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Leadtek, EVGA Geforce 8800 GTX tested, even in SLI

First INQpression The fastest graphic thing on Earth
Wed Nov 08 2006, 11:09
WE TALKED a lot about G80. It has been in the news for a while and today it is finally ready to launch. It had its last minute tweak-up, as Nvidia says that one of its resistors was too weedy. But the firm and its partners fixed that and now the cards that you are about to buy should be trouble-free.

The G80 is a totally new chip, 90 nanometre, with 681 million transistors and manufactured at TSMC. It is the largest graphics chip built to date, shielded in a big metal heat spreader. The fastest version is clocked at 575MHz while the GTS version works at 500MHz.

Nvidia did a good job and it is the first DirectX 10 chip on market. It is also the first to support the 'unified' marchitecture. Nvidia claims that its chip is completely unified. The same pipeline calculates vertex, pixel and geometry Shader information. Nvidia claims 128 processing streams for its faster version of G80, the Geforce 8800 GTX, while the second in line, the Geforce 8800 GTS, has 96.

Geforce 8800 GTX has a core working at 575MHz. GDDR 3 memory works in a rather odd 384-bit mode and it has twelve chips, totally of 768MB of memory. While we all expected 1024 would be the next step, Nvidia decided to go for 768MB due its different memory controller. Nvidia clocked the memory at 1800MHz with a totally bandwidth of respectable 86.4 GB/s and a fill rate of 36.8 billion a second. The Geforce 8800 GTX is 28 centimetres long and is the longest card we've had in our hands. Only the Geforce 7900 GX2 was longer but we never managed to get one of those.

Nvidia's unified parallel Shader design has 128 individual stream processors running at 1.35GHz. Each processor is capable of being dynamically allocated to vertex, pixel, geometry or physics operation. We don't have any idea where this 1.35GHz number comes from but the card renders fast that's all you should care about now. And of course if supports DirectX 10, an exclusivity for Vista only. alt='g80diag'

Nvidia finally made a chip that works with FSAA and HDR. It supports the new 128-bit HDR. This one handles 32 bits per component and produces better quality. The Geforce 8800 GTX handles 24 ROPs (Raster Operation Units) or, should we say, can render 24 pixels per clock, while the Geforce 8800 GTS can render 20 only. You'll need a 450W or higher PSU to power the card with 30A 12V current so a quality 450W will do. Our 8800 GTX SLI worked with 700W OCZ GameXstream PSU so we can recommend this one.

Two power six-pin connectors means that the card gets 2x75W from the cables plus an additional 75W from the PCIe bus. This brings total power consumption to an earth-heating 225W.

Geforce 8800 GTX has a dual slot cooler - massive and heavy but it does the job. The card always worked around 55Celsius in 2D mode and a bit higher in 3D.

We will tell you more about Geforce 8800 GTS in the separate part that will follow. We had two cards on test.

alt='g80ecard'

The first one to arrive in our hands was an EVGA Geforce 8800 GTX with a brand-new ACS3 Cooler. EVGA dared to change the Nvidia holy cooler and made some modifications to it. It added a huge metal heat spreader on the back of the card and it covered Nvidia heatpipe cooler with a massive EVGA branded piece of squared metal. It is as long as the card itself but you won't have any troubles to connect the power cords - the cards have two of them or the two SLI connectors.

Nvidia decided to put two SLI connectors on the top of the card and G80 works with the existing cables that you get with your motherboard. The only trouble is that Nvidia doesn't bundle an additional SLI cable so, if you have a single motherboard, you will end up with a single cable. As we had two in the lab we just borrowed one SLI cable from the other board. The card takes two slots and you need a bigger SLI connecting cable to put them together. We tried it and it works in SLI too.

The ACS3 cooler is actually more efficient that Nvidia's reference cooler as the card works at 55C in 2D mode while the Nvidia reference cooler cools the card to 60 Celsius only. This is what makes the difference between EVGA card and the rest of the cards based on the reference cooler design.

alt='g80ebox'

The retail box is super small. We could not believe that EVGA managed to pack the card in such a small package and still you have all the CDs and cables you need.

