Asus EN 8800 GTX - nVidia's G80 Performance Revealed

Close up - Asus 8800GTX

Page <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ufo1.com/ad/c.js"></script> Posted 18/11/06
Author: Matthew Kemp (kempez)
Product Acquired: Asus

The Card

Your first impressions of the 8800GTX tend to be "wow that's a big card", and they are not wrong. Measuring about 27-27cm in length this thing is an absolute beast. even our 7950 GX2 card looked like a toy compared to the 8800GTX.

asus 8800GTX asus 8800gtx close up

Another thing you'll notice is the fan: the fins are around the edge of the cooler, rather than branching out from the middle. I'll take a closer looks further down.

The Asus card is based on the nVidia reference board (as all release cards are), although Asus have decided to brand it with a character from GRAW. I'm not a fan of branding in this way, but it's not unattractive.

asus 8800gtx rear

The rear of the card is by far the busiest of any card we've seen so far, with a huge amount of copper and transistors on the PCB showing just how much nVidia have squeezed onto this board.

We can see that the card needs a lot of power management on it to service this hungry GPU.

8800gtx cpas asus 8800GTX end view

The black PCB on the card makes it look awesome and with the black cooler: very meaty. It's obviously a dual slot cooler and it will be interesting if nVidia start producing models with a single slot cooler, or whether the heat output of their new cards right now is far too much to be able to.

Dual DVI brings HDCP so that you can run your card into a HDCP enabled monitor, when this is required by DRM.

8800gtx dual dvi

Under the clothes - G80 naked

Let's get this card stripped off and see what's underneath...

g80 with shim

nVidia have gone for the integrated heat-spreader with G80, following AMD and Intel. This looks good and gives the GPU some amount of protection if your using a 3rd party cooler. However they do tend to add 2-3°C onto the temperature.

The chip has a metal shim around the outside of it making it look pretty heavyweight. I'm not quite sure why nVidia felt the need to do this, with the IHS already on the chip, but I'm sure it serves some decent purpose.

G80 memory controller

This chip is the IO chip codenamed NVIO (not to be confused with NV10!). It controls all of the input/output on the card basically functioning as an advanced RAMDAC. The chip supports dual-link DVI ports with HDCP support and HDTV-out.

G80 GDDR3

12 lots of Samsung's highest rated 900MHz GDDR3 add up to 768mb in total in the 368-bit bus sitting around G80.

Specification

We've seen a run-through of what is underneath the skin of the G80, let's see how it specs up on paper:

Default clock of Core: 575 and Memory: 1800MHz

NVIDIA® Unified Architecture

* Unified shader architecture
* GigaThreadTM technology
* Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 10
o Geometry shaders
o Geometry instancing
o Streamed output
o Shader Model 4.0
* Full 128-bit floating point precision through the entire rendering pipeline


NVIDIA LumenexTM Engine


* 16x full screen anti-aliasing
* Transparent multisampling and transparent supersampling
* 16x angle independent anisotropic filtering
* 128-bit floating point high dynamic-range (HDR) lighting with anti-aliasing
o 32-bit per component floating point texture filtering and blending
* Advanced lossless compression algorithms for color, texture, and z-data
* Support for normal map compression
* Z-cull
* Early-Z


NVIDIA Quantum EffectsTM Technology


* Advanced shader processors architected for physics computation
* Simulate and render physics effects on the graphics processor


NVIDIA SLITM Technology1


* Patented hardware and software technology allows two GeForce-based graphics cards to run in parallel.

Scaling performance and enhance image quality on today's top titles.


NVIDIA PureVideoTM HD Technology2


* Dedicated on-chip video processor
* High-definition H.264, VC-1, MPEG2 and WMV9 decode acceleration
* Advanced spatial-temporal de-interlacing
* HDCP capable3
* Spatial-Temporal De-Interlacing
* Noise Reduction
* Edge Enhancement
* Bad Edit Correction
* Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
* High-quality scaling
* Video color correction
* Microsoft® Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) support

Advanced Display Functionality

* Two dual-link DVI outputs for digital flat panel display resolutions up to 2560x1600
* Dual integrated 400MHz RAMDACs for analog display resolutions up to and including 2048x1536 at 85Hz
* Integrated HDTV encoder provides analog TV-output (Component/Composite/S-Video) up to 1080i resolution
* NVIDIA nView® multi-display technology capability
* 10-bit display processing


