If you have £225 to spend, make your next graphics card the Asus GeForce 8800 GTS 512.
Once upon a time, every graphics card was adorned with a chip name and a model number. If the card appeared to belong to a particular family then, chances were, it really did. And if the model number was big then the card was fast. If the number was low then the speed was, erm, lower.
Unfortunately, nVidia has seen fit to run an army of cart-horses through this theory with the bizarre naming of its latest chip, the GeForce 8800 GTS 512.
You may remember that we've already seen a couple of the 8800 GTS chips – to be precise the 8800 GTS 320MB and 640MB versions.
This Asus GeForce 8800 GTS 512, though, is no middle-of-the-range addition. Indeed, it's not even the same chip as with the other 8800 GTS cards – this one actually utilises the G92 chip that has already produced such fireworks in the form of the 8800 GT.
In essence, the 8800 GTS 512 is an enhanced version of the 8800 GT. Whereas the latter generally has a core clock speed of 600MHz, the Asus GeForce 8800 GTS 512 hits a sweet 650MHz. The memory clock speed is higher too – 970MHz (1.94GHz DDR effective) rather than 900MHz (1.8GHz DDR effective).
This results in a higher bandwidth figure of 62.1GBps over 57.6GBps. The memory interfaces are identical (256bit), but you do get a few more stream processors – 128 rather than 112 in the case of the 8800 GT.
What this amounts to is marginally more performance in the case of the Asus GeForce 8800 GTS 512. Testing over resolutions of 1,280x1,024 and 1,600x1,200, we found that the Asus GeForce 8800 GTS 512 was generally between 3-7fps ahead in a range of games (including World in Conflict, Company of Heroes and Fear).
This isn't a huge difference, but it could just add that extra dash of visual flair or smoother framerates at a crucial point. For the extra money, we suspect gamers will find the cost justified.
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