Review: Really fast, but not cheap
We tested EVGA 8800 GTS SSC, one of the fastest G92-based cards money can buy. We are already used to seeing EVGA offer both reference clocked and overclocked versions, and their fastest cards always get a suffix SSC. SSC means Super Super Clocked; cool, isn’t it?
Geforce 8800 GTS SSC edition card runs at speeds far greater than reference, but it’s not different from reference cards in speed only. With this card you get a special gift – free Crysis game.
The core runs at 740MHz, compared to reference 650MHz, while Shaders got a boost from reference 1625 to 1835MHz. This Shader boost is accompanied by only 20MHz memory boost so now the memory runs at 990MHz. 512MB of GDDR3 of memory packs a 256-bit memory interface, so you won’t be seeing weird quantities of memory such as 320MB or 640MB (which are the courtesy of unusual 320-bit memory interfaces). Still, 512MB of memory should be enough for the most demanding of users.
EVGA 8800 GTS SSC card has PCI Express 2.0, HDCP, Pixel Shader 4.0 and DirectX 10, which includes basically everything you need for quality gaming on XP or Vista. This card has no DX 10.1 support, but for the time being – who needs it? If you’re planning on investing for the future, EVGA offers their Step Up program that enables you to return the card within 90 days and buy another card that might appear in the meantime. Of course, you will have to pay the difference.
The card has a default cooler with a quiet fan, and the card looks quite well made and strong, which means it will be your faithful companion for a long, long time.
The sticker on the box says Crysis inside, so those who haven’t yet had a chance to try this game out will be very pleased with this free addition.
EVGA 680i SLI (Supplied by EVGA)
Intel Core 2 Duo 6800 Extreme edition (Supplied by Intel)
OCZ FlexXLC PC2 9200 5-5-5-18 (Supplied by OCZ)
while testing CL5-5-5-15-CR2T 1066MHz at 2.2V
OCZ Silencer 750 Quad Black ( Supplied by OCZ)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 80GB SATA (Supplied by Seagate)
Freezer 7 Pro (Supplied by Artic Cooling)
Artic Cooling - Artic Fan 12 PWM
Artic Cooling - Artic Fan 8 PWM
EVGA 8800 GTS SSC is the fastest card with the G92 graphics chip. Among the cards from Nvidia’s stables, 8800 GTS SSC was the fastest one to finish all the 3DMark tests. At default 3DMark settings, not even Ultra managed to overthrow this beast. Futuremarks aren’t real indicators of capabilities and power – just check out the results of the new Radeon HD 3870 X2, which outperforms Nvidia in every test. It would be great if it stayed like this in the games we’ve tested – but that simply isn’t the case.
The real power of your graphics card can only be seen in real life testing, such as gaming.
In Company of Heroes, we don’t see much difference between the overclocked GTS and one Ultra on reference speeds. The difference is visible only on lower resolutions where 8800 SSC takes the cake, but when we turned on antialiasing and pushed the resolution higher up – Ultra showed that more memory and higher memory interface are simply too much for 8800 SSC to follow. Still, the difference is minimal and it accounts for only a couple of frames that aren’t visible at 90fps. EVGA’s 8800 GTS SSC beats the reference card by 5 to 9%.
In F.E.A.R., EVGA outperforms the reference card by 4 to 9%. Although EVGA holds onto its advantage over the reference GTS, Ultra and GTX are better this time. We expected that G80 cards with 768MB of memory would do better in more demanding situations, because after all, 8800 GTS is not intended to replace them.
With details set on high, Crysis is not playable at higher resolutions, not even with Ultra. At lower resolutions or at 1600x1200 with no antialiasing EVGA 8800 GTS SSC performs as well as Ultra. This new game communicates with G92 better than with G80, at least while the chip is not overburdened with antialiasing (as seen on 1600x1200). ATI HD 3870 X2 has new drivers that enhance performance under Vista, but during our testing time they were still in Beta phase and failed to improve XP performance. Geforce 8800 GS has the new Forceware 169.32 drivers, and we’ll definitely try it out because it might improve 1600x1200+AA results.
In World in Conflict, 8800 G92 cards perform quite well, but filters can sometimes burden G92 chips. EVGA outperforms the reference 8800 GTS 512MB by 3 or 4 percent, while Ultra is faster by 18 percent.
Just as in World in Conflict, in HL Episode 2 EVGA 8800 GTS SSC outperforms the reference card by about 5 percent and beats 8800 GTX. Not even ATI with dual chip HD 3870 X2 card could beat EVGA 8800 GTS SSC on given resolutions.
The speeds on EVGA’s card are higher than reference ones, so the card, of course, ends up being faster. This is the highest clocked card so far, and only Asus dares clocking the core speed to 740MHz.
8800 GTS SSC core runs at 740MHz, whereas the reference cards run at 650MHz, which is close to 14% slower. The real performance gain is about 5% in gaming and 7% in 3DMarks, at least on our testing resolutions. EVGA made a good card that also features a full free version of Crysis.
The price is higher than reference price, but EVGA offers great service called Step Up, so you have an option to replace your card with another that might appear within 90 days of your purchase. Of course, you’ll have to pay the difference in case that your new card is more expensive. Afterwards you’re left with a lifetime guarantee, but only if you register on their Website within 30 days of your purchase.
Higher clocks of EVGA 8800 GTS SSC and full Crysis game makes this price somewhat understandable and comparable to cheaper reference 8800 GTS 512MB. If you strive for quality and are one of rare people that haven’t yet played Crysis, then we sincerely recommend EVGA 8800 GTS SSC 512MB. Priced at €320, this card is a good choice for those who crave more, but at the same time you can buy a reference EVGA 8800 GTS for only €267.