Power Consumption and Conclusions

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While NVIDIA was claiming initially that the power consumption on the 8800 Ultra was actually LESS than that of the 8800 GTX, in reality that does not seem to be the case.  The Ultra draws 10-15 more watts at idle and 30 extras watts when loaded under our Battlefield 2142 testing.  AMD’s X1950 XTX is actually using 60 watts less though the performance gaps between these cards is also easily discernable. 


The new GeForce 8800 Ultra is going to be met with exactly two types of receptions today: those in awe and those in disgust. 


The raw gaming performance of the GeForce 8800 Ultra is simply unmatched by any single graphics card on the market today including NVIDIA’s own 8800 GTX.  While the Ultra is in fact just an overclocked version of the 8800 GTX core, those gamers that are always looking to see newer, faster parts are going to fall in love with the 8800 Ultra even if they aren’t going to be purchasing one.  And having “just an overclocked GTX” isn’t really a bad thing when you look at the performance we are being shown.

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In pretty much every one of the eight games we tested and evaluated, the 8800 Ultra was a noticeable step faster in performance especially in the 2560×1600 resolution.  Sure, not many people are using these 30″ monitors with resolutions that high right now, but I am hoping that as panel prices come down these units are going to be adopted very quickly, increasing the install base for such graphics power.

I know that some readers will want to compare our 8800 Ultra scores to the scores from some of the higher overclocked 8800 GTX cards on the market.  While that is a fair enough discussion to get into, NVIDIA is telling me that since the vendors haven’t had these cards in their hands for very long yet, the overclocking on them by AICs has just begun.  In other words, you can fully expect to find “OC” versions of the 8800 Ultra when they are available and thus will see core clocks ABOVE the 612 MHz reference on the Ultra specifications. 

But that being said, the 8800 GTX is still a great card and the only loser in this test was the X1950 XTX as it gets thoroughly stomped.  As you probably know, AMD is just a little bit away from a new architecture launch so the X1950 XTX isn’t going to have to fend of NVIDIA’s attacks on the high end for longer and will give-way to the R600 later this summer.


The GeForce 8-series is the only GPU to currently offer Direct X 10 support (though there are exactly 0 titles that use it right now) and users of Vista or users PLANNING on going to Vista will probably want a DX10 ready graphics board.  As we have detailed in our other GeForce 8-series product reviews, the cores based on the G80 also have a new anti-aliasing method known as CSAA and a better quality anisotropic filtering algorithm than ATI’s offerings as well. 

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And also a plus, though probably not a huge deal for most of you, the 8800 Ultra isn’t going to require the use of an 8-pin PCIe power connection; something the upcoming R600 might require. 

Pricing and Availability

Now it’s time for those of you that are already rolling eyes or cursing NVIDIA’s name: the MSRP on this card is set at $829.  Yes, eight hundred twenty-nine.  Dollars.  The GeForce 8800 GTX can be found for $550; the 8800 GTS can be found for under $400.  Unless you are the most power-hungry of users I think you’ll find those cards to be in line with pricing schemes the general public is comfortable.

We will of course see prices both higher and lower when the cards reach e-tail depending on the vendor’s options, extras and overclocked speeds.  NVIDIA isn’t planning on trying to make their living on these cards so don’t expect prices to be dropping any time soon unless we see some serious competition from AMD this summer with the R600. 

As for the availability, if you are just itching to spend the dough on a GeForce 8800 Ultra you are going to have to be patient.  We received these cards about the same time as all of NVIDIA’s board partners and as such retail availability isn’t expected until mid-to-late May.  NVIDIA’s stance on “hard launches” is being slightly dulled by the continuous product information leaks and this is their attempt at controlling it — getting hardware to vendors and AICs about the same time as the media. 

Final Thoughts

There really isn’t much to say about the GeForce 8800 Ultra — if you want the absolute fastest graphics card for your PC, you will be buying this card for the foreseeable future.  If you want “great gaming” with a few extra hundred bucks in your pocket, might I recommend the 8800 GTX or 8800 GTS cards?

If you have any questions or comments on this review of the product itself, join in the discussion at this thread of our forums!

Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the XFX 8800 GTX XXX Edition, and anything else you may want to buy!

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