Published in Graphics

Is the 8800 GT just a paper tiger?


Several questions still remain

It really is
of little surprise that majority of media outlets are singing the praises of the 8800 GT in the steady stream of reviews that have been released over the last two days. The positive feedback does seem to come with a question, however: “Where are all of the 8800 GT cards that were supposed to be released with pricing ranging from US$199 to $249?”

We all know that the launch of any new card is strictly a supply and demand situation. It is not uncommon for retailers to jack up the prices a few bucks at launch to help pad profit margins and offset losses on older cards that they are forced to take price cuts on because they still have them in inventory. Still, we have to wonder what is going on here in North America, because from what we are seeing, all of the 8800 GT cards that we can find range in price from US$259 to as high as US$360. We have to wonder if Nvidia is forcing media outlets to fall into a trap of “drinking the kool aid” on the price to win heavily positive reviews in which many hacks are citing the MSRP as one of the main reasons for the positive reviews.

Beyond just the price, we have to also question the commitment to WHQL certified drivers. As far as we can tell at the moment, the current drivers that are being used to test the 8800 GT are not WHQL certified. This is a bit of an issue, due to the fact that several vendors are claiming that the 8800 GT drivers are, in fact, release drivers that are WHQL certified.

Just how many ROPs does the G92 really offer? This also seems to be an area of much mystery. Of course, we know that the ROP partitions are responsible for making Shader fragments into pixels and they contribute the AA performance of the GPU as a whole. We know that G80 packed six ROP partitions and when you lop one off you get an 8800 GTS, which only has five ROP partitions. The 8800 GT only offers four ROP partitions, but the G92 is different; and we honestly don’t know the answer as to how many ROP partitions this card has. Why isn’t this information part of the published specs for the card?

Before considering one of the 8800 GT cards, you should also know that rumors are circulating that Nvidia will be upping the stream processors on the 8800 GTS to 112, which is the same as the GT. This will put the separation back between the GTS and the GT again, but the performance difference may not be as great as one would hope. Of course, the question that many consumers are going to ask is this: do they really need or want a $400 video card that is only marginally faster than the GT, and which has lower resolutions and is only a bit faster at the highest resolutions?

While we continue to hear that more 8800 GT cards are on the way, until they actually hit retailer shelves we have to question all of the praise that is being heaped on this card. Until Nvidia’s AIB partners are able to deliver ample amounts of the cards in numbers that show that the card is going to be around for a while, consumers are going to wonder. Sure, the 8800 GT makes a compelling case for purchase at the price point that Nvidia is claiming the MSRP will be, but at prices ranging from US$259 to the utterly insane US$360 there are other options that might just make sense and not all of these cards are powered by an Nvidia GPU.

Last modified on 31 October 2007
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