Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX
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.