XFX 8800 GTS 512 and Asus 8800 GT 512 - G92 shoot out Page: 1
Introduction
 
Nvidia are really churning out the chips recently and turning the screws tighter on ATI. The new G92 revisions featuring the 8800 GT and the 8800 GTS are both chips that really bolster Nvidia's product line at the top of the pile.
 
I look upon the Nvidia naming conventions with some concern nowadays. Far from being clear we now have 8800 GT (G92), 8800 GTS  640 or 320 (G80), 8800 GTS 512 (G92), 8800 GTX (G80) and 8800 Ultra (G80). I'm know I missed off a few revs but those are the major products that the big green are sending out nowadays...if you can find them.
 
boxes
 
We've already shown you the G92 8800 GT, so here's explaining what the G92 8800 GTS 512 is made of:
 
8800 GTS 512 - G92...what?
 
So what exactly are we looking at with the 8800 GTS 512 Rev 2 G92 chip? (try saying that without getting confused!). For starters it's got an equal number of stream processors to it's big brother, the 8800 GTX at 128.
 
Instead of the 320bit memory interface found on the higher end 8800 GTS, the G92 8800 GTS has a 256bit interface, paired with 512mb RAM. This gives the G92 a fair bit less bandwidth to play around with than it's predecessors.
 
Another pleasant addition to the new 8800 GTS is that it has 128 stream processors as compared to the old 8800 GTS's 112. Texture address and filtering has been changed around by Nvidia and the stream processor clock gets a nice bump to 1625MHz.
 
All this leads me to think that the G92 8800 GTS should be a rather fast GPU and possibly a match for the 8800 GTX. Be aware though, it's not going to touch it's higher end predecessor the 8800 Ultra, as Nvidia's flagship model still has over 60% more memory bandwidth and 40% more pixel fillrate.
 
Of course, we have to mention that the G92 is fabricated by TSMC on a 65nm process.
 
The Nvidia family
 
Below is a table showing you what the members of the 8 series family look like:
 
Form Factor 8800 Ultra 8800 GTX 8800 GTS 8800 GTS 512 8800 GT 256MB 8800 GT 8600 GTS
Stream Processors 128 128 96 128 112 112 32
Texture Address / Filtering 32 / 64 32 / 64 24 / 48 64 / 64 56 / 56 56 / 56 16 / 16
ROPs 24 24 20 16 16 16 8
Core Clock 612MHz 575MHz 500MHz 650MHz 600MHz+ 600MHz+ 675MHz
Shader Clock 1.5GHz 1.35GHz 1.2GHz 1.625GHz 1.5GHz+ 1.5GHz+ 1.45GHz
Memory Clock 1.8GHz 1.8GHz 1.6GHz 1.94GHz 1.4GHz - 1.6GHz 1.8GHz

2.0GHz

Memory Bus Width 384-bit 384-bit 320-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit
Frame Buffer 768MB 768MB 640MB / 320MB 512MB 256MB 512MB 256MB
Transistor Count 681M 681M 681M 754M 754M 754M 289M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 90nm TSMC 90nm TSMC 90nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 80nm
Price Point $600 - $800+ $500 - $600 $270 - $450 $349+ $219 - $229 $299 - $349 $140 - $199

Note: Table courtesy of Anandtech

As you can see, the 8800 GTS 512 fits in between the 8800 GT and the  the 8800 GTX in terms of price, although we are yet to see whether this is reflected in performance.

