8800 GTX upgrade -- it really *is* all that

My favorite hardware journalist, Loyd Case, hooked me up with a sweet deal on a 8800 GTX video card this weekend at Kublacon. I’ve been itching to upgrade to something, so this was nice timing.

The results are pretty astonishing.

DiRT:

X1900XTX - 1024x768, high detail, 20-30fps
8800 GTX - 1600x1200, high detail, 30-40fps

Stalker:

X1900XTX - 1280x1024, medium detail, 40-60 fps
8800 GTX - 1600x1200, high detail + AA, 70-90 fps

Rainbow 6: Vegas

8800 GTX - 1600x1200, high detail + AA, 50 fps
X1900XTX - 1280x1024, medium detail, 40 fps

Geez. I no longer have to drop down from 1600x1200 on newer titles with HDR, plus I can pile on full AA/AF settings on top. And even after doing all that it’s usually faster than the X1900XTX was with reduced settings and at a lower resolution!

Also, it is impressively quiet. I’m a noise freak and I can barely hear it with the currently open case. First stock video card cooler I’ve ever been able to say that about.

The only downside is power consumption, as measured with my kill-a-watt.

Desktop idle power:

8800 GTX - 225 w
X1900XTX - 165 w

Full load playing DiRT:

8800 GTX - 305 w
X1900XTX - 227 w

Anyway, if you’re at the X1900XTX level or lower like I was, the 8800 GTX is a major upgrade for next-gen games with demanding engines. Definitely recommended.

Agreed, it’s a fantastic card.

What’s DiRT?

Collin McRae’s new one, I"m guessing? A rally racer.

DiRT thread. DiRT uses HDR (and in fact there’s no way to turn off HDR in DiRT) so it’s extremely video card intensive.

Here’s another data point.

In Battlefield 2, I couldn’t use 1600x1200 under the X1900 XTX with full detail (med shadows , med dynamic light, only 2x AA). I experimented with tons of settings, but any detail settings higher than this resulted in dips down to 25fps during gameplay on 64-player servers.

With the 8800 GTX, I can do 1600x1200, settings maxed, and the game rarely dips below the 100fps framerate cap in the same situation. It’s eerie how often the game is pegged at 100fps even during intense multiplayer firefights. I think I saw it drop to 50fps briefly during a commander bombardment directly on my position, but that’s about it.

Er… wow. Color me satisfied with my upgrade. And thanks again Loyd.

Are those wattages for your whole system, or just the video card?

56 fps Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, All high detail except 0xAA
3840x1024

Dual GeForce 8800 GTS

By the way wumpus, what, you didn’t believe the benchmarks back in November? :)

Think I’ll stick with my X1900XT until there are enough DX10 games on the market to justify the outlay.

One update: after some more time using it, the 8800 GTX cooler isn’t THAT quiet. It’s certainly not as quiet as the Accelero X2 I had on my X1900XTX.

Under load, the sound signature of the default 8800 GTX cooler is roughly equivalent to a DVD spinning up to full speed, which is relatively inoffensive, but still mildly unpleasant. At idle it sounds like a 120mm fan at typical (not noise-optimized) speeds. Not great but tolerable.

Guess I’ll be looking into alternative coolers… I see that ThermalRight has the HR-03 plus:

http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=381&type=expert&pid=5

But man, who has the room for that monster? I wouldn’t even think of running it without a fan. And with a fan, it overhangs 3+ slots in the under config, and certainly will run into the CPU in the over config.

Maybe this Zalman stuff, too, but it’s not released yet:

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/446

Bummer about the hot air no longer being evacuated from the case, though…

I borrowed a 8800 GTS 640MB from a co-worker’s husband last week and it’s a huge upgrade over the 1950 XTX I’ve been using in my gaming rig. Makes me really want a GTX.

The 8800 GTS has a very quiet cooler. Just saying!

Here is a speed tip for Nvidia users under Vista.

Go to the NVidia control panel and go to the global options for your video card. Look for the FSAA option. Set it to override any application choices and set it to 4x (or whatever you want).

This will greatly speed up rendering. I know in City of Heroes I definitly got a 50% improvement in frame rate, maybe even 100%. Its hard to tell because just turnin the camera a little can cause a big jump.

Anyway, the reason this works is that in DX10 the FSAA options are set a bit differently then in DX9. The result is that many games will set it ‘wrong’ and end up with a double FSAA effect. Using the control panel from Nvidia does it the right way. I got this from the NVidia driver release notes for the 158 versions.

I’d be tempted to get a 8800 GTX if it would actually fit in my case. :(

awwwww, kuni. :(

I have an Antec Super LANBoy and it’s about a couple inches too short in width between the mobo area and the drive cage. I’m considering getting a $80 Lian Li case (or this $90 one) to replace it, but I’ve been holding off for a major upgrade of all my components in July when they drop the C2Q price (from $500 to $250).

There are quite a few threads out there on whether a given case will fit a 8800 GTX so be careful before purchasing one of these cards (they are 11" in length). The new ATI cards are also quite long, especially the OEM ones.

Edit: Hmm $50 Coolermaster Centurion 5 looks like a better choice than all of those.

Wumpus - what’s your cpu/mem/mobo? And are you overclocked?

Antec Super LANBoy

I have an 8800 GTS in this case. But you’re right, the GTX would be too long.

My 640mb GTS overclocks like a champ, though. 650/1000 no problem. Still only about 80% of the GTX according to the 3DMark06 scores though.

So I bought an 8800 GTX yesterday and yes it really is all that.

I upgraded from a 7900gt and I already notice the difference.

I bought a Sonata 3 case to go along with the 8800GTX and its worked out perfectly. Yeah I wont be able to do SLI with it but other then that Sonata 3 + 8800 GTX = Win!

So what’s your Dominions 3 benchmark score?

I have no idea but I know my WoW benchmark is through the roof!