In November 2006, NVIDIA launched the GeForce 8800 GTX, which was the world’s fastest graphic processing unit, the first GPU to support DirectX 10, and the GPU with the highest video playback quality. The GeForce 8800 Ultra takes the world’s fastest GPU and pushes it further: with a core clock of 612 MHz, a shader clock of 1500 MHz and a memory clock of 1080 MHz, the GeForce 8800 Ultra is geared at those wanting the ultimate in 3D graphics performance.
To reach these higher clock speeds NVIDIA had to address things like thermal temperatures and cherry picking the right components as not all GeForce 8800 can reach speeds like these. Brian Wallace tried to overclock our pair of XFX GeForce 8800 GTX’s and the XFX GeForce 8800 GTX XXX Edition and couldn’t get the shader clock speed much higher than 1450MHz without getting artifacts. Without improved cooling, better capacitors (blue rated versus purple rated) and voltage adjustments it seems many of the 8800 GTX’s will be unable to hit the numbers that the 8800 Ultra come stock at.
To get a video card with the clock speeds that the 8800 Ultra has one is going to pay a ton of money, as the MSRP on a stock clocked 8800 Ultra is $829 with the overclocked versions from companies like XFX and EVGA going for even more. Let’s take a look at the reference NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra and see what this $829 PCIe graphics card is all about.
The GeForce 8800 Ultra features a core clock of 612 MHz. The texture filtering engine is based on the same design as the GeForce 8800 GTX, allowing 32 texture addresses calculations and 64 texture filtering operations per clock. Thanks to its high speed 1080 MHz GDDR3 memory, the GeForce 8800 Ultra features a phenomenal bandwidth of 101 Gigabytes per second—20% faster than the GeForce 8800 GTX. The initial batch of reference cards that NVIDIA has sent out have Samsung GDDR3 K4J52324QE-BJ08, 0.8ns/1250Mhz IC’s on them, which have plenty of head room for those that want to push the GeForce 8800 Ultra even farther. The combined increase in core, shader and memory clock allows the GeForce 8800 Ultra to outperform the GeForce 8800 GTX by 10-20%.
Thanks to its great power efficiency, the GeForce 8800 Ultra shares the same form factor as the GeForce 8800 GTX. The dual-slot design features an elevated cooling fan, which allows the fan to better draw cool air from above the card for optimal air circulation. Although it doesn’t look like it the GeForce 8800 Ultra uses the same cooling fan as the GeForce 8800 GTX (on a new and improved thermal module), meaning better performance without compromising acoustics.
The GeForce 8800 Ultra features two HDCP enabled DVI-I outputs for connection to analog and digital PC monitors and HDTVs, a 7-pin analog video out port that supports S-Video directly, plus composite and component (YPrPb) outputs via an optional dongle.
For those that want the ultimate in gaming performance a pair of the GeForce 8800 Ultra’s can be paired together via SLI to get a super expensive, but great platform to game on.