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Tuesday, 26 February 2008 10:29

Gainward 8800 GTS 1GB is good, but pricey

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: New cooler-design

 

Another fast card made it to our lab and we put it through its paces and made it prove that it Goes Like Hell. Only the fastest cards from Gainward get this name, and 730MHz core and 1825MHz Shader speeds attest to that. The card’s full name is BLISS 8800 GTS Golden Sample (Goes Like Hell) PCX 1024MB.

Gainward almost made it their tradition to sell cards with 1GB of memory, but since it seems thiis is what buyers want – Gainward keeps making them. 1GB of memory running at 1050MHz (effective 2100MHz) will help this card at higher resolutions and that’s the only scenario where we expect it to significantly outperform its 512MB sibling. Default speeds of 8800GT are 650MHz core, 1625MHz Shader and 970MHz memory speed.

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The cooler covers the whole card in the front while a black heatspreader does the same on the back. The heatspreader’s job is to cool the memory chips and to hold the front part in place.

Under the hood you’ll find a VGA cooler with a small, but quiet, fan. Two heatpipes connect the core with the heatsink that houses the fan. These or similar designs of VGA coolers are quite usual these days and what characterizes them is a fan in the center. The reason for this is that it significantly improves cooling by increasing the actual surface area it cools (underneath and on the sides). Gainward’s 8800 GTS GS 1GB cooler is a dual slot type.

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The fan was almost inaudible, but we could hear it a bit during testing. ExpertTool is quite a practical tool that comes on Gainward’s driver CD and we clearly noticed that it regulated the fan RPM better than the ForceWare driver itself. You can use this tool for all the other GeForce cards, too.

The memory on this 1GB card is positioned on both sides – 512MB on each side. Both sides pack 8 GDDR3 Samsung K4J52324QE – BJ08 memory modules running only at 1050MHz. This means that memory overclocking should be a piece of cake. Under the cooler you’ll find the memory heatsink and we must add that the memory on this card is well protected and well cooled on both sides.

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The dents in the metal tell us more about the placement of memory modules on the back. Only this part is made of metal, while the hood on the front is manufactured from some kind of plastic. Of course, if the whole thing was metal it would have been too heavy and definitely pricier. You can clearly see the two 8mm copper heatpipes stretching from the core to the aluminum fins. These heatpipes transfer the heat to the fins where the small 65mm fan takes care of heat dissipation. While running, the card hit temperatures of 65°C, whereas in idle mode it reached 47°C. We performed tests in an open case, so closed cases might result in temperatures higher by a few degrees.

If you want to view HDTV, HD DVD or Blu-Ray content then you’ll like Gainward. They include an HDMI adapter and SPDIF cable you can use to rout the sound to the card before sending both video and audio to your HDTV using just one cable.

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In case you don’t have SPDIF out among your external ports or on your sound card, then you can use the internal SPDIF out somewhere on your motherboard (consult the manual for the exact location). You’re supposed to connect it to the white port left of the SLI connectors, but you don’t get a cable for that.

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This DirectX 10 card will run in SLI configuration with two cards, but not in Tri-SLI that we’re going to test soon. Shader 4.0 and PCI Express 2.0 are just some of the features, but before we move on to the results let us show you the packaging.

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You can clearly see that the box on the lower picture (1024MB version) looks somewhat more contemporary than the one above.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 26 February 2008 20:32
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