Review: 660MHz core, 1650MHz Shader
Geforce 8800 GT is a card that got everybody talking weeks before it came out, and after the first reviews it has become a card that many users desire. The stock shortages are a problem; but they'll soon be solved, and the only question left is whether this is the card for you. Performance wise, ATI can’t match Nvidia’s offer, but ATI will play the price card and offer their RV670XT at a lower price. However, performance wise it could not get close to Geforce 8800 GT.
On the other hand, Nvidia will play a somewhat dirtier game – better Geforce GT versions are almost ready. Geforce 8800 GT 256MB will definitely lock horns with RV670XT, and as we’ve seen in the past couple of days, you can already pre-order it in Great Britain for £30 less than its 512MB version.
Until then, we’ll work with what we’ve got, and that’s the MSI NX8800GT-T2D512E-OC graphics card. Under its hood you'll find a G92/D8P chip with 721 milion transistors, which is more than 8800 GTX has.
MSI NX8800GT-T2D512E-OC is faster than a reference Geforce GT card, and it’s unlikely that the new Flextronics cards will boast much better clocks. As you probably know, all currently available Geforce 8800 GT cards were manufactured by Foxconn, and you can read more about that here.
If you look at the specs, you’ll see that our claims of MSI NX 8800 GT being faster than reference design cards were justified. Its core runs at 660MHz, which is 60MHz more than stock speed, Shader Stream processors at 1650MHz - 150MHz faster than stock, and the memory at 1900MHz - 100MHz is faster than stock. So, MSI didn’t put OC in the name just for fun, the card has actually been overclocked.
Hardware wise, MSI NX 8800 GT is no different from reference cards or our recently tested Gainward Bliss 8800 GT card; this card features the same cooler and PCB. The only thing that sets it apart is the MSI sticker. The cooling fan is quiet until it reaches maximum RPM. One 3x2 power connector hidden in the back of the card will be enough to power this card.
Geforce 8800 GT (G92) with Qimonda HYB18H512321BF-10 graphics memory.
The G92 graphics chip is manufactured in the 65nm production process and its TDP is about 110W. Although the chip is small in size, it’s got more transistors than the G80, 90nm chip on Geforce 8800 cards. G92 core dimensions are 18mm x 18mm, or 324mm², which is quite a lot for a performance chip.
As we’ve seen before, this card is better than the Geforce 8800 GTS; even when compared to the Geforce 8800 GTX, it still holds its ground. Geforce 8800 GT cards feature 112 Stream processors, 8800 GTX features 128 and 8800 GTS features 96. Although the number of Stream processors would suggest that GT is better than GTS, that is not the case. In the graphics pipeline, number of ROP units plays an important role. GT features 16 of these, GTX features 24 and GTS has 20. 8800 GT’s ROP compression algorithms have been optimized, and when it comes to texture addressing, it beats G80. You can address 8 addresses per clock,a whereas G80 could only address 4. In the end, you get a number of 56 texels per clock (7 clusters times 8 texels per clock), which is much more than 8800GTS (24) or 8800GTX (32) can offer.
Since we’ve mentioned that Geforce 8800 GT has seven open clusters, we can’t exclude the possibility that Nvidia deactivated the eighth and that they could activate it if there’s need for it. With their RV670XT, ATI didn’t quite scare Nvidia into doing this, but you never know. Nvidia divided their Stream processors in Clusters. The 8800 GTX card has 8 clusters, 16 Stream processors each, which adds up to total of 128 Stream processors on Geforce 8800 GTX.
Compared to 8800 GT, G80 has one more advantage, and that’s its 384 bit memory interface. 8800 GT total bandwidth adds up to 57.6 GB/s; 8800 GTS adds up to 64 GB/s; and 8800 GTX adds up to 86.4 GB/s.
The memory bandwidth on MSI's overclocked card is 60.8 GB/s, which is not quite as much as on a G80 card, but numerous improvements and fast core and Shader processors can make this card a fierce competitor, even against 8800 GTX cards.
Geforce 8800 GT’s processor features VP2 (Video Processor 2), something that the G80 didn’t include. This means PureVideo HD support when playing high definition video files, as well as post-processing entirely done in hardware so that the load is taken off the CPU.
Two Dual Link DVI outs with HDCP are natively supported, which means no separate display chip – the option is on the silicone. MSI calls their dual link DVI outs Yellow DVI. They support resolutions up to 2560x1600, and due to the yellow caps that MSI, for some reason, puts on their cards, they’re quite easy to spot. It’s not a bad idea to ensure that dust doesn’t penetrate the second DVI on the card, the one that you don’t use.
Geforce 8800GT is the first PCIe 2.0 supporting card but if you’re counting on DirectX 10.1, and planning a long-term investment, then you must take into account that this card doesn’t support DX 10.1. For casual users, this is not a big deal, especially knowing that most users still opt for Win XP as an OS of choice – and we know that XP supports only DX 9. However, Direct X 10 is slowly becoming a standard, and Nvidia did a lousy job by not including DX 10.1 and Shader model 4.1 support.
MSI sent the card in a retail box, covered with loads of specs and info. Even the picture on the box says a lot. Included in the box you get a 14-day trial version of Lord of The Rings game and a full version of the Colin McRae rally game.