Introduction

NVIDIA owns the high end graphics market. For the past six months, there has been no challenge to the performance leadership of the GeForce 8800 GTX. Since the emergence of Windows Vista, NVIDIA hardware has been the only platform to support DX10. And now, before AMD has come to market with any competing solution whatsoever, NVIDIA is releasing a refresh of its top of the line part.

The GeForce 8800 Ultra debuting today doesn't have any new features over the original 8800 GTX. The GPU is still manufactured using a 90nm process, and the transistor count hasn't changed. This is different silicon (A3 revision), but the GPU has only really been tweaked rather than redesigned.

Not only will NVIDIA's new part offer higher performance than the current leader, but it will introduce a new price point in the consumer graphics market moving well beyond the current $600 - $650 set by the 8800 GTX, skipping over the $700 mark to a new high of $830. That's right, this new high end graphics card will be priced $230 higher than the current performance leader. With such a big leap in price, we had hoped to see a proportional leap in performance. Unfortunately, for the 38% increase in price, we only get a ~10% increase in core and shader clock speeds, and a 20% increase in memory clock.

Here's a chart breaking down NVIDIA's current DX10 lineup:

NVIDIA G8x Hardware
SPs ROPs Core Clock Shader Clock Memory Data Rate Memory Bus Width Memory Size Price
8800 Ultra 128 24 612MHz 1.5GHz 2.16GHz 384bit 768MB $830+
8800 GTX 128 24 576MHz 1.35GHz 1.8GHz 384bit 768MB $600-$650
8800 GTS 96 20 513MHz 1.19GHz 1.6GHz 320bit 640MB $400-$450
8800 GTS 320MB 96 20 513MHz 1.19GHz 1.6GHz 320bit 320MB $300-$350
8600 GTS 32 8 675MHz 1.45GHz 2GHz 128bit 256MB $200-$230
8600 GT 32 8 540MHz 1.19GHz 1.4GHz 128bit 256MB $150-$160
8500 GT 16 4 450MHz 900MHz 800MHz 128bit 256MB/512MB $89-$129


We do know NVIDIA has wanted to push up towards the $1000 graphics card segment for a while. Offering the top of the line for what almost amounts to a performance tax would give NVIDIA the ability to sell a card and treat it like a Ferrari. It would turn high end graphics into a status symbol rather than a commodity. That and having a huge margin part in the mix can easily generate additional profits.

Price gaps larger than performance increases are not unprecedented. In the CPU world, we see prices rise much faster than performance, especially at the high end. It makes sense that NVIDIA would want to capitalize on this sort of model and charge an additional premium for their highest performing part. This way, they also get to introduce a new high end part without pushing down the price of the rest of their lineup.

Unfortunately, the stats on the hardware look fairly similar to an overclocked 8800 GTX priced at $650: the EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX KO ACS3. With core/shader/memory clock speeds at 626/1450/1000, this EVGA overclocked part poses some stiff competition both in terms of performance and especially price. NVIDIA's G80 silicon revision might need to be sprinkled with magic fairy dust to offer any sort of competition to the EVGA card.

We should also note that this part won't be available until around the 15th of May, and this marks the first launch to totally balk on the hard launch with product announcement standard. While we hate to see the hard launch die from a consumer standpoint, we know those in the graphics industry are thrilled to see some time reappear between announcement and launch. While hard launches may be difficult, going this direction leaves hardware designers with enough rope to hang themselves. We would love to believe AMD and NVIDIA would be more responsible now, but there is no real reason to think history won't repeat itself.

But now, let's take a look at what we are working with today.

The GeForce 8800 Ultra
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  • nefariouscaine - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    thats is way over priced for the gain (or loss) in performance I see here. I just hope that the test bed (which I doubt) is bottlenecking the speeds. But the cost for a BFG water cooled (pre-installed) 8800GTX is high 750-900 so this isn't that far out of the ball park for what some people will pay (I'm not one of em). I'm excited to see what ATI(AMD) is going to step up with as I'm not too impressed with the new parts we've seen from Nvidia this past month. I'm not a brand fan boy but a performance fan boy - someone please release something to wow the living $#!* outta me again Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    quote:

    We are all for higher performance, and we don't mind higher prices. But it is ridiculous to charge an exorbitant amount of money for something that doesn't offer any benefit over a product already on the market. $830 isn't the issue. In fact, we would love to see a graphics card worth $830. The 8800 Ultra just isn't it.


