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Sparkle's souped-up 8800GT matches the 8800GTX

First INQpressions Sparkle Geforce 8800GT
Tue Oct 30 2007, 10:17

Product: Sparkle 8800 GT / Calibre P888
Information: www.sparkle.com.tw


SO EVEYONE'S GOT their fair share of the new Geforce 8800GT 512MB GPU cards - most of them are standard 600 MHz GPU / GDDR3-1800 memory.

We also had a quick look at the part from Sparkle - a unit whose PCB is actually manufactured by this Taiwanese vendor, rather than taken from Nvidia, and the GPU runs at 675MHz by default (Sparkle offers both standard and " Calibre" overclocked versions). We also managed to push the memory to around GDDR3-1930, but that was how far it went if we wanted 3DMark runs completed - more could be done with further tuning.

Unfortunately, no tricks here *yet* to re-enable those 16 remaining shader units to make up to the total 128, which would push the unit ahead of some GTX offerings.

The single slot card doesn't differ from other 8800GT offerings visually, except for the Sparkle sticker - as you can see on the photo, single slot width now leaves a plenty of space on board for, say, physics or RAID or extra sound.

alt='sparkle'

Before going to DirectX 10 and Vista, which somehow isn't exactly sweeping the market, we stuck to the old stuff and ran the card first using the trusted old measure, 3DMark06 in WindowsXP 32-bit, at 1280x1024 SXGA resolution with and without anti-aliasing.

This card will appeal most to the users trying to maximise the performance of their 19-inch to 22-inch monitors, running at either 1280x1024 or 1680x1050 resolutions. Anything higher means more GPU memory bandwidth needed to fill in 1920x1200 or 2560x1600 screens, and of course much more expensive displays - meaning one can afford those more expensive cards too, then.

In this first quick round, we ran 3DMark06 on a quad-core Intel QX6850 at 3.33 GHz FSB 1667 using an Asus Striker Extreme mobo and 2 GB GEIL DDR2-833 CL3-3-3-5 memory. The initial ForceWare 169.01 driver didn't detect 8800GT, so, with Theo's help we managed to get two drivers: a 167-series beta which detected the card, but said how there is not enough power for it, and reduced the speed (even though extra 6-pin power was on), and another driver with the same 169.01 release number - but updated - that worked. Boy, do we love it when we see two different drivers with the same version number - tells you something about the GPU vendor behind them.

Here are the SXGA 3DMark results at 675 MHz GPU / GDDR3-1900:

3DMark No AA 4xAA
Overall 12911 9832
SM 2.0 5427 4361
SM 3.0 5294 3795

and 1920x1200 WUXGA:

3DMark No AA 4xAA
Overall 9109 7033
SM 2.0 3410 2722
SM 3.0 3507 2478

Overall, no surprises here. The card could easily come near the 8800GTX levels, comfortably overtaking - and possibly terminating - the 8800GTS variety along the way. Sparkle's extra 75MHz on the GPU factory clock setting do help here quite a bit, and the memory overclock was useful too. The drop off as we move to HD WUXGA resolution is too high; 24-inchers should still consider the 8800Ultra or the upcoming G92-300 cards.

Good Perfect card for mainstream 19-22-inch gamers
Bad If they already made the PCB, could have also put better/more RAM
Ugly Looks like ATI HD3870 may upset GF8800GT position

Barwench's Verdict

alt='beer07'

 

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