Gigabyte GeForce 8800 GT (GV-NX88T512HP)
- Zalman cooler, performance for price
- No dynamic fan control on the Zalman cooler
An excellent value card with a nice Zalman cooler and a copy of Neverwinter Nights 2 to boot.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
Gigabyte's GeForce 8800 GT is the latest card we've tested of NVIDIA's top value mid-range series 8, DirectX 10 graphics card. It gets a little old saying this, but Gigabyte has once again tampered with the board for the benefit of the final product. The blue board is a dead giveaway, not to mention the large, funky looking Zalman cooler mounted over the GPU (graphics processor unit).
The card operates at the standard GeForce 8800 GT clock speeds, sporting a 600MHz core clock and a 900MHz (1800MHz effective speed) memory clock. Both of these speeds compare well to the 8800 GTX and only lose out to the beast 8800 Ultra. However, the shader clock runs at a solid 1500MHz, equal to the Ultra. The Gigabyte GeForce 8800 GT offers 512MB of GDDR3 memory to play with, which is plenty for most games currently available. Where the GeForce 8800 GT lacks is in the memory bus. The 256-bit external memory bus of the 8800 GT has been reduced from the 320-bit and 384-bit memory bus speeds of the GTS and GTX/Ultra cards respectively.
The Zalman cooler is Gigabyte's typical choice for a custom graphics board. Large fins spread out in a semi circle around a fan. It's reasonably quiet and only takes up slightly more space than the stock cooler of the GeForce 8800 GT, such as that seen on the ASUS Geforce 8800 GT. If you're working within a small case, such as a media centre case, and were looking for the slimline design of the standard cooler, this card may cause you some issues. However, the card's cooler is better at keeping the card cool, so if you have a larger case then it may prove advantageous. Unfortunately it only uses a 3-pin connector, meaning there's no automatic dynamic control of the fan speed. It's either off or at full ball, which is fine in a heavily cooled gaming case, but not so good in a quiet environment. Using NVIDIA's nTune software allows you to adjust the fan speed, but you'll need to do this manually.
In the benchmarks the Gigabyte GeForce 8800 GT performed as we expected. It's not at the top of the game, but it's a good value performer for its price. We tested both DirectX 9 (DX9) and DirectX 10 (DX10) games.
In Half-life 2 using the maximum resolution of our Samsung SyncMaster 245B monitor, 1920x1200, and with all settings maxed-out, the Gigabyte 8800 Gt averaged 124fps (frames per second). In FEAR it scored 74fps, again using max settings but a resolution of 1680x1050. In 3DMark 2006 it scored 12,119. It all suggests it is more than capable of handling the last generation of games with relative ease.
In DX10 tests we saw less impressive results at the maximum quality. In the DX10 version of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition it managed 73fps using the default settings, but dropped to 33.7fps at 1920x1200 and using all the DX10 features. In the DX10 Call of Juarez benchmark it averaged 28fps at the default settings and in Crysis we got only 20fps using 1920x1200 on all high quality settings.
Overall this puts it on par with other 8800 GT cards and above ATI's HD3870 cards. Those wanting to see the best results from games like Crysis may need to outlay a bit more for a GTX or an Ultra, though our recent tests suggest a high-end SLI configuration is the only option to get the best performance at the highest quality settings.
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