MSI GeForce NX8800GT 512MB Graphics Card

We're excited to bring you all there is to know on NVIDIA's new 8800GT, this an overclocked 512MB model from MSI.
| Oct 26, 2007 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction

IntroductionWe had no doubt that NVIDIA was going to bring something to the party to battle the HD 2900 PRO but we didn't think it was going to be a new card. We thought maybe a few tweaks here and there in the drivers would be done but instead they decide to drop the bombshell that is the 8800GT.I didn't pay a lot of attention to the 8800GT rumors until official word came from NVIDIA due to the plain fact that lately there has been so many false rumors about video card models coming and going that you simply don't know what to believe. The 8800GT is here though and we're going to see stock at the beginning of next week all around the world....which is more than we can say for the HD 2900 PRO which impressed us a great deal. *pauses to head over to local price search engine site*"search: HD 2900 PRO (no items were found)"This is really disappointing as the HD 2900 PRO really impressed us, and word from multiple places was that stock was only going to be a week or two away. The 8800GT on the other hand we know is already in the country ready to be shipped come Monday.While we have the 512MB model with us today there is also a 256MB model that was supposed to be launched, and if samples arrived on time we would have that for you here, but that wasn't to be. There's no point dwelling on all this negativity though, so let's have a look what MSI have managed to do with the 8800GT along with answering the simple question, "What the hell is the 8800GT?"

The Package

The PackageMSI in typical video card fashion gives us their standard box and layout. We of course have the handle across the top which is great for umm...well...carrying it home we suppose. The left side of the box has the branding which is of course MSI, while the bottom of the box has the model which is the NX8800GT.
The right of the box gives us the main details of the card such as the 512MB GDDR3 which we mentioned in the intro, HDCP and HDTV-ready along with Dual Link DVI and TV-Out. This particular model is also PCI Express 2.0; don't be worrying though as it's going to work perfectly fine in your current PCI Express motherboard.The top of the card has the NVIDIA GeForce logo along with the PureVideo HD logo. Across the top we can also see a sticker that shows us that this particular model is overclocked.
Turning the box over we have some more details on the card along with the requirements. There is also mention of SLI and again Dual-Link DVI and PureVideo HD. This is all very standard information and nothing to get too excited about here.
With the box checked out its time to move inside. Paperwork/CD wise we have a Quick Installation Guide and Quick User Guide accompanied by an MSI Multimedia DVD that comes with a driver and a few other handy programs.
In the cable out department we have a 2x Molex to 6 Pin PCI Express connector along with a TV-Out cable that carries both component and S-Video along with a longer S-Video cable so you can get TV-Out functionality up and running straight away if you want. There is also a single DVI to VGA connector too.Considering the card is part of the 8800 series we would have liked to have seen a full version game included, especially since we see Company of Heroes bundled in the mid-range NVIDIA cards.

The Card

The CardWith the box and its content out the way it's time to move onto what's important - the card! Upon first glance one thing was going to be clear, it's going to be loud thanks to that tiny little fan.
The card is long but that's to be expected being part of the 8800 series. It's a simple single slot design which is nice but this has unfortunately forced a smaller fan to be used. The front of the card is really taken up by the large heatsink that goes from one end to the other and from the top to the bottom. MSI has of course placed a nice sticker on it so you know where it came from.
Like the 8800GTS, a single PCI Express power connector is needed and is hidden underneath the heatsink fan in the normal position.
Also like the 8800GTS there is just a single SLI connector across the top of the card.
The I/O department gives us two Dual Link DVI ports along with a single TV-Out port. Again a very standard setup for most high end video cards these days.There are two models coming out, the 512MB one we have here today and a 256MB model, both of which carry GDDR3 memory. The standard clocks come in at 600MHz on the GPU and 1800MHz DDR on the GDDR3. MSI have decided to mix it up a bit; the core gets a 10% increase to 660MHz while the memory gets bumped to 1900MHz DDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark05

