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Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX
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Date: Apr 02, 2007
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Sean Pelletier
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Introduction

Late last year, NVIDIA introduced the GeForce 8800 GTX. Armed with a totally new unified architecture and complete DX10 support, this graphics card was an extremely potent new flagship. The world was hesitant to proclaim this new GPU as the ideal enthusiast graphics card as ATI's highly-anticipated R600 GPU was expected at any moment. But months later, we find the GeForce 8800 GTX still dominating benchmarks and AMD's R600 GPU is still missing in action.

With several months out in the wild to aid in ironing out bugs and optimizing performance and functionality, the GeForce 8800 GTX is seemingly getting stronger with age. Developers have become extremely familiar with this architecture and upcoming titles will surely work well with this GPU. But with so many vendors offering G80-based products, it is difficult to determine which company should receive your hard-earned money. To aid in that decision, we'll be taking a look at Foxconn's take on the reference GeForce 8800 GTX. By taking a proven design and adding a solid bundle without adversely effecting cost, it appears as though Foxconn is quickly becoming a viable threat in the GPU vendor market.  

Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX FV-N88XMAD2-ON Specifications
Specifications
Graphics Engine
GeForce 8800GTX

Video Memory
768MB DDR3

Engine Clock
575MHz

Memory Clock
1.8GHz (900MHz DDR3)

Memory Interface
384-bit

Max Resolution
Up to 2560 x 1600

Bus Standard
PCI Express X16

VGA Output
YES, via DVI to VGA Adapter

HDTV Output
YES, via HDTV Out cable

TV Output
YES, via S-Video to Composite

Dual DVI Output
YES

HDCP Support
YES

Adapter/Cable Bundled
DVI to VGA adapter
Power Cable*2
HDTV-out cable

Software Bundled
RestoreIT v7.0,
VirtualDrive Pro v10.0
USB Gamepad
Note

Card Size: 10.5 inch length, 4.97 inch width, 1.43 inch height
6 pin power connector * 2 inside the box
Minimum 450W or greater system power supply (with 12V current rating of 30A)

Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX Features

HDCP Compliant:  Allow playback of HD DVD, Blu-Ray Disc and other protected content at full HD resolutions

Graphics GPU Features

NVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX

Built for Microsoft Windows Vista

NVIDIA SLI Technology ready

NVIDIA unified architecture with GigaThread technology

Full support for Microsoft DirectX10.0 and Shader Model 4.0 enables stunning and complex special effects

OpenGL2.0 support

NVIDIA Quantum Effects Technology

True 128-bit floating point high dynamic-range (HDR) lighting

Two dual-link DVI outputs support two 2560x1600 resolution displays

I/O Specification
PCI-Express
HDCP Compliant
TV-Out
HDTV-out
Dual DVI-I
VGA



Without going overboard and including a wealth of dated titles and bizarre software, Foxconn has managed to produce a useful and robust bundle for their latest flagship GPU offering. Beyond the standard accessories we've come to expect in a graphics card bundle such as an instruction manual, driver CD, and VGA-DVI adaptors, we have some interesting additional items. Here, we have a HDTV dongle along with two Molex PCI-Express power adaptors and a rather impressive USB gamepad. The overall build quality and construction of the gamepad is surprisingly good and certainly would find use in the hands of any console users as the layout is very similar to Sony's PS2 and PS3 controllers. Lastly, we have two useful pieces of software with the inclusion of RestoreIT v7.0 and VirtualDrive Pro v10.0.

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The Board Itself

 

Those who are familiar with the GeForce 8800 GTX will instantly recognize the familiar look of NVIDIA's reference design when they glance at Foxconn's card. Given the low noise and cooling performance afforded by the reference design, this was certainly not a bad move on Foxconn's part. Much like nearly all other GeForce 8800 GTX models, Foxconn has used customized graphics on top of the heatsink assembly to help differentiate their products from the others. Turning the card over, it would be nearly impossible to distinguish which vendor's card this was as there are no unique features to provide any clues.

 

Taking a glimpse at the side of the card, we see the significant size and heatpipes of the dual-slot heatsink assembly. Upon closer investigation, we can see there is a series of LED's which are aligned around the top-most perimeter of the heatsink assembly. Sure enough, once we power the card we find a collection of blue LED's filling the inside of the case with understated lighting which won't trigger any seizures or prove to be too distracting.

 

As we mentioned in our initial review of the GeForce 8800 GTX, the card features two SLI connectors at the top of the PCB. At this time, only one SLI connector can be used at once though the user can choose either connector. Moving our eyes towards the back of the card, we find two PCI-Express power headers. Unlike the SLI connectors, both must be used in order for the card to receive the appropriate amount of power and function properly.

