Having beaten rival ATI to the DirectX 10.0 punch, graphics-card giant nVidia seems keen to push the advantage by releasing as many strains of its technology as possible. Two months ago it released the 640MB 8800 GTS (a stripped-down version of the all-conquering 8800 GTX), and now we have a new version of the 8800 GTS.

This time the memory has been halved to 320MB, and that's about it for changes. Which is potentially pleasing, given the £40 price cut. You still get most of the effect of that searing 8800 architecture: the 320bit memory interface is intact, and the core and memory clock speeds are identical to those of the 640MB version, culminating in a very respectable memory bandwidth of 64GBps.

As with the other 8800s, the PNY replaces traditional vertex and pixel shaders with stream processors capable of operating as either. You get 96 – that's the same as on the 640MB version, and even the fully fledged GTX has only 128 – which rather trumps similarly priced cards from ATI.

There's also the 'promise' of DirectX 10.0 support. Of course, we don't know how useful this will be – until we see a stream of authentic DirectX 10.0 games titles hitting the shops, we can't evaluate the GTS's abilities in this area.

But that, in many ways, is missing the point. This card isn't really one for the future. The cut-down memory doesn't matter in most of today's games, but in a future brimming with intricate code and graphics, the loss of that 320MB will hurt.

Indeed, push the resolution beyond 1,280x1,024 and, even on today's games, the 320MB GTS can't really handle high graphical detail levels. Keep below this level, though, and the difference between this and the 640MB version is minimal.

PNY GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB: Specs

  • nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics processor
  • 320MB GDDR3 RAM
  • core clock 500MHz
  • memory clock 800MHz (1.6GHz DDR effective)
  • manufacturing process 0.09-micron
  • 96 stream processors
  • 320bit memory interface
  • PCI Express interface
  • DirectX 10.0 support
  • DVI
  • video-out
  • nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics processor
  • 320MB GDDR3 RAM
  • core clock 500MHz
  • memory clock 800MHz (1.6GHz DDR effective)
  • manufacturing process 0.09-micron
  • 96 stream processors
  • 320bit memory interface
  • PCI Express interface
  • DirectX 10.0 support
  • DVI
  • video-out

OUR VERDICT

The PNY isn't going to be a stunner two years from now, but it's cheap enough that you can buy it for the strong framerates on current games. Then a couple of years from now you can buy something more adept at handling Vista and DirectX 10.0 than anything available today.

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