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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  • redbone75 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    You meant we will not "accept" them;) Reply
  • redbone75 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    But anywho, I completely agree with you. I just built a complete rig for a buddy of mine for barely more than that. And I mean, complete, he needed everything from monitor (Samsung 941BW) to keyboard and mouse and speakers(7.1). Core 2 Duo based (E6320 on a Gigabyte DS3, 2 gigs of Corsair DDR2 800, 320GB hdd, X1900 GT). All for under $1100 USD after rebates. Not a gaming rig for sure, but a respectable system nonetheless. Even if I had the money I wouldn't see any justification in buying an $830 card that offered only marginal gains over it's less expensive sibling. Reply
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    What do you mean not a gaming rig? You can game fine on that, the video card can handle native resolution for most games. I game with a slightly lesser system than that. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    If you buy a Ferrari and don't crash it, you can probably resell in 5 years for 80% or more of the cost new. Try that with a video card. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, May 03, 2007 - link

    Please look up exotic car prices. You will find you do NOT get an 80% return on anything other than a few tiny examples of cars that were generally unavailable at the time of their initial offerings. Also note that when you take advantage of the gouging to non-established customers of exotic cars, the depreciation will often be even more than adds would appear to indicate, as the orginal paid-for price may have been much higher than MSRP. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 03, 2007 - link

    the "few tiny examples" are the ones that appreciate, such as the Enzo. If you were one of the 399 that bought one from the factory for around $650k, you now have a car worth over a million, and likely to keep heading up as dumb comedians crash them. Something relatively common though, such as a 355 from 10 years ago, is still worth over 50% of new (assuming you bought one through a dealer, not paid extra to get one immediately). Even NSXs from the early 90s are still worth $25-35k. And judging by the current market, even in 20-30 years, the Ferrari will still have some value because it is a Ferrari, independant of actual performance relative to current models. Any computer hardware, unless extremely limited production so that it is a collectors item, will be essentially worthless by the time it is 3 or 4 generations old. Reply
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    There is a difference in the pace of advancement between these 2 industries a new Ferrari from 2003 is not so much inferior compared to the Ferrari from 2008 perse.

    You can barely compare video cards that are 5 years apart. If the pace of advancement was slower video cards would hold their value longer as well.

    Reply
  • ss284 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    Voodoo 5 6000 Reply
  • swaaye - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    Except that V5 6000 was never released to consumer retail and thus it's incredibly rare. So its value is just due to obscurity. Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    looks like teh sux0rs.

    unfortunately, ATI still doesn't have anything that can touch any of the 8800's :(
    Reply

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