Test System SetupProcessor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)Motherboard(s): ASUS Blitz Extreme (Supplied by ASUS)Memory: 2 X 1GB Corsair XMS3 DDR-3 1066MHz 7-7-7-21 (Supplied by Corsair)Hard Disk(s): Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM SATA-2 Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows VistaDrivers: Catalyst 7.9, Forceware 162.18 (8800GTS) and Forceware 169.01 (8800GT)Included in the lineup of cards we have from NVIDIA is the 8800GTS 320MB, and from the AMD end we have both the HD 2900 PRO which really impressed us with its high performance and decent looking price along with the HD 2900 XT. All are very good cards and all compete in that $300 - $500 AUD price bracket.We ventured a bit into overclocking but running off limited time at the moment we didn't get to spend as much time as we would have liked. With that said though, the card is already overclocked so we didn't expect too much more. We managed to hit 680MHz on the core which is 80MHz from default but only 20MHz up from the MSI pre overclock. The memory also managed to jump just over 100MHz DDR to 2010MHz DDR. We did a quick 3DMark06 run at default which resulted in only another 350 marks. 3DMark05Version and / or Patch Used: Build 130Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/Buy It Here
3DMark05 is now the second latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and above.For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.
Straight away we can see the 8800GT pull ahead of the pack including the HD 2900 XT, but can it continue into the more intensive benchmarks.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.
Moving to the more intensive 3DMark06 the lead became only more noticeable.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)

Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from SteamTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy It Here
By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Episode One opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.We benchmark Half Life 2 Episode One with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.
We can see huge gains when we move to our first real world game. 1920 x 1200 performance for the 8800GT is just under what the HD 2900 XT produces at 1280 x 1024.

Benchmarks - Prey

PreyVersion and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: HardwareOC Custom BenchmarkDeveloper Homepage: http://www.humanhead.com Product Homepage: http://www.prey.comBuy It Here
Prey is one of the newest games to be added to our benchmark line-up. It is based off the Doom 3 engine and offers stunning graphics passing what we've seen in Quake 4 and does put quite a lot of strain on our test systems.
As you would expect in our OpenGL tests performance is up on the NVIDIA offerings, but it's even more impressive with the 8800GT.

Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R.Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.vugames.com Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/Buy It Here
F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror...and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.
The 8800GT leads again, but not with so large a margin this time around.

Benchmarks - Company of Heroes

Company of HeroesVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.7Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.relic.comProduct Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.comBuy It Here
Company of Heroes, or COH as we're calling it, is one of the latest World War II games to be released and also one of the newest in our lineup of benchmarks. It is a super realistic real-time strategy (RTS) with plenty of cinematic detail and great effects. Because of its detail, it will help stress out even the most impressive computer systems with the best graphics cards - especially when you turn up all the detail. We use the built-in test to measure the frame rates.
The 8800GT continues to be ahead of the pack by a decent margin in Company of Heroes. It offers a big jump from the 8800GTS and a decent gain from the HD 2900 XT.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict

World in Conflict (DX9)Version and / or Patch Used: DemoTimedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.massive.se Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
In World of Conflict we can see performance is similar to the 8800GTS and sits just behind the HD 2900 XT in this case.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - Vista

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.
The gains in 3DMark06 also carry over to Vista, we can again see the GT clearly leading the pack.