Specification - XFX 8800 GTS 512 XXX Alpha Dog Edition

Clock rate
678 MHz
Memory Clock
1.972 GHz
Dual Link DVI - Supporting digital output up to 2560x1600
Yes (Dual)
Chipset
GeForce 8800 GTS
Memory
512 MB
Bus Type
PCI-E
Memory Type
DDR3
Memory Bus
256-bit
Highlighted Features
TV Out , Dual DVI Out , RoHS , SLI ready , HDTV ready , Vista , HDCP Ready

Specification - Asus 8800 GT Top

 

Clock rate
700 MHz
Memory Clock
2 GHz
Dual Link DVI - Supporting digital output up to 2560x1600
Yes (Dual)
Chipset
GeForce 8800 GT
Memory
512 MB
Bus Type
PCI-E
Memory Type
DDR3
Memory Bus
256-bit
Highlighted Features
TV Out , Dual DVI Out , RoHS , SLI ready , HDTV ready , Vista , HDCP Ready

 

Both SKU's we have today are overclocked, with XFX sending us their XXX Alpha Dog Edition and Asus sending us their speedy Top Edition.
 
Now we've taken a look at both specifications, let's take a look at both cards in turn and see what we're actually looking at today


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Asus EN8800 GT 512 Packaging
 
The packaging on the Asus 8800 GT is pretty huge to say the least. Double the size of the XFX packaging, it definitely looks impressive when it gets through your door.
 
asus packaging asus rear packaging
 
The packaging is very much dominated by the large Company of Heroes figures on the box. The game is very obviously included in the package! This will of course stand out on shelves.
 
asus inside box
 
The box has a flap that opens that goes more in-depth into the cards features as well.
 
inside box
 
Protected very well from the elements with a huge box and loads of padding, your Asus 8800 GT isn't going to get damaged!
 
Package
 
The package with the Asus EN8800 GT Top is pretty convincing software-wise:
 
* DVI to VGA connector
* S-Video to component cable
* 1 x Molex to single PCI-e power connector
* Speed Setup manual
* CD with VGA Driver
* CD instruction manual
* Faux leather CD wallet
* Company of Heroes full game
 
asus 8800 gt package
 
Pretty nice, and the AA title Company of Heroes is a great inclusion (seeing as we are now using the full retail version with the DX10 patch for testing!).
 
The card
 
Asus have gone with the reference Nvidia design for their EN8800 GT Top. This design is a single slot copper-based heatpipe cooler with Aluminium fins.
 
asus 8800 gt card itself  asus 8800 gt rear
 
As on the reference design, Asus have stuck with the green PCB. Adorning the front of the heatsink is again a large logo and figure from Company of Heroes, a good move if you're a fan of the game...not so much if you aren't.
 
Asus 8800 GT side
 
The addition of the Nvidia Geforce logo on the side of the card is the same as the reference card again, but nice if you have a case with a window.
 
Asus 8800 gt cooler
 
Asus have done well in covering up anything that could get damaged as we can see above with the plastic on the SLI connector. Unlike previous incarnations of the Top edition cards, Asus have decided against a retention mechanism to keep the card straight.
 
DVI 

The card has two Dual Link DVI's and TV-out. This means that you should be absolutely fine running pretty much any monitor you can buy, as you should be able to. HDCP is also included and implemented by Asus, as most of the other Nvidia AIB's have also done.
 
The Cooler
 
There isn't a whole lot to say about the cooler as we've pretty much covered it all in our previous 8800 GT review. One thing I did notice though, was the the cooler on the Asus card seemed to get a lot hotter than the one on the XFX card, idling at 55°C and loading up at a pretty steamy 90°C
 
asus en8800gt top
 
Noise
 
Again, as I previously stated in the 8800 GT review, the noise from the cooler is not too bad, if the fan doesn't start ramping up. However, set it to full...it makes your ears bleed. Thankfully this didn't happen during gaming or testing, but don't think manual fan control is an option if you like to be able to hear yourself think!
 
Now let's move on to the XFX card...


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XFX 8800 GTS 512 XXX Alpha Dog Edition
 
Coming onto the newer revision of the 8800 with XFX's 8800 GTS 512. This is Nvidia's newest card released a week or so ago and XFX's example looks pretty darn good, as usual.
 
