With all benchmarks aside, since I have had the joy of having the 8800GTS for a little while now, I really took a chance to get into it and play some games on it for an extended amount of time. I don't game nearly as much as I use to but when I do fire up something, I like to make sure that it runs at the best of its ability.
Throwing on an install of Need for Speed Carbon and Battlefield 2142, you forget just how good PC games can look when compared to something like the Xbox 360. With both games maxed out internally with settings and 8x AA on running at the native 1920 x 1200 resolution of our Dell 24" LCD, the games were just so silky smooth. All the benchmark numbers in the world can tell you that this card kicks ass but the bottom line is until you're sitting there and playing a game at these kinds of settings, you don't know what the card is really made for.
With this kind of performance you would begin to wonder why the release of the more powerful GTX variant is even available. If gaming can be so good at 1920 x 1200 on this card, why would you want any more power? For starters, nVidia now offer a maximum AA level of 16. You're not going to be playing games silky smooth with everything maxed out and 16x AA. Secondly serious gamers are going to be using big monitors like the Dell 30" LCD which offers that sexy resolution of 2560 x 1600, so they are going to want to be venturing into GTX land. Even then, with GeForce 8800 GTX, performance isn't going to be perfect with all the AA and AF options maxed out so SLI comes into the picture. People have been rambling since the word go that there is CPU limitations problems with cards this powerful. Yes, there is if you're playing older games or lower resolutions. When you start moving higher up the resolution table and even higher up in the image quality table, you can force the load to be placed on the graphics card and make sure CPU limitation isn't an issue. Is your money going to waste if you buy an 8800GTS for a 17" LCD monitor? No! Well maybe, if you are playing an older game.
Coming to the particular card we here, what can we say about the MSI 8800GTS? They did make a nice box and the sticker on the cooler isn't all that bad. If you're under the impression that every card is being made by the persons who sticker is on the cooler, you're wrong. They are all getting done at a single location, though that doesn't mean that you should just go get the cheapest card available.
Package wise the card isn't bad - we wish MSI choose to include something more intensive then Serious Sam 2 but in all honesty look at what we have thrown at the 8800GTS today - F.E.A.R, PREY and more - the 8800GTS doesn't bat an eye lid, so what is exactly "intensive" at the moment? There really isn't much bad you can say about this card - launch price on a card that is able to perform as well as this is actually very good, bundle is a bit lacking but in all honesty this is happening more and more with graphics cards. Performance? Well you can't say anything bad about it. Availability? You should be able to load up your favorite e-tailer and order one now and expect it in the next few days. Price? As mentioned as far as we are concerned for a card of this caliber, not-to-shabby at all. The card ticks all the right boxes - low noise levels, excellent performance, strong pricing, availability and bucket loads of technology available which will keep you system up-to-date for sometime.
What's going to happen to the Radeon X1950XTX? Yes, it's cheaper then the 8800GTS, but not by a lot. And how could you not hold off for that next pay packet to throw it at the 8800GTS when it offers all this extra performance and all these extra features? It's clear that ATI will have to drop the price on the X1950XTX in the coming weeks to make their card more attractive. Plus, honestly, as much as we hate to say it but "fanboys" are going to want something until ATI's upcoming R600 GPU comes out. Which of course brings us to another point - is R600 going to be faster then the 8800GTX? We would think so. Why? ATI simply cannot afford to release a product four months after their competitor with what could only be the same performance or *shock*, worse. Start paying more attention to The Inquirer for the next few weeks because it's safe to say that if the R600 isn't performing up to the level of the 8800GTX, words like "delayed" will get leaked out all over the place.
The bottom line is that nVidia's GeForce 8800GTS kicks absolute ass!! It's going to be an extremely popular graphics card, with the type of performance it can offer. While people sit back and complain about how much it costs, the people who genuinely want the best PC gaming experience around are going to be buying the GeForce 8800 series without even thinking twice.