Introduction

For three months now, NVIDIA's 8800 series has enjoyed the distinction of being the only DX10 graphics hardware on the market and the GTX is absolutely the fastest option out there enabling gamers to achieve huge resolutions and framerates with all the eye candy enabled. The downside is that the features and performance come with a price: the top of the line runs at least $550. Even the 8800 GTS weighs in at about $400.

While we would love to have a top to bottom line up from NVIDIA based on their new architecture, we will have to be content with a gradual introduction of parts. It does make sense to introduce the high end parts first, keeping the high profit margin cards on the market for as long as possible helps recoup development expenses. Also, lower performing chips can be binned and saved for later use in lower end parts. When the rest of the lineup is eventually introduced, the combination of low performance G80 silicon with models specifically designed for a cheaper product will provide high enough volumes to meet the increased demand the market places on less expensive hardware.

Today, NVIDIA is introducing the next part in its GeForce 8 Series lineup, the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB. As the name implies, this is a lower memory part, and thus also less expensive than the current 640MB GTS. NVIDIA expects the new GTS to sell for between $300 and $330. We certainly hope the $300 mark will stick, and we will try to track this as we start to see cards for sale. The $300 price point is particularly interesting, as more than just the hardcore gamers will start to take a look at the new 8800 GTS 320MB as a good fit for their rig.

There are other very important factors at play here as well. The first half of this year should be very exciting in terms of the competition NVIDIA will have to face. While we don't know any of the specifics of AMD's next part, we are very excited to see what it have in store to compete with NVIDIA in the first round of DX10 class hardware. In the meantime, NVIDIA will certainly want to ship as many 8 series parts as possible before it has a true competitor in terms of feature set out there.

The games scheduled to come out over the next few months look quite impressive as well, which should inspire more people to upgrade their hardware for that must have title. Among the most anticipated software, Crysis and Unreal Tournament 3 will be headed our way. Both of these games are from developers who have produced ground breaking titles in the past, and the screenshots and videos on the web have us drooling. And it is almost certain that, in order to experience the incredible graphics that go along with the (hopefully) amazing gameplay, graphics hardware will need to pack a punch.

While we can't test the next generation of games yet, we are very interested in how the new GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB stacks up against the competition in currently available games. First, we'll take a look at the hardware and just how much cutting down the memory on the new GTS will affect performance.

The 8800 GTS 320MB and The Test
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  • A5 - Monday, February 12, 2007 - link

    People with a 19" monitor aren't going to drop $300+ on a video card. You can get a X1950 Pro for $175 that can handle 1280x1024 in pretty much every game out today. Reply
  • jsmithy2007 - Monday, February 12, 2007 - link

    Are you high? I know plenty of people with 19 and 21" CRTs that use latest gen GPUs. These people are typically called "gamers" or "enthusiasts," perhaps you've heard of these terms. Even at moderate resolutions (1280x1024, 1600x1200), to run a game like Oblivion with all the eye candy turned on really does require a higher end GPU. Hell, I need 2 7800GTXs in SLI to just barely play with max settings at 1280x1024 while running 2xAA. Granted my GPUs are getting a little long in the tooth, but the point is still the same. Reply
  • Omega215D - Monday, February 12, 2007 - link

    Yes but the X1950 Pro doesn't do DirectX 10 and hopefully with the new unified shader architecture the 8800GTS won't be too obsolete when majority of the games shipping will be DX10.

    I run a widescreen 19" monitor at 1440 x 900, for some reason my card can run games when I was at the 1280 x 1024 res but now games have become a little choppy in this resolution even though the pixel count is less... any idea why?
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Monday, February 12, 2007 - link

    Non standard resolutions can sometimes have an impact on performance depeding on the hardware, game, and driver combination.

    As far as DX10 goes, gamers who run 12x10 are best off waiting to upgrade to new hardware.

    There will be parts that will perform very well at 12x10 while costing much less than $300 and providing DX10 support from both AMD and NVIDIA at some point in the future. At this very moment, DX10 doesn't matter that much, and dropping all that money on a card that won't provide any real benefit without a larger monitor or some games that really take advantage of the advanced features just isn't something we can recommend.
    Reply

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