Packaging
 
The packaging on XFX's card is much smaller than that on the Asus 8800 GT, more compact.
 
xfx 8800 gts packaging  xfx 8800 gts 512 packaging rear
 
As usual, XFX have chosen their Cyber Dog on the packaging of their latest "Alpha Dog" offering. This is a cert to stand out on shelves, although I'm not sure how much it actually related to the graphics card.
 
XFX 8800 GTS inside packaging
 
Even though the XFX card is in a rather diminutive packaging, XFX do a good job of keeping the card safe and secure.
 
Package
 
XFX have decided to include the somewhat dubiously dubbed AA title "Lost Planet" in with their 8800 GTS Alpha Dog Edition. The game isn't too bad and again, it does come in a DX10 flavour so at least you can make use of the card straight away.
 
XFX have included:
 
* DVI to VGA cable
* S-Video to S-Video cable
* Quick install guide
* S-Video guide
* Hint and tips guide
* "I'm gaming Do Not Disturb" door card
* Driver CD
* Lost Planet full game
 
xfx 8800gts package
 
All in all not a bad package, although a component cable for HDTV would be nice for HDTV users. Still, it is primarily a gamers graphics card and any gamer worth their salt will be using a monitor with DVI in.
 
 XFX 8800 GTS 512 card close-up
 
Nvidia have implemented a new and rather novel design with the 8800 GTS 512. Looking kind of similar to the heatsink fitted to the 8800 GTS G80, there's a subtle twist...or should I say dip, added.
 
xfx 8800 gts 512 front  8800 gts logo
 
Again, XFX have gone with Nvidia's stock implementation of the heatsink/fan combo. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as Nvidia have done very well recently picking some nice coolers for their new cards.
 
geforce logo
 
As on their 8800 GT cards, Nvidia have added a nice little GeForce logo onto the side of the card to show what side you're batting on through your case window.
 
8800 gts 512 side on  8800 gts 512 side on 2
 
Here you can see clearly the excellent design Nvidia have come up with to solve the problem of heat with dual GPU's. As they are usually so close to each other, Nvidia decided to separate them by adding a slight angle onto the fan part of the heatsink. This also means that the VRMs get cooled as the fan is slightly above their level for optimum cooling.
 
xfx 8800 gts reverse view  8800 gts reverse view 2
 
Here we see the the caps right below the cooler and another angle on the tilt that Nvidia have gone with for this 8800 revision.
 
dual link DVI
 
The XFX 8800 GTS 512 G92 has the double Dual Link DVI with HDCP that seems to come standard with top-end cards these days. This is great for the consumers as the choice of display is huge. Also included is the TV-out S-Video connection for those with to TV's that can utilise this.
 
The Cooler
 
The cooler on the 8800 GTS 512 G92 is akin to that on the 8800 GTS, although at 100% it is significantly louder. Your ears won't thank you for manually ramping up that fan, take it from me!
 
fan close in
 
The fansink combo seems to work reasonably well combined with the 65nm process of the 8800 GTS 512, idling at 51°C and loading up at 63°C. Luckily these temperatures do not cause the fan to ramp up at all, so your ears shouldn't be bleeding at all whilst gaming.


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Test Setup
 
As you may be aware, Overclock3D has recently added to it's benchmarking setup to make sure that we cover the increasing trend for Quad Core. With this in mind, our Test Setup is as follows:
 
Intel Core2Quad Q6600 @ 3.6GHz
Asus P5E3 DDR3 Motherboard
Kingston HyperX PC3-11000 CL7 DDR3 2gb Kit
OCZ GameXtream 850w
Hitachi 7K160 HDD
Samsung DVD-RW
Silverstone TJ09S Case
Noctua NH-U12P Cooler
Dell 2405FPW Display
 
Please note that we have set the overclock on the Q6600 to be able to keep our test setup fairly consistent as the speeds of CPU's increase in the near future. 
 
