Generally, you don't see many products released in December. It's getting a little too late to make dramatic impacts on Q4 earnings as many have already done their holiday shopping. If a company is going to release a new product this late in the year, there's generally a good reason for it, or it's simply a product we'll never see.

At the end of October NVIDIA introduced its GeForce 8800 GT, based on a brand new 65nm GPU codenamed G92. The 8800 GT quickly outclassed virtually every NVIDIA GPU, making most of the G80 lineup obsolete by offering better performance at lower prices. A higher end incarnation of the 8800 GT's G92 was inevitable, we just didn't expect to see it this soon.

The GPU is the same, we're still looking at a G92 derivative part, but the card is all new: the GeForce 8800 GTS 512.


A dual-slot G92, the larger heatsink keeps this card a bit cooler than the 8800 GT but with no increase in sound

While NVIDIA is in a better position than AMD is these days, NV marketing could stand to learn from AMD's recent changes. The Radeon HD 3800 series carry no tacky suffixes, just four digit model numbers to keep things nice and simple. Not only is the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 absurdly long, it also further complicates the 8800 product line. If you'll remember back to our 8800 GT review, the 8800 GT is faster than the old G80 based 8800 GTS. The new 8800 GTS 512 is faster than the 8800 GT, and thus faster than both the 320MB and 640MB versions of the old GTS. So you end up with the following lineup today:

8800 Ultra > 8800 GTS 512 > 8800 GTX > 8800 GT > 8800 GTS 640 > 8800 GTS 320

Confusing to say the least, but if you can forget about all of the other products on the market you'll see that there are only two NVIDIA cards to be concerned with: the 8800 GTS 512 and the 8800 GT.


Form Factor 8800 Ultra 8800 GTX 8800 GTS 8800 GTS 512 8800 GT 256MB 8800 GT 8600 GTS
Stream Processors 128 128 96 128 112 112 32
Texture Address / Filtering 32 / 64 32 / 64 24 / 48 64 / 64 56 / 56 56 / 56 16 / 16
ROPs 24 24 20 16 16 16 8
Core Clock 612MHz 575MHz 500MHz 650MHz 600MHz+ 600MHz+ 675MHz
Shader Clock 1.5GHz 1.35GHz 1.2GHz 1.625GHz 1.5GHz+ 1.5GHz+ 1.45GHz
Memory Clock 1.8GHz 1.8GHz 1.6GHz 1.94GHz 1.4GHz - 1.6GHz 1.8GHz

2.0GHz

Memory Bus Width 384-bit 384-bit 320-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit
Frame Buffer 768MB 768MB 640MB / 320MB 512MB 256MB 512MB 256MB
Transistor Count 681M 681M 681M 754M 754M 754M 289M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 90nm TSMC 90nm TSMC 90nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 65nm TSMC 80nm
Price Point $600 - $800+ $500 - $600 $270 - $450 $349+ $219 - $229 $299 - $349 $140 - $199

 

Architecturally, the 8800 GTS 512 adds another group of 16 shader processors over the 8800 GT. We'd suspect that the 8800 GT has the same number of SPs, but with one block of 16 disabled to increase yields.

Since it's based on G92 we get a 1:1 ratio between texture address and texture filtering, giving the GTS 512 the first leg up over the much more expensive 8800 Ultra. With a 650MHz core clock and 1.625GHz shader clock, the GTS 512 has an 8% shader processing advantage over the Ultra.

The only area where the 8800 GTS 512 loses to the 8800 Ultra is in its total memory bandwidth. The 8800 Ultra, like the 8800 GTX, features a 384-bit wide memory bus while the GTS 512 uses the same 256-bit memory interface from the 8800 GT. There are definite cost advantages to going with a 256-bit memory bus; NVIDIA can build a smaller chip with fewer pins, and make up for the loss in memory bandwidth by shipping the card with faster memory devices. Despite the 1.94GHz memory data rate on the 8800 GTS 512, the 8800 Ultra and GTX have around a 40% memory bandwidth advantage, resulting in better performance in memory bandwidth limited scenarios and high resolution AA tests.

Despite being built on a 754M transistor die, the move to 65nm has made G92 much smaller and thus cheaper to make than G80, which is why we're seeing NVIDIA eagerly replacing its 8800 lineup with G92 variants.

Pricing and Availability

With the disappointing aftermath of the 8800 GT launch, we're better prepared to analyze expectations for what will happen with the 8800 GTS 512. Keep in mind that the 512MB 8800 GT is supposed to be a $250 part, but in reality it's selling for around $300 in the US. The GTS 512 is expected to sell for $299 - $349, but we're already hearing from manufacturers that prices will be much higher.

The XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512 at reference clocks will carry an MSRP of $349, and the overclocked XXX edition will sell for $379. The GTS 512 could possibly sell at $349, but we wouldn't be too surprised to see it priced even higher in the market given its close proximity to the 8800 GT.

