February 24th, 2011

XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX 512MB Review

It wouldn’t be stretching the truth to say that XFX are one of the most popular enthusiast GPU manufacturers in the world today and to keep this status, they have to continually release exciting new products. The hot product in the green camp at the moment is the 8800GT, so guess which card we have from XFX?

About XFX

XFX dares to go where the competition would like to, but can’t. That’s because, at XFX, we don’t just create great digital video components–we build all-out, mind-blowing, performance crushing, competition-obliterating video cards and motherboards. Oh, and not only are they amazing, you don’t have to live on dry noodles and peanut butter to afford them.

XFX is a division of PINE Technologies, a leading manufacturer of state-of-the-art processing components.

Features

  • 8800 Series single slot solution
  • PCI Express® 2.0 support
  • Increased to 112 Stream Processors
  • NVIDIA® Unified architecture with GigaThread™ technology
  • Full Microsoft® DirectX® 10 Shader Model 4.0 support.
  • NVIDIA SLI™-Ready
  • 16x full-screen anti-aliasing
  • True 128-bit floating point high dynamic-range(HDR) lighting
  • NVIDIA Quantum Effects™ physics processing technology
  • Two dual-link DVI outputs support two 2560×1600 resolution displays
  • NVIDIA PureVideo™technology®
  • OpenGL® 2.0 support
  • Nvidia ForceWare® Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™

Specifications

Clock rate 650 MHz
Dual Link DVI Supporting digital output up to 2560×1600
Memory Clock 1.6 GHz
Chipset GeForce 8800 GT
Memory 256 MB
Bus Type PCI-E
Memory Type DDR3
Memory Bus 256-bit
Highlighted Features HDCP Ready , RoHS , Vista , Dual DVI Out , SLI ready , HDTV ready

The G92

The 8800GT was codenamed G92 and is the first NVIDIA card to transition to a 65nm manufacturer process; GTX and Ultra cards of the same series are 90nm and 86XX cards are 80nm. It still features the same unified shader architecture as previous 8 series cards, but due to the size reduction, the power needs of the card are reduced, and by proxy its heat output, meaning that a single slot cooler will suffice; and perhaps even a quiet one during loaded operation. It is also the first NVIDIA card to make the jump to PCI-e 2.0 and one of the first to have the PureVideo 2.0 chip which adds a Bitstream processor and enhanced video processor to completely offload AACS-decryption and H.264 decoding.

The Alpha Dog box is in the typical XFX lime green with an awesomely coloured sleeve featuring a close up picture of the XFX warrior dog looking mean. The front also states the name of the card, some features of the GT and a small picture of the bundled game.

XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX Box
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The back has a see through section to let you see the card inside and this is ringed by features and specifications of the GPU. There are also a couple of Crysis screenshots, designed to show you what the card is capable of rendering; though of course, any 8 series card can render those scenes, but how many frames per second?

XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX Box
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The bits that come with the Alpha Dog are quite all-encompassing: SVideo cable, SVideo to component splitter, molex to 6pin converter, two DVI to VGA converters and a full copy of Company of Heroes including the DirectX 10 patch.

XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX Bundle
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Oh, and a “I’m Gaming, Do Not Disturb” door hanger… yea.

Do Not Disturb
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The XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX is quite small when we think back to the immense size of some of the original 8800GTX or Ultra cards that have come our way. It’s fitted with a single slot cooler, and is also a couple inches shorter than it’s older and bigger brothers. It also features a green PCB, which is never that sexy, but this card pulls it off well enough.

The shroud that covers the cooler features the “Alpha Dog” himself, the name of the card and a small XFX logo on top of a grungey, swirley black and white backdrop.

XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX
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The back shows its all held together by low profile screws so there shouldn’t be any mounting issues.

XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX Back
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Serial Number
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Cooler

The cooler is a lot smaller than we are used to on high-end 8 series cards. Instead of the usual, mounstrous dual slot coolers of old, we instead have a much nicer low profile solution. The setup is still similar, with a fan drawing air from “underneath” the card, and blowing it across a heatsink situated at the “rear” end. However, this time there are just grills in the shroud for the hot air to escape from; not an exhaust slot to be seen.