Benchmarks Used
 
Again, Overclock3D has revised it's benchmark setup to really test the new DX10 GPU's, while still including some old favourites in there:
 
games tested
 
Synthetic Benchmarks
 
Please note all Synthetic benchmarks were run at stock settings; just as the free ones would be, as well as 1920 x 1200, with 4 x AA added. All benchmarks are repeated three times for consistency.
 
FutureMark 3DMark03
FutureMark 3DMark05
FutureMark 3DMark06
 
Gaming Benchmarks
 
All gaming benchmarks are run through at a demanding stage of the game with no savepoints to affect FPS. These are manual run-though's approximating 3 minutes and all gaming benchmarks are run three times through the same points for consistency. We hope that this gives an accurate and interesting depiction of "real-life" gaming situations. Note the resolutions and AA each game was run at.
 
All gaming tests were performed in Windows Vista Ultimate, under DX10 if available.
 
Call of Duty 4 - 1920 x 1200, 4 x AA set in-game
Oblivion - 1920 x 1200, 4 x AA set in drivers and HDR set on in-game. Settings on "Ultra"
F.E.A.R. - 1920 x 1200, 4 x AA set in game, soft shadows enabled
Bioshock - 1920 x 1200, all settings to maximum in-game
Unreal Tournament 3 - all settings set to maximum in-game
Company of Heroes - DirectX10 patch. 1920 x 1200 with in game settings as here.
Crysis - 1680 x 1050, all in-game settings set to "High"
 
Again, all game run-through's are repeated three times for consistency and accuracy.
 
We hope that this represents a good band of games and benchmarks for people wanting a performance overview of gaming at this current time.
 
Cards tested
 
Here are the cards tested in the benchmarking:
 
cards tested
 
Asus 8800 GT Top Edition. GPU: 700Mhz. Memory: 1000MHz (2000MHz). Stream processor clock: 1650MHz
 
XFX 8800 GTS 512 XXX Alpha Dog Edition. GPU: 678Mhz. Memory:  986 (1972MHz). Stream processor clock: 1650MHz.
 
Powercolor HD3850. GPU:  720Mhz. Memory: 900MHz (1800MHz).  Stream processor clock: 690Mhz.
 
MSI 8800GTX. GPU: 575Mhz. Memory: 900 (1800). Stream processor clock: 1350MHz.
 
Note that we did have an 8800 GTS in for testing but unfortunately there was a hardware issue with the card and as such we could not include the results from this card.
 
Overclocking of all of the Nvidia cards tested was performed in the Nvidia drivers using the Ntune add-on.
 
Nvidia drivers used in the testing were ForceWare Release 169 WHQL and ATI drivers were ATI Catalyst™ 7.12 Display Driver for Windows Vista (32 bit)


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FutureMark - 3DMark03
 
3DMark03 is a benchmark that uses mainly a DirectX 8 featureset including several pixel fillrate tests. I included this test in the review to see an approximation of how well old games will play on the current gen cards, as well as how well each card copes with the fillrate tests.
 
3dmark03
 
Here we can see that surprisingly the Asus 8800 GT does very well at the lower resolution and both G92 parts beat the 8800 GTX tested.When the resolution was upped, the 8800 GT comes out 2nd again with the bigger brother, the 8800 GTX taking the win.
 
FutureMark 3DMark05
 
3DMark05 is a benchmark based on DirectX 9 with more advanced shading and bump-mapping techniques, as well as a tough CPU test integrated.
 
3dm05
 
Here again the G92 parts outpace the 8800 GTX G80 part in both benchmarks. We see that the 8800 GTS is only just quicker in these tests.
 
FutureMark - 3DMark06
 
3DMark06 is a more complex 3D benchmark, using many of the more advanced techniques found in DirectX 9.0c such as utilising Shader Model 3.0 and HDR lighting to create a tough benchmark that stresses the GPU and CPU.
 
3dmark06
 
Here we see a similar result with the XFX 8800 GTS just about stepping ahead of the Asus 8800 GT, but not by much. The 8800 GTX is a little off the pace here again.