The 8800 GT 256MB: Here at Last
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  • chizow - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    This is probably the first time I've felt an AT review wasn't worth reading and definitely the first time I've said a review done by Anand wasn't worth reading. The conclusion is correct, but for very different reasons. There is no 10-15% advantage (as many would consider that significant enough a reason to pay $50 more), there is NO advantage of getting a G92 GTS over a G92 GT.
    http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/nvidia_geforce...">Firing Squad Review

    When looking over this review, pay special attention to:

    Leadtek GeForce 8800 GT Extreme (680MHz core/1.0GHz memory)

    vs.

    XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB XXX (678MHz core/986MHz memory)

    Almost no difference at all in performance.......
    Reply
  • Acragas - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    Did you read all the way to the end of the Firing Squad review? Because at the end, they seem to leave no doubt that the 8800GTS 512 is certainly the superior card. I <3 EVGA's step up program.

    They conclude:

    Given the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB’s outstanding performance though, this higher price tag is definitely justified. The 8800 GTS 512MB cards blazed through all of our benchmarks, with performance generally falling anywhere between the GeForce 8800 GT and the GeForce 8800 GTX, while a card that’s been overclocked can put up numbers that are higher than the GTX in some cases.

    If you’ve got $400 to spend on a graphics upgrade this Christmas, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is without a doubt the card we recommend. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB ends up stealing sales away from the GeForce 8800 GTX.
    Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    Why would I need to read their conclusion when their data allows you to come to your own? I'm sure they were blinded by the stark contrast in their pretty graphs without realizing they showed there was virtually no difference in performance between the parts at the same clock speed.

    Granted, the dual-slot cooler would allow you to run at higher clock speeds, but for a $50-100 difference in price is a better cooler and 16SP and 8 tmu/tau that yield 0-2% difference in performance worth it?
    Reply
  • zazzn - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    i foolishly also bought a 8800gts like 4 months ago and now the GTs are out stomping them and for cheaper. i feel like a fool and XFX doesnt offer a step up program next time i buy its a evga for sure...

    I m so sour right now about the situation consdering i needed a new psu from 450 to 600 which also cost me 150 and most likely wouldnt have needed it if i bought the gt now since it requires less power.

    how crap is that

    can zou post the results of a old 88vs a new 88gts
    Reply
  • Kelly - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    Isn't the power consumption of 3870 vs 8800GT512 a bit odd compared to previous findings?

    Here are the numbers I am wondering about

    idle/load
    8800GT: 146/269 (difference:123)
    3870: 122/232 (difference:110)

    Compare this to
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3151...">http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3151...

    8800GT: 165/209 (difference:44)
    3870: 125/214 (difference:89)

    Or am I not doing the comparison correctly?

    Thanks for a nice review as always!
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    The original review results were a bit strange, the gap between the 3850/3870 was way too great for a simple clock bump between them, also DDR4 should consume less power than DDR3. So these values seem more right, the gap between idle and load is bigger because they used a quad core cpu in this article and a dual core in the previous one. Reply
  • Khato - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    Well, the load results from this article in comparison to the previous bring light to a disturbing fact. If the definition of 'load' is a game and we're never CPU limited, then the performance of the graphics card is going to scale the CPU power usage accordingly, giving the impression that faster cards draw far more power than they actually do. On the flipside, if we're CPU limited (which might have been the case in the previous review) then CPU power is about constant, and the high end cards are idling more often, giving the impression that they're more efficient than they really are.

    It'd be interesting to see the % CPU utilization for each card.
    Reply
  • trajan - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    I promise I'm not paid to say this, but I feel like the new GTS plus EVGA's step up program just saved me a load of cash. I (foolishly?) bought a superclocked EVGA 8800GTS 640mb card almost 3 months ago, right before the 8800GT came out. Yeah, bad timing. But when I checked online I still have 18 days left on my step-up.

    So, very ironically, I am upgrading from a $395 dollar card to a $360 card, paying $10 in shipping both ways. I don't get a refund, so I essentially will paid $420 for a $360 part, but what a huge upside -- I got a great card 3 months ago and am now getting a great upgrade almost free.

    I say "finally" in the subject because switching from the superclocked 8800GTS 640 to a 8800 GT just didn't seem worth it, especially given how much money I'd be losing .. I kept hoping something better would come around even if it cost more, since I can upgrade to any sub-$400 card just by paying shipping..
    Reply
  • Viditor - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    My question is this...

    If an 8800 GT 512 is $300-$350, and 2 x HD3850s are a total of $358, how do they compare in performance (in other words, do the Xfired 3850s outperform the 8800GT 512, and if so by how much)?
    Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - link

    That's basically what it comes down to with the G92 vs. G80. Another big difference between the G80s and G92s that the review failed to mention is the 24 vs. 16 ROP advantage G80 maintains over G92; a lead which the increased clock speeds can't make up for.

    Anyways, pretty clear the G92 does better in shader intensive games (newer ones) with its massive shader ops/sec advantage over the G80, but falls short when you enable AA or high resolutions where fillrate becomes more important.

    In the end I think the result is better for gamers but it doesn't look like there's a definitive winner this time around. Its basically trading performance at various settings/games but for the end-user, the benefit is that you can get great performance at a much better price by giving up the ultra high-end settings (1920+ w/AA), which at this point are borderline playable now anyways.
    Reply

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