BFG 8800 GT OC Review

Author: Kevin Spiess
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, October 29th, 2007
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/bfg8800_GT_OC/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

The BFG 8800 GT OC has come out during a very good time for PC gamers.

Some great games are out; and some more great games are right around the corner. Crysis, Hellgate: London, Call of Duty 4, Gears of War. Unreal Tournament 3. Quake Wars: Enemy Territory; World In Conflict. Portal and Team Fortress 2 -- the list goes on.

As the weather worsens and winter draws near, you've never had a better excuse to spend massive quantities of quality time with these upcoming and released titles. But out there, amongst the gaming masses, there is a problem. This problem has been around since the early days of gaming, but it's particularly acute right now, for many of you out there, right now, reading this.

The problem is horsepower.

Many have the games, but not many have the gameplay. Sure, the hardcore crowd with their 8800 GTX's and HD 2900 XT's haven't had much to complain about; they've been doing fine. But not everybody has the best money can buy. In short: Average Joe gamer needs more juice.

Let's face it: most of the mid-range cards have been a disappointment, for many, including myself. Review after review, done by myself and by others, all show the fastest of the mid-range cards, from both the HD 2600 XT's and the 8600 GTS's families, to be woefully under-powered for DX10 gaming. The situation has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Why the bitter taste in my mouth? It's not only the coffee -- it's because I can easily picture someone going to down to the local hardware shop with a fist full of hard-earned cash, and high hopes of FPS, purchasing a mid-range card with a big smile on their face. And then, I can imagine just as clearly how that smile must have vanished once this hypothetical gamer went home, got those drivers installed for the first time, and watched -- horrified -- as their brand new hardware stumbled around the 30 FPS mark in a modest resolution of DX10 Bioshock. That's just not right!

Money doesn't grown on trees; but gaming performance should.

Allow me to introduce you to Mr. BFG 8800 GT OC. A true video card for the masses. Previously known by the code-name G92, the 8800 GT holds promise.

A great deal of promise.

Grab yourself a beverage. Secure yourself in your seat. Let's take a close look at the 8800GT...

Long and sleek could possibly be your first impression of the BFG 8800 GT OC, upon seeing it for the first time.

Far thinner than its elder brothers the 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS, the 8800 GT has a single-slot cooler.  It does have the length of it's older brothers though: the BFG 8800 GT OC would probably almost reach from one end of your mainboard to the other. The heatsink/fan cooling solution is somewhat reminsicent of some I've seen on GeForce 7800 series cards -- but unlike the cards from that class, the cooler stretches across almost the entire length of the card. There is one problem with this cooling though: it seems that an awful lot of heat is pushed out towards the rear of the card. After some extended use, you can expect the BFG 8800 GT OC's DVI ports to become hot to the touch. This probably does not bode well for air circulation in your case -- it'd probably be beneficial to arrange any internal fans with this in mind.

The card may be thin, but under the hood we have around 748 million transitors of gaming power. The 8800 GT has a core clock set to 600 MHz, a memory clock of 900 MHz, and a shader clock of 1500 MHz.

BFG Tech being BFG Tech, they've overclocked this card. The overclock is slight though: 625 for the core, 1566 for the shader clock, and the memory hasn't been overclocked at all.

As for the other vital numbers, the BFG 8800 GT OC has 512 MB of GDDR3, and retails for around $259 CDN / USD. 8800 GT's will also come in 256 MB versions, and they will retail for about $50 clams (CDN or US clams) less.

The 8800 GT does not have any universe-shattering new architeural features. Basically, the folks at Nvidia just took all they learnt from the 8800 GTX / GTS series of cards, and applied this knowledge into the construction of the 8800 GT. The 8800 GT is like a 8800 GTX Light -- the GT uses less power (requires only one PCI-E power connector, and should run fine on a 400 W PSU) and has 112 stream processors (compared to 128 SP's in a 8800 GTX.)

The 8800 GT gives a lot, without being greedy.

And one thing I am very happy to report to you is that the BFG 8800 GT OC has a 256-bit memory interface. Hopefully, this will help those other so called 'upper mid-range' cards sporting 128-bit memory interfaces completely going out style of favor in 2008.

The card is about 9 inches long.

BFG towers of power.

In addition to the BFG 8800 GT's gaming prowess, the 8800 GT also has the other features of shared by the 8800 series cards. The first is a new and improved VP2 variety of PureVideo, which allows your video card to handle HD DVD and Blu-Ray decoding via the GPU, so that your CPU is less burdened.