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Call of Duty 4
 
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full featureset. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions and is fast and furious, perfect for our test suite.
 
call of duty 4
 
As you can see here, the 8800 GTS tops the pile in terms of highest FPS, but had a few slight dips in FPS at points. The 8800 GTX showed a more smooth overall performance through testing but, in all honesty there wasn't a whole lot to pick between any of the 8800 series cards and even the HD3850 kept up with the pace.
 
F.E.A.R.
 
F.E.A.R. is a game based on the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine. It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects. This is a fairly old game but was a very testing one at the time of release and still looks fantastic, so we've kept it in.
 
F.E.A.R.
 
F.E.A.R. always produces slightly odd results if you look at the fine details. However, as an overview, the XFX 8800 GTS was the best performer with the 8800 GTX and Asus 8800 GT not too far behind. All cards ran F.E.A.R. with no problem at all.
 
Bioshock
 
Bioshock is a game based on the Unreal Engine 3. It uses some DirectX10 features such as awesome water and smoke effects. The detail level in the game, combined with a frantic pace makes for an excellent benchmark.
 
Bioshock
 
Bioshock again shows the trend for the GTS and the GT to be very quick. The 8800 GTX had a little "blip" in this game and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why it's results weren't as good as the other two 8 series cards, even after many repeat runs. Still, every card was smooth as butter in this game at this resolution.


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Oblivion
 
Oblivion is a game that really taxed all of the cards at the time of it's release. Well over a year on and the current generation of cards simply fly through it. However, with advanced HDR, excellent draw distances, detailed grass and scenery as well as fantastic water/magic effects it's a good game to gauge performance for those who love RPG's.
 
oblivion
 
Oblivion was a mixed bag of results again, but showed that the XFX 8800 GTS comes out top on performance. The Asus 8800 GT again held it's own and indeed, all games tore up this benchmark.
 
Company of Heroes
 
Company of Heroes is a WWII-based RTS game that has an enormous amount of world detail. I played a DirectX patched version of the game that gives modern GPU's a bit of a workout.
 
company of heroes
 
The 8800 GTX comes out top in this game that seems to utilise more DirectX10 features. The XFX 8800 GTS and Asus 8800 GT both do very well as well here with a silky smooth framerate allowing for a very enjoyable experience.


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Unreal Tournament 3
 
I have included UT3, even though it is another UE3 game as it is a fast, frantic and furious multiplayer mash-up experience. Using advanced DirectX 9.0c features, the Unreal Engine looks fantastic and runs on almost all half-decent modern GPU's making it an ideal all-round test.
 
unreal tournament 3
 
Again the trend continues with the XFX 8800 GTS and the 8800 GTX being on very even terms, with the Asus 8800 GT not very far behind at all.
 
Crysis
 
Crysis has to be our most challenging benchmark to date. Running under Windows Vista and using DirectX 10 path, Crysis is currently limited to using "High" settings, rather than "Very High" using any of today's single cards. I also ramped down the resolution to 1680 x 1050 to make sure that I was happy with the framerates.
 
Crysis
 
Here we see the extra memory bandwidth and pixel fillrate of the 8800 GTX come to the fore with a higher minimum FPS. However, the 8800 GTS stands up very well to it's older sibling and indeed gaming on the XFX 8800 GTS was very smooth at this detail level. The Asus 8800 GT dropped off the pace slightly here, but was still a pleasant experience to use.
 
Gaming Overview
 
For those of you who don't like to read through pages of my waffle, the performance in this review can be summed up as follows:
 
1st: XFX 8800 GTS 512 G92
Silky smooth in every test, the new G92 GPU shows it pace in gaming.
 
2nd: MSI 8800 GTX 768 G80
The old dog has a little life left in it and although losing out to the newer rev card, it's not exactly that much of a measurable gap.
 
