GeForce 8800 GTX review: GeForce 8800 GTX

One of the most important things to note about the GeForce 8800 GTX and its performance is that you would be smart to pair this card with a capable monitor that can go to resolutions of 1,600x1,200 or above. Nvidia calls this XHD (extreme high definition) gaming. Whatever you want to call it, if you're not playing at high resolutions with antialiasing, anisotropic filtering, and other image-quality tweaks cranked, you'll likely hit a CPU bottleneck, which means that you're not giving the card enough to do. But when you get up to those high-quality settings, the results are amazing.

GameSpot was kind enough to provide us with benchmarks, as per usual. We suggest you check out their story, too; there are a number of screenshots taken during testing that show off the image quality. We'll focus on frame rates. Our highlight here is . That game has been considered the pinnacle of DirectX 9-based game programming and has humbled even ATI's mighty Radeon X1950 XT CrossFire setup, which can barely pass 60 frames per second (fps) with no antialiasing. But the GeForce 8800 GTX blew past ATI's highest-end configuration, scoring 64fps on that test.

Oblivion also lets us highlight how the GeForce 8800 GTX has pulled Nvidia even with ATI on current-gen image quality. ATI has had an advantage on certain games, most conspicuously Oblivion, because through an unofficial patch, Radeon cards let you turn on antialiasing and high dynamic range lighting simultaneously. The resulting image looks noticeably better than if you can do only one or the other, as you can with the GeForce 7000-series cards. Not only can the GeForce 8800 GTX do both AA and HDR lighting, it also does them faster than a Radeon X1950 XT CrossFire rig. On that Oblivion test, the 8800 GTX scored an impressive 45 frames per second, which is much smoother than ATI's 28fps.

You might notice that the GeForce 8800GTX doesn't win on every single test. On Half-Life 2: Episode One at 8X antialiasing, an ATI CrossFire setup edged it out. It's worth noting that the GeForce 8800 GTX hit 80 frames per second, though, so it's not exactly slow. But even better, at 16X antialiasing ,which is more demanding, the GeForce 8800 GTX's score stayed basically the same at 84fps, where the CrossFire cards' scores dropped off. This lends to Nvidia's argument that the GeForce 8800 GTX delivers better performance on extremely high image-quality settings.

The other test it lost on was Quake 4, wherein the Radeon X1950 XT CrossFire beat it at both resolutions by about 15fps or so. Again, even at 2,048x1,536, the GeForce 8800 GTX scored 68fps, so it's by no means slow. But it's also worth noting that a Radeon X1950 XT CrossFire setup costs between $900 and $1,000 for the master and the slave cards, and they can't do DirectX 10. The $600 GeForce 8800 GTX and its forward-looking capabilities are clearly the better deal.

We should note a couple of final thoughts here. The first is that with the GeForce 8800 GTX, Nvidia is also unveiling something called CUDA, which stands for Compute Unified Device Architecture. Because of the 8800's complexity, Nvidia is offering a framework for programmers to write software to use the GPU for intense number calculations. For gamers, Nvidia showed us how developers might use CUDA to really ramp up game physics calculations, but Nvidia is also offering this capability to the medical community and anyone else who might benefit from a combination of intense image-processing and number-crunching power. Nvidia is still getting the word out on CUDA, so there's no way to check it out right now. Nvidia also unveiled its new PureVideo HD software as a component of its new universal ForceWare driver, which debuts today and includes support for the GeForce 8800 cards. PureVideo HD will run on both the 8000-series and the older 7000-series GeForce cards, and it's designed to enhance HD video content coming from your PC. We have a sample system in to play with, and we're in the process of putting it through its paces. Look for a blog post on our impressions of PureVideo HD next week.

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Need For Speed: Carbon
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200, 8X AA, 16X AF  
1,600x1,200, 4X AA, 16X AF  
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS

Half-Life 2: Episode One
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536, 16X AA, 16X AF  
2,048x1,536, 8X AA, 16X AF  
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200, 4X AA, 16X AF, HDR On  
1,600x1,200 no AA, 16X AF, HDR On  
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS

Quake 4
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536, 8X AA, 16X AF trans super  
1,600x1,200, 8X AA, 16X AF trans super  
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS

Company of Heroes
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536, 4X AA, 16X AF  
1,600x1,200, 4X AA, 16X AF  
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536, 8X AA, 16X AF  
1,600x1,200, 8X AA, 16X AF  
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov. 8, 2006
  • Interface Type PCI Express x16
  • Max Monitors Supported 2
  • Graphics Engine NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
  • Size 768 MB
  • Compatibility PC
About The Author

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