It's been some roller coaster weeks in the world of PC graphics since the GeForce 8800 GT was launched in late October. Shortly after that AMD was ready to unveil its Radeon HD 3800 cards, which added more value to the mainstream sector but didn't do much in terms of raising the performance bar. So that's where this new version of the GeForce 8800 GTS comes into play, and to be honest we were hoping it to be just a bit more impressive.
For the most part the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 was only slightly faster than the GeForce 8800 GT, still trailing behind the veteran (and still very expensive) 8800 GTX. As we showed all along in our tests, once overclocked the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 was able to outperform the 8800 GTX in a number of games, albeit by a small margin.
While the original launch date for the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 was mid-November, this date was pushed back until December 12th (later this week) and this schedule seems to be set in concrete now. The suggested retail price for these new cards has been set to $300-$350 which seems reasonable given the performance output you get.
Now, after a less than brilliant retail release of the GeForce 8800 GT two months ago you can't blame us for remaining skeptical about the availability and pricing of this new Nvidia based graphics card. Although the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 is designed to replace the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB and possibly the 320MB version as well, its biggest competition will come from its little brother, the 8800 GT.
Given that the GeForce 8800 GT is currently selling in the $270-$330 range (if you can find one), the idea of a faster GTS 512 for $300-$350 seems rather nice. To make things even nicer, a few large online retailers have told us they have a significant amount of GeForce 8800 GTS 512 graphics cards in stock that will be ready to go out the door on the 12th. These are of course great news, but could this be Nvidia playing us (and AMD) all along?
The good news for those of you that have managed to get their hands on a GeForce 8800 GT graphics card, no need to despair as you have not made a crucial mistake at all. From our tests with a couple of cards the overclocking performance of both is very similar, though the 8800 GTS 512 does have the advantage of shipping with a better quality (dual-slot) cooler.
Should the GeForce 8800 GTS 512 become available later this week and sell in large numbers for anything from $350 or less, it will no doubt make its way onto a number of Christmas lists.
The next generation graphics cards are still a few months away and it could be some time before an affordable solution based on that technology becomes available. Therefore investing in a GeForce 8800 GTS 512 today is probably not a bad move, particularly for those that want to engage in some serious gaming action over the Christmas holidays!