New Nvidia 3D cards thin-slice the market, deliver strong performance

ATI and Nvidia are thin-slicing the hyper-competitive graphics card market to the point of consumer confusion.

It's certainly not a bad thing that the new $349 (give or take, but more likely give) Nvidia Geforce 8800 GTS delivers comparable performance to last year's $500-plus GeForce 8800 GTX. The question is, would you be able to pick it out off the shelf? To do so you'd have to sift through the older (and slower) 640MB and 320MB GeForce 8800 GTS cards, as well as the 512MB and 256MB (introduced today) versions of the GeForce 8800 GT. Then, of course, there's the various overclocked SKUs from ASUS, EVGA, XFX, and Nvidia's other board partners. And that's just the Nvidia side of the aisle. We haven't even mentioned ATI's newer cards yet.

Nvidia's new 512MB GeForce 8800 GTS Nvidia

We'll point you to Anandtech and PC Perspective for the blow-by-blow performance charts. The gist is that the 512MB GeForce 8800 GTS is faster than both the older 8800 GTS cards and competitive with the 8800 GTX due to a new chip design (code-named G92) that uses a 65 nanometer manufacturing process. The result is increased power efficiency compared with the older chips' 90 nano and 80 nano processes, and higher core and memory clock speeds.

We're less sure about the price-performance of the 256MB 8800 GT. If you can find it for its suggested $199 price tag, it seems like a good buy. And while it seems to be faster than the $179 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3850, it doesn't outpace the $249 512MB Radeon HD 3870. With 512MB quickly becoming the recommended amount of video RAM for respectable 3D gaming, you're better off spending more for the faster ATI card. But then when you consider the 512MB GeForce 8800 GT card is between $275 and $300 (when it's actually in stock), you start to see just how much ATI and Nvidia are thin-slicing the hyper-competitive graphics card market to the point of consumer confusion.

About the author

Rich Brown is an executive editor for CNET Reviews. He has worked as a technology journalist since 1994.


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