 

Much like with all enthusiast hardware, one of the greatest pleasures is taking the product apart and taking a peek beneath the hood. After removing the massive heatsink assembly, we can see how many portions of the card are receiving direct contact with the cooler. With the exception of the thick thermal paste used directly on the GPU, the rest of the components including the memory and NVI0 TMDS logic are cooled using a liberal amount of white thermal tape. After removing the remaining thermal paste from the face of the GPU, we noticed what appeared to be a checkmark of sorts made with a Sharpie marker. With no information regarding the marking, we suspect this is some semblance of "binning" where the higher-quality yields are separated from the rest of the bin which might barely meet required frequencies.

 

Glancing at the board, we have no less than 12 Samsung GDDR-3 memory chips which are rated to operate at or above the GeForce 8800 GTX's standard 1.8GHz reference memory speed. More uniquely however, we have NVIDIA's TMDS display logic which has traditionally been placed within the GPU itself. However, in order to shave costly die sizes and cut transistor count NVIDIA opted to break this out into a separate physical piece of logic.

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Test Systems

 

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on an EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard 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 October 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 Driv
e -

 

Hardware Used:
Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz)


EVGA nForce 680i SLI


Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX

XFX GeForce 8800 GTX
GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB
GeForce 8800 GTX
GeForce 8800 GTS
GeForce 7950 GX2
GeForce 7900 GTX
Radeon X1950 XTX (CF Master)


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 (December Redist.)

NVIDIA Forceware v97.92

ATI Catalyst v6.12


Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
Need For Speed: Carbon v1.2*
FarCry v1.4*
F.E.A.R. v1.08
Half Life 2: Episode 1*
Prey v1.2*
Quake 4 v1.3*

* - Custom Test (HH Exclusive demo)

 

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3DMark06

 

Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.1.0
Details: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/

3DMark06
3DMark06 is the latest addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and now 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 the number of instructions 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.

 

When running the default benchmark, the GeForce 8800 GTX cards dominate the field. As expected, the Foxconn model scores nearly identical marks as the reference GeForce 8800 GTX as they share the same frequencies for both core and memory speeds. Only the factory overclocked XFX model is able to best the Foxconn card here with all other challengers being beaten by a significant margin.

 

As was the case with the default benchmark, we find the GeForce 8800 GTX proving to be an absolute monster in terms of performance. Here, the Foxconn card offers nearly a 1,000 point advantage over NVIDIA's previous dual-GPU flagship GeForce 7950GX2. Looking at ATI's fastest current offering, we find the Radeon X1950XTX more than 2,000 points behind NVIDIA's latest flagship GPU.

In the Shader Model 3.0 test, we see little changes within the ranking of the cards with the exception of the position of ATI's Radeon X1950XTX. Although no longer in last place, the ATI GPU still trails the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX by a healthy margin of over 2,100 points.

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Half-Life 2: Episode 1

   

Performance Comparisons with Half Life 2: Episode 1
Details: http://www.half-life2.com/

Half-Life 2:
Episode 1
Thanks to the dedication of hardcore PC gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time. So, when Valve announced Half-Life 2 was close to completion in mid-2003, gamers the world over sat in eager anticipation. Unfortunately, thanks to a compromised internal network, the theft of a portion of the game's source code, and a tumultuous relationship with the game's distributor, Vivendi Universal, we all had to wait until November '04 to get our hands on this classic. In this test we benchmarked the add-on 'Lost Coast' at 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 with 4X Anti-aliasing and 16X Anisotropic Filtering enabled, using the built-in video stress test.

 

The Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX finds itself fighting for top honors at 1280x1024 despite having a significant clock speed disadvantage compared with the factory overclocked XFX model. Here, the GeForce 8800 GTX models are nearly 30fps faster than the GeForce 7950GX2 and 40fps ahead of the Radeon X1950 XTX.

 

Despite raising resolutions up to 1600x1200, the GeForce 8800 GTX cards barely break a sweat with average framerates still remaining well above 120fps. Although the GeForce 7950 GX2 maintains the 30fps gap, the Radeon X1950 XTX is now struggling with a 50fps disadvantage.

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F.E.A.R

   

Performance Comparisons with F.E.A.R
More Info: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/

F.E.A.R
One of the most highly anticipated titles of 2005 was Monolith's paranormal thriller F.E.A.R. Taking a look at the game's minimum system requirements, we see that you will need at least a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 with 512MB of system memory and a 64MB graphics card in the Radeon 9000 or GeForce4 Ti-classes or better, to adequately run the game. Using the full retail release of the game patched to v1.07, we put the graphics cards in this article through their paces to see how they fared with a popular title. Here, all graphics settings within the game were set to their maximum values, but with soft shadows disabled (Soft shadows and anti-aliasing do not work together currently). Benchmark runs were then completed at resolutions of 1,280x960 and 1,600x1,200, with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled.

