GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB Performance Preview
GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB Reference board
Top of the reference card
The bottom of the card
In the conclusion of our GeForce 8800 GT Performance Preview article, we speculated that NVIDIA was holding back on us, and that a faster GeForce card based on the 8800 GT’s G92 GPU was in the works. Then, just a week or so later, rumors began to circulate that NVIDIA would be unleashing a fourth GeForce 8800 GTS SKU using their brand new G92 GPU paired with 512MB of GDDR3 memory.
With games like Crysis bringing a single GeForce 8800 GT to its knees at max settings, enthusiasts were glad to hear that a faster G92 derivative was in the works, but there was universal disdain that the 8800 GTS brand was being used yet again: between the original GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB and 320MB, and the recently released refreshed G80-based GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB GPU with 112 stream processors enabled (we reviewed EVGA’s 8800 GTS SSC card right here), end users were afraid that a fourth GTS SKU would add to the confusion.
Yet here we are just a few weeks removed from the first rumors popping up, and sure enough NVIDIA is indeed releasing another GeForce 8800 GTS SKU, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. And as the rumors initially indicated, the new GPU is powered by NVIDIA’s 65-nm G92 GPU.
Based on the card’s name, you’d naturally assume the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is a little slower than its 640MB predecessor – 640MB is greater than 512MB right? NVIDIA’s own official pricing on the card reinforces this assumption – officially the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB carries an MSRP of “$299-$349” while the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB retails for “$349-$399” according to NVIDIA – but guess what folks, in all the tests we conducted today the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB outperforms the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, and even the refreshed 640MB GPU with 112 stream processors! This is all due thanks to the blazing clock speeds on the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. Have a look at the following chart which summarizes NVIDIA’s current GeForce 8800 lineup as of today:
|GeForce 8800 Series Comparison|
|GeForce 8800 Ultra||GeForce 8800 GTX||GeForce 8800 GTS 640/320MB||GeForce 8800 GT||GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB|
|# of Stream Prcessors||128||128||96||112||128|
|Core Clock Speed||612||575||500||600||650|
|Shader Clock Speed||1500||1350||1200||1500||1625|
|Memory Clock Speed||1080||900||800||900||970|
|Texture Fill Rate||39.2||36.8||24||33.6||41.6|
|PCI Express 2.0||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
As you can see, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB boasts clock speeds that are considerably greater than its direct predecessor, the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB. In fact, the clocks on the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB are greater than the recently refreshed GTS 640MB cards like the EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS SSC, which was previously the fastest GTS 640MB card on the market. At 650MHz core/970MHz memory, the clocks on the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB are even greater than the GeForce 8800 Ultra! In addition, the G92 GPU inside the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB sports 128 stream processors, just like the 8800 GTX and Ultra.
What separates the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB from NVIDIA’s flagship offerings is its memory interface, which is just 256-bit versus the 384-bit memory interface found in the GeForce 8800 GTX and Ultra. With its narrower memory interface, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB takes a backseat to the GeForce 8800 GTX/Ultra under the most demanding graphics settings with AA/AF, but as you’ll see in our benchmarks, the GTS 512MB definitely gives the more expensive GeForce cards a run for their money overall.
Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme (bottom) and EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB
GeForce 8800 GTX (top) and XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX
A word on pricing
As most of you know by now, NVIDIA’s guidance on pricing has proven to be rather inaccurate for the most part lately. According to NVIDIA, pricing on the GeForce 8800 GT was supposed to fall within the $199-$249 range, but actual street prices have actually ranged anywhere from $209 for a GeForce 8800 GT 256MB, all the way up to $300+ for a loaded GeForce 8800 GT 512MB that is overclocked from the factory. Without a doubt some of this has been caused by retailers gouging consumers, but as the days go by it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that NVIDIA’s PR/marketing team are coming up with estimated MSRPs that aren’t in line with reality.
For the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB for instance we’ve been told by NVIDIA PR that boards would sell for between $299-$349. However, late Monday morning, less than 24 hours before launch, we received word from NVIDIA’s board partners that cards would actually sell in the $349-$399 range!
Now once you see the benchmarks, you’ll see why the MSRP is so close to the GeForce 8800 GTX, but this is quite a bit higher than the $299-$349 we were told to expect in the weeks ahead of the card’s launch.