Review: A fast card running at reference clocks
Currently on the market, you can find two cards based on Nvidia's D8P / G92 graphics processor, and you know them as 8800 GT and 8800 GTS. Nvidia’s G92 chip is made in 65nm and it’s a great processor with excellent bang-for-the-buck ratio. We’ve already tested numerous cards based on this chip, but since Gainward has been kind enough to supply us with an 8800 GTS at reference speeds, we shall remind you, as well as ourselves, of what you should expect from Nvidia’s latest offspring. The card’s full name is BLISS 8800GTS 512 DDT.
The BLISS 8800 GTS core runs at 650MHz, memory is clocked at 970MHz and Shaders at 1625MHz. Compared to the old G80 8800 GTS with 96 Stream processors, the new 8800 GTS packs 128 of these babies (Geforce 8800GT has 112). The new graphics chip is also much better for playing HD Video content, because the new G92-based cards (8800 GT and 8800 GTS) feature VP2 (Video Processor 2) for HD Video processing, and they’re the first PCI-Express 2.0 cards coming from Nvidia.
New 8800 GTS cards feature a 256-bit memory bus, and this one comes with 512MB of GDDR3 memory running at 970MHz. The old 8800 GTS had 320-bit memory, so the cards came with an odd 640MB of GDDR3 memory, or 320MB for the cheaper version, and the memory ran at 800MHz.
Looks-wise, Gainward didn’t change anything. The cooler is still the same reference one that performs silently. We’ve seen Gainward’s cooler specially designed for 8800 GT cards, but they didn’t incorporate it into their first version of G92-based 8800 GTS. If you don’t know what Gainward’s 8800 GT cooler looks like, we tested it here.
Although the cooler is the reference one, it performs quite well. During regular work and gaming it’s almost inaudible, but after increasing the fan speed for overclocking purposes, it became quite loud. If you’ve heard 8800 GT’s fan noise, then you know what we’re talking about. Our overclocking went well and we reached 800MHz core speed, and the card ran stable. We probably could have gone even further, but due to stability we decided to stay on the 800MHz mark.
The large copper base is positioned on the graphics processor, and three heatpipes stretch from it to help with cooling. The fan is much better than the one on 8800 GT cards, and unlike 8800 GT, 8800 GTS blows the heat out of the case. The fan is angled and it's rear is a bit elevated, which probably helps better cool the card.
The temperatures are lower than those measured on 8800 GT, a card with a single-slot cooler and the fan stays quiet throughout the test.
It’s easy to mount this cooler on an 8800 GT card, and we’ve already seen MSI using it on their 8800 GT with 1GB of memory. MSI didn’t overclock their card, but overclocking will be a much easier task with 8800 GTS card’s cooler. The first 1GB 8800 GT card we’ve seen was Gainward’s, and it even came overclocked. The cooler is specially designed, and you can find out more about this card here.
The picture below shows the contents of 8800 GTS card’s cooler. Three heatpipes start from the copper core and end among the aluminum fins. The fan is aimed at the core, so the air blows over the aluminum fins all the way to the end of the card. The cooler is dual slot, and that’s what makes it possible to blow hot air out of the case.
The I/O panel features two dual-link DVI connectors, supporting resolutions of up to 2560x1600, as well as one video connector with S-Video/Composite/HDTV support. You can get HDMI using a DVI-to-HDMI dongle and although you don’t get one in the box, we tried it and it works. We connected our HDTV to the card using an HDMI cable, but we only got the picture with no audio. Getting audio using an HDMI cable is possible only if you have specially designed Nvidia cards, because you’d have to route audio to the card. Some Nvidia’s partners confirmed the cards with HDMI out.
The box is standard, maybe a bit too big for our taste, but Gainward uses it for all their 8800 generation cards. Well, at least the card is quite safe.