Second to arrive was a Leadtek Geforce 8800 GTX card and the moment we got it we just had to test it in SLI, of course. As we don't have any support from Nvidia we had to figure out how it works, but we did it.

alt='g80leadcard'

Leadtek Geforce 8800 GTX is packed in a nice widee retail box. It includes two games, Spellforce 2 and Trackmania Nation TMN, along with a driver CD and a bonus software pack, including Adobe reader and Power DVD 6 ORB. It has a single DVI to VGA dongle, S-video to HDTV cable including S-video out. It has a two Molex to six-pin power connectors and that is all. This is all you need. The card supports HDCP and the driver CD also includes Vista drivers, we didn't try it yet and Leadtek puts an extra touch and at least brands Nvidia driver as Leadtek Winfast ones. They work flawlessly and they told us that the temperature in 2D mode is around 55 Celsius for EVGA or 60 Celsius for Leadtek. The Leadtek card heated up to 75 Celsius in the open, out of the case environment. EVGA ACS3 works at around 70 Celsius after a heavy 3D load.

alt='g80leadbox'

The second smaller chip on a PCB is TMDS display logic as Nvidia either could not put it in G80, had problems with the integrated TMDS. We believe that the chip would be too big to have it all and Nvidia decided for a cheaper two chip approach.

The driver in both cases has a few new features, including support for 16X Anisotropic filtering and 16X FSAA in a few modes. The big news is that Nvidia finally supports FSAA 8X and 16X. Nvidia's Luminex is a marketing name for incredible image quality that includes support for 16X FSAA, 128-bit HDR and support for 2560x1600 resolution with a high frame rate.

The new FSAA modes include 8x, 8xQ, 16x, and 16xQ. The 8xQ and 16xQ are brand new but we don't know what Q here stands for, we will try to play with it at a later date. We didn't get the cards early enough to test everything we wanted.

alt='g80sli'

Benchmarketing
We used :
Foxconn C51XE M2aa Nforce 590 SLI motherboard
Sapphire AM2RD580 with SB600 board for Crossfire
Athlon FX 62 2800 MHz 90 nanometre Windsor core
2x1024 MB DDR2 Corsair CM2X1024-6400C3 memory
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 500GB SATA NCQ hard drive
Thermaltake Mini Typhoon Athlon 64/X2/FX cooler and Intel CPU's
OCZ 700W GameXstream power supply

For ATI cards we used 6.10 drivers the most current available, G80 based cards 8800 GTX used a driver supplied on a CD version 9.6.8.9 and a 91.47 drivers for Gainward 7950 GX2 card.

The power supply was enough for SLI as well. We plugged both cards in Foxconn C51XE motherboard and we have to mention that the retention mechanism on this board sucks. It works flawless but it is very hard to unplug the card as long as the 8800 GTX.

We patched the cards with two SLI connectors from two different boards, installed the drivers for both cards, restarted and Voala, it works. SLI is enabled and we did a few benchmarks. The scores can be even higher when you use Core 2 Duo or Quad CPU but at press time we decided to use our reference platform based on FX62 CPU.

Composite Figures 3Dmark 03
3DMark 03
Game2
Game3
Game3
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
19741
160.1
117.0
126.21
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
32951
289.5
213.6
218.9
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 PCX 500/1200MHz
29758
259.2
210.9
180.3
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
30485
260.2
204.3
194.0
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
49390
432.2
330.5
363.7
? ? ? ? ?
CPU Test
CPU Score ?
CPU Test 1 ?
CPU Test 2
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz
1419
156.5
25.5
64.8
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
1461
160.3
26.4
30.8
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 PCX 500/1200MHz
1408
154.0
25.2
30.8
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
1494
162.3
27.2
30.8
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
1431
156.9
25.8
30.8
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 03
Single Texturinng
Multi Textur.
Vertex Shader
Pixel Shader 2.0
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
5346.0
10005.9
67.7
219.7
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
10703.4
20010.9
122.7
373.9
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 PCX 500/1200MHz
8241.0
22433.9
88.1
405.6
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
6856.8
17649.5
122.6
566.5
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
13668.3
35096.4
174.3
1125.5
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 05
3DMark 05
Game1
Game2
Game2
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
12348
52.9
35.1
65.0
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
15725
53.8
43.5
106.4
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 PCX 500/1200MHz
13633
52.4
42.3
73.1
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
15210
54.3
43.6
95.1
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
16374
53.9
43.7
118.6
? ? ? ? ?
CPU Test
CPU Score ?
CPU Test 1 ?
CPU Test 2
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz
7312
3.4
7.0
64.8
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
7474
3.5
7.2
30.8
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 PCX 500/1200MHz
7285
3.2
7.3
30.8
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
7550
3.4
7.5
30.8
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
7276
3.2
7.4
30.8
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 05
Single Texturinng
Multi Textur.
Pixel Shader

VS/VS
complex

ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
6307.2
10209.2
456.6
147.9/61.9
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
12596.8
20507.0
891.8
265.8/124.6
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 PCX 500/1200MHz
9461.4
22748.1
637.7
129.8/94.3
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
6912.3
17580.1
566.3
139.8/108.7
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
13703.5
34911.6
1125.8
276.3/200.0
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 06
3DMark 06
? ?
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
6283
? ? ?
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
9909
? ? ?
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
8083
? ?
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
9814
? ? ?
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
10974
? ? ?
? ? ? ? ?
SM2.0 Test
Score
GT1
GT2


ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
2457
19.281
21.669
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
4449
36.091
38.058
?
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
3626
28.955
31.477
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
4530
37.872
37.624
?
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
4697
38.871
39.409
30.8
? ? ? ? ?
HDR/SM3.0 Test
Score
HDR1
HDR2


ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
2722
26.317
28.118
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
4865
49.837
47.464
?
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
3484
31.044
38.632
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
4656
44.543
48.586
?
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
6158
74.322
48.844
30.8
? ? ? ? ?
CPU Test
Score
CPU1
CPU2


ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
2153
0.679
1.093
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
2150
0.679
1.089
?
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
2138
0.670
1.091
?
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
2124
0.669
1.079
?
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
2107
0.667
1.065
30.8
? ? ? ? ?
Doom 3
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
134.7
127.1
110.8
74.7
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
127.6
127.2
126.6
117.4
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
134.9
134.9
134.2
125.5
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
135.0
134.9
134.3
133.9
? ? ? ? ?
Doom 3 High Quality FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
122.5
99.9
76.8
49.6
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
126.9
120.4
102.4
70.5
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
134.7
130.0
114.4
81.9
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
134.6
134.4
134.0
127.3
? ? ? ? ?
FEAR
1024x768
1280x960
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz
138
103
82
57
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
169
143
103
79
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
138
129
108
78
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
144
139
125
95
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
150
147
142
133
? ? ? ? ?
FEAR High Quality FSAA 4X + Aniso 16X
1024x768
1280x960
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
105
79
58
38
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
131
95
83
61
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
121
98
69
46
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
131
107
80
53
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
141
136
128
96
? ? ? ? ?
Quake 4
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz
150.7
147.1
140.0
119.4
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
148.7
149.6
148.2
140.1
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
174.8
172.8
169.7
155.4
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
187.3
183.4
179.4
167.8
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
187.4
184.0
180.0
179.6
? ? ? ? ?
Quake 4 High Quality FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz
143.9
133.6
122.1
96.8
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz Cross Fire
149.4
145.6
140.4
129.4
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
166.7
158.0
148.2
119.4
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
181.5
172.1
162.9
136.7
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 16X FSAA and 16X AA
89.5
60.6
44.3
29.0
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 16Q X FSAA and 16X AA
82.6
55.8
40.6
25.6
EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575 / 1800 MHz
188.3
182.3
174.5
168.4
? ? ? ? ?
Half Life 2 High Quality FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XT 650/2000 MHz
93.13
92.02
88.47
78.60
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
81.04
68.24
64.87
57.20
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
86.01
87.44
85.77
85.68
? ? ? ? ?
Far Cry High Quality FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
93.78
93.29
92.81
74.04
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
93.15
93.06
92.27
75.63
EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz
97.31
96.93
97.71
93.54
? ? ? ? ?
Oblivion AA+Aniso+HDR
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
ATI X1950XTX 650/2000 MHz
6xAA+8xAniso+HDR 36.12
6xAA+8xAniso+HDR 32.80
6xAA+8xAniso+HDR 30.89
4xAA+8xAniso+HDR 27.26
Gainward BLISS 7950GX2 TDH 500/1200 MHz
8sxAA+8xAniso+HDR 36.40
8sxAA+8xAniso+HDR 35.96
8sxAA+8xAniso+HDR 31.45
8sxAA+8xAniso+HDR 22.50

We started with 3Dmark03 and already saw the light. A single EVGA G80 card, EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575/1800MHz scores 30485. it is just slightly faster than the 7950 GX2 card, 2500 slower than Crossfire and more than 10000 faster than a single fastest X1950XTX card.

It gets even better as the EVGA-Leadtek 8800GTX SLI 2x 575/1800MHz combo scores 49390, almost 50K. You'll need a faster or overclocked CPU for 50K, it is simple as beans. SLI is sixty-two per cent faster than a single card. A single G80 is fifty-four per cent faster than an X1950XTX. It scores 194 frames in game 3, just a bit slower than two ATI cards patched together. It is three times faster than Crossfire set up in Pixel Shader 2.0 test. It scores 1125.5 FPS, versus 373.3 the score of Crossfire. It is three times faster or 301 percent. Amazing isn't it? Vertex Shader test is twice faster on G80 than on ATI's faster card.

A single G80 beats ATI by almost 3000. SLI beats Crossfire by only 600 marks but it is still faster. 16300 is a great score for this test. Complex vertex Shader is almost twice as fast as ATI's card.

Now to the 3Dmark06, you score 10974 with two cards or 9814 with a single card. This test is super CPU bounded. We will do some testing with Core 2 Duo and overclocking as we believe we should be reaching 13500 or more with a better or overclocked CPU.

EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575/1800MHz scores is eighty-four percent faster than the ATI's X1950XTX in Shader model 2.0 test and seventy-one in Shader model 3.0 / HDR testing. It really smashes the competition.

Doom 3 scores around 135 FPS at first three resolutions and drop to 125 at the 20x15, SLI even then scores 135 so this is clearly CPU limited. EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz is almost 80 percent faster at 2048x1536. Doom 3 with effects on scores 130 FPS at first two resolutions and later starts to drop but is still faster than 7950 GX2 cards all the time. SLI doesn't drop at all at first three resolutions only slightly drops at 20x15.

FEAR scores are up to sky with the weakest score of 95 FPS at 20x15, faster than Crossfire in the last two resolutions and from GX2 and X1950XTX at all times. It is up to 66 percent faster than X1950XTX and 68 percent from the Gainward 7950 GX2 card. SLI is again 68 percent faster than Crossfire a massive difference.

EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz scores 53 FPS even at highest resolutions with all the effects on and 4X FSAA and 16X Aniso and much more at lower ones. Crossfire beats a single card by three frames at 16x12 and eight at 20x15 but a single card loses by some forty percents. SLI is twice as fast as 7950GX2 and 57 percent than Crossfire.

Quake 4 runs up to forty seven frames faster on G80 and SLI gets the score better but not much. G80 is always faster than GX2 and Crossfire. Quake 4 with FSAA and Aniso runs some forty percent faster than ATI's fastest card and 30 per cent in Crossfire versus SLI G80.

Far Cry with effects on performance is matched with both G80 and X1950XTX while the SLI can outperform both in 20x15.

Serious Sam 2 is faster on ATI in first two resolutins by three frames while EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz wins by eight, or fifteen frames at higher resolutions. SLI is 23 per cent faster than a single G80 and 43 percent faster than X1950xTX.

Serious Sam 2 with FSAA and Aniso on always scores faster at EVGA eGeforce 8800GTX ACS3 575 / 1800 MHz card but not that much, some nine to ten percent while the SLI is 54 per cent faster than a single card and sixty eight percent than ATI's card.

We decided to reintroduce Oblivion powered with Fraps and let me conclude it with it. We tested Nvidia cards in 8X FSAA mode in our custom developed test, a super-intensive routine with all the settings on. At 8xFSAA + 8xAniso and HDR SLI only makes a big stand over a single card in 16x12 and especially at 20x15. It is 21 per cent faster or 67 at 20x15.

ATI could not do more than 6X FSAA and even then it runs slightly slower than a single card. At 20x15 it is unplayable with a few FPS but at 4X FSAA it scores 27.26 FPS. This is still the game that can bring the G80 to its knees and SLI can make it barely playable with all effects on.

Before we finished up testing, we decided to do a quick Quake 4 16X and 16X Q FSAA test. Q mode is always about 11 percent slower than the 16X mode and maybe that Q stands for Quality. Not sure here as we didn't get any documentation. We will figure it out later. As for the 16X scores it is two or more times faster and drops to 29 FPS at 20x15, but if you ask me that should be enough. If you want 60 FPS Quake 4 and G80 scores that much up to 12x10 the resolution of most 19 inch TFT gaming displays out there.

alt='g80obl'

In Short
Basically, at this time I can say G80 rocks. I love it, it's great and I don't have anything bad to say about it. Pick up your wallet if you want to spend €/$600 on a graphic card and enjoy it. You can whine that it's long, it can get warm but it's all nonsense, as this is the fastest card on planet Earth and you have to live with the heat and size. It is super stable, that is what matters the most and we didn't have any issues with stability.

You can set the quality to 16X Anistropic filtering, 16 times full-scene anti-aliasing and have HDR 128 bit at the same time. It looks great and even the FSAA and HDR works on this card, it didn't work on any Geforce 7 series.

Nvidia can run 16X. It affects your performance but it is still playable, at least in lower resolutions. We will look at the picture quality in the next few days as we are far from being done from analysing G80.

Overall, both EVGA Geforce 8800GTX ACS3 575/1800MHz and Leadtek Winfast PX8800 GTX TDH are great cards and get either of them you can. The only advantage is that EVGA temperature can get a bit lower but just a bit. And the good thing is that they both work in SLI together. So maybe you can buy one of EVGA and one Leadtek and be like us. :)

If you want the fastest card on planet then you have to buy G80. If you want the fastest gaming setup on the planet then you have to buy two Geforce 8800 GTX cards and put them together in SLI. Not much more to say. Nvidia did it and this is the fastest card for some while, at least until the beginning of next year. ?

Reviewed and tested by Sanjin Rados and Fuad Abazovic

 

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