First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Inno3D GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB (I-8800GTS-H5GTCDS)
- G92 GPU, solid performance results at good quality settings
- 256-bit memory bus limits the otherwise solid potential of this card
You can forget the old GTS models because this new card, based on the G92 GPU, is a far better choice, even if it has some limitations.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
Buy now (Selling at 5 stores)
NVIDIA's latest brainchild, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB, is somewhat akin to a cage fighter named Percival or Gertrude. An odd analogy to be sure, but the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is quickly becoming the epitome of poor naming conventions among the enthusiast community, and rightly so.
Why? Because the new GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB, such as the Inno3d GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB we tested, uses technology already found in the 8800 GT and performs more closely to the 8800 GTX than it does to the 320MB and 640MB GTS cards already on the market.
Based on the new 65nm (nanometre) G92 GPU (graphics processor unit), which offers some nice performance enhancements, the 8800 GTS 512MB is like a dog on a leash. We say this because the potential, it seems, has been somewhat reeled in by NVIDIA's use of a smaller memory bus than its flagship GTX and Ultra cards, and even the less powerful GTS models built on the 90nm G80 GPU. The result is a card with more shader and texture power than previous models, but less memory throughput, which is going to affect those running 22in monitors or larger, or with resolutions of 1680x1050 and up more than anyone.
The G92 GPU on this card offers up 128 stream processors, an amount equal to that on the GTX and Ultra cards, but the core clock speed has been cranked up to 650MHz and the shader clock has also been ramped up to 1625MHz, which is the most of any series-8 GeForce card. The 512MB of GDDR3 memory when clocked, on the other hand, is just below the Ultra on 1000MHz (2GHz effective).
What really knocks the legs from under this card is the mere 256-bit memory bus. This becomes a point of contention mainly at higher resolutions, but is going to be an issue wherever the game relies heavily on memory bandwidth. Where a GTX, Ultra or even the other GTS models will have that extra room to move, the 512MB version more rapidly loses steam at higher resolutions.
For instance, in Crysis, a game that's fairly bandwidth reliant, the Inno3D GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB achieved a frame rate of 35fps (frames per second) at a resolution of 1280x1024, but very quickly scaled to 27fps at 1680x1050 and 25fps at the maximum resolution of our Samsung SyncMaster 245B monitor, 1920x1200. These benchmarks were performed at high quality settings. In another DirectX 10 title, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition we got an average of 30fps using the maximum resolution and with all DirectX 10 features turned on. In the Call of Juarez DirectX 10 benchmark we got an average of 28fps using the default quality settings (1280x1024).
Naturally, in DirectX 9 tests we got far more impressive results. In Half-Life 2 at 1920x1200 using the maximum quality settings we saw an average of 123fps. In FEAR, using a resolution of 1680x1050 with all the maximum quality settings turned on, the Inno3d GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB averaged 74fps. In 3DMark 2006 it scored a solid 12,165 using the default settings.
All of these scores point to a pleasant gaming experience at fairly good quality settings. But this card's gaming performance isn't the only plus. The GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB offers NVIDIA's dedicated video decoder freeing up the CPU for other tasks. NVIDIA has also changed the cooling on the reference design, maintaining its quiet and cool operation, but allowing more airflow for SLI configurations. As a bonus Inno3D has bundled a copy of Ghost Recon 2 for your gaming pleasure.
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