Introduction

Incredibly high priced and high powered graphics cards are exciting. For geeks like us, learning about the newest and best hardware out there is like watching a street race between a Lambo and a Ferrari. We are able to see what the highest achievable performance really offers when put to the test. Standing on the bleeding edge of technology and looking out at what is currently possible towards the next great advancement inspires us. The volume and depth of knowledge required to build a GPU humbles us while physically demonstrating the potential of the human race.

Unfortunately, this hardware, while attainable for a price, is often out of reach for most of its admirers. Sometimes it isn't owning the thing which we set apart that gives us joy, but knowing of its existence and relishing the fact that some time, in the not too distant future, that kind of performance will be available for a reasonable price as a mainstream staple.

While the performance of the 8800 GTX is still a ways off from making it to the mainstream, we finally have the feature set (and then some) of the GeForce 8 series in a very affordable package. While we only have the fastest of the new parts from NVIDIA today, the announcement today includes these new additions to the lineup:

GeForce 8600 GTS
GeForce 8600 GT
GeForce 8500 GT
GeForce 8400 (OEM only)
GeForce 8300 (OEM only)

The OEM only parts will not be available as add-in cards but will only be included in pre-built boxes by various system builders. While the 8600 GTS should be available immediately, we are seeing a little lag time between now and when the 8600 GT and 8500 GT will be available (though we are assured both will be on shelves before May 1). While NVIDIA has been very good about sticking to a hard launch strategy for quite a while now, we were recently informed that this policy would be changing.

Rather than coordinate hardware availability with their announcement, NVIDIA will move to announcing a product with availability to follow. Our understanding is that availability will happen within a couple weeks of announcements. There are reasons NVIDIA would prefer to do things this way, and they shared a few with us. It's difficult for all the various card manufacturers to meet the same schedule for availability, and giving them more time to get their hardware ready for shipment will even the playing field. It's hard to keep information from leaking when parts are already moving into the channel for distribution. With some sites able to get their hands on this information without talking to NVIDIA (and thus can avoid abiding by embargo dates on publication), taking measures to slow or stop leaks helps NVIDIA control information flow to the public and appease publishers who don't like getting scooped.

The bottom line, as we understand it, is that hard launches are difficult. It is our stance that anything worth doing right justifies the trouble it takes. NVIDIA stated that, as long as the information is accurate, there is no issue with delayed launches (or early announcements depending on how we look at things). On the surface this is true, but the necessity of a hard launch has reared its ugly head time and time again. We wouldn't need hard launches if we had infinite trust in hardware makers. The most blatant example in recent memory is the X700 XT from ATI. This product was announced, tested, reviewed (quite positively), but never saw the light of day. This type of misinformation can lead people to put off upgrading while waiting for the hardware or, even worse, trick people into buying hardware that does not match the performance of products we review.

So many people get confused by the fact that we still love hard launches even if only a handful of parts are available from a couple retailers. Sure, high availability at launch is a nice pipe dream, but the real meat of a hard launch is in the simple fact that we know the hardware is available, we know the hardware has the specs a company says it will, and we know the street price of the product. Trust is terrific, but this is business. NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, and everyone else are fighting an information war. On top of that, the pace of our industry is incredible and can cause plans to change at the drop of a hat. Even if a company is completely trustworthy, no one can predict the future and sometimes the plug needs to be pulled at the very last second.

In spite of all this, NVIDIA will do what they will do and we will continue to publish information on hardware as soon as we have it and are able. Just expect us to be very unforgiving when hardware specs don't match up exactly with what we are given to review.

For now, we have new hardware at hand, some available now and some not. While the basic architecture is the same as the 8800, there have been some tweaks and modifications. Before we get to performance testing, let's take a look at what we're working with.

Under the Hood of G84
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  • erwos - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    </font>

    I'm wondering if I can fix the disappearing text problem.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    Please remove or edit my above post to remove the (H) bit which caused a problem, I'd do it myself but we have no edit facility. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link



    That should hopefully fix it - you just need to turn off highlighting using {/h} (with brackets instead of braces).
    Reply
  • defter - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    You need to take into account that 7900GS will be soon discontinued and X1900 series will face same fate as soon as ATI releases RV630 cards.

    Cards based on previous high-end products like 7900 and X1900 based cards are great for consumers, but bad for ATI/NVidia since they have large die sizes and 256bit memory bus (= high board manufacturing costs).
    Reply
  • hubajube - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    I wouldn't replace my 7800GT with these but it would be fantastic for a HTPC. Reply
  • PICBoy - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    I think a lot of people is waiting to see some DX10 bechmarks really bad because that's what makes G80 and G84 special.

    If the 8600 GTS can't run Crysis at AT LEAST 45 FPS with 1280x1024 with full details and a moderate 4xAA then it's not worth it in my own humble opinion.

    Same for the 8800 GTS 320MB, if it can't run Crysis at 60 FPS with 1280x1024 with full details and full 16xCSAA then it sucks...

    BTW 8800 GTS 320MB gets near double the performance at 50% higher price and when 4xAA is enabled a little over double. Think about that everyone ;-)
    Reply
  • Staples - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    My reaction to. Do you play PC games? Very few games can be run at 60fps with full detail even with top of the line hardware. I expect the 8600GTS to get about 20fps in Crysis. Reply
  • PICBoy - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    The only games that I don't see get that amount of fps at 1280x1024 with current mainstream hardware (7900GS) are Black & White 2, Oblivion and of course Rainbow Six Vegas. The rest of the games get 60 or more, excepto for Splinter Cell which gets 52 but that's almost 60 to me. Only 3 games gentlemen and I'm taking this info from Anandtech. If 200$ can get me descent performance at good quality at DX10 then I don't think it's worth it and XFX 7900GS XXX would rock! Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - link

    The issues is still one of the direction the industry is going. Games are going to get more graphically intense in the future, and different techniques will scale better on different hardware.

    Rainbow Six: Vegas is very important, as it is an Unreal Engine 3 game -- and Epic usually does very well with licensing their engine ... It's possible many games could be based on this same code in the future, though we can't say for certain.

    It's not only a question of DX10, but future DX9 games as well -- how will they be implemented, and whether more shader intensive DX9 code lend it self better to the G8x architecture of not.
    Reply
  • gramboh - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    Are you joking? 8800GTS 320 in Crysis with max details and 16x AA at 60+FPS?

    I'm not expecting more than 40fps on my system at 1920x1200 less-than-max-details no aa/af (E6600 3.4GHz, 2GB ram, 8800GTS 640MB at 600/1900)
    Reply

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