NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra Review - The Best Just Got Better
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The NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra
Usually every 3-6 months we would have a new king of the hill in graphics card performance, or at least an update in a neck-and-neck fight to the death. Since the 8800 GTX was released back in November of last year, NVIDIA has had a strangle hold on the high performance gaming market. ATI, purchased by AMD, doesn't seem to have answer, though NVIDIA was readying a counter-attack should the need arise. Turns out it hasn't been needed, but NVIDIA got tired of sitting on their product, so we are blessed with the release of the GeForce 8800 Ultra.
The new GeForce 8800 Ultra
The GeForce 8800 Ultra is basically a glorified, overclocked 8800 GTX graphics card with a slightly optimized PCB and core binning in order to bring power consumption to a lower level. The G80 GPU is still 681 million transistors strong and features 128 stream processors in a unified shader architecture. We won't get into more of the details on the GPU architecture than that though, but we have TONS of information on it in our original 8800 GTX article.
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The PCB on the 8800 Ultra is the same size as on the 8800 GTX though the cooler has gone through some significant modifications to enable it to cool with the same power envelope but with less noise. And the results were noticeable (or rather, NOT) as the new cooler design was quieter than the GTX and much less noisy than the X1950 XTX's cooler.
Here's a quick rundown on WHAT is being overclocked on the 8800 Ultra:
612 MHz core clock versus 575 MHz on GTX
1500 MHz shader clock versus 1350 MHz on GTX
2.16 GHz memory clock versus 1.8 GHz on GTX
That memory speed equates to a rise from 86.4 GB/s to 101.3 GB/s of theoretical bandwidth and the frame buffer remains at 768MB.
The new fan expands a bit past the top of the PCB in order to allow for more room for air to pass over the GPU and memory. The fan is also bigger and quieter.
Power requirements continue at dual 6-pin PCIe connections for the 8800 Ultra.
The external connectors also remain the same including dual dual-link DVI output and a TV output with support for HDTV.
Under the black sheath you can see the inner workings of the 8800 Ultra's cooler design.
Here's the beastly card all stripped and naked for you to see -- notice how absolutely huge the GPU is. 681 million transistors aren't cheap!!
So, with the 8800 Ultra in the mix, what does NVIDIA's product line up look like?
8800 GTX 768MB
8800 GTS 640MB
8800 GTS 320MB
8600 GTS 256MB
8600 GT 256MB
While no one can deny that the 8800 Ultra is an expensive graphics card, NVIDIA continues to offer a complete range of graphics cards for just about every budget and almost all are DX10 capable (excluing the 7600 and 7300).