EVGA 8800 Ultra Superclocked

8800 Ultra Superclocked Review

Introduction

For those that don’t know, the performance graphics card market is dominated by two rivals; ATI and nVidia. These two companies constantly play the game of “One Upmanship” with each other and recently it has been no different. As ATI released – after much delay – their HD 2900 series of cards, Nvidia brought to the market a hugely overclocked 8800GTX card, known as the Ultra. This card promised monster performance that would keep Nvidia as the performance king for that bit longer. Today I have the Superclocked version of this card from EVGA; lets see how it does.

What’s Different?

I am afraid to say there is nothing markedly different with the Ultra when compared to the bog standard GTX released around 6 months ago. It is however faster in core clock speed, memory clock speed and the shader clocks. This should equate for a nice performance increase over the standard GTX; lets just hope the price hike is worth it.

Specifications

  • 384-bit G80 core clocked at 612mhz
  • 768mb 384 bit 0.8ns gddr3 memory clocked at 1080mhz
  • 128 stream processors
  • 103.68gb per second memory bandwidth

Features

  • Nvidia unified architechture with gigathread technology
  • DirectX 10 and shader model 4.0 support
  • SLI ready
  • 16x Anti Aliasing
  • True 128 floating point HDR lighting
  • “Quantum Effects” physics processing technology
  • Pure Video technology
  • OpenGL 2.0 support

    Bits and Box

    The box for the 8800 Ultra Superclocked is very sexy indeed. It doesn’t have the typical half naked robot woman draped across it which in this case is a good thing, as its colour scheme and layout make it look very sophisticated and proffessional; considering the card aims at an enthusiast crowd as apposed to gamers this is a good choice.

    The front also has some features of the card neatly arranged around the edges, with highlighted areas telling of EVGA’s 90 day upgrade step up program and a small golden stamp telling you that this card is a number one selling in the USA.

    8800 Ultra Superclocked Box
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    The back of the box has some features and specifications of the card, as well as a high detail picture of the card.

    8800 Ultra Superclocked Box
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    Something that is quite interesting on the back of the box, is the “Check these stickers match” text. It lets you know that the card in the box is the one that was originally packed with it. I would be very surprised if your card didn’t match, but I suppose it’s a nice security feature.

    8800 Ultra Superclocked Warranty Stickers
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    When you open the box there is a sticker on the inside of the lid that lets you know about the 10 year limited warranty if you register the purchase within 30 days of receiving it.

    8800 Ultra Superclocked Warranty Sticker
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    Along with the card you get twin DVI to VGA adapters, an Svideo cable, two molex to 6pin converters a fancy manual and a CD that contains the usual drivers and stuff and…wait for it… a trial copy of MovieFactory 3.0. Come on EVGA, you can do better than that surely?

    8800 Ultra Superclocked Bundle
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    The 8800 Ultra Superclocked

    The card itself is huge; in every way. It’s as long as a normal GTX but the cooler has a massive shroud that makes this card over an inch thick.

    8800 Ultra Superclocked/
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    The cooler on the Ultra is pretty much the same as the normal GTX cooler but is slightly extended to draw air over the PWM area. This helps the Ultra reach the frequencies that it can as the PWM area can get surprisingly hot and once it hits a certain temperature can cause instability.

    Above the fan is a shiny EVGA logo:

    EVGA Logo
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    At the rear of the card you can see the exhaust area of the card and the twin DVI ports all painted black; looks pretty hot. As you can see with a cooler this size it is most definately dual slot.

    8800 Ultra Rear
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    The back of the Ultra is peppered with screws to hold the monstrous cooler on. This should allow for plenty of customisation with aftermarket coolers should they be made. The back also allows you to get a proper look at the black PCB; it looks fantastic when set against a black PCB motherboard such as the Asus P5W-DH Deluxe.

    8800 Ultra Back
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    At the front end of the card there are the power connectors; that’s right twin 6pins like the standard GTX, no 8pins yet. Although this could prove a problem for those with older power supplies EVGA thought of this and provided molex to 6pin converters for even those without any 6pins.

    6pin Connectors
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    The Ultra also has two SLI bridges which leaves open the option for tri-SLI at a later stage should it be supported.

    SLI Connectors
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    Installation

    Knowing that I was going to be installing an 8800 for testing I was prepared. I removed my hard drive enclosure prior to receiving the card knowing that with it in, the Ultra simply wouldn’t fit. The GTX and Ultras are simply huge cards, measuring up at about 9 inches in total before purchasing anything in the 8800 range, check it will fit in your case.

