XFX 8800GTS 512MB

Graphics Cards

Testing

Installation

Installing the GTS is much the same as the 8800GT cards that I have reviewed recently. However, the main difference in mounting with these two is that the GTS has a dual slot cooler whereas the GT does not. This does present mounting problems on some boards, as the cooler’s shroud might hang over a PCI-e or PCI slot. This is no problem if it’s empty, but if your sound card resides there, it could create all sorts of problems. For this reason, make sure you have the space for the GTS as choosing between that and your add-in card isn’t something you need do.

Methodology

When it comes to testing graphics cards, we run them through a series of benchmarks, some synthetic, others designed to replicate real world gaming. Our current battery of tests is:

  • 3Dmark06
  • Lost Planet
  • Crysis
  • Unreal Tournament 3

Each of the tests is run three times through and the average of the results is taken.

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 @ 3.2 GHZ
Motherboard Gigabyte P35T-DQ6 rev. 1.0
RAM Crucial DDR3 12800 2GB @ 1600 MHZ
HDD Maxtor DiamondMax 20 80GB SATA
Power supply Spire Rocketeer 600w
OS Windows XP Pro x86
Graphics Driver 169.21

Overclocking

Having had great OC results with the original GTS’ I was quite looking forward to seeing what the 65nm version was capable of. Using nTune – Rivatuner and ATItool didn’t want to know – I was able to take the card from its stock of 678MHZ on the core and 986MHZ on the memory to 802MHZ and 1083MHZ respectively. I was able to raise both substantially higher but this was the top benchmark stable frequency. I imagine with some more tweaking and perhaps a slight voltage hike could see some very impressive figures.

NB. While the overclock was applied the GPU fan was set to 100%. Always make sure you have adequate cooling during overclocking.

Cost

At the time of writing, pricing for the GTS ranges from £200 to £245 depending on the retailer this prices it about £50 more than most GT cards. This prices is around the same as 8800GTXs and a fair bit cheaper than any 8800 Ultras still for sale.

Noise and Cooling

At idle the GTS is quite quiet – say that 10 times in a row… – and even under load it’s not too bad. However, if you’re overclocking and need to keep the temperature down you might want to raise the fan speed… anything over 80% will make you deaf.

3Dmark06

3Dmark06
3Dmark06: Canyon Flight

The 3Dmark series of benchmarks applications – produced by Futuremark – are designed to test the DirectX performance of graphics cards. Each 3Dmark program corresponds to the year that the features it tests were available in commercial graphics cards. The final score is calculated by combining the results from tests of the PC’s graphics card and CPU, so processor speed needs to be taken into account when comparing scores.

The most recent 3Dmark version, 06, features the following:

  • HDR rendering.
  • Complex HDR Video post-processing.
  • Dynamic soft shadows for all objects.
  • Water shader with HDR refraction, HDR reflection, depth fog and Gerstner wave functions.
  • Heterogeneous fog.
  • Atmospheric light scattering.
  • Realistic sky model with cloud blending.
  • Strauss lighting model for most materials.
  • Subsurface scattering shader for some objects (not visible in the shot).
  • Texture & normal map sizes: 1024 x 1024 to 2048 x 2048.
  • Approximately 5.4 million triangles and 8.8 million vertices.

NB. List taken from Wikipedia

Settings

All settings were left at default and only the “free version” tests were run.

8800GT Results

THe XFX GTS 512MB takes the lead early on but it’s only by a nose as the GT is hot on it’s heels. The overclock gives a nice boost to the scores and considering the simplicity of an OC like this, it’s even better.

Lost Planet

Lost Planet

Lost Planet is a 3rd person shooter developed by Capcom and was originally an XboX 360 title until it was ported to the PC some time later. It uses the same engine as in other Capcom titles, such as “Dead Rising” and “Devil May Cry 4” known as MT Framework. It features the Havok physics engine and under Windows Vista and with a compatible video card, DirectX 10.

We not only use Lost Planet to determine the performance hit on Frames Per Second (FPS) when adding Anti Aliasing and Anistropic Filtering, but also the effects of changing the resolution from 1280*1024, to 1600*1200.

8800GT Results

Again the GTS G92 tops the pack, but only by a little bit and the MSI GT even beats it by a fair margin on the “High Cave” test. Unfortunately the GTS 320MB decided it wasn’t capable of running the “High” settings, so unfortunately we have no results from the GTS 320 in that test.

Crysis

Crysis

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 in game 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.

8800GT Results

Unfortunately we have no results for the MSI GT here, so we can only compare the GTS refresh against the original. As you can see, it trounces it completely with around 25-35% better performance in most tests.

Unreal Tournament 3

Crysis

Unreal Tournament 3 is a first person shooter developed by Epic Games and is the follow up to best selling FPS Unreal Tournament 2004. UT3 is based on the Unreal Engine 3. There is an incredible amount of information about what UE3 supports, but in a nutshell:

  • Multi-threaded rendering
  • All modern per-pixel lighting techniques
  • Advanced dynamic shadows
  • Volumetric environmental effects including height fog
  • Split-screen rendering
  • Physics driven objects and sounds powered by Ageia’s PhysX technology
  • Extensible particle system with visual editor

For more detailed information on what UE3 is capable of, check out Epic’s Unreal Engine Technology site, here.

Thanks go to the guys at Olrac.org for putting this benchmark together.

The settings used for this were:

Map: CTF-Omicron-Dawn-bots

NB. LOD = Level of Detail

Something that must be noted before reading the results is that Unreal Tournament 3’s benchmark is based around spectating while bots run around a level. This means that the benchmark runs differently each time although the environment is the same. This has an affect on benchmarking which is why we repeat the tests 3 times and take the average of the scores. Although this does mean that the results do vary more than other, more typical benchmarks, it also means that this is a pure, real world gaming performance benchmark.

8800GT Results

The GTS refresh wins again, although the overclock makes pretty much no difference in this benchmark.

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Last modified: February 15, 2011

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