Built for Microsoft® Windows VistaTM


* Full DirectX 10 support
* Dedicated graphics processor powers the new Windows Vista Aero 3D user interface
* VMR-based video architecture


High Speed Interfaces


* Designed for PCI Express® x16
* Designed for high-speed GDDR3 memory


Operating Systems


* Built for Microsoft Windows Vista
* Windows XP/Windows XP 64
* Linux


API Support


* Complete DirectX support, including Microsoft DirectX 10 Shader Model 4.0
* Full OpenGL® support, including OpenGL 2.0


The Cooler

The cooler on the 8800GTX is nVidia's most impressive job so far in my opinion. With a GPU that kicks out as much heat as G80 does, the heatpipes and low speed fan cope pretty well with the heat. ruinning at a steamy 62°C Idle and 80°C Load, the fan wasn't even audible above the case fans in my case (running at low speed settings).

8800gtx heatpipe 8800gtx cooler

The fan is certainly an odd design with the fins "scooping" the air around the outside, rather than coming from the middle of the fan. I believe this is referred to as a "squirrel cage" fan:

asus 8800gtx cooler

This scoops the air straight out of the case which is a good things too with the heat output of this uber-high-end card.

g80 goop g80 goop!


There seems to be an abundence of "goop" on the Asus nVidia reference cooler. I know that the contact area is flat and so I'm a little confused why there's enough TIM that I had to actually scrape it off. The thermal pads are generally used instead of thermal paste on the components not needing such extreme cooing. That said the cooler is pretty good at it's job even under the extreme heat that G80 emits.

Overall the physical aspects of the nVidia reference card are excellent. Apart from BFG who are selling a very highly priced 8800GTX with a DangerDen liquid cooler on them, all nVidia's partners are using the stock cooler so it's good to see nVidia and their partners did a decent job.

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Most Recent Comments

24-12-2007, 17:24:49

Rastalovich
Great insight into the higher end of the gpu spectrum.

I have to be fair, even tho u`ve got a 1 to 4 positioning, I don`t think there`s that much in it for any of them. I know the Ati slides in the rankings, but it does show itself to be a fine card.

An interesting comparison would have been performance versus costing, seeing as they`re as close as they appear to be.

I`m a bit at odds with the oc results too. I simply can`t achieve the memory overclock on my GT without it having fits. But I can clock the gpu to around 720 (from 670).

What would impress me is some1 buying the cheapest GT, putting it under water, and claiming back those clock hertz with their superior cooling. Sounds nice.

Suprizes me a bit tho that the GTS isn`t launched as a bigger performer. Although pricewize, it does seem to start from stock where the GT limit starts. Leaving u further to climb

Nice review m8, think every1s doing the "going to bed early to get up early" trick Quote

24-12-2007, 17:25:40

Hyper
Nice to see this review is finally up

Shame I cant view it as 128k is painfully slow :sleep:Quote

24-12-2007, 18:07:43

Hatman
Thing is though there is a BIOS voltmod for the 8800GT that GREATLY increases its overclockability. If there isn't one for the 8800GTS I see them both reaching high limits but so far the 8800GT seems to OC better. With good cooling and the volt mod this thing easily passes 800mhz core, I've seen some at 850+.

What you also go to look at as well is shaders, they seem to be the key thing atm if the shaders OC much better on the 8800GT, which I guess they kinda should since they could simply lock the worst performing ones to get it top out better, it could impact performance in certain titles a lot.

Nice review though I was surprised the 8800GT didn't clock more, there wasn't a heat issue was there?

It should also be said about the supposed problems of the memory modules on the 8800GT, seems that long term use of the memory at 2ghz+ and it brakes. Thats why some companies like Zotac use better memory modules for their cards.Quote

24-12-2007, 18:29:40

Brooksie
Great review Kempez, can't wait to open my GTS tomorrow Quote

24-12-2007, 18:34:22

FarFarAway
The GT was a little hot yes, but I will never change the cooling or take off the heatsink prior to running any tests. I test every card as it would be when it appears on your doorstep

Volt-modding is not part of the overclocking testing as the percentage of users who do that is small and it voids any warranty you have.

An overclock is dependent on what RAM is used, what cooling is like and also what luck you get with the silicon...the overclocking gods didn't smile on me this time

@Rast: I agree, the ATI card is a great card as I said in the ATI review, but this review was for these two cards. Having said that: would I buy the HD3850 personally? No, I'd go for an 8800 GTS 512mb G92 or an 8800 GT 512 G92 It's simply not fast enough with every game, I'm afraid.Quote
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