PC graphics specialist Nvidia has released its latest GeForce 8 Series performance graphics card. The new GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is closely related to the existing 8800 GT board but adds more features and pixel-pushing poke.
For starters, Nvidia has bumped the number of shader units up from 112 to 128 compared with the 8800 GT. The texture address and texture filtering unit counts have likewise swollen from 56 to 64 for each.
Those extra features alone would be enough to deliver a significant boost in performance. However, Nvidia has also cranked up the clocks. The new board boasts a core GPU clockspeed of 650MHz, a staggering shader clock of 1.625GHz and a memory frequency of 1.94GHz DDR.
Elsewhere, the new chipset packs largely the same DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4 feature set as other GeForce 8 Series cards..
So, just how much grunt can you expect the 8800 GTS 512MB to deliver? Well, first things first. The tricky thing for Nvidia is that it makes the uber-expensive GeForce 8800 Ultra flagship card look rather redundant.
At this stage, you are probably becoming rather confused by all these 8800 variants. So, may we remind you that, compared with the new 8800 GTS 512MB, the Ultra sports the same number of shader units, fewer address units but more memory (768MB) and more bandwidth courtesy of a wider 384-bit bus. The 8800 GTS 512MB uses the same 256-bit bus as the 8800 GT.
Hence, the new card should be a match for the big old bruiser at anything short of insanely high resolutions or with heaps of image-smoothing and bandwidth-hungry anti-aliasing applied.
Monitor match up
The new 8800 GTS 512MB will also be a great match for any monitor in the 24-inch or smaller categories. Only gamers with enormous 30-inch LCD panels need worry about the memory bandwidth advantages of the 8800 Ultra.
The problem for Nvidia is that the Ultra typically sells for over £450. The 8800 GTS can be found today on the usual UK online retail sites, including Scan and Overclockers, from around £230 including VAT.
That's impressive value. Or at least it is until you consider that Nvidia claims the new card should be retailing for between $299 and $349 Stateside. That ought to translate into something under £200 in the UK. But as ever, market profiteering here has seen the price creep up.
Go for launch
It will also be interesting to see how many cards Nvidia is able to ship in the coming weeks. The recent launch of the closely-related GeForce 8800 GT did not go so smoothly, with limited card numbers continuing to keep prices above initial expectations.
Moreover, in the 8800 GT, 8800 GTS 512MB, 8800 GTX and 8800 Ultra, Nvidia now has a quartet of cards that offer strikingly similar performance and specifications at wildly differing price points.
Watch this space, therefore, for a new ultra high-end board from Nvidia. It must be a matter of months away at most.