NVIDIA owns the high end graphics market. For the past six months, there has been no challenge to the performance leadership of the GeForce 8800 GTX. Since the emergence of Windows Vista, NVIDIA hardware has been the only platform to support DX10. And now, before AMD has come to market with any competing solution whatsoever, NVIDIA is releasing a refresh of its top of the line part.

The GeForce 8800 Ultra debuting today doesn't have any new features over the original 8800 GTX. The GPU is still manufactured using a 90nm process, and the transistor count hasn't changed. This is different silicon (A3 revision), but the GPU has only really been tweaked rather than redesigned.

Not only will NVIDIA's new part offer higher performance than the current leader, but it will introduce a new price point in the consumer graphics market moving well beyond the current $600 - $650 set by the 8800 GTX, skipping over the $700 mark to a new high of $830. That's right, this new high end graphics card will be priced $230 higher than the current performance leader. With such a big leap in price, we had hoped to see a proportional leap in performance. Unfortunately, for the 38% increase in price, we only get a ~10% increase in core and shader clock speeds, and a 20% increase in memory clock.

Here's a chart breaking down NVIDIA's current DX10 lineup:

NVIDIA G8x Hardware
SPs ROPs Core Clock Shader Clock Memory Data Rate Memory Bus Width Memory Size Price
8800 Ultra 128 24 612MHz 1.5GHz 2.16GHz 384bit 768MB $830+
8800 GTX 128 24 576MHz 1.35GHz 1.8GHz 384bit 768MB $600-$650
8800 GTS 96 20 513MHz 1.19GHz 1.6GHz 320bit 640MB $400-$450
8800 GTS 320MB 96 20 513MHz 1.19GHz 1.6GHz 320bit 320MB $300-$350
8600 GTS 32 8 675MHz 1.45GHz 2GHz 128bit 256MB $200-$230
8600 GT 32 8 540MHz 1.19GHz 1.4GHz 128bit 256MB $150-$160
8500 GT 16 4 450MHz 900MHz 800MHz 128bit 256MB/512MB $89-$129

We do know NVIDIA has wanted to push up towards the $1000 graphics card segment for a while. Offering the top of the line for what almost amounts to a performance tax would give NVIDIA the ability to sell a card and treat it like a Ferrari. It would turn high end graphics into a status symbol rather than a commodity. That and having a huge margin part in the mix can easily generate additional profits.

Price gaps larger than performance increases are not unprecedented. In the CPU world, we see prices rise much faster than performance, especially at the high end. It makes sense that NVIDIA would want to capitalize on this sort of model and charge an additional premium for their highest performing part. This way, they also get to introduce a new high end part without pushing down the price of the rest of their lineup.

Unfortunately, the stats on the hardware look fairly similar to an overclocked 8800 GTX priced at $650: the EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX KO ACS3. With core/shader/memory clock speeds at 626/1450/1000, this EVGA overclocked part poses some stiff competition both in terms of performance and especially price. NVIDIA's G80 silicon revision might need to be sprinkled with magic fairy dust to offer any sort of competition to the EVGA card.

We should also note that this part won't be available until around the 15th of May, and this marks the first launch to totally balk on the hard launch with product announcement standard. While we hate to see the hard launch die from a consumer standpoint, we know those in the graphics industry are thrilled to see some time reappear between announcement and launch. While hard launches may be difficult, going this direction leaves hardware designers with enough rope to hang themselves. We would love to believe AMD and NVIDIA would be more responsible now, but there is no real reason to think history won't repeat itself.

But now, let's take a look at what we are working with today.

The GeForce 8800 Ultra


View All Comments

  • ssidbroadcast - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    $300-$200 more for an overclock? That's it?

    For that much more money, buy a GTX, take off the stupid heatsink that takes up a whole slot, and spend the extra 200-300 on a decent water cooler.

    nVidia is getting just plain arrogant now. C'mon, AMTi... pull it together!
  • MadBoris - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    Obviously it's the best nvidia could do with the time they had to compete with the R600. They came out with something to maintain perfromance crown, better than nothing.

    Obviously not worth the price...

    How fast can this card really go with core and mem?
  • sxr7171 - Thursday, May 03, 2007 - link

    Yeah it is a trophy card. They had to do it for good PR. Now if anyone actually buys it, I guess that's a bonus for Nvidia. There are a good number of people in the world with more money than they know what to do with. This is for those people who buy $300 shirts regularly or don't think twice before dropping $20,000 on a sofa. Reply
  • bob4432 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    this kind of b.s. from a company will mean i will probably never buy another nvidia gpu, and after my next build another m/b based on their chipset. this is a complete joke and i can't wait for amd/ati to put out something soon. the x1950x is a good card but needs a big brother that is dx10.

    this has got to be the dumbest thing i have seen since the killernic...this move should even make the fanboys question their allegiance.
  • sxr7171 - Thursday, May 03, 2007 - link

    You are the fanboy for getting so riled up over this and thinking that you shouldn't buy Nvidia's currently superior products because of it. If you have $300 to spend on a video card, there is nothing that beats an 8800GTS now. What does Nvidia releasing a BS $830 card have to do with the excellent price/performance you have been able to get from their other products since late last year.

    The dumbest thing I have seen is people who will wait to buy something only from a specific company to get poorer performance for their dollar. It is the same kind of sucker who would buy the 8800GTX Ultra.
  • ss284 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    This kind of BS happens because ATI can't come out with anything to beat the 8800gtx, even 6+ months after it was released. Nvidia is price gouging because they really have no competition. The R600 is a complete joke, hopefully the coming reviews will shed some light on why. Reply
  • defter - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    Can you tell me what is the difference between $999 Q6700 and $530 Q6600? The price difference is huge, $470... Reply
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    Unlocked Multiplier and 266MHZ more. Reply
  • mlambert890 - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    Also, the 266 Mhz more and the "Extreme" branding means that the silicon tested higher. People seem to not want to place value on that, but then they get pissed if they're the one that buys the cheap part that will NOT o'clock. If you opt for the budget version, just realize that its a gamble. The "Extreme" parts are essentially geared towards o'clocking and should oclock.

    For example, getting my QX6700 to 3.2 was effortless and 3.46 required only a minor voltage bump. On water and with a bit more voltage I can do 3.7 but it gets hotter than I would like so I keep it at 3.46. Many people do better than I with the QX6700. This is ALL just multiplier also... NO FSB o'clock so NO need for better RAM and a mobo that isnt picky with FSB o'clocking.

    personally, I think there is a LOT of value in all of that. People who dont can buy the cheaper part and feel the Extreme is a "ripoff".

    The QX6700 vs. Q6600 is NOT analgous to this situation with the 8800GTX Ultra. NVidia is being ridiculous.
  • Staples - Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - link

    This is just like CPUs the past few years which are 10% faster, the price is usually 50% or more. This is getting crazy without ATI in the market. Reply

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