The 8800 GT also has the ability to explore the world of CUDA and Tesla. If you are not familiar with these two things, in a very big hazy nutshell, Tesla allows for the parellel-processing power of your GPU to be utilized in software applications. For example: some Folding at Home projects are optimized to use Tesla. The parellel nature of GPU design allows for some tasks and calculations to run many, many times faster on your GPU than could be run on a multi-core CPU.

The 8800 GT video cards are also the first to support the new PCIe version 2.0 standard  - although, this won't have much affect on performance. That extra bandwidth offered by PCIe won't be taken advantage of anytime soon. This card also features Shader Model 4.0 support.

One more good thing about this particular card is BFG Tech's Lifetime warranty. The kind folks at BFG assure you that if you don't swap coolers, or overclock your card excessively, they will replace your BFG 8800 GT OC in the off-chance that something goes kaput.

Benchmark Setup

For this we review, we used the following testing platform:

Expecting the 8800 GT to offer higher-end performance, we decided on using the following 'big-guns' of the current generation of video cards: a  Radeon HD 2900 XT,  a Asus EN8800 GTX,  and a  XFX 8800 GTS XXX [320 MB]. For comparison's sake, we also included two out-of-box overclocked mid-range cards in our benchmarks: a MSI RX2600XT Diamond Plus (512 MB), and a BFG 8600 GTS OC2.

For the first time, we decided to forgo XP, and solely rely on Vista for running our benchmarks.

As for drivers, all the Nvidia cards were tested with the 167.26 Beta drivers, except for the SLI setup, which utilized the newer 169.01 drivers. Both ATI/AMD cards used the Catalyst 7.10 drivers. 

World In Conflict: We used the built-in benchmark of the demo version of this game. We ran the benchmark in DX9 rendering mode, with a high level of quality.

Unreal Tournament 3: Was benched using Unreal Tournament 3 benchmarking tool made by King Bill & MatrixMC. This was the beta demo version of Unreal Tournament 3. We tested using the DeathMatch, ShangriLa (map) fly-through, with 3 bots, running for 48 seconds.

Hellgate: London: Stricltly speaking, this is not a benchmark. We included some performance numbers from Hellgate: London to show you what kind of relative performance levels you may get in the game. The FPS performance was gathered by using a 16 second FRAPS at the begining of the single-player demo. Due to the inherent randomness of Hellgate: London, each time we did the FRAPS run, stuff was a little bit different: monsters moved in different paths, and the intial alley had slightly different dimensions. This randomness effectively nullifies any hope of benchmarking in this single-player demo version of the game. As for settings, the following options were set: Triple Buffering ON, Engine Version DX9, Shader Quality VERY HIGH, Shadow Detail HIGH, Dynamic Lights ON, Model Detail HIGH, Model Viewing Distance VERY HIGH, Texture Detail VERY HIGH, Weather ON, and Trilinear Filtering ON.

We ran each FRAPS run twice and averaged the results to counter-balance the randomness, but again: take these results with a grain of salt.

Call of Juarez: We used the stand-alone Call of Juarez DX10 benchmarking program for these results. For our AA testing, we used a setting of 2x.

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea: This is the first time we used this demanding, stand-alone DX10 benchmark.  We set the Image Quality level to 'High', and tested AA at a setting of 4x. 

Bioshock: For this benchmark, all of the Detail settings were set to 'High'. All of the graphic option switches were set to 'On', with the exception of the following three settings: Vsync, Windowed mode, and Force Global Lighting. We used FRAPS to measure framerate performance. The FRAPS run was 138 seconds, triggered from pulling the switch in the sub at game's beginning. The sub's dive involves many big models moving around, which should strain the GPU's and be a good measure of the game's engine.

 

SLI

 

The 8800 GT has tremendous potential to become the card to engage in SLI.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First off, the 8800 GT has the right size: it is thin -- with a single-slot cooler.  This means that even with SLI cards you won't be crowding out the last few slots in the motherboard.

The card also has the right price-performance ratio (I know we haven't got to the benchmarks yet, but just trust me for now.) And finally, this new GPU also has low power requirements (so there is no need to to purchase an expensive PSU; or worry too much about excess heat).

We tested SLI, running the BFG 8800 GT OC in tandem with a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT, and had some very encouraging results in about half of our benchmarks. I'm sure, given a bit more time, SLI will be up and running smoothly with all our titles tested, but for now, it was hit or miss.  NVIDIA takes SLI very seriously and seems to work hard and fast at bringing SLI support to as many titles as possible as quickly as possible.

So, if you see SLI numbers in the graphs, that means SLI worked in the game. No SLI numbers means SLI either did not work, or offered no performance advantage.

 

Bundle

The BFG 8800 GT OC doesn't offer any surprises in its accompanying bundle. It consists of a well-written quick installation guide, a driver CD, a double-molex to PCIE power connector, a display port adaptor, and a DVI/VGA dongle.