 

As expected, the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX easily earns a position on the podium with the second-fastest average framerate we recorded. Again, only the factory overclocked model turns in a faster performance with the previous generation cards falling up short by 30fps or more. Only the dual-GPU GeForce 7950GX2 remains competitive with a much smaller 10fps performance differential.

Raising the resolution to 1600x1200, we begin to see the performance differential within the field grow smaller. However, the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX still maintains one of the fastest overall framerates. With the more aggressive settings, the significantly higher core and memory frequencies of the factory overclocked XFX model are beginning to pull away from the GeForce 8800 GTX models using reference clock speeds. Whereas there was only a 4fps difference when running at 1280x1024, the performance gap between the two different speeds has now grown to 9fps.

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Prey

 

Performance Comparisons with Prey
Details: http://www.prey.com/

Prey
After many years of development, Take-Two Interactive recently released the highly anticipated game Prey. Prey is based upon an updated and modified version of the Doom 3 engine, and as such performance characteristics between the two titles are very similar.  Like Doom 3, Prey is also an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a plethora of dynamic lighting and shadows.  But unlike Doom3, Prey features a fare share of outdoor environments as well.  We ran these Prey benchmarks using a custom recorded timedemo with the game set to its "High-Quality" graphics mode, at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 with 4X AA and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled simultaneously.

 

In Prey, we witness a very similar scenario to the performance situation we saw with F.E.A.R. Here, the GeForce 8800 GTX models are trailed by the GeForce 7950GX2 with the Radeon X1950 XTX falling more than 50fps behind. The two GeForce 8800 GTX models using reference clock speeds expectedly score within 1fps of one another which is well within the margin of error for our testing tools.

A resolution of 1600x1200 with 4xAA and 16xAF is unable to bring the average framerate below 100fps when running the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX. Here, the new flagship NVIDIA cards enjoy a sizeable advantage over the rest of the field with the performance differential with other cards being as large as 40fps or more in some cases.

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Quake 4

   

Performance Comparisons with Quake 4
Details: http://www.quake4game.com/

Quake 4
id Software, in conjunction with developer Raven, recently released the latest addition to the wildly popular Quake franchise, Quake 4. Quake 4 is based upon an updated and slightly modified version of the Doom 3 engine, and as such performance characteristics between the two titles are very similar.  Like Doom 3, Quake 4 is also an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a ton of dynamic lighting and shadows, but unlike Doom3, Quake 4 features some outdoor environments as well. We ran this these Quake 4 benchmarks using a custom demo with the game set to its "High-Quality" mode, at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 without anti-aliasing enabled and then again with 4X AA and 8X aniso enabled simultaneously.

 

NVIDIA's latest flagship makes short work of Quake 4 with average framerates being above 150fps. The Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX enjoys a 13fps advantage over the GeForce 7950GX2, and relishes nearly a 30fps advantage over the Radeon X1950XTX.

Once resolutions are raised to 1600x1200 with 4xAA and 16xAF, the average framerates for the Radeon X1950XTX and GeForce 7900 GTX fall below 100fps. In stark contrast, the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX and other flagship G80 cards still are running close to 140fps.

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Need for Speed: Carbon

 

Performance Comparisons with Need For Speed: Carbon
Details: http://nfs.ea.com/

Need For Speed:
Carbon
Dating back to the days of floppy disks, EGA, and the Lamborghini Countach, the Need For Speed franchise is undoubtedly one of the most popular in gaming history.  The most recent addition to the franchise is Need For Speed: Carbon, a racing-sim loaded with muscle cars and exotics in addition to a number of lighting and special graphical effects. We ran these NFS: Carbon benchmarks by utilizing FRAPS and tracking framerates on the same track, using the same car with every graphics card. The game was configured with all of its graphics-related options set to their maximum values, with motion blur enabled.  We tested the game at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 with 4X AA and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled simultaneously.

 

With this title, the GeForce 8800 GTX cards maintain a significant 20fps advantage over the Radeon X1950XTX with more than 40fps being the gap with the GeForce 7900 GTX and GeForce 7950GX2. Comparing the two generations of cards from NVIDIA, it is clear that this title certainly favors the new unified architecture of the G80 GPU.

Running at 1600x1200 with 4xAA and 16xAF, the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX is still able to hold an average framerate above 50fps. This results in fluid gameplay with no visible hiccups or stuttering. In contrast, the previous generation flagship cards from ATI and NVIDIA have framerates below 40fps resulting in some noticeable slowdowns which will inhibit the gaming experience. 

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Overclocking

 

Using the latest version of NVIDIA's nTune software, we attempted to see how far we could push the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX's clock speeds beyond the standard reference settings. With a core speed of 575MHz and memory frequency of 1.8GHz out of the box, we managed to find a stable ceiling of 625MHz for the core and 1.9GHz for the memory. In comparison, the highest factory overclocked models using air-cooling are using a 630MHz core speed and a 2.0GHz memory frequency.  

