By now, we assume just about everyone knows the GeForce 8800 GT's story. NVIDIA launched the 512MB 8800 GT in late October of last year and touted a price range of $200-250. But retail prices initially ended up being over $300 due to supply issues. You can bet that ATI was smiling a couple weeks later when the company launched the Radeon HD 3850 and 3870 and retail stock was available closer to MSRP prices. NVIDIA hit back, though, by launching the 256MB version of the 8800 GT and getting more stock onto store shelves. It goes without saying that NVIDIA wanted this 256MB part to remain closer to those original $200-250 price claims.
You may be wondering what the differences are between the 256MB and 512MB 8800 GTs, besides the amount of memory of course. The two cards have the same number of stream processors (112), same reference core clock (600 MHz), same reference shader clock (1.5 GHz), and the same 256-bit memory bus. The difference is in the memory clock: the 256MB reference memory clock is 1.4 GHz while the 512MB reference memory speed is 1.8 GHz.
Most of you are probably already familiar with XFX, and if so, you know that the company consistently offers some of the best factory overclocks on the market. One such overclock can be found in XFX's new 8800 GT 256MB XXX Alpha Dog Edition card. The card's core is overclocked to 650 MHz, and its memory is boosted to 800 MHz (1.6 GHz DDR). To see just how well this Alpha Dog performs, we're going to pit it against an arsenal of competitors, including a reference Radeon HD 3850, a reference 8800 GT 256MB, and a reference 8800 GT 512MB. Read on to see how it fares.
Number of Transistors: 754 Million
Stream Processors: 112
Memory Interface: 256-bit
Frame Buffer Size: 256 MB
HDCP Support: Yes
HDMI Support: Yes
7-Pin TV Out
Bus Technology: PCI Express 2.0
Max Board Power: 110 Watts
NVIDIA unified architecture:
Fully unified shader core dynamically allocates processing power to geometry, vertex, physics, or pixel shading operations, delivering up to 2x the gaming performance of prior generation GPUs.
Full Microsoft DirectX 10 Support:
World's first DirectX 10 GPU with full Shader Model 4.0 support delivers unparalleled levels of graphics realism and film-quality effects.
NVIDIA SLI Technology:
Delivers up to 2x the performance of a single graphics card configuration for unequaled gaming experiences by allowing two cards to run in parallel. The must-have feature for performance PCI Express graphics, SLI dramatically scales performance on today's hottest games.
NVIDIA Lumenex Engine:
Delivers stunning image quality and floating point accuracy at ultra-fast frame rates.
16x Anti-aliasing: Lightning fast, high-quality anti-aliasing at up to 16x sample rates obliterates jagged edges.
128-bit floating point High Dynamic-Range (HDR):
Twice the precision of prior generations for incredibly realistic lighting effects - now with support for anti-aliasing.
NVIDIA Quantum Effects Technology:
Advanced shader processors architected for physics computation enable a new level of physics effects to be simulated and rendered on the GPU - all while freeing the CPU to run the game engine and AI.
NVIDIA nView Multi-Display Technology:
Advanced technology provides the ultimate in viewing flexibility and control for multiple monitors.
Dual 400MHz RAMDACs:
Blazing-fast RAMDACs support dual QXGA displays with ultra-high, ergonomic refresh rates - up to 2048x1536@85Hz.
Dual Dual-link DVI Support:
Able to drive the industry's largest and highest resolution flat-panel displays up to 2560x1600.
|NVIDIA PureVideo HD Technology:|
The combination of high-definition video decode acceleration and post-processing that delivers unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for movies and video.
Discrete, Programmable Video Processor:
NVIDIA PureVideo HD is a discrete programmable processing core in NVIDIA GPUs that provides superb picture quality and ultra-smooth movies with low CPU utilization and power.
Hardware Decode Acceleration:
Provides ultra-smooth playback of H.264, VC-1, WMV and MPEG-2 HD and SD movies.
Designed to meet the output protection management (HDCP) and security specifications of the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD formats, allowing the playback of encrypted movie content on PCs when connected to HDCP-compliant displays.
Sharpens HD and standard definition interlaced content on progressive displays, delivering a crisp, clear picture that rivals high-end home-theater systems.
Enlarges lower resolution movies and videos to HDTV resolutions, up to 1080i, while maintaining a clear, clean image. Also provides downscaling of videos, including high-definition, while preserving image detail.
Inverse Telecine (3:2 & 2:2 Pulldown Correction):
Recovers original film images from films-converted-to-video (DVDs, 1080i HD content), providing more accurate movie playback and superior picture quality.
Bad Edit Correction:
When videos are edited after they have been converted from 24 to 25 or 30 frames, the edits can disrupt the normal 3:2 or 2:2 pulldown cadences. PureVideo HD uses advanced processing techniques to detect poor edits, recover the original content, and display perfect picture detail frame after frame for smooth, natural looking video.
Video Color Correction:
NVIDIA's Color Correction Controls, such as Brightness, Contrast and Gamma Correction let you compensate for the different color characteristics of various RGB monitors and TVs ensuring movies are not too dark, overly bright, or washed out regardless of the video format or display type.
Integrated SD and HD TV Output:
Provides world-class TV-out functionality via Composite, S-Video, Component, or DVI connections. Supports resolutions up to 1080p depending on connection type and TV capability.
Improves movie image quality by removing unwanted artifacts.
Sharpens movie images by providing higher contrast around lines and objects.
There is nothing too surprising about the packaging that XFX uses for this 8800 GT. The company's new Alpha Dog character stares us down like he's guarding the contents inside the box, which we're happy to report is no bigger than it needs to be, in typical XFX fashion. We are fans of minimal packaging, as long as everything inside is still protected.
As you can see in the first picture above, the 8800 GT is definitely protected. It is surrounded by a dense yet soft foam and rests inside of an anti-static bag. Beneath the card, we were happy to find a decent little bundle. The bundle includes the following items: a quick install guide, a "tips and techniques" guide, an "I'm Gaming, Do Not Disturb" placard to hang on your door, two VGA-to-DVI adapters, an S-video cable, an HDTV-out (component video) cable, PCI Express power cable, a driver CD, and the full version of the game Lost Planet: Extreme Condition.