Power Consumption and Conclusions
The new 8800 GT 256MB card definitely uses less power than its 512MB brother thanks to the slower memory. At idle the power numbers are about the same but under load the card is running on more than 30 watts less power. When comparing it to the HD 3850 from AMD, it uses more power at idle and under a full load — and the differences are pretty big! From an efficiency stand point, the AMD HD 3850 is the clear winner.
The XFX 8800 GT 256MB Alpha Dog Edition graphics card is the first 8800 GT 256MB GPU to hit our test benches, and I was not impressed. With all the power that the 512MB version of the 8800 GT possessed, I expected performance of the 256MB version to be lower, but not this substantially. In some games, the 256MB card is less than half the speed of the 512MB card! As we decrease the resolution to below 1600×1200, that difference does begin to subside, but considering we are talking about a card that is only $35 less than the 8800 GT 512, it simply doesn’t make sense to go with the 256MB version.
Also, comparing the 8800 GT 256MB to the HD 3850 256MB cards, the AMD GPU is the clear winner again. Even though it has the same memory deficit as the new G92 derivative it is able to perform at much higher levels through most of our games. The only exception is UT3 really. I also noticed that the HD 3850 card was much more forgiving moving from 1600×1200 resolutions up to 1920×1200 where the 8800 GT 256MB card was crippled by that change in many cases.
Pricing Comparisons and Availability
My performance summary above kind of pulls it all together, but just to review:
- NVIDIA 8800 GT 512MB –
starting at $250
- NVIDIA 8800 GT 256MB –
starting at $215
- AMD HD 3850 256MB –
starting at $175
- AMD HD 3870 512MB – starting at $240
The NVIDIA 8800 GT 256MB is overpriced for the performance it provides and this card should really be priced at the level of the 8600 GTS 256MB. Both AMD’s Radeon HD 3850 (for those looking to save money) and the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB (for those okay with spending a little bit more) are much better options for PC gamers.
Be sure to use our pricing engine to find the best prices on NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards and anything else you might need: