How do you take a phenomenally successful card and render it all but worthless? From the looks of the 256MB version of NVIDIA's all-conquering 8800GT all you really have to do is halve the video RAM and you're laughing, my son.
Since we heard about this half-cut iteration we've been eager to get our hands on one and put it through its paces, in the hope that it might just be a great budget alternative. Unfortunately the wee fella's pace is not that quick. Okay, it's slow - unfathomably slow.
Gaming at a snail's pace
Now the 512MB GT is a pretty special card, price point and power combining in some beautiful symbiosis of consumerist joy, so we kind of expected that simply cutting out half the RAM wouldn't totally kill all that was good and right about the thing. After all, it's only some £30 cheaper than its smarter sibling, how much worse could it be?
Things were looking pretty good in 3DMark06, only a couple of hundred off the 512MB card, but as soon as we put any gaming load through its silicon, it turned into the graphics card equivalent of that kid at school who you weren't sure had some kind of medical problem or if he was just a bit dim. World in Conflict managed a paltry 5fps in the DX10 'high' settings; half the speed of the cheaper HD3850. The same was true of the DX10 tests in Company of Heroes; again, half the speed of the AMD card.
This Asus iteration is more expensive than many of the other 256MB GTs around, because of the fairly impressive 'Glaciator' cooler that runs quiet and efficient despite the ridiculous name. You can find a half-breed, mutant GT for the same price as a 3850 if you look around, but if you did I'd come find you and sever the offending hand...