Overclocking: Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX
(Fast 3D Video Cards) + Overclocking = Even Faster Cards

 

Thanks to the minimal efforts required to overclock the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX, we are rewarded with a solid 400 point gain over the stock configuration and a total score which is knocking on the door of 12,000 points. When we consider the fact that this performance gain comes at no financial cost or concession to stability, it would seem a logical choice for many to overclock the card out of the box for the highest possible performance.

FarCry was a title which showcased one of the largest performance differentials between the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX running at reference speeds and the factory overclocked model from XFX. After overclocking the Foxconn model to higher frequencies, we find the XFX model is little more than 2fps faster. Here, our overclocking efforts resulting in more than an 8fps gain in average framerate.

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Conclusion

Without question, the GeForce 8800 GTX is the fastest GPU money can currently buy. Hands-down, those looking for the fastest framerates in any game will not find a better graphics card option at the moment than NVIDIA's latest flagship GPU. As we've seen countless times, the GeForce 8800 GTX is the fastest overall option for consumers. When the G80 architecture first launched, the biggest question consumers had to make was whether they should wait and see what ATI had in store with R600. Four months and additional delays later, the biggest choice most enthusiast consumers now face is which GeForce 8800 GTX to buy. With factory-overclocked models available and prices starting to fall for models using reference speeds, which version provides the highest price/performance ratio?

Comparing the factory overclocked models with those versions using reference clock speeds, we typically find roughly a $50 premium for the overclocked graphics cards. As many of you know, overclocking is a bit of a gamble as yields and luck will determine how high a particular graphics card will overclock beyond stock speeds. Whereas your friend's card might overclock by 30MHz, the same card you purchase might only overclock by 10MHz. This is one of the advantages to a factory overclocked model as you are guaranteed to run at a minimum of the vendor's selected overclocked frequency. However, when you look at the landscape of GeForce 8800 GTX models on the market and go through reviews you'll typically find most models have trouble going beyond 630MHz for the core frequency and 2GHz for the memory frequency. As a result, if a model that ships using reference clock speeds can overclock to this frequency range you've essentially obtained the same performance and saved yourself $50. As we witnessed with the testing of the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX, we were able to reach a rock-solid 625MHz core frequency and a 1.9GHz memory frequency. However, there is one critical advantage some factory overclocked models have versus other models. For a select few vendors, the factory overclocked models come with a lifetime warranty to protect your investment. Overclocking is anything but a guaranteed venture and having the security of a lifetime warranty certainly goes far in erasing thoughts of a $600 paper-weight.

As we stated earlier, the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX is essentially a standard NVIDIA reference design that relies upon an LED-lit heatsink assembly and gaming-centric bundle to differentiate it from its competitors. At the time of this article, the card can be purchased from Newegg for a price of $524.99 after a $45 mail-in rebate. Given the speed, stability, and overclocking results we witnessed with this model we are pleased to say Foxconn is a quality vendor putting out an solid product. Unfortunately, the Achilles' heel to all Foxconn graphics card is the inclusion of a somewhat meager 2 year warranty that starts the moment the card is purchased from a retailer. Further complicating things for Foxconn, the warranty cannot be transferred should the card be sold to another person. When you compare this warranty with the lifetime warranties from other vendors, it becomes difficult to recommend the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX over identical variants that have lifetime warranties.

In the end, it is hard to not be impressed with any GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card. With excellent framerates, support for the latest technology, NVIDIA's proven PureVideo technology, and actual availability, the GPU has dominated the enthusiast space since its release last November. Fortunately for consumers, there are a wide variety of vendors offering G80-based models. Unfortunately, there is little differentiation between these models as many vendors are simply rebadging reference designs. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it keeps costs down and ensures availability. However, the lack of unique features makes items such as warranties and price that much more critical. If you aren't worried about warranties or are able to find the card for an exceptionally low price, you will certainly be pleased with the performance and functionality of the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX. The bundled USB controller is a great addition so long as it does not induce a price premium over other models using reference clock speeds. Overall, Foxconn has produced a solid and viable option for those in the market for a GeForce 8800 GTX. Were the card to have a lifetime warranty, the major graphics card vendors would certainly be dealing with a potent threat on their hands. Regardless, the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX is an excellent initial offering from Foxconn's new entry in the retail graphics card market and we're anxious to see what they have in store for consumers in the coming months. 

  • Flagship Performance
  • SLI scalability
  • DirectX 10 Ready
  • Excellent Price Currently
  • Solid Overclocker
  • Surprisingly good bundled controller
  • Requires two PCI Power Connectors
  • Runs HOT
  • 2 yr warranty

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