    Look guys, $830 for a graphics card is F'n WAY too much. I do not care what you say, how you try and justify the cost, whatever, the cost is too much, even if the card performed much better. This just goes to show, how greedy these people are, much like the memory comcpanies who have finaly comes down to a semi reasonable price.

    We the people, and you the reviewers, need to let these greedy a-holes know that these prices are way too much, and that we will not except them. Until then, you, myself, and everyone else can exspect to pay out the rear for crappy stuff, such as this.
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    Well, if people don't feel it is acceptable they don't buy it, I mean these are luxury products they aren't critical to survival so the sky's the limit on the price of these things. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    There are people who buy 2 8800GTX cards to run SLI, so some are willing to spend that much on video. This card just doesn't offer the performance to go with the price.

    I know in the past Anandtech has not been big fans of SLI, but assuming the price on the 8800 Ultra does stay at $830+, it would be interesting to see tests of it vs 2 8800GTS cards in SLI, as price would be similar.
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    Unfortunately due to some issues of SLI scaling or driver immaturity according to the TechReport 8800 GTS 640 SLI is for the most part inferior to 8800 Ultra. :( The only thing SLI is better at is Oblivion. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    you mean, there are some people out there with more money, than brains, right ? I am not putting you, or anyone else down on this subject (well maybe the manufactuers for trying to pull a fast one), but this is so freeking obvious, I figured I better say something before someone else does. I also understand that any company out there, is in business to make money, first and foremost, but come on . . .this is blatantly obvious greed.

    Anyhow, appearantly, my father teaching me, when I was young, to always try and respect everyone, and not to cheat,steal from anyone (especially a customer), was wrong, because obviously, everyone now days just seems to be interrested in money only, a screw the morals attitude. Lie, cheat, steal your way into becomming a big business, and if these three methods do not work, what next ? These common tactics practiced by the PC markets big OEMs is no better than the average theif on the street mugging you. As a matter of a fact, I say it is worse, because at least everyone should be able to figure out the theifs true intentions are, and call them what they really are.

    Ask yourself why, not two months ago, you were paying $250 usd + for an average 2GB DDR2 6400 kit. Take a look at the currect prices, and wonder again(a hint: it is hovering right around ~$100 usd right now).

    Anyhow, prices like these, and higher are to be expected if we never see another ATI(AMD), and nVidia, has shown me their true colors.
    Reply
  • sxr7171 - Thursday, May 03, 2007 - link

    Yeah because they are twisting your arm really hard so that you buy this and it hurts badly. There is a big difference between a mugging and an offer to buy something, it's called coercion. Look it up sometime. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, May 06, 2007 - link

    There is another word, it is called 'monopoly', look it up sometime, and hope it does not come into play here any time soon, because we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

    Ask yourself why this year, prices have jumped roughly 250%-300%, when years past, prices for graphics cards climbed gradualy. There is something called 'fair market value', and then there is blatant robbery. Maybe the cards are actually worth this much ? Given the benchmark results, they are not.

    Yeah, whatever . . . right ? Anyhow, this kind of 'tactics' on nVidias behalf has made me re-think my potition on who to buy graphics cards from, and nVidia better hope ATI does not come out with anything near what they have, because they will lose market share, the way I see things.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 03, 2007 - link

    Well, personally, I wouldn't consider spending any more than $150 on a video card. I don't play games, so the only reason I bought something as good as the 7600GT I have is that a) it was $90 after rebate, b) I wanted to be sure I had enough power to drive my 1920x1200 display without any issues, and c) i didn't want a card stealing from my system memory. Now I understand people who are into gaming and want to spend their money on it, after all some would probably say I'm crazy to spend $1400 on a lens for my camera. So if nVidia (or AMD, or whoever) released a $830 video card that was 25% better than anything else out there, I'd be fine with it. I wouldn't buy it, but wouldn't consider it a dumb move for those who want one.

    Also, I don't think they are stealing from their customers. Assuming you are buying based on the specs as-delivered (and not based on possible overclocking headroom) then you know what you are getting, and are willing to pay more for it. It's not like they took preorders promising something much better and then delivered the current configuration.

    I have no idea why RAM jumped up to the high of around Christmastime (maybe high demand, maybe another factory fire, who knows), but now that a second 2GB kit to match what is in my system is $102, I'm highly tempted to get more.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    'companies' / 'expect' . . . Reply

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