NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS: Unified Powerhouses

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Our Test System and 3DMark06

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on an EVGA nForce 680i SLI based 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
nForce 680i SLI chipset

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

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-




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

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

NVIDIA Forceware v96.94

ATI Catalyst v6.10


Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
Battlefield 2142 v1.01*
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)
Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.0.2
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.

In terms of 3DMark06's general scoring metric, we see a shadow of things to come in our real-world game engine tests.  A GeForce 8800 GTS is roughly as fast as a GeForce 7950 GX2 and significantly faster than a Radeon X1950 XTX.  Then of course, the Grand-Daddy here is the new GeForce 8800 GTX, which easily broke the 10K 3DMark threshold, a first for any single GPU configuration that has ever hit our labs.

Perhaps the most interesting data point here is that the GeForce 8800 GTS loses slightly to the GeForce 7950 GX2 in Shader Model 2.0 performance and edges out the GX2 in SM 3.0 performance.  We'd offer that perhaps this is a testament to the new GeForce 8800 series, in terms of its shader engine capabilities moving forward with leading-edge game titles employing more complex shader instructions and effects. A final observation is that the GeForce 8800 GTX, according to 3DMark06, is roughly 50% more powerful with SM 3.0 workloads than NVIDIA's previous single-GPU flagship card, the 7900 GTX.


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