Nvidia’s previous flagship GeForce 8800 Ultra is expensive at $800, but the brute force it offers means it’s been a popular choice for enthusiasts. However, the arrival of the 9800 GX2 and GTX have blown it out of the water.
The Ultra is a 90nm part, with 681 million transistors crammed onto it and a hefty 768MB of GDDR3 memory. The standard core clock is 612MHz, with 128 stream processors at 1.5GHz and a 384-bit memory bus.
Like the 8800 GTX, it goes one step further than the rest of the 8 series by allowing three-way SLI, although with support for just DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0 it lags slightly behind the latest ATi cards.
But at this end of the market, it’s all about speed, and the 8800 Ultra has oodles. It romped through our Medium Crysis test at an average of 64fps, and even managed a playable 33fps at 1600 x 1200 with the High settings enabled.
At the Very High settings, it fell behind the Radeon HD 3870 X2, and the same occurred in Call of Duty 4 – 65fps compared with the X2’s 74fps in our High test – suggesting that those with large-format monitors may get more from elsewhere. And you’ll save $100 by opting for the GX2.
As if that wasn’t bad enough for the Ultra, it’s also undermined by one of its cheaper brethren. The 8800 GTS 512MB has the same 128 stream processors on a more efficient 65nm board, with a faster core clock, offsetting the smaller memory and lower bus speed.
At mid-range resolutions and settings, it matches the Ultra, only slipping behind when we switched to high resolutions. If you don’t have a large monitor, the 8800 GTS 512MB will give you enough grunt and it’s nearly half the price.
The Ultra – the one-time speed king – now looks its age.
This Review appeared in the June, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
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