Cooler Fan
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Cooler Grills

Crysis is a science fiction first person shooter developed by Crytek, the creators of Farcry. It uses their latest game engine, CryENGINE2 which is the successor to CryENGINE, the engine used on Farcry. Some of the graphical features it has are as follows:

  • Volumetric 3D Clouds
  • Real time Ambient Maps with dynamic lighting and no premade shadows
  • screen Space Ambient Occlusion
  • 3D Ocean Technology dynamically modifies the ocean surface based on wind and wave direction and creates moving shadow sand highlights underwater
  • Depth of field to focus on certain objects while blurring out the edges and far away places
  • Vector Motion blur on both camera movement and individual objects
  • Dynamic Soft shadows with objects casting realistic shadows in real time
  • Realistic Facial Animation that can be captured from an actor’s face
  • Subsurface scattering
  • Breakable Buildings allowing more tactical preplanning on the player’s side
  • Breakable Vegetation (with possibly heavy foliage) enabling players and enemy AI to level entire forests as a tactical maneuver or
  • other purposes
  • Advanced Rope Physics showcasing bendable vegetation responding to wind, rain or character movement and realistically interactive rope bridges
  • Component Vehicle Damage giving vehicles different destroyable parts, such as tires on jeeps or helicopter blades
  • HDR lighting
  • Fully interactive and destructible environments
  • Advanced particle system with fire or rain being affected by forces such as wind
  • Time of Day Lighting, with sunrise, and sunset effects ensuring realistic transition between daytime and nighttime
  • Lightbeams and Shafts when light intersects with solid or highly detailed geometry, and can generate “Godray” effects underwater
  • Parallax Occlusion Mapping giving a greater sense of depth to a surface texture, realistically emphasizing the relief surface structure of objects
  • Long Range View Distance of up to 16km from ingame measurements
  • Parametric Skeletal Animation System
  • Procedural Motion Warping

NB. List taken from Wikipedia

As well as supporting shader model 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0, the engine is also multi-threaded and takes advantage of hyper-threading and multi-core systems.

Props to the crymod team for putting this demo together.

Low Setting

8800GT Results

Interestingly, the 8800GT wipes the floor with the GTS on lower details with no AA. However, add AA into the mix, and the GTS crawls while the GT continues rendering above 30FPS.

NB. The GTS had some strange artifacting issues at 1600*1200 with 16xQAA which is the main reason for its horrendous performance at these settings.

High Setting

8800GT Results

The GTS fairs a little better against the GT at higher resolutions, holding it’s own…sort of. However, as soon as you add anti aliasing the GTS dies a horrible death, while the GT continues running strong.

Cost

The cheapest I found the XFX 8800GT Alpha Dog XXX for was £205. This is a full £100-£150 cheaper than a GTX and up to £250 cheaper than some Ultras are still selling for. 8800GTS are still going for around £180-£200 for the 320mb versions, and for the 640mb rendition there is around a £245 price tag.

Noise and Cooling

Noise wise, the 8800GT is almost whisper quiet at idle which is really nice to see from such a high end card. Unfortunately, the fan still spins up a fair way during load and that means it gets louder too. It’s quieter than other top-end 8 series cards are when under full load, but it’s not a quiet cooling solution; and definitely not mulnaz.

In terms of temperature, idle sees the 8800 in the mid 50s, but once you start loading, it rises quite sharply and tends to sit in the mid 80s until the load decreases.

NB. All temperatures mentioned are in degrees Celsius.

Well, what can I say? NVIDIA have released a card that costs almost half the price of the GTX – which is after a year still one of the best performing cards they do – with a smaller PCB, smaller cooler and less power requirements. The GT is no giant leap in terms of high end performance, but my god what a jump for the mid-range.

There are many versions of the it out there too, with varying amounts of memory, various clock speeds, bundles and yes, varying price tags. However, even though the XXX Alpha Dog version costs around 10% more than some it’s lower clocked, less “memoried” (that’s my new word of the day) rivals, it looks good, cools well and comes with a decent bundled game. If you are looking to pick up a nice Christmas upgrade for yourself, make sure you snap up one of these.

Pros Cons
Performance rivals high-end cards for mid-range price Cooler still quite noisy
Cools reasonably well Door hanger? come on…
Smaller in die and PCB size

award


Read the full article at: http://www.xsreviews.co.uk/reviews/graphics-cards/xfx-8800gt-alpha-dog-xxx-512mb/

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