What you see is what you get.

 

Overclocking

Time was a huge constraint for this article, so unfortunately, we did not have much oppourtinity to delve deeper into the overclocking side of things with the BFG 8800 GT OC. But we did manage to get some numbers for you, and they are impressive.

The card was quite stable at 692 (core clock) / 960 (memory clock). Our stability test was forty-five minutes of alternating World In Conflict and Call of Juarez benchmarks.

With this kind of headroom, BFG could have maybe pushed their OC up a little notch. But I presume they are holding off for a BFG 8800 GT OC2 -- and there's nothing wrong with that.

Anyways: the BFG 8800 GT OC has great overclocking potential. And we will explore this potential further in future articles.

The BFG 8800 GT OC starts our benchmarks off with a bang with its 3DMark06 performance.

Don't even get me started on how well the 8800 GT SLI setup stacks up against the Asus EN8800 GTX.

Things look good.

But you don't buy a video card to do well on 3DMark06 -- so let's get to the games.

Interesting. First thing I was surprised to see is the Radeon HD 2900 XT at the top of the charts -- as I previously suspected, driver issues held this card back in prior World In Conflict benches.

Next thing I noticed was the relatively low framerates achieved by the Asus EN8800 GTX at 1024x768 -- so I doubled checked the results. The results came up the same.

The third thing I noticed was that the BFG 8800 GT OC outperformed the Asus EN8800 GTX with AA enabled (!!!).

That must be fluke -- right? That can't be. I'm going to reserve judgement on this benchmark.

Let's check out some more numbers...

(We also tested the BFG 8800 GT overclocked to 692 / 970 / 1500 (shader clock) in World In Conflict, and recieved the following results, with no AA: 45 [1024x768], 47 [1280x1024], 45 [1600x1200]. With AA enabled: 48 [1024x768], 42 [1280x1024], 36 [1600x1200]. )

The BFG 8800 GT OC performs admirably here, offering performance very similiar to the Radeon HD 2900 XT.

As mentioned on page 4, this Hellgate: London 'benchmark' must be taken with a grain of salt. It can't really be considered a benchmark at all -- it is more of a 'performance indiciator.'

Irregardless, the data still shows us a few things. The 8800 GT SLI performs very well here, easily out-muscling the single 8800 GTX, for starters.

The BFG 8800 GT OC also seems to offer superior AA-enabled performance compared to the XFX 8800 GTS XXX.

And neither the RX2600 XT Diamond Plus, or the BFG 8600 GTS OC2, can hold a torch to the performance of the BFG 8800 GT OC.

Also, it seems that Hellgate: London could have a framerate cap of around 200. Further Hellgate: London testing will incorporate some higher resolutions. 

The Call of Juarez DX10 benchmark is a very demanding one, and it's here that the BFG 8800 GT OC really shows what it is made of.

Great numbers here for the 8800 GT. The BFG 8800 GT OC lags only slightly behind the performance of the Asus EN8800 GTX, and only really falls behind at 1600x1200 with AA enabled. Very impressive.

And the 8800 GT SLI performance is just...well, I don't even need to say anything about it. The numbers speak for themselves. The 8800 GT could potentially become the poster child for SLI.

(Also would like to mention: the overclocked 692 / 970 / 1500 BFG 8800 GT scored the following results in this benchmark: 35.9 [1024x768], 29.4 [1280x1024], 25.1 [1600x1200], and with AA enabled: 31.3 [1024x768], 24.9 [1280x1024], 12.7 [1600x1200]. )

The PT Boats: Knight of the Sea DX10 benchmark goes through GDDR memory like a starving man at a cake conference.

Benchmarks like these might make some people lean more towards the 512 MB versions of the 8800 GT, such as our BFG 8800 GT OC. That extra 256 MB will be even more important, as we get into 2008.

Memory-gobbling issues aside, our 8800 GT OC really blows the competition out of the water in PT Boats. All the competition except for the 8800 GTX, that is. In the higher resolutions the 8800 GTX maintains a decent performance advantage.  

Another great performance shown by the BFG 8800 GT OC -- though, the 8800 GT does not pull much further ahead of the XFX 8800 GTS 320 MB in this case.

And it does seem evident, that for those of you out there with excellent displays, who like to game at higher resolutions (1600x1200 and up), the superiority of the 8800 GTX is still unmatched.

 

Crysis.

Even the most casual of PC gamers have been looking forward to this game for some time.

And the release of Crysis and the 8800 GT just happened to come at pretty much the same time.

And that's good timing.

Here are some results from the single-player demo. We used the built-in benchmark flyby program to generate these results. As for settings, the game was run with everything set to 'High', at a resolution of 1280x1024. Sorry we could not include more results from this game -- but they will be forthcoming.

