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ECS GeForce 8800GT
Last month we were a bit surprised when the GeForce 8800GT had pulled ahead of the ATI Radeon HD 4850 under Linux, when on Windows the results were clearly different. However, as we had then learned when benchmarking the ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card, this performance advantage was only present when not forcing the anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF) levels. When creating a more demanding environment through AA and AF, there is less of a bottleneck within the ATI Linux driver and it is able to pull far ahead of the NVIDIA competition. When there is not, the NVIDIA driver is more efficient. With 8x anti-aliasing on Nexuiz, the GeForce 8800GT performed about midway between the GeForce 8600GTS and GeForce 9600GT. With Quake 4 at 8x AA, the ECS GeForce 8800GT was about three times slower than the 9600GT.
When it came to the desktop/2D performance with the GeForce 8800GT, it is noticeably slower than any of ATI's recent Radeon graphics processors as well as the GeForce 9 series. Under Linux, NVIDIA has had their share of 2D performance issues as of late with some graphics processors. You can read more about the NVIDIA 2D performance problems in this Phoronix Forums thread.
If we had looked at the ECS GeForce 8800GT 256MB a few months back, it would have been a nice budget graphics card. However, there are now better options available to consumers and we have been able to see how the Linux driver situation has played out recently. The GeForce 8800GT performs nicely with many of the open-source Linux games and those that aren't too graphically demanding, but when it's under a full load any performance benefits will evaporate. Though for just the casual gamer, the GeForce 8800GT is suitable. For just the Linux desktop user not interested in gaming, the GeForce 8800GT isn't the right graphics card. NVIDIA has yet to address its 2D performance problems with its Linux driver and these problems are very noticeable with KDE 4.1 -- nor do we know when these performance problems will be addressed. For those interested in a graphics card for use in a possible HTPC, the GeForce 8 series only has X-Video decoding acceleration. In addition, NVIDIA does not have any open-source strategy and their xf86-video-nv driver is a horrific mess.
Speaking directly about the ECS GeForce 8800GT 256MB (N8800GT-256MX), the fan was quiet during operation and the GPU core had remained cool throughout testing. This graphics card has only half the amount of video RAM found on other 8800GT cards, but through video BIOS optimizations ECS hopes to recoup some of this performance loss while delivering the card at a cheaper price-point.
Unless there are significant price cuts, the NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT really isn't a great buy due to the Linux issues we have mentioned. GeForce 8800GT graphics cards can be found for about $150 USD, which is only about $50 less than a new GeForce 9800GTX. The GeForce 9600GT had outperformed the GeForce 8800GT under Linux and those graphics cards can be found for just about $120~140 USD. On the ATI side, the Radeon HD 3870 512MB goes for about $150 USD retail. If you are interested in one of these other NVIDIA models, Elitegroup Computer Systems does have a variety of graphics cards available.
For pricing and more reviews on the NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT graphics card, visit TestFreaks.com.
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