cards from this company cost less than competing products. You shouldn't be afraid of problems with quality, etc. Remember once and for all: all GeForce 8800 GTX cards are manufactured by NVIDIA (it places orders). Neither Palit, nor EVGA, nor ASUS, nor Gigabyte, nor MSI (etc) have anything to do with their production. They just bundle the cards, package and label them. And that's it.

On the whole, all the cards were stable, we had no gripes with their operation.

Watch the prices! And don't say that you were not warned. All our conclusions may go to the dogs, if, for example, dealers raise the prices so that EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E is twice as much as the regular 8800 GTX. All the advantages of this product will fade in this case, of course. By the way, speaking of the competition with RADEON X1950. Don't forget that the latter cards do not support DirectX 10 on the hardware level. And this technology belongs to the future.

The choice is up to our readers, as always. We can only inform you about this or that product. But we do not give direct instructions which products to choose.

And here is one more thing that will be repeated in each review. Having decided to choose a 3D accelerator on your own (a video card in your computer), you should understand that you change one of the key components of your system unit, which may require additional configuration for better performance or you may have to enable some functions to achieve higher quality. This is not an end product, it's just a component. So you should understand that you'll have to learn 3D graphics basics in order to get maximum performance from a new video card. And some graphics as well. If you don't want to deal with it, you shouldn't upgrade your computer on your own: you'd better buy ready PCs with preconfigured software (you'll also have technical support by your system integrator), or game boxes, where no configuration is required, everything necessary is already configured in a game.

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








The following card gets the Original Design award (February):




EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ACS3 Edition PCI-E



We'd like to thank
EVGA Russia
and Victoria Nikolayeva

PALIT
and Alexander Lihtman

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 25, 2007



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