Asus EN8800GT review: Asus EN8800GT

MSRP: $249.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Strong performance on many 3D game titles without an exorbitant price tag; single-slot design simplifies installation; includes Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts; PCI Express 2.0 support keeps this card viable for future upgrades.

The Bad Market scarcity has driven the price higher; not as fast on some games as less expensive cards from ATI.

The Bottom Line Asus and Nvidia have teamed up for a compelling midrange 3D graphics card with this EN8800 GT. It doesn't completely dominate a less expensive card from ATI like we'd hoped, so players of certain games should stay away. But if you can find this card for a good price, we recommend it, especially if you intend to use two of them.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 7.0

The Asus EN8800GT is the first card we've reviewed with Nvidia's new GeForce 8800 GT graphics chip. You should be able to find this card for just less than $300 or so online, which puts its real world price a bit higher than Nvidia's suggested price of about $250. With its main competition from ATI, the Radeon HD 3870 coming in firmly at $249, you might expect that the new 8800 GT chip would be significantly faster. It's not. On some games Nvidia's new cards wins, but on others, it can't overtake ATI's cheaper alternative. Its saving grace is its capability on the tests it does win, as well as the state of Nvidia's dual-card SLI technology, which is much more robust than ATI's right now. If you can find the EN8800GT for its $300 suggested price, it's not a bad pick, especially if you intend to double up in SLI mode. Just be sure to consider very carefully the games you play, as ATI gives Nvidia's new chip some stiff competition.

The GeForce 8800 GT is not the first midrange card from Nvidia's 8800 series. The 8800 GTS came out a year ago in two versions, one $450 model with 640MB of RAM, another with 320MB for $300. A year later, and the new $300 512MB GeForce 8800 GT beats them both soundly on our benchmarks, as tested by GameSpot's Sarju Shah. Nvidia's new chip also overtakes AMD's similarly priced 512MB ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT on almost every test as well. The problem is it can't overtake the newer Radeon HD 3870 on or .

3DMark06
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,280x1,024  
512MB ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT Crossfire
13,399 
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT SLI
13,296 
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
11,289 

World in Conflict
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,440, 4x anti-aliasing 4x anisotropic filtering, very high quality  
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT SLI
38 
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
29 
512MB ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT Crossfire
25 

Crysis demo
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600 x 1,200, high quality  
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT SLI
41 
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
23 

Bioshock
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536, high quality  
512MB ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT Crossfire
81 
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT SLI
79 
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
41 

Company of Heroes
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,440, max quality, 4xaa  
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT SLI
139 
512MB ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT Crossfire
101.5 
512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
80 

If you look at all of the scores, you'll see that where ATI wins, it slips by with a thin margin of victory. When the 8800 GT is faster, it's faster by a lot. Add in the fact that on certain tests ATI's CrossFire (the dual-card competitior to Nvidia's SLI) is basically broken (as highlighted in our review of the Radeon HD 3850, and the GeForce 8800 GT barely ekes by with an overall win. If you play Crysis or Bioshock regularly and you're committed to a single-card experience, ATI is the way to go. Otherwise, we'd go with the Nvidia card.

While it trades wins with ATI's current generation, the reason for the 8800 GT's advantage over Nvidia's older models is its refined graphics chip design. This chip uses Nvidia's updated G92 design, a revitalization of the original G80 template behind the GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS. G92 features a 65-nanometer manufacturing process, making it more power efficient than the 90-nm design of the GTX and original GTS. This lets Nvidia cram more processing power on the chip, at less cost, and with less power consumption. That means the single-slot 8800 GT can compete and even surpass the double-slot 640BM 8800 GTS performance-wise, without requiring a massive fan and heatsink assembly to keep it operational.

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