The 8800 GTX is nVidia’s crowd-puller, but only the most determined of gamers is going to splash out the best part of £500 on a graphics card.
Fortunately, nVidia has also released a cut-down version of the GTX, the GTS. At a far more reasonable £300 (and it's likely to drop to £200-£250 soon), the GTS will appeal to the hardcore gamer without buckets of money to throw at their PC.
So what are the differences? Well, much of the brilliant architecture has been retained, but nVidia has built its latest creation on a slightly smaller scale. Where the GTX had a massive 768MB of GDDR3 memory, the GTS has just 640MB, while the memory interface falls from 384bit to 320bit – still a significant improvement on the 256bit interfaces touted by non-8800 cards.
Plenty of the features that made the GTX great are present here. So once again we can welcome the decision to do away with the fixed vertex/pixel shader divide and replace them with universal 'stream processors'. The GTS's complement is 96. That's 32 fewer than on the GTX, but still significantly better than competing cards.
Then there's the support for DirectX 10.0. Well, there might be. The 8800 GTX should have the firepower to cope, but we can't yet tell how well DirectX 10.0 games will run on the GTS.
Tested across a wide range of titles (Half-Life 2, Prey, Fear and Quake 4), the GTS regularly outpaced similarly priced rivals at lower resolutions. In fact, for those who want to play games with high detail levels at a resolution of 1,280x1,024, the GTS is perfect.
However, the lead tended to drop past 1,600x1,200, which throws up the question of how well it's going to fare when subjected to the graphical complexities of true DirectX 10.0 games.