So about that pricing...

NVIDIA's GeForce 8800 GT launched to much praise from us, you all and other reviewers altogether. We've got a roundup of 8800 GTs in the works and today we're looking at a very special 8800 GT that those building silent PCs may be interested in. But, before we go much further must address the current situation with 8800 GT pricing and availability. There are a couple of givens:

1) GeForce 8800 GT availability is extremely limited, and
2) Pricing is much higher than expected

NVIDIA’s original target for the 8800 GT was $199 for the 256MB version and $249 - $259 for the 512MB version, and while 256MB cards are just now starting to appear in the worldwide market, 512MB cards just can’t be bought at those prices.

A quick look at Newegg shows that most cards are priced between $270 and $320, but almost all cards are out of stock at this time. If you're willing to spend a little more you can find cards selling for $330 - $350, but then you run into some very creative pricing on shipping.

Our own Gary Key took screen shots of his checkout cart at three different stores, pay attention to the rates for overnight shipping:


$100.33 for next day air shipping, does it come wrapped in Italian leather?


Don't be fooled by the colors, you'll be paying $380.78 for one of these bad boys


$340 for the card, $40 for shipping, you might as well buy an Xbox 360

If you want one of these things right away it looks like it'll cost you as much as $100 to get it shipped overnight. Who said patience doesn't pay off? Factor in some sort of speedy shipping and you're looking at close to a $400 investment for what was supposed to be a $250 card. With the fruits of capitalism come the inevitable sour grapes, the 8800 GT is a hot item and vendors will do whatever they can to maximize profit on it.

AMD is convinced that this is all a giant conspiracy by NVIDIA to hurt the launch of the Radeon HD 3800 series. Create buzz for a product that on paper destroys the Radeon HD 3870 but don't produce enough to actually make that happen. You have to admit, based on NVIDIA's promises the initial 8800 GT reviews were beyond glowing; but honestly, if we had to write the review today, even knowing the availability problems, the card still gets our recommendation - just at a higher price point.

The fact of the matter is that if you're patient and put in a pre-order with a vendor, you can actually get one of these things at less than $300, just not at $250. AMD should be happy because if the 8800 GT were actually a $250 card, the Radeon HD 3870 would have no place in the market. Instead, we've actually got a very nice set of options:

If you're spending less than $200, the only card to get is the Radeon HD 3850 and if you can find one at $220, the Radeon HD 3870 is good value. And then we've got the 8800 GT, which is effectively a $300 card if you're patient and more like $350 if you want one right away.

But if you're building a HTPC or just want a silent PC and happen to be a gamer, there's one particular flavor of 8800 GT that will interest you the most.

A Silent 8800 GT? Impossible

The night before our 8800 GT review went live, Derek called me and let me know that Sparkle sent along images of a passively cooled 8800 GT. Said one word: "impossible". I told him that it had to be a Photoshop because there was no way you were going to get an 8800 GT running without a fan, the card was simply too hot.

The 754M transistors that make up G92 were simply switching too fast and dissipating too much heat to be cooled by anything without a fan. Sparkle could’ve lowered the clocks, that would’ve made it possible, but I thought there was just no way at stock speeds. And Sparkle was promising a bone stock 8800 GT, sans fan.

I had honestly forgotten about the card until I started work on the 8800 GT roundup, and there it was, in its innocent white box:

I was still skeptical. We've received passively cooled video cards before that wouldn't even work at their stock speeds due to inadequate cooling. We had one 7600 GT in particular back when we were working on the Silent GPU Roundup that wouldn't even work at stock clock speeds in any 3D games, and we went through three samples before everyone determined that the card just couldn't be sold.

But in the back of my mind I was hopeful, after all, the idea of having a 8800 GT without a fan was simply too good. We've already benchmarked the 8800 GT and shown that it is faster than the vast majority of NVIDIA's lineup, easily offering 8800 GTX performance at a lower price. Since a silent 8800 GTX isn't possible, the 65nm G92 GPU on the 8800 GT could just make a few dreams come true.

The Sparkle 8800 GT Passive
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  • qamca - Sunday, January 20, 2008 - link

    Well, it occurs to me that the authors of this article have no intention on getting the coolest, but in somewhat beating the record of highest temperature out of this configuration....
    And if your PC case is so small and in such a mess and so crowded, I don't see why would anyone buy a passive cooled performance graphics card like this one... In fact I don't see why would anyone build any performance configuration in a case like this one??

    Another test I read has successfully overclocked this card to 695/2000 without reaching 85C.
    All you need is a tidy case and a well thought trough airflow in it.
    So keep your pants on all you people scared of getting burned...
    Reply
  • jay401 - Saturday, December 08, 2007 - link

    "NVIDIA’s original target for the 8800 GT was $199 for the 256MB version and $249 - $259 for the 512MB version,"

    WHOAH WHOAH WHOAH. In your original review article, about the 512MB model, you said you expected prices would be $200-250 for the card. And in reality the 512MB WERE available for as low as $219 on launch day. So bullcrap to this revisionist "$249-259 for the 512MB version".

    Nice attempt at trying to re-write history though. I'm sure NVidia appreciates it.

    The reality is the reference design 512MB models were to be available as low as $200 (and we saw deals as low as $209 crop up within the first two weeks after launch). It was the over-clocked models that would approach $250-260 on the high end.
    Reply
  • zshift - Monday, December 03, 2007 - link

    google 111 c in f and you'll see that the card is running at 231.8 F. water boils at 212 F/100 C. that means you should never handle that card immediately after playing a game (i.e., u play a game, shut down pc, then switch out components, cards, etc.), or else you'll be holding a blistering hand, literally. so be careful out there if you buy this card. Reply
  • natrap - Wednesday, December 05, 2007 - link

    111C is the temperature at the GPU where the sensor is located. The temperature on the surface of the card and the heatsink will be somewhat lower. Reply
  • BucDan - Saturday, December 01, 2007 - link

    Sparkle is so bs to me..that cooler looks exactly like a thermalright hr-01 seriously... at least its not lke the hr-03/r600 lol...what losers gotta copy thermalright with their ideas. Reply
  • natrap - Saturday, December 01, 2007 - link

    sorry for the multiple posts. silly thing kept spitting out error so it didn't look like it posted. Reply
  • natrap - Saturday, December 01, 2007 - link

    I agree with Cerb. The fact that it reached 111C and did not fail is a good sign. And that was recorded with the case fans off in a poorly ventilated case. I'm gonna get this for an Antec Solo which has a single 120mm case fan at the rear over the CPU. I'd expect a temp a little lower. As for such high temps affecting the life of the card, well it does come with a 12 month warranty. If it hasn't failed in that time running close to 24/7 then the chance of it failing soon after isn't going to be a great deal higher. Reply
  • Cerb - Saturday, December 01, 2007 - link

    If you want to add a fan, just get another card. The idea of a passive card is that your case can sufficiently move air to cool it, without adding another noise-maker.

    They put this GPU in a scenario that would be insane for anyone to actually try, and it DID NOT FAIL. In a decent case, with decent air flow and cable management, it should work excellently, without any modding.

    Sure, you can get an aftermarket cooler and cool it better. In fact, you can probably do better passive, with something like the S1. But, that means more work, and more cost. Adding a fan, however good it cools it, basically defeats the purpose, though.
    Reply
  • natrap - Saturday, December 01, 2007 - link

    I agree with Cerb. The fact that it reached 111C and did not fail is a good sign. And that was recorded with the case fans off in a poorly ventilated case. I'm gonna get this for an Antec Solo which has a single 120mm case fan at the rear over the CPU. I'd expect a temp a little lower. As for such high temps affecting the life of the card, well it does come with a 12 month warranty. If it hasn't failed in that time running close to 24/7 then the chance of it failing soon after isn't going to be a great deal higher. Reply
  • natrap - Saturday, December 01, 2007 - link

    I agree with Cerb. The fact that it reached 111C and did not fail is a good sign. And that was recorded with the case fans off in a poorly ventilated case. I'm gonna get this for an Antec Solo which has a single 120mm case fan at the rear over the CPU. I'd expect a temp a little lower. As for such high temps affecting the life of the card, well it does come with a 12 month warranty. If it hasn't failed in that time running close to 24/7 then the chance of it failing soon after isn't going to be a great deal higher. Reply

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