Power users contemplating the purchase of BFG’s GeForce 8800 GTS face the same conundrum as those purchasing a card based on the 8800 GTX: No one knows how either product will perform with DirectX 10. As we observed with the GTX, however, the GTS is a flat-out screamer when it comes to DX9 software.
The GTS is outfitted with fewer stream-processor units (96 versus 128), less memory (640MB versus 768MB), and a narrower memory interface (320- versus 384-bit) than the GTX. But the price tag on this card brings it slightly out of the stratospheric heights of cards based on Nvidia’s more powerful 8800 GTX. That’s not to say it’s inexpensive—unless you consider $500 pocket change. Still, if you bought one of these today and a second one to run in SLI after prices drop, you could outrun a single 8800 GTX card.
The 8800 GTS delivers all the image-quality benefits that the GTX lards on—most of which are unobtainable with Nvidia’s 7-series: You can turn on AA and HDR lighting at the same time, you can enable noise reduction and edge enhancement while playing back video, and anisotropic filtering is much improved over Nvidia’s previous-generation parts.
Turning all these features on does entail a frame rate hit, but it’s not enough to impact gameplay. BFG’s GTS card ran FEAR, for instance, at a perfectly playable 32fps at a widescreen resolution of 1920x1200 with soft shadows turned on, 4x AA, and 16x aniso. Add a second card and you’ll get about the same frame rate at 2560x1600. Frame-rate junkies can turn off AA and dial back aniso to 8x to play the game at 55fps with a single card.
Yes, Nvidia has a winner on its hands. We can’t wait to see how ATI responds.