NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra - HotHardware

NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra

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HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on either an EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard (NVIDIA GPUs) or an Intel D975XBX2 board (ATI GPUs) powered by a Core 2 Extreme X6800 dual-core processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the BIOS and set all values to their default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP Pro with SP2 and the April '07 DX9 update was installed. When the installation was complete, we then installed the latest chipset drivers available, installed all of the other drivers necessary for the rest of our components, and removed Windows Messenger from the system.  Auto-Updating and System Restore were also disabled, the hard drive was defragmented, and a 1024MB permanent page file was created on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed all of the benchmarking software, and ran the tests.

The HotHardware Test System
Core 2 Extreme Powered


Processor -

Motherboard -






Video Cards -



Memory -


Audio -

Hard Drive
-

Hardware Used:
Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz)


EVGA nForce 680i SLI
nForce 680i SLI chipset

Intel D975XBX2
975X Express 

GeForce 88oo Ultra (2)
GeForce 8800 GTX (2)

Radeon X1950 XTX (2)

2048MB Corsair PC2-6400C3
2 X 1GB

Integrated on board

Western Digital "Raptor"

74GB - 10,000RPM - SATA


OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-



Synthetic (DX) -
DirectX -
DirectX -
DirectX -
DirectX -
OpenGL -

OpenGL -
 
Relevant Software:
Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce Drivers v9.53
DirectX 9.0c (April '07 Redist.)

NVIDIA Forceware v158.19
ATI Catalyst v7.4


Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. *
F.E.A.R. v1.08
Half Life 2: Episode 1*
Prey v1.2*
Quake 4 v1.3*

* - Custom Test (HH Exclusive demo)

Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.0.2
Details: www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06


3DMark06
3DMark06 is the most recent addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and includes not only Shader Model 2.0 tests, but Shader Model 3.0 and HDR tests as well. Some of the assets from 3DMark05 have been re-used, but the scenes are now rendered with much more geometric detail and the shader complexity is vastly increased as well. Max shader length in 3DMark05 was 96 instructions, while 3DMark06 ups that number to 512. 3DMark06 also employs much more lighting and there is extensive use of soft shadows. With 3DMark06, Futuremark has also updated how the final score is tabulated. In this latest version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.

We've broken up our graphs into sections in an effort to make them easier to read. The top three data points represent the singe card configurations while the bottom represent dual-card SLI and CrossFire setups. As you can see, the GeForce 8800 Ultra put up a score roughly 700 points higher than the GTX in the single card setup, but the scores were somewhat closer in the SLI tests.  The reason for this became clean as we drilled down into the results and looked at the SM 2.0 and SM 3.0 / HDR tests individually. 

 

In dual 8800-card SLI configurations, even with a Core 2 Extreme X6800 at the heart of our test rig, 3DMark06's Shader Model 2.0 tests are CPU bound, hence the very close scores above. The Shade Model 3.0 / HDR tests, however, are more GPU bound and the new GeForce 8800 Ultra is able to pull ahread of the GTX by close to 300 points.  We've also included numbers from ATI's current flagship configuration, but the aging Radeon X1950 XTX simple can't keep up with NVIDIA's current high-end offerings.

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