Benchmarks - Call of Juarez (DX10) - Vista

Call of Juarez (DX10)Version and / or Patch Used: DX10 Benchmark DemoTimedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.techland.pl/en/ Product Homepage: http://www.coj-game.comBuy It Here
Call of Juarez is a Western-themed FPS from Techland. The North America release was one of the first games to utilize DX10.Call of Juarez is loosely based on a number of Western movie hits from the last four decades, particularly the Spaghetti Westerns that became popular in the sixties and early seventies. The game features two different characters: Billy "Candle", a young fugitive accused of murder and the Reverend Ray, an ex-outlaw who turned to religion, believing that God himself has chosen Ray to be the instrument of His wrath.
The intensive Call of Juarez which is a bit of an AMD favorite sees the 8800GT giving us between 30% - 80% increases over the HD 2900 XT. The biggest gains can be seen at the lower resolution.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet (DX10) - Vista

Lost Planet: Extreme ConditionVersion and / or Patch Used: DemoTimedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.capcom.com Product Homepage: http://www.nzone.com/object/nzone_lostplanet_home.html
Driven to the brink of extinction on ice-covered wastelands, humankind fights to survive. From extreme conditions and insurgent Snow Pirates to hostile gargantuan alien Akrid, all that you can trust are your instincts. Combining a gripping single player campaign and intense multiplayer modes with support for up to 16 players online, Lost Planet is an epic gaming masterpiece. Enormous world maps unfold as players' battle across vast snow fields and deserted cities either on foot or in armed, robotic Vital Suits.
Lost Planet which is an NVIDIA favorite sees the 8800GT only further increase its lead over the 8800GTS and HD 2900 series.

Benchmarks - Company of Heroes (DX10) - Vista

Company of HeroesVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.7Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.relic.comProduct Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.comBuy It Here
Company of Heroes, or COH as we're calling it, is one of the latest World War II games to be released and also one of the newest in our lineup of benchmarks. It is a super realistic real-time strategy (RTS) with plenty of cinematic detail and great effects. Because of its detail, it will help stress out even the most impressive computer systems with the best graphics cards - especially when you turn up all the detail. We use the built-in test to measure the frame rates.
COH performance is up at the lower resolution, but at the higher resolution the HD 2900 offerings come out in front. The 8800GT does manage to sneak ahead of the GTS though.

High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFOur high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.3DMark06
Turning on AA and AF we can see that NVIDIA continue to have no issue with AA and AF unlike the AMD offerings, giving the 8800GT a clear lead.Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)
The big jump continues as we move over to real world AA and AF gaming.Prey
Again in OpenGL we see the NVIDIA offering push out big numbers over AMD and its 2900 series, but the 8800GT only makes the gap larger.

Temperature and Sound Tests

Temperature Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
The little fan clearly struggles here and you can see that the heat is way up on the 8800GT. The card is screaming for a nice aftermarket cooler with a bigger fan on it.Sound Tests
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
At load the card was the loudest out of the bunch with a significantly big jump on the 8800GTS.

Power Consumption Tests

Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
Power ratings across the board are similar at idle, but when we put some load on the card it sits between the 8800GTS and the HD 2900 PRO.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsThe absolute worst thing about the 8800GT is the name. It's confusing as all buggery. It's bad enough that people think 512MB 8600GTS cards are faster than 320MB 8800GTS', but what's going to happen now that the 8800GT is faster than the 8800GTS? There will no doubt be a lot of people correcting each other as they try to buy a more expensive 8800GTS.Speaking of price, while we don't have anything official we should see it retail for around $250USD / $350AUD depending on the brand and bundle.While the package didn't do a whole lot for us, the overclock is nice and really seems to help make it that little bit better and extend its lead over everything else in the price bracket.The bad news is that it's a real kick in the pants for people who have just recently bought an 8800GTS. While knowing that the GT was coming we run into the name problem again where people think that it's going to be slower. This is completely understandable as well with NVIDIA offering an 8600GT that is slower than the 8600GTS.Performance....it's great and a lot better than we thought. It also doesn't look like they're going to do an AMD with press samples only, as we have heard that ASUS, BFG Tech, MSI, Inno3D and Palit are all due into Australia as early as Monday.This model is probably a bit of a core dump so NVIDIA are ready to ramp up production of their new cards due out later this year, but this isn't something you would complain about. It allows people to turn around and pick up a high performance DirectX 10 offering without breaking the bank, and with the anticipated Crysis just around the corner this could be the card to get.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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