Asus EN8800GT TOP Review

ccokeman - 2008-01-03 10:38:01 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: March 23, 2008
Price: $237.99

Introduction:

When looking for a video card there are several types of users. There are the people that look only at the price, the intermediate gamer that wants the high-end cards, but has to settle somewhere in the middle and finally, the all-out 'must have the latest and greatest' card on the planet, regardless of cost. While there are are some cards that fall higher on the scale than the 8800GT series of video cards, there are not really that many. This makes the 8800GT fall right into the bread-basket of the intermediate gamer, as well as the higher-end crowd. Able to play many of todays DX10 games at high settings with acceptable frame rates, the G92 8800GT is that card that everyone wants from a cost/performance perspective.

The EN8800GT TOP from Asus, is just one of the G92 8800GT cards on the market. What sets it apart from the crowd? The Asus EN8800GT TOP is the "Top Overclocking Performance" version - the highest performance version Asus sell of this series. Featuring GPU core clock speeds of 700MHZ and GDDR3 memory speeds of 1010MHz, these clock speeds represent increases of 100MHz on the core and 110MHz on the memory over stock speeds. In addition, this card uses what Asus calls the "Glacinator" cooling solution to keep both the GPU core and memory cool. What's so special about this design? Asus clams it keeps the GPU seven degrees Celsius cooler than a stock reference solution. Let's see just how these features impact the performance of this 8800GT video card.

 

 

Closer Look:

The Asus EN8800GT TOP version comes in a fairly large package. The front panel of the box highlights the fact that this card comes with the full version of Company of Heroes Opposing Fronts, one of the newest DX 10 games currently available. Additional items highlighted, are the fact that this card is the TOP (Top Overclocking Performance) model. What this means is that this is the manufacturers factory direct overclocked model, where the GPU and memory clock speeds have been increased from the baseline 600MHz on the core to 700MHz and the memory clock speeds have been increased from 900MHz to 1000MHz - both substantial gains from stock speeds. The back of the box lists the additional 'Powerful' features, as well as the benefits of the bundled software. The front of the box has a flip-up tab that highlights the benefits of the Gamer OSD overclocking tool and provides information about the game, 'Company of Heroes'.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

The EN8800GT comes in a foam block that protects the card on all sides. The documentation and accessories are bundled into the right-hand side of the box. A full foam enclosure is so much better than some of the other methods manufacturers use to package their cards.

 

 

The bundle of accessories in this package includes the Company of Hereos Opposing Fronts disk, a driver disk,a disk containing the manual, a quick setup guide, a dual 4 pin Molex to 6 pin PCIe adapter, DVI to VGA adapter, S-Video to composite adapter and a handy carrying case for your CDs and DVDs.

 

Closer Look:

The Asus EN8800GT TOP is a PCIe video card intended to be used in a PCIe 1.0 to 2.0 16x slot. The TOP version features 512MB of GDDR3 Qimonda memory, rated for 1000MHz on a 256 Bit memory interface, shader clocks set to 1750MHz and a G92 core running at 700MHz. Instead of the reference solution, Asus has used a cooling solution called the "Glacinator". This cooling solution is a dual slot device that is reminiscent of many of the Zalman manufactured GPU cooling solutions. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The display connections include dual DVI slots and an S-Video out slot. The rear of the EN8800GT has the auxiliary 6 pin power connection in the standard location. A two pin connection is visible just to the right of the power connection to be used with an HDMI sound input cable. The cooling solution for the power regulation circuit is a small heatsink that gets air flow from the discharge air from the "Glacinator" cooling solution. The SLi bridge connection is on top of the card. Only one connection is available, so no tri-SLi with this series of cards.

 

 

The Asus EN8800GT comes in two flavors - one with the reference heatsink and one that includes the "Glacinator" heatsink. It is held on with just the four screws around the GPU socket. It is made entirely of aluminium and is large enough to allow airflow over the memory modules. The heatsink was a little tight on the core and required some effort to remove. The thermal transfer material was a form of tape and was difficult to remove. The fan is removable from the heatsink measuring 80mm x 15mm and is made by 'T&T' . Information was scarce for this fan.

 

 

Stripped of all the added hardware covering the G92 core and voltage regulators, you get the bare-bones view. The GDDR3 memory used on the EN8800GT is manufactured by Qimonda and is rated for 1000MHz. Even rated for 1000MHz, the stock memory speed is 1010MHz. Last but not least, is the G92 core powering the EN8800GT.

 

 

Installation:

Just replacing the video card will not give you the performance that the new video card can deliver. You must install the drivers for that to happen. To do that just pop the included driver and utility disk into the optical drive of your choice and wait for the auto-run feature to start the installation GUI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose the VGA Drivers tab to install the drivers for the EN8800GT. Follow the installation, choosing the the appropriate prompts and the installation will be completed after a system restart.

 

 

Once the drivers are in, then there is the installation of the included software. These programs offer overclocking and monitoring features, as well as the ability to use the EN8800GT in a security system. The Asus Smart Doctor program gives the user the ability to increase or decrease the clock speeds on the 8800GT. The Gamer OSD is great for print-screen captures. The last software is used in conjunction with a video capture device.

 

 

 

Configuration:

The configuration of the of the EN8800GT TOP can be performed in the Nvidia Control Panel. Changes to the resolution, Clock speed adjustments, A.I. settings and so much more is accomplished here.

