On the surface the GeForce 8800 Ultra looks nothing like the GeForce 8800 GTX at first glance, but under the hood the two cards are quite similar. There are the obvious similarities such as the dual-slot cooling, dual power connections, and two SLI connectors on the top of the card, but the two cards share even more in common than these traits.
As far as we can tell, NVIDIA uses the exact same 10.5” PCB and general board layout and design. All the board level components are largely the same and located in all the same places. Even the card’s blower-style fan is the same. This is important, as the fan NVIDIA employs on the GeForce 8800 line is widely considered to be one of the quietest, if not the quietest in the industry.
NVIDIA has slightly tinkered with the board’s combination heat pipe/heatsink cooler though. As you can see, NVIDIA employs a larger ducting unit for keeping the graphics core and memory cool. To increase the effectiveness of the card’s fan, NVIDIA has elevated the position of the fan so it sits higher on the board. This gives the fan more room to channel air across the GPU, and ultimately outside the system case.
We ran a few quick benches to test the effectiveness of NVIDIA’s new cooler. We were curious to see how effective the changes NVIDIA has employed were:
Based on the above figures, it does look like the new cooler helped keep temps down. Under load the GeForce 8800 Ultra ran hotter than the stock GeForce 8800 GTX card, but ran cooler than the factory overclocked boards from EVGA and XFX, which are clocked closer to the speeds of the GeForce 8800 Ultra. It is a very slight difference though, with only three degrees Celsius separating the boards from one another.
In terms of connectivity, the GeForce 8800 Ultra features two dual-link DVIs and supports HDCP. Unfortunately however, like G80 and previous G70-based GPUs before it, the GeForce 8800 Ultra doesn’t support HDCP over dual-link, this feature is only supported by the GeForce 8600 GTS.