MSI 8800GTS 320mb
MSI produce a wide range of components for the IT industry; from motherboards to MP3 players and everything in between. Today they have been kind enough to supply us with their latest version of the G80, the 8800GTS 320mb. Lets see how this card fares.
|Graphics Bus Technology||PCI Express|
|Core clock speed||575mhz|
|Memory clock speed||850mhz|
|Fill Rate||24 Billion Pixels/s|
Bits and Box
The 8800GTS comes in a very stylish box that’s artwork reminds me of the Final Fantasy series, the front showing a Priestess of some sort with her arms uplifted to a glowing orb. There is also a short list of features down the right hand side of the box, and a small picture showing you what game is bundled with the card.
The back has some multilingual specifications and a short explanation of MSI’s DOT overclocking technology.
Inside the box along with the 8800 you also receive two DVI to VGA converters, an S Video cable or two and your brand new copy of Company of Heroes. This game won IGNs runner up “Strategy game of the Year” prize, and PC Gamer’s “Best Game of 2006″so this bundled extra should appeal to the strategy gamers out there.
The 8800GTS – Up close and Personal
The GTS follows the same aesthetic design as the box which contains it; showing off the FF inspired priestess in all her glory.
The cooler showing off the lovely lady is the typical 8800 series exhaust cooler. A fan situated at the PWM end of the card pulls air from inside the case, forcing it towards the back of the card, over the heatsink and out of the rear of the case.
The heatsink that the cooler surrounds has a single heatpipe to aide heat transfer from the GPU to the larger fins on the surface of the card. Heatpipes are hollowed pipes (Usually copper) that are either filled with a liquid with a high heat conductivity or a fine powder (Again, usually copper). Both these methods are far more effective than using solid copper or aluminium to transfer the heat therefore they are used to provide a pathway for the heat to travel from the core to the large surface area of the heatsink fins.
At the rear of the cooler there are several small notches which allow you to see straight onto the heatsink. This gives you an idea of the what the sink looks like under its Priestess covering, however I can’t help but ponder at the wisdom of having these holes in the cooler. All they manage to acheive is that the cooler then exhausts some of the hot air back into the case instead of out of the rear. Although the notches do look good it probably reduces the cooling ability of the card a little.
At the back of the card the exhaust slot is grilled to prevent people sticking their fingers in there. There are also the normal twin DVI ports and the S Video socket.
On the edge of the card, near the rear, is a single SLI bridge connector which would allow two of these cards to be connected in an SLI configuration.
At the other end of the 8800 there is a single 6 pin PCIE power connector. Its nice to see that the lower end G80 cards don’t need the monstrous ammount of power the GTX GPUs require.
The back of the card is neat and tidy with no mounting plate, just a few screws.
Installation was a doddle. Having installed a few 8800s in my case now I was prepared for a tight fit, but this GTS went in effortlessly due to its stature being somewhat smaller than its bigger and badder brother, the GTX.
To test GPUs XSR has a battery of synthetic and real world benchmarks that we put the cards through. Those tests are as follows:
3Dmark01, 3Dmark03, 3Dmark05, 3Dmark6, FEAR pre-set benchmark, X3 Reunion pre-set benchmark, HL2: Lost Coast built in benchmark and our very own Battlefield 2142 recorded demo sequence.
All 3Dmark tests are run using default settings and all gaming benchmarks are set as maximum detail (HL2:Lost Coast and BF2142 have 4x anti-aliasing). All tests were run 3 times and the average of the results taken to ensure that the scores were accurate. If there was a large anomally in the testing we repeated the 3 tests again.
The rig that this GPU was tested in is as follows:
Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.7ghz
Asus P5W DH Deluxe
Silverstone Olypia 650w
OCZ 2gb Special Ops PC6400 @ 900mhz
Spire Blackfin case with Noiseblocker 120mm’s fitted in the front and rear; side panel 120mm fan disabled.
The results for this card were also compared to a Gainward 8800GTX, a x1900XT and a x1950XTX.
I like to test graphics cards at stock and overclocked frequencies. During my testing I managed to increase this card from its stock frequencies to 625mhz core clock and 960mhz memory clock. I did this without adjusting voltages and the overclock was stable enough to run all of our benchmarks back to back over a 4 hour period.
NB. During overclocking I had the GPU fan running at 100% and also added an extra heatsink to the back of the card with another fan atop it. XSR strongly recommends that users take care in overclocking their hardware.
As you can see from the graph above, in all 3Dmark tests the GTS performs very well completely trashing ATI’s offerings and only falling behind the GTXs by a small margin. The odd results acheived in 3Dmark01 can be atributed to the score being CPU limited at that point. If the processor was overclocked a little more, a higher score could probably be acheived.
The gaming tests were a bit more balanced with the ATI cards showing their dominance in X3 and beating the GTS in the 1280×1024 BF2142 test. However, in everything else the GTXs showed their gaming prowess but the GTS followed relatively closely behind showing that it is more than capable of handling anything current games can throw at it.
The bundled cooler was quiet throughout all testing and was even relatively quiet when running at 100%. For the best cooling to performance ratio I would recommend running the fan at 75% as this gives good cooling performance without the annoying drone of the fan.
This card can be found in a few places online for about £200. Considering the 8800GTX is pretty much £200 more expensive and the marginal performance difference between the two cards, the GTS is a fantastic buy.
The 8800GTS 320mb card has simply awesome performance considering the moderate price tag. It blows the x1950XTX out of the water which retails for at least £50 more and when overclocked only just slips behind the GTX in some benchmarks. The lack of 512mb of memory may hold the card back on extreme resolutions but for more general resolutions this card should do you proud. If it was a little cheaper I would be awarding this bad boy the value award, but since it is hardly a cheap card it will have to settle for a 10/10; aww.
|Fantastic performance||Still at least £200|
|Quiet and looks good|
I’d like to thank our sponsors MSI for providing us with this GPU.
Discuss this review in our forums