Gamers these days have it easy. Back in 'the day' even
if with a high end videocard 1600x1200 resolutions and anti-aliasing were not realistic options
if you played competitively online. These days, you can play with all the eye
candy maxed out on almost all but the latest game titles. The games look
a heck of a lot better too.
Another great thing about modern videocards is they allow even slightly dated PCs to
play games smoothly, since much of the processing is done on-GPU. In other words, while buying the latest and
most expensive CPU is never a realistic idea the same is not true for videocards. Buy
the fastest and absolutely best videocard you can afford (if you're a true gamer), and
skimp everywhere else. ;-) There is a lot of power in a modern GPU, and these dedicated graphics processors are also more versatile than ever before. The GPU is quickly becoming indistinguishable from the CPU.
In this review PCSTATS tests the awesome Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M PCI
Express videocard. This Geforce 8800GTS-320 lives up to the hype, and comes with
one of the best software packages available for its class. In the box is a full copy of
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, which just happens to be one of the hottest shooter titles of 2006. The
game looks particularly splendid when played over the Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M videocard too. Take my
advice, turn up the resolution to 1600x1200 and kick in AA and
AF to get the full affect.
The Asus EN8800GTS videocard is based on the GeForce 8800GTS core, with the
standard allotment of 320MB of GDDR3 memory. The videocard itself is a two-slotter, and uses the reference
nVidia heatsink which operates relatively quietly. The Asus
EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M videocard also comes with the game Race the
WTCC and a full copy of 3DMark06, handy for those of you into the
benchