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Maximum PC Staff Jun 25, 2008

PNY XLR8 GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB

At A Glance

Top Gun

It almost kicked ass, but not quite.

Groundhog Day

Its "lifetime" looks short

Rumors were swirling at press time that Nvidia was poised to introduce an even lower-cost version of its powerful 8800 GPU, but the least-expensive 8800s we can review today are like this PNY model, which couples the 96 pixel-shader 8800 GTS with a puny 320MB frame buffer.

A host of manufacturers sells cards based on Nvidia’s reference design, but these cards can differentiate themselves in just a few ways: Price is the most obvious and most attractive (to the consumer, anyway), but there’s also factory overclocking, exotic cooling, warranty coverage, and merchandise bundling.

Factory overclocking is beneficial because the higher clock speeds are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. On the other hand, Nvidia makes GPU and memory overclocking a snap with its nTune tweaking software. On the other other hand, the card’s manufacturer might not be sympathetic if you fry your card while probing its outer limits. PNY didn’t take any chances: Its entry features the typical stock-clock rates of 513MHz for the core and 792MHz for the GDDR3 memory.

We’ve yet to see any exotic cooling solutions on 320MB 8800 GTS cards, including this one, but several manufacturers do offer lifetime warranties on their cards. The definition of “lifetime” varies, so you should make sure you understand each manufacturer’s definition of this term along with all the other legalese in its warranty. PNY covers this card with a three-year warranty, which it extends an additional two years if you register your card on the company’s website. Depending on how often you upgrade your videocard, three to five years might be a “lifetime.”

PNY offers a better warranty than some manufacturers, but the XLR8’s $300 street price is a trifle high for a stock-clocked 8800 GTS with 320MB of memory. In our book, that’s enough reason to deny this card a Kick Ass award.

THE VERDICT

PNY XLR8 GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB

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