XFX GeForce 8800 GT Alpha Dog Edition review
Given that Nvidia’s GeForce 8600 GT is a cut-down version of the 8600 GTS, you might expect the new 8800 GT to be a similar treatment of the 8800 GTS. In fact, it’s a more powerful card in almost every respect, despite the lower price and single-slot height.
In terms of clock speeds, a stock 8800 GT isn’t far behind the top-end 8800 Ultra: both run the shader clock at 1.5GHz, and the GT’s “stock” core and RAM clocks of 600MHz and 900MHz compare well to the Ultra’s 612MHz and 1.08GHz. The GT has only 112 shader units, though, compared with the 128 offered by the GTX and Ultra models, and its 256-bit memory bus means lower bandwidth than other 8800-series GPUs.
Still, for less than £200, XFX’s Alpha Dog card gave a remarkable performance in our benchmarks, partly assisted by XFX increasing the core and RAM clocks to 670MHz and 1.95GHz respectively. It aced our DirectX 9 Call of Duty 2 benchmark: even at 1,600 x 1,200, the 8800 GT achieved an average rate of 59fps – only 4fps behind an 8800 GTX on the same system.
Moving on to DirectX 10, our Call of Juarez test saw the GT achieve an average frame rate of 12fps on high settings. That may sound poor, but it’s a fierce test, and even the GTX managed only 19fps. Dropping down to medium settings raised the average to a very respectable 26fps.
Finally, we ran the new in-game Crysis benchmark and were impressed to find this challenging game perfectly playable at 1,280 x 1,024 with medium detail, rendering at an average of 34fps.
Gamers demanding the ultimate experience won’t be happy with medium detail, of course, and when we increased settings to maximum the 8800 GT’s performance plummeted to an average of 5fps, while the GTX achieved 10fps.
Yet the GT isn’t aimed at those who demand the ultimate experience, and for this price it’s a great-value option for those after playability in the latest titles. While die-hard gamers will always shell out for “real” high-end cards, the 8800 GT is an excellent choice for more casual enthusiasts.
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