Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS review

Price when reviewed
The GeForce 8800 GTS has been around – in one form or another – for some time, but while for many cards that means a slow and undignified demise, this is one model that Nvidia has adapted for survival.

It was originally launched as a 90nm part with the same 681 million transistors as the GTX. To differentiate the GTS, Nvidia then reduced the stream processors from 128 to 96, set the core clock to 500MHz and produced two models with 800MHz GDDR3 memory- one with 320MB and another with 640MB. They were initially received as the bargain alternative to the top-end cards, but soon began to show their age.

So Nvidia chose to kill off its old cards and introduced a new 8800 GTS. This one is based on a totally different architecture: it’s a 65nm part with faster core (650MHz) and shader clocks, and 128 stream processors, just as with the top-end cards. The 512MB of memory may look inferior to the old 640MB on paper, but it’s clocked at a faster 1GHz. It’s one of the few Nvidia cards to use the PCI Express 2.0 interface and it blows the older 90nm cards away: we measured an impressive 63fps in our Medium 1,280 x 1,024 Crysis test, a playable 33fps on High, and a similarly quick 63fps in our High Call of Duty 4 test.

Amazingly, it kept pace with the8800 Ultra throughout most of our benchmarks. The only card to leave it behind was the dual-GPU HD 3870 X2- and that’s understandable.

It’s refreshing to see that Nvidia is happy to kill off its older cards in the quest for higher frame rates. The fact that the GTS costs just £179 also makes it an absolute steal, giving performance on a par with the GTX and even the Ultra at all but the highest resolutions.

If you have a large monitor, spending the extra £59 on the HD 3870 X2 – with its remarkable ability at the highest resolutions – makes sense. But for everyone else, the 8800 GTS 512MBis a powerful graphics card that offers phenomenal value. Just make sure you don’t buy the old 320MB or 640MB versions by mistake.

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