Incredibly high priced and high powered graphics cards are exciting. For geeks like us, learning about the newest and best hardware out there is like watching a street race between a Lambo and a Ferrari. We are able to see what the highest achievable performance really offers when put to the test. Standing on the bleeding edge of technology and looking out at what is currently possible towards the next great advancement inspires us. The volume and depth of knowledge required to build a GPU humbles us while physically demonstrating the potential of the human race.

Unfortunately, this hardware, while attainable for a price, is often out of reach for most of its admirers. Sometimes it isn't owning the thing which we set apart that gives us joy, but knowing of its existence and relishing the fact that some time, in the not too distant future, that kind of performance will be available for a reasonable price as a mainstream staple.

While the performance of the 8800 GTX is still a ways off from making it to the mainstream, we finally have the feature set (and then some) of the GeForce 8 series in a very affordable package. While we only have the fastest of the new parts from NVIDIA today, the announcement today includes these new additions to the lineup:

GeForce 8600 GTS
GeForce 8600 GT
GeForce 8500 GT
GeForce 8400 (OEM only)
GeForce 8300 (OEM only)

The OEM only parts will not be available as add-in cards but will only be included in pre-built boxes by various system builders. While the 8600 GTS should be available immediately, we are seeing a little lag time between now and when the 8600 GT and 8500 GT will be available (though we are assured both will be on shelves before May 1). While NVIDIA has been very good about sticking to a hard launch strategy for quite a while now, we were recently informed that this policy would be changing.

Rather than coordinate hardware availability with their announcement, NVIDIA will move to announcing a product with availability to follow. Our understanding is that availability will happen within a couple weeks of announcements. There are reasons NVIDIA would prefer to do things this way, and they shared a few with us. It's difficult for all the various card manufacturers to meet the same schedule for availability, and giving them more time to get their hardware ready for shipment will even the playing field. It's hard to keep information from leaking when parts are already moving into the channel for distribution. With some sites able to get their hands on this information without talking to NVIDIA (and thus can avoid abiding by embargo dates on publication), taking measures to slow or stop leaks helps NVIDIA control information flow to the public and appease publishers who don't like getting scooped.

The bottom line, as we understand it, is that hard launches are difficult. It is our stance that anything worth doing right justifies the trouble it takes. NVIDIA stated that, as long as the information is accurate, there is no issue with delayed launches (or early announcements depending on how we look at things). On the surface this is true, but the necessity of a hard launch has reared its ugly head time and time again. We wouldn't need hard launches if we had infinite trust in hardware makers. The most blatant example in recent memory is the X700 XT from ATI. This product was announced, tested, reviewed (quite positively), but never saw the light of day. This type of misinformation can lead people to put off upgrading while waiting for the hardware or, even worse, trick people into buying hardware that does not match the performance of products we review.

So many people get confused by the fact that we still love hard launches even if only a handful of parts are available from a couple retailers. Sure, high availability at launch is a nice pipe dream, but the real meat of a hard launch is in the simple fact that we know the hardware is available, we know the hardware has the specs a company says it will, and we know the street price of the product. Trust is terrific, but this is business. NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, and everyone else are fighting an information war. On top of that, the pace of our industry is incredible and can cause plans to change at the drop of a hat. Even if a company is completely trustworthy, no one can predict the future and sometimes the plug needs to be pulled at the very last second.

In spite of all this, NVIDIA will do what they will do and we will continue to publish information on hardware as soon as we have it and are able. Just expect us to be very unforgiving when hardware specs don't match up exactly with what we are given to review.

For now, we have new hardware at hand, some available now and some not. While the basic architecture is the same as the 8800, there have been some tweaks and modifications. Before we get to performance testing, let's take a look at what we're working with.

Under the Hood of G84
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  • kilkennycat - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    (As of 8AM Pacific Time, April 17)

  • Chadder007 - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    Thats really not too bad for a DX10 part. I just wish we actually had some DX10 games to see how it performs though....
  • bob4432 - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    that performance is horrible. everyone here is pretty dead on - this is strictly for marketing to the non-educated gamer. too bad they will be disappointed and probably return such a piece of sh!t item. what a joke.

    come on ati, this kind of performance should be in the low end cards, this is not a mid-range card. maybe if nvidia sold them for $100-$140 they may end up in somebody htpc but that is about all they are good for.

    glad i have a 360 to ride out this phase of cards while my x1800xt still works fine for my duties.

    if i were the upper management at nvidia, people would be fired over this horrible performance, but sadly the upper management is more than likely the cause of this joke of a release.
  • AdamK47 - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    nVidia needs to have people with actual product knowledge dictate what the specifications of future products will be. This disappointing lineup has marketing written all over it. They need to wise up or they will end up like Intel and their failed marketing derived netburst architecture.
  • wingless - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    In the article they talk about the Pure Video features as if they are brand new. Does this mean they ARE NOT implemented in the 8800 series? The article talked about how 100% of the video decoding process is on the GPU but it did not mention the 8800 core which worries the heck outta me. Also does the G84 have CUDA capabilities?
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    CUDA is supported
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    The 8800 series support PureVideo HD the same way GeForce 7 sereis does -- through VP1 hardware.

    The 8600 and below support PureVideo HD through VP2 hardware, the BSP, and other enhancements which allow 100% offload of decode.

    While the 8800 is able to offload much of the process, it's not 100% like the 8600/8500. Both support PureVideo HD, but G84 does it with lower CPU usage.
  • wingless - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    I just checked NVIDIA's website and it appears only the 8600 and 8500 series support Pure Video HD which sucks balls. I want 8800GTS performance with Pure Video HD support. Guess I'll have to wait a few more months, or go ATI but ATI's future isn't stable these days.
  • defter - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    Why you want 8800GTS performance with improved Purevideo HD support? Are you going to pair 8800GTS with $40 Celeron? 8800GTS has more than enough power to decode H.264 at HD resolutions as long as you pair with modern CPU:">

    This improved Purevide HD is aimed for low-end systems that are using a low end-CPU. That's why this feature is important for low/mid-range GPUs.

  • wingless - Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - link

    If I'm going to spend this kind of money for an 8800 series card then I want VP2 100% hardware decoding? Is that too much to ask? I want all the extra bells and whistles. Damn, I may have to go ATI for the first time since 1987 when I had that EGA Wonder.

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