The First PCIe 2.0 Graphics Card

NVIDIA's 8800 GT is the "world's first consumer GPU to support PCI Express 2.0." Although AMD's Radeon HD 2400/2600 have PCIe 2.0 bandwidth, they don't implement the full spec, leaving the 8800 GT technically the first full PCIe 2.0 GPU. Currently, the only motherboard chipset out that that could take advantage of this is Intel's X38. We have yet to play with benchmarks on PCIe 2.0, but we don't expect any significant impact on current games and consumer applications. Currently we aren't bandwidth limited by PCIe 1.1 with its 4GB/sec in each direction, so it's unlikely that the speed boost would really help. This sentiment is confirmed by game developers and NVIDIA, but if any of our internal tests show anything different we'll certainly put a follow-up together.

PCIe 2.0 itself offers double the speed of the original spec. This means pairing a x16 PCIe 2.0 GPU with a x16 electrical PCIe 2.0 slot on a motherboard will offer 8GB/sec of bandwidth upstream and downstream (16GB/sec total bandwidth). This actually brings us to an inflection point in the industry: the CPU now has a faster connection to the GPU than to main system memory (compared to 800MHz DDR2). When we move to 1066MHz and 1333MHz DDR3, system memory will be faster, but for now most people will still be using 800MHz memory even with PCIe 2.0. PCIe 3.0 promises to double the bandwidth again from version 2.0, which would likely put a graphics card ahead of memory in terms of potential CPU I/O speed again. This will still be limited by the read and write speed of the graphics card itself, which has traditionally left a lot to be desired. Hopefully GPU makers will catch up with this and offer faster GPU memory read speeds as well.

For now, the only key point is that the card supports PCIe 2.0, and moving forward in bandwidth before we need it is a terrific step in enabling developers by giving them the potential to make use of a feature before there is an immediate need. This is certainly a good thing, as massively parallel processing, multiGPU, physics on the graphics card and other GPU computing techniques and technologies threaten to become mainstream. While we may not see applications that push PCIe 2.0 in the near term, moving over to the new spec is an important step, and we're glad to see it happening at this pace. But there are no real tangible benefits to the consumer right now either.

The transition to PCIe 2.0 won't be anything like the move from AGP to PCIe. The cards and motherboards are backwards and forwards compatible. PCIe 1.0 and 1.1 compliant cards can be plugged into a PCIe 2.0 motherboard, and PCIe 2.0 cards can be plugged into older motherboards. This leaves us with zero impact on the consumer due to PCIe 2.0, in more ways than one.

The Card $199 or $249?
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  • Nick388 - Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - link

    Never thought the 8800 GT was this good! I found some really low prices at this website (http://www.videocardemporium.com)">http://www.videocardemporium.com), but I'm still unsure if I want to try to get two of these in SLI or go for the 9600 GT. Or maybe just slurge for the GTX 280 >.< Reply
  • sickish - Monday, February 25, 2008 - link

    Just ordered mine Friday, should be here Wednesday.
    I was lucky, ordered it from Newegg at $239.99 and it seems totally worth it after reading these comments.
    Oh and I checked again today and it seems Newegg is all sold out =]]
    Reply
  • mgambrell - Monday, November 12, 2007 - link

    geforce 8800 gt: the only card that crashes my PC in nv4_disp over and over and over.

    no matter which motherboard it is in or which OS is installed or which other expansion cards are installed

    no matter whose 8800 I use.

    nvidia you are now on my shitlist.
    Reply
  • gleblanc - Friday, November 09, 2007 - link

    It'd be awfully nice to have the axes of the graphs labeled. For the first set, I can guess that they are screen resolution on the horizontal axis, and frames per second on the vertical, but I could be wrong, since there's no labels.

    I also couldn't follow the page on comparing the 8800 GT to the 8800 GTX. Your conclusion seems to state that, "the 8800 GT doesn't touch the GTX." However, I can't come up with that conclusion from the graphs. They look roughly comparable in most of the tests that you've shown, with only a slight advantage to the GTX at very high resolutions.

    On the "Out with the old..." page, there is a typo in the second paragraph. In the last sentence, "fasted" should be "fastest".

    Reply
  • True Strike - Thursday, November 08, 2007 - link

    From what I have read here and else where this seems to be THE card to get. Before I make a purchase though, I would very much like to see more data comparing the cards offered by the different card manufacturers.
    Is Anandtech going to be doing an 8800 GT roundup any time soon? Do I have to beg?
    Reply
  • Manch - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    How much of an improvement if you SLI'd a 8800GT with a GTX? I know mix n matching is not optimal but the price difference makes me wonder. Would it fall between two GT's and two GTX's? I dont have any experience with SLI. I've avoided it because it's never been a decent upgrade path. Reply
  • hydrasworld - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    Ordered mine from Scan.co.uk - Gainward Bliss - £170 GBP

    O.M.G - it really is amazing.

    I bought 2x 7800GTX's (just before the 7900GTX's came out) at £660 for the pair and this card just blows them away.

    On my 24" dell monitor at 1920x1200 with 4xAA on an opteron 175 @ stock 2.2ghz i get average 125fps in Team Fortress 2. Everything else I've tried has been very smooth - world in conflict, bf2142. A *very* noticable performance increase at a billiant price!

    If you're considering an upgrade buy one of these NOW, play todays games at awesome speeds. then get a nice new intel 45nm quadcore + x38 + ddr3 in january when the products are released and prices will be lower.. Then if needed sell the gfx card and buy whatever nvidia are offering in january - if you really need too (which i doubt you will).

    Highly Recommended.
    Reply
  • rap - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    quote:

    First, our understanding is that the RV670 based AMD part will not be any faster than the 2900 XT (and will likely be at least a little bit slower).


    Info on the RV670:

    http://www.penstarsys.com/editor/so3d/q4_2007/so3d...">http://www.penstarsys.com/editor/so3d/q4_2007/so3d...
    Reply
  • ksherman - Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - link

    A great review, and a great part! Finally a video card that excites me. Too bad I ditched the desktop in favor of a laptop. Reply
  • Screammit - Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - link

    Most online retailers have pulled these items off their websites entirely, as I'm sure these cards have been picked up ravenously by gamers wanting The Holy Grail of video cards, as it seems this is.

    My question is, "Why so cheap, and why now?" for injection into the market, NVIDIA could have raised the price at least $50 (which most retail shops have already done to capitalize on its popularity) and still have a product that sells like crazy. This makes me wonder what is next, and if a better product is in the works that makes them want to get rid of this inventory as quickly as possible before the next big thing comes out. It may be (and yes, I'm reaching) that this card is on the low side in NVIDIA's new product line, and they can clear inventory at a price premium now as opposed to when the full line is released. They have little reason to throw out their best until AMD has shown their hand, and are playing the same game that Intel is, with their 3.0ghz processor that can easily be clocked higher.

    With this in mind, I plan on holding on to my money for now, partially because I can't even find one in stock yet, and partially because having this card at this price point doesn't seem to make much sense unless a full line refresh is coming, and this card is the weakest link, which is an incredible thing to think about, considering how good this card appears to be
    Reply

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