With the card coming clocked at such high speeds already, we weren’t expecting much of an overclock. I’m still unhappy with most of the overclocking tools available in Vista so we went with a new program that Palit has developed, the VDO Tool. This program is on the driver CD included with their Sonic line of graphics cards. After a bit of testing different speeds we settled in at 783MHz core, and 2250MHz memory. While this isn’t a huge increase it is still an impressive 53MHz core and 150MHz memory increase over an already substantial overclock. We were able to maintain these speeds while blasting through Call of Duty 4 at 2560×1600 during multiplayer madness! As you can see in the picture below, there are a lot of options including full fan control, as well as Core, Memory, and even independent Shader clock sliders!!
You can see above the temperature that the card reached while running a short stress test. We were never able to break 60c even while gaming for hours. If this were an aftermarket cooling solution it would be considered one of the best on the market, the fact that it’s on a retail card from the factory makes it all the more impressive! Kudos to Palit for including a great cooling solution.
First off, we have to dish out our dislikes about the card, and it’s an extremely short list.
Beneath the back plate is the additional 512MB of memory that makes these cards unique. Keeping that memory cool requires the heat spreader. This is the only qualm that we have with these cards, the back plate/heat spreader causes a few issues on motherboards with capacitors on the top side of the PCI-E slot. On the 780i motherboard used in our testing we had to tilt the capacitor to get the card to fit. The next problem we ran into was adding the second card for SLI in our 780i meant we had to use 16x PCI-E slot number 3. In itself, this isn’t a huge ordeal but there are going to be boards out there that will not be compatible with this card. A quick list would be most 939 nForce 4 boards when running SLI and the Intel “Bad Axe” line even with only a single card due to the memory slots being so close. A quick stroll through Newegg shows that some 650i SLI boards may be affected as well. The back plate isn’t all bad though, as it does function well as a heat spreader and protects all of those tiny resistors on the backside of the card. Anyone that has accidentally knocked one of those off an 8800 GTX knows how horrible a feeling that can be (yes, that would be me).
Overall the card is a great performer that consumes less power and therefore puts out less heat. At times in SLI it outperforms the 8800 GTX SLI and even 3 of them in triple SLI but it’s not a consistent win across the board in single card or SLI configurations. Obviously if you’ve got an 8800 GTX or Ultra a Palit 8800 GTS 1GB is not going to be much of a change aside from power and heat. For those with large LCD’s or who have CRT’s capable of high resolutions and building a new system or upgrading from just about any ATI card, and NVIDIA cards lower than the 8800 series I would recommend a Palit 8800 GTS 1GB.
There is also something else special about these cards that we will be seeing in the near future, and that is that the clock speeds these cards carry is faster than the rumored speeds of the forthcoming 9800 GTX, which is rumored to use the same core. While nothing can be confirmed until the 9800 GTX becomes available, anyone buying a Palit 8800 GTS 1GB can rest assured that they are getting a very high quality card and top of the line performance at a great price. Our Palit 8800 GTS 1GB Sonic is priced at $369 at the time of this article. As games become more and more dependent on the size of the frame buffer, graphics cards will steadily keep increasing memory size and I have no doubt we’ll be seeing 1GB of memory arriving on all high end video cards very soon.
Legit Bottom Line: If you’re tired of seeing the same card across multiple vendors, the Palit 8800 GTS 1GB Sonic offers a fresh take on things with innovative design and stellar performance.