 

Specifications:

 

Graphics Engine
NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT
Bus Standard
PCI Express 2.0
Video Memory
DDR3 512MB
Engine Clock
700 MHz
Memory Clock
2 GHz ( 1 GHz DDR3 )
Memory Interface
256-bit
DVI Max Resolution
2560 x 1600
D-Sub Output
Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1 )
DVI Output
Yes x 2 (DVI-I)
HDTV Output (YPbPr)
Yes
HDCP Support
Yes
TV Output
Yes (S-Video to Composite)
Adapter/Cable Bundled
1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
1 x HDTV-out cable
1 x Power cable
Software Bundled
ASUS Utilities & Driver
Hottest 3D Game: Company of Heroes- Opposing Fronts
Note
The card size is 4.376 inches x 9 inches

 

Features:

All information sourced from http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=2&l2=6&l3=442&l4=0&model=1938&modelmenu=1.

Testing:

At OverclockersClub.com, we use a series of benchmarks to stress the graphics card. We will use a series of new, as well as more seasoned gaming benchmarks, to show how well the Asus EN8800GT TOP compares to some of the other enthusiast video cards on the market. All driver settings and clock speeds will be left at factory default settings on both the CPU and GPU to minimize or eliminate any variables from impacting the results. The test system used in this review is listed below.

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

As a factory overclocked card, the expectation was that the increase in core clock and memory speeds would not be that significant. Overclocked cards usually have little performance headroom left to increase the clock speeds to gain additional performance. The final speeds I attained were 60MHz above stock on the GPU core and 44MHz on the memory. Neither were really significant, but high enough to increase the performance of the Asus 8800GT. This allowed the card to perform much better than a stock clocked 8800GT. The performance increase in benchmarks was sometimes not evident in games until the higher resolutions were run.

Benchmarks:

  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. Bioshock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Jaurez
  7. 3DMark 06 Professional

 

 

Testing:

Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at OverclockersClub.com. This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the gaming community. The Crysis single player demo includes both a CPU and GPU benchmark to test the performance of the processor and video card installed in the system.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EN8800GT comes out on top in all four resolutions.

 

Testing:

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies and prove your mettle on the open seas.

 

The settings we will use are below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EN8800GT again rises to the top in all but the 1920 x 1200 resolution, where it only falls to the G80 GTX by one frame per second.

 

Testing:

Benchmark: BioShock

BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played.

 

Settings:

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling to the 8800GTX at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200, the 8800GT overcomes this deficit with a little overclocking magic.

 

Testing:

Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the latest successor in the Call of Duty series. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a U.S. Marine or British S.A.S. trooper.

 

The settings used are listed below:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 8800GT falls to the the 8800GTX in Call of Duty 4. At points, the 9600GT had its moments as well.

 

Testing:

World In Conflict is a newly released DX10 real time strategy game that simulated the all out war that the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical generate wealth and build type of game. You advance by conquering your foe.

 

The settings we will use are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprisingly, the 9600GT outperforms the 8800GT until the higher resolutions, where the 8800GT and 9600GT are equal in performance.

 

Testing:

Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800s. The game is inspired in part by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.

 

The settings we will use are listed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the two lowest resolutions, performance between the 8800GT and 8800GTX was very close. As the resolution increased, the performance gap increased as well. It took a big overclock to make it above 10 fps at 1920 x 1200.

 

Testing:

Benchmark: Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts)

Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts) is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The Mission is Operation Market Garden, the first Allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real time strategy game is brought to us by Relic entertainment.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance across the board was similar to the previous benchmarks. The 8800GT competes with the GTX until the higher resolutions.

 

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At all of the resolutions tested, the EN8800GT was far and away the better performer very surprising against the GTX.

 

Conclusion:

The Asus EN8800GT had higher scores than the comparitive cards in 13 out of 32 benchmark tests run. While that may seem like a low number for a higher-end card, it was compared against the top-end cards from the 'last' generation. The performance was good, but not always better than that of the 8800GTX. To put that into perspective though, the G80 8800GTX ranges in price from just under four hundred dollars, to a little over six hundred dollars, while the EN8800GT can be had for two hundred and forty bucks or less. The performance is close to that of last year's top card for half the price, depending on the card purchased. That makes the EN8800GT TOP tremendous value, for the performance that is delivered. At the stock 8800GT clocks, the performance would not be as close to the 8800GTX, but that's what makes an overclocked card a worthy investment. While overclocking, I like to make sure the video card runs as cool as possible to gain the most performance I can. Unfortunately, I was unable to increase the fan speeds using Ntune or Riva Tuner, to help cool down the GPU and memory. While this may seem like a small thing, It is something many people would like to do. On the flip side to this, the card never got any hotter than 73 degrees Celsius and that was only after looping 3DMark 06 for an hour. Since this is a factory overclocked video card, additional speed is sometimes hard to find. The EN8800GT did, however, have another 60MHz on the core and 44MHz on the memory left to play with.

All-in-all, the Asus EN8800GT performed well, had additional overclocking head room and presents a performance/price point that is extremely attractive to the buyers that shop in the 199 to 250 dollar price range. The EN8800GT takes on its main competition, in the form of the HD3870 and beats it outright in 21 of 32 tests and ties it in many of the ones it fell behind on. The two-slot cooling solution nicknamed the "Glacinator," actually helped keep the hardware cool and performing well. If you are in the market for a higher-end card and the price point is right, the Asus EN8800GT TOP would be a worthwhile addition to your gaming rig.

Note: Stay tuned to find out how well The Asus EN800GT TOP version performs in an SLI configuration in OverclockersClub's SLI Benchmarking!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: