Final Words

We're impressed. Usually HTPCers have to make a tremendous tradeoff when picking a graphics card, more often than not they're stuck with a pretty fast, but still mid-range GPU. With the 8800 GT, we have a GPU that's basically as fast as an 8800 GTX and with Sparkle's card we have such a beast without a fan.

The card gets hot, but as we've seen, it can easily be used inside a case alongside a very warm CPU. A well ventilated chassis will obviously help and we're not sure what the high temperatures will do to the longevity of the GPU (overclocking the graphics card is obviously not recommended), but that's what warranties are for (it looks like Sparkle provides a one-year warranty on its cards, ouch).

The only thing Sparkle's 8800 GT is missing is HDMI output, but we figure most HTPC users are accustomed to dealing with using DVI only at this point. We do commend Sparkle for making sure that its first 8800 GT would be passively cooled, if more companies would take this approach we might actually see some better product differentiation in the market. Sparkle's website also indicates a 256MB version in the works.

Pricing isn't bad either, although we're skeptical until we actually see these things ship. Given how quickly the other 8800 GTs have sold out, if you see this thing at $319 and are interested, we suggest moving quickly.

The Temperatures
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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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