    8800 Ultra Installed
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    As you can see this card overhangs the motherboard by a good inch so it is very important to check this card will fit in your case before purchasing.

    Card Overhang
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    Also, the fact that the Ultra uses twin 6pin power connectors does make cable management a bit more difficult than with most cards as each has their own seperate cable.

    Testing

    To test graphics cards we run them through a series of synthetic and real world gaming benchmarks while under stock and overclocked states. However, with this review we will not only be comparing the Ultra with other cards, but will also be showing through a series of results the benefits of overclocking the CPU to allow this card to perform at its peak.

    Since this is little more than an 8800GTX binned higher for its better clocks, I will be comparing this card to a standard 8800GTX, a watercooled overclocked GTX and an x1950XTX. The Ultra will be tested using 158.22 drivers.

    NB. The standard GTX was tested using slightly older drivers and its score will have been effected by this since there have been performance enhancements since this card was tested.

    The rig I will be using for testing is as follows (these clocks were used with comparisons of other cards):

    Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.7ghz
    Asus P5W DH Deluxe
    OCZ Special Ops. 2gb PC6400 @ 900mz
    600w Silver Power

    The second set of tests will involve having the GPU at stock while overclocking the processor in several stages while the final results will also have the overclocked Ultra helping them along.

    The specs of the CPU, memory and GPU in the different states was as follows:

    1: CPU = 2.4 Ghz Ram = 800mhz, GPU = 600/1100
    2:: CPU = 2.7ghz, RAM = 900mhz, GPU = 600/1100
    3: CPU = 3.42ghz, Ram = 760mhz (due to necessary divider), GPU = 600/1100
    4: CPU = 3.42ghz, Ram = 760mhz (due to necessary divider), GPU = 700/1220

    NB: The memory clock is shown at actual speed not effective speed. To find the effective speed simply double the values.

    Overclocking

    For overclocking the 8800 Ultra I used ATI tool and gradually increased the clock frequency hitting a wall at aboug 715mhz so I reduced the clock to 700 and it was fully bench stable. The memory didn’t go too far before crashing out in the high 1240s and was fully benchable at 1220.

    Tests

    The tests that were run were as follows:

    3Dmark03, 3Dmark05, 3Dmark06, Company of Heroes (with everything “on” and at full detail”) at 1280×1024 and 1600×1200 (labelled as “COH High”), FEAR with all settings at Maximum, HL2: Lost Coast with all settings at max with 4xAA and 16AF at 1280×1024 and x3 running with default settings.

    Results

    3dmark Results

    X3 HL2 results

    Fear results

    As you can see the Ultra performs just that bit better than the GTX cards across the board and obviously trounces the x1950XTX.

    Now it’s time to see what effect overclocking the CPU has on the scores:

    3Dmark results

    X3 HL2 results

    Fear results

    COH results

    COH results

    As you can see, the more CPU power you can get your hands on the better your GPU is able to perform. As long as you are able to do this, you will have no problem breaking the 13k barrier in 3Dmark06 with this card.

    Noise and Cooling

    The Ultra is surprisingly quiet; but I suppose this is the “Superclocked Silent” version. Well I don’t know about “Silent,” but compared to many high end cards out there it does stay nicely quiet. However this does come at a bit of a price as this card runs pretty darn hot. This is partly down to the huge clocks this GPU is running, but also the relatively slow spinning fan. If you want to drop temperatures, grab some overclocking software like ATI-Tool or Rivatuner and use them to force the fan to run at a faster RPM; though obviously this will sacrifice noise levels.

    Cost

    At £550 at most retailers, this card is way more expensive than the average GTX which can be found for around £400.

    DX10

    When I reviewed my first 8 series card back in February I advised those buying a GTX simply because of its DX10 features to think again and even though Vista is a little more established now there is still little to be gained from having DX10 compatibility. Not to say it’s not a nice future proofing feature for the card but it has little benefit currently.

    Conclusion

    The Ultra Superclocked has awesome performance, but it really isn’t that much more powerful than a standard GTX. If you want the absolute best performance you can buy right now then go for this bad boy but if you are content on being a very close second then a standard GTX is probably your best bet.

    This card’s awesome performance but enormous price tag earn it the XSR extreme award.

    Pros Cons
    Best performance around Very expensive
    Quiet Runs hot
    DX10 support

    I’d like to thank our sponsors EVGA for providing us with this GPU.

    Discuss this review in our forums.

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