We substituted the RX2600XT Diamond Plus and BFG 8600 GTS out of this benchmark because, frankly, it would not be pretty. We thought it would be more useful to stick to the stronger cards.

The Forceware 169.01 drivers were used for this benchmark.

As you can see, Crysis is a very demanding game. Normally, with these kind of results (top cards barely breaking 30 FPS), I'd be inclined to go off on a tangent, about how developers make games with unreasonable expectations of the gaming public's hardware. But this argument doesn't stand for Crysis -- it's not that the game is not optimized. It's just simply a matter of amazing graphics that require substantial horsepower to push.

As a subjective interjection, I 'researched' the BFG 8800 GT OC on the weekend, as soon as I was able. If you have something somewhat similiar to my home computer (a E2160 Dual-Core running at 3 GHz, with 2 gigabytes of memory at 833 MHz), you can expect to get a solid 30 FPS with Crysis, at 1280x1024, on High detail, with this card. By a solid 30, I mean to say that there are no big dips in performance with many models moving on the screen. The game is quite playable -- of course, more frames would be appreciated...but, when a game looks as good as Crysis does, it becomes quite difficult to complain.

 

Power Usage

Most impressive, Darth Vadar might say, after seeing these power usage numbers.

A pair of 8800 GT cards uses less power than a single 8800 GTS.

Very nice, Borat might say, after seeing these low PSU requirements.

(We tested the power draw by using a P3 International Kill a Watt enery-usage monitor. We created our 'load' environment by testing during a particularly demanding part of 3DMark06.)

Final Thoughts

It's impossible not to be impressed by the performance of the BFG 8800 GT OC. It's just that simple -- the card is just that good.

When I was in California a few days ago for the unveiling of the G92 / 8800 GT to the tech press, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took to the microphone for a final question and answer period, at the day's end. One member of the audience had a question for Mr. Huang: "So," the tech journalist guy said, a bit of doubt -- or perhaps it was disbelief -- in his voice. "The 8800 GT is going to offer that much performance, for about $200 bucks?"

Jen-Hsun Huang, showing complete confidence, assured the tech journalist that yes, that was exactly the case: the 8800 GT offers the performance of a top-end card, for a price that many would be able to afford. Mr. Huang went on to add that NVIDIA only gets a chance to make a GPU like this about every four or five years. He said that a combination of many factors only allows for this kind of relative performance, at this relative mid-range price, only every blue moon. He said that the 8800 GT would prove to be one of NVIDIA's most memorable GPU releases.

While Mr. Huang's plainly visible confidence was reassuring, at the time, I wasn't sure whether to believe him. But after seeing all these benchmarks, I can understand why he was so confident -- he was so confident, because exactly what he said was true: the 8800 GT is a hell of a card. As anyone can see by looking at the numbers, it boils down to the BFG 8800 GT OC offering the performance nipping at the heels of 8800 GTX, for the affordable price of around $259 dollars.

If you have anything below the power of 8800 GTS 320 MB video card, consider a BFG 8800 GT OC. The only thing that might cause pause is wondering what ATI/AMD's response will be. I would not count out the red team just yet -- as challenging as it might be, they might be able to offer a competively priced GPU, sometime soon (in fact, if you've been following our news, rumours peg the ATI/AMD card release at very soon).. But that's two big mights, because as it looks right now, the 8800 GT will be tough to beat.

Gamers rejoice. The age of DX10 has now only just begun. The performance of the 8800 GT OC embarrasses the mostly unimpressive 8600 GTS and HD 2600 XT cards, and dethrones the bang-for-the-buck attractiveness of the 8800 GTS 320 MB. This is a true performance card for the gaming masses. This GPU has enough horsepower to get you gaming in DX10, and enough horsepower to deliver any sort of DX9 experience you are looking for.

The card even overclocks well.

It would be impossible for someone to not recommend the BFG 8800 GT OC. The card does it all for around $250. Really.

Unlike any other previous mid-range card, when the first, exclusive-DX10 only game comes out, I'd bet my hat that the BFG 8800 GT OC will be able to still deliver the goods, and get you those good, playable framerates. The SLI potential for this card is also excellent -- with it's single-slot cooler, low power requirements, and good price-point, I expect that hordes of people -- either soon, or sometime down the road -- will want a pair of 8800 GTs running in their case.

Every true PC gamer deserves high framerates -- but not every PC gamer is able to drop $350, $450, or $500 dollars plus on a video card.

But now you don't need to, because the BFG 8800 GT OC is here. Performance has suddenly become affordable; and the next-gen, finally, will start to become the now-gen, for many, many more gamers out there. 

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