Power Consumption and Conclusions
Testing power consumption was done by testing idle power at the desktop and testing load while running 3DMark06 at 2560×1600.
Using half of the frame buffer memory on the card results in a slight decrease in power consumption over the standard 8800 GTS card. At idle, both of the 8800 GTS cards use more than our ATI competitors, but at load levels, that reverses as the ATI GPU both use more than the new 8800 GTS 320MB card.
The results we have seen with the new BFG 8800 GTS OC 320MB card, and our first look at the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB GPU in general, prove that even NVIDIA’s 8-series of graphics isn’t bulletproof. This new lower cost addition to NVIDIA’s lineup does very well in some circumstances but does not enjoy the total domination over the competitor’s products as the previous 8800 cards did.
The BFG GeForce 8800 GTS OC 320MB turned out to be a great performer at the 1600×1200 resolution with all the image quality eye candy turned up in our testing and was able to nearly match the performance of the 640MB and the flagship X1950 XTX card from ATI. I fully expected the smaller frame buffer to affect performance at resolutions over 1600×1200 and that did indeed turn out to be the case as we showed in various games. Users looking to play the latest games at 16×12 or below will find that this new 8800 GTS 320MB card will offer more than enough power for their needs while delivering on the latest features that ATI can’t yet offer.
Image Quality and Features
On thing that we didn’t show in our tests that is important when comparing the new 8800 GTS 320MB and the competing ATI cards like the X1950 XTX and X1950 XT 256MB cards is image quality in games. As we showed back in our original 8800-series article, NVIDIA has upped the ante as far as the final on-screen image is concerned with features like coverage sampled AA and a much improved texture filtering algorithm. The ATI cards’ default settings for texture filtering fall well behind what NVIDIA’s 8-series of cards produces as you can see here:
ATI X1950 XTX – 16x AF – Default Settings – Click to Enlarge
NV 8800 GTX – 16x AF – Default Settings – Click to Enlarge
Of course we can’t forget the other features that NVIDIA’s 8800 cards offer including support for DirectX 10 and SLI. SLI technology has grown well beyond where I thought it would be and evolved into a very mature state that I would recommend to any gamer looking for a great gaming experience and possible down-the-road upgrading. The DX10/Vista support issue has been well documented in the past weeks as being a failure, but the support for DX10 will be here soon (it better be!); the feature sets on the 8800 cards definitely shine over the X19xx series.
Pricing and Availability
The expected MSRP for the new 8800 GTS 320MB cards is $299-329 depending in the retailer and board vendor specifications. With the 640MB version of the card selling for a minimum of $390, I expect this new addition to the 8-series to be well received by gamers looking for an upgrade that also want to keep their credit card statements down. No doubt some will complain about the performance differences between the 320MB and 640MB versions and call the new model over priced; the truth is that for gaming at 1600×1200 its right on target.
According to NVIDIA, the 320MB version of the 8800 GTS should be widely available today across the web at places like Newegg.com. Sure enough, that is ths case with a few of them already on sale before the NDA was released:
BFG (550/800) – $309 – model we reviewed here
BFG Tech Support
If you are considering getting a new 8800 GTS 320MB card, the BFG Tech model we reviewed here is a great choice. Coming overclocked out of the box above the reference specifications as well as including a lifetime warranty with free 24/7 technical support, BFG Tech has a been a great supporter of the gamer and enthusiast. Our readers have always been impressed with the level of service BFG provides and I have no problems recommending them for your new graphics card.
The new NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB graphics card doesn’t win any performance crowns, but it does bring the feature set of the GeForce 8-series to a new price level at $299. Gamers looking to game at resolutions of 1600×1200 and below will find that halving the frame buffer of the 640MB version doesn’t cause a dramatic fall in performance. BFG’s overclocked model does that one better by bumping up the core clocks and providing an even better gaming experience.
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the BFG 8800 GTS OC 320MB, and anything else you may want to buy!