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NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX & 8800 GTS
by Damien Triolet
Published on November 13, 2006

Drivers and SLI
Even if the drivers of the GeForce 8800 (release 95) are still young we have to say that they are already very efficient. Except for a few minor issues, we went through all tests without a problem. This is a very good sign and it would seem that NVIDIA didn’t' have to "force" with drivers to obtain good results.

As for SLI, if performances are up to standards, we came across a couple of problems. The drivers for SLI tests came very late. We suppose that NVIDIA released them in a hurry and that there is still some work to do ensure the usual quality.

The question of antialiasing via the control panel of the drivers changes with the GeForce 8. There is now an option to improve the parameters of the application. It consists in replacing the antialiasing mode used by a game and not forcing it. It avoids bugs and makes it possible to use it with all games that support it. The trick is so simple that we don't understand why no one though about doing it before!

CPU Limited ?
As for each new high end graphic cards, we will often hear of the GeForce 8800 that it is « CPU limited » and that you need a very big CPU to really fully use it. This type of remark is regularly overstated. 3DMark has something to do with this, whether it’s because the initial resolution seems to be too hard to change for some or because the last version includes processor power to the overall score.

We should add right off that the GeForce 8800 doesn't require more CPU resources than any other less powerful GeForce. However, with relatively low graphic adjustments compared to the power of the card, there is a higher probability that the framerate will be limited by the processor and not the graphic card. So is it a problem? Not really, because it means that you will be able to increase the resolution or the level of graphic details that have an impact on the graphic card without noticeable reduction of the framerate. The only situation where "CPU limited" can be disturbing is when the CPU isn't powerful enough to have a flowing framerate, but it has nothing to do with the graphic card.

So, if you have a processor that is listed as mid-line, but powerful enough in games, you can buy a more powerful graphic card to really take advantage of you latest 24" monitors. More than the CPU / 3D combo, it’s the 3D / Monitor that needs to be equilibrated. With current games you will have to associate at least one 8800 GTS with a 20" and a GTX and with a 24" monitor to really see their potential.

We remind you that to know if your CPU or graphic card restricts performances in games, we recommend running a simple test. Reduce the resolution to 800*600 or even 640*480! If you do not notice an improvement it means that you are limited by the CPU or maybe by the memory if your hard drive starts processing specifically in the lags. If not, this is the graphic card which is at the origin of the problem.
Tests
As usual, we activated anisotropic filtering for all tests. We believe that it’s no longer necessary to deactivate it especially with high end graphic cards. It is activated in the game when possible and in the drivers when it isn’t. We also decided to activate Transparency Antialiasing which allows better filtering of simulated objects from alpha tests such as grids. In some of the games, the impact on performance is significant, but it also means that the visual impact will greatly improve. These are high end graphic cards so we weren’t easy on them.
Test configuration:
eVGA nForce 680i
Intel D975XBX (Bad Axe)
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800
2 x 1 GB
Western Digital Raptor 74 GB
Enermax 535W
Windows XP SP2
Catalyst 6.10
ForceWare 96.94




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