New toys arrive in the Lab as frequently as political scandals erupt in Washington, D.C., a phenomenon that renders the Maximum PC staff a fickle, jaded bunch. But in the absence of any competition from AT—er, AMD—we remain intrigued by videocards based on Nvidia’s 8800 series GPUs. And so this month, we take a close look at EVGA’s e-GeForce 8800 GTS.
Nvidia’s first attempt at playing motherboard maker (with its AMD AM2 boards) was good, but there was definitely room for improvement. With the 680i, Nvidia gives the mobo game another go, and dives even deeper. Not content to just design boards, Nvidia is now manufacturing them too. These boards are in turn sold through partners, such as the EVGA board reviewed here.
We think we’re seeing a pretty solid pattern here. As is true of the Star Trek movies, it’s possible that only the even-numbered Nvidia chipsets are worth a damn. The original nForce was a beta product. The nForce2 was great. The nForce3 sucked eggs. The nForce4 SLI kicked much booty. And then there’s the nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition, which was hyped more than a David Blaine stunt, and might be just as anti-climactic. Originally scheduled for availability in August, boards using the laggard chipset didn’t appear until late October—just before boards using the newer nForce 680i were released. What’s the point?
It’s no secret that Nvidia had a heavy hand in designing Foxconn’s excellent AM2 Athlon 64/nForce 590 SLI board, but Foxconn’s Intel-powered 975X7AB-8EKRS2H board suffers for a lack of Nvidia-applied polish.
When is a Plextor drive a Plextor drive? Certainly not when it’s a Panasonic.
To get onboard the Blu-ray train in a hurry, Plextor rebadged a Panasonic SW-5582 Blu-ray drive as its own. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Invaluable firmware updates will come from Plextor and not some Pac Rim outfit. And to be fair, the Panasonic’s far better than the first-gen Pioneer Blu-ray drive we reviewed in October, which couldn’t even read CDs.
We loved MSI’s last nForce4 board so much that we gave it a Kick Ass award and even bumped the Asus A8N32-SLI board from our Best Of The Best list. Unfortunately, MSI was so late to the nForce4 SLI x16 party that the board debuted right on the cusp of the AM2 launch; thus its lifespan was brief, and product was impossible to find.