8800 GT power
Should your budget be on the south side of £200, ZOTAC reckons it has the graphics card for you in the form of the GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition. Better than the Radeon HD 3870 and its G92 contemporaries? We tell you.
The ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT 512MiB AMP! Edition frequencies are the highest we've seen from a shipping G92 card, intimating careful speed-binning of cores. The downside of such pre-overclocking is price, unfortunately. The card is currently available for £199, including VAT, or £25 more expensive than the 'standard' card and £15-20 dearer than other lesser-overclocked models.
The bundle isn't as comprehensive as some of the competition's, missing out on games and the odd cable. We'd expect the AMP! Edition, which headlines ZOTAC's 8800 GT range, to include a little more, especially at the £199 (including VAT) online price.
In a rough-and-ready assessment of the cards' bang per buck, we've aggregated the 1680x1050 frame rates for the three games we tested against, normalised them and taken account of listed the cards' prices.
But there are more provisos than we'd care to shake a stick at. We could have chosen three different games, the cards' prices could have been derived from other sources and pricing tends to fluctuate daily.
Consequently, the table and graph below highlight a metric that should only be used as a yardstick for evaluating comparative performance with price factored in. Other architectural benefits are not covered, obviously.
Compare and contrast
|Graphics cards||ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT 512MiB AMP! Edition||MSI NX8800GT-T2D512E-OC 512MiB||ASUS GeForce 8800 GTS 320MiB||ATI Radeon HD 3870 512MiB|
|Actual aggregate marks at 1680x1050||227.38||218.9||149.16||155.71|
|Aggregate marks, normalised*, at 1680x1050||175.56||168.24||105.61||110.59|
|HEXUS.bang4buck score at 1680x1050||0.88||0.96||0.59||0.73|
The high-ish £199 asking price for the ZOTAC AMP! Edition is reflected by a HEXUS.bang4buck that is lower than the competing MSI's.
What we can also say is that whilst the Radeon HD 3870 512 is £50 cheaper, its lower price is compromised by exponentially lower normalised performance. In other words, spending more is worth it.
We like NVIDIA's G92 and we were waiting for retail cards to hit the shelves with bated breath. That anticipation was partly borne out of the hugely attractive price for cards in the US ($250) along with an appreciation of just how much G80-derived technology could be had for such a reasonable outlay.
Retail GeForce 8800 GT 512MiB cards were available in small-ish quantities just after launch, yet the following weeks have been plagued with constraint issues, pushing UK pricing higher and higher. The upshot is that a default-clocked GeForce 8800 GT 512 will cost you around £170, assuming you can find it in stock, and overclocked models all the way up to £200.
The ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition tips the scales at £199, making it, naturally, one of the most expensive G92-based cards available. The AMP! Edition ships with impressive clock frequencies and performance as a result.
NVIDIA's now officially launched the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 GPU and the cheapest retail models cost around £20 more than the ZOTAC, so it will be interesting to see how it stacks up as soon as we have one in for review. You may also opt for the cheaper Radeon HD 3870 512 on the basis of price (but not performance), but, right now, the ZOTAC is probably the best single-card buy under £200.
We'd prefer it to be slightly cheaper and the bundle could really, really do with a decent gaming title, however. As it is, the ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition 512MiB has just enough going for it to be recommended.