3rd: Asus 8800 GT Top G92
The 8800 GT sits in very very close 3rd place, certainly not far behind it's more stream processor-endowed siblings.
 
4th: Sapphire HD3850
Sitting in an admirable 4th place, the low-priced but awesome-value HD3850 doesn't quite match the big boys for performance but gives a great account of itself.


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Overclocking
 
Overclocking was performed using Nvidia's drivers and the nTune plugin. No hard or soft mods were performed on the cards and overclocking in this way is meant to represent an "easy overclock", giving value for money on each card without making too much effort.
 
Results
 
Here's what happened:
 
overclock
 
Oddly enough, the cards were almost the opposite of each other. Whilst the XFX 8800 GTS 512 XXX Alpha Dog Edition made some great ground up on stock core clock, the Asus 8800 GT Top had a nice memory overclock.
 
Let's see how this affects performance:
 
3dmark06 overclocked
 
The chart above shows us that the large core overclock on the 8800 GTS was more effective than the large memory overclock on the 8800 GT.
 
Still, what we have to remember is that both of these GPU's are overclocked out of the box and so any overclocking above that is even more of a bonus than normal.
 
Power consumption
 
For a good approximation of the power consumption of each card, I measured the power consumption of the total system for each card at the wall socket.
 
Idle measurements were taken over a 30 minute period sitting on the desktop of Windows Vista and load measurements were taken again over a 30 minute period whilst stressing each card using RTHDRIBL in full screen mode 1920 x 1200.
 
power consumption
 
As you can see, the power consumption of the XFX 8800 GTS and the Asus 8800 GT was very similar at idle, but at load the 8800 GTS pushed up towards 8800 GTX numbers. Still, the beastly 8800 GTX managed to stay a fair way ahead in the energy guzzling stakes.


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Conclusion
 
It's actually wrong to separate these two cards based simply on pure performance alone. Sure the XFX 8800 GTS 512 XXX Alpha Dog Edition manages to pump out the numbers, but the Asus 8800 GT Top Edition really represents a segment of the market that takes performance and adds proper value to it.
 
The Asus 8800 GT Top Edition is now available at SCAN for £154.50,  although this is not in stock at this time. This represents excellent value for money, if you can get your hands on one!
 
The XFX 8800 GTS 512, however, is easily available in the UK and looks to be around the £225 to £235 mark, although again this is not actually the 676MHz edition reviewed today.
 
komplett recommended retailer
 
This is where you have to make a decision. Do you scrap a little bit of performance for a fairly large saving or do you bite the bullet and get the 8800 GTS 512. It's a tough one and almost relies on what you can get from the e-tailers at this present time.
 
Personally as a GTX owner myself I would be willing to sacrifice a little bit of cash to get a card that performs this well, although it's almost not quite worth it.
 
Asus 8800 GT Top Edition
 
Excellent performance and great value from a great performing card. I am going to say that this is a card for representing Value for Money and speed.
 
Asus 8800 GT Top 
 
The Good
 
+ Great bundle
+ Good value for money
+ Nice power consumption
 
The Mediocre
 
* Gets taxed with tougher games
* Lack of current availability
 
The Bad
 
- Whiney fan can get annoying
 
XFX 8800 GTS XXX Alpha Dog Edition
 
The 8800 GTS 512 G92 represents a great niche product and has almost reduced Nvidia's higher end line to 2 cards: the 8800 GT and the 8800 GTS, ignoring the overpriced 8800 Ultra, of course. This is definitely a Gamers Choice.
 
gamers choice 
 
The Good
 
+ Steaming performance
+ Good solid bundle
+ Well designed heatsink
+ Quiet during gaming
 
The Mediocre
 
* Fan at 100% is an annoyance
* Lack of availability on this exact model
 
The Bad
 
- Slightly high price-tag
 
Thanks to both Asus and XFX for sending the products and allowing us to pit them against each other!
 
Want one? Happy with your current card? Discuss here