by Rob Williams on February 25, 2008 in Graphics & Displays
If building a new computer or simply upgrading, you likely want to make sure your GPU decision is a good one, all while making sure not to break the bank. We are taking a look at the EN8800GT TOP which fits the bill. Even better, it’s pre-overclocked, to improve performance even further.
When NVIDIA launched the 8800 GT late last year, an instant winner was born. It offered the perfect combination of performance and pricing and quickly became the choice for enthusiasts all over. Pair two in SLI and you have a truly powerful graphics system capable of handling the most demanding games at the highest resolutions.
Some wondered that the launch of NVIDIA’s new 9600 GT would unseat the previous champion, but as found out throughout numerous reviews last week, the 8800 GT has nothing to worry about. The fact is, this card is a fantastic performer and is priced right… some even as low as $200. At that price point, it’s around twice the 8600 GT, but offers around 2.5x the performance. Not a bad deal.
The card we are taking a look at today comes courtesy of ASUS. Their TOP overclocking products normally come pre-overclocked, and the EN8800GT TOP is no different. While the stock clocks for the 8800 GT are 600/1500, as seen in the table below, ASUS pre-overclocks this model to 700/1800. It goes without saying… that is one impressive overclock to begin with, but to be pre-overclocked is even more so.
We have another 8800 GT card here from Palit, and it proved to allow a higher core clock overclock, but not come close on the memory. If 3DMark 06 is anything to go by, the fact that the Palit card could manage a higher core clock but not reach the same memory clock hurt it, since the ASUS card still came out on top.
Below, you can see the table of current 8-Series NVIDIA cards. The GTX is not a recommended choice due to it’s high prices and lackluster performance (when compared to the 8800 GTS 512), but is included to show spec differences.
8800 GTS 320/640
8800 GTS 512
NVIDIA’s own competitor to the 8800 GT is the 8800 GTS 512, a card that is also priced-right for the performance. Compared to the GTX of yesteryear, it cleans house and still retails for a far lot less. If looking to spend a clean $300 on a GPU, the 8800 GTS 512, not to be confused with the 320/640MB versions, is highly recommended. We will be comparing performance from both cards throughout our benchmarking today.
One area of benefit with most ASUS GPUs is that they include a free game more often than not. This time around, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the included title, which can also be found in other ASUS-branded GPUs, including the EAH3850/EAH3870, EAH3870 X2 AMD cards. Unless recent packaging changed, their own EN8800 GTS 512 does not include a game.
Similar to reference design, the 8800 GT employs a single-slot cooler, which to me, is a massive benefit. Though the card will still get warm, single-slot coolers make SLI setup far more manageable since it leaves a lot of breathing room. The downside is that they will still get quite warm during long-gaming sessions, but it’s all kept within reason.
When purchasing an ASUS product, you are usually paying a premium. What the premium gets you can be a variety of things. Extra care is taken with their products to assure you receive something that’s top-notch, all-around. Here, an example of their quality is exhibited with the inclusion of DVI/TV-Out port covers. Slightly unnecessary, but it looks great nonetheless.
Even the SLI connector bridge has a cover!
The cooler is kept in place with the help of twelve screws. All of these must be removed if the cooler is to be taken off, since the all-in-one design takes care of the memory as well.
Overall, the 8800 GT in general is one of the best-looking cards out there. It feels solid to hold, thanks in part to it’s sturdy cooler. ASUS tends to brand their coolers if a free game is included, which I personally don’t like, but your opinion may vary. The fact is, CoH: OF might be a great game now, but it one-year from now, that won’t be the case. Luckily, it’s not often you will see underneath the card, so it might not matter too much.
Before we jump into testing, we will lay out our testing methods, including specific settings that we used for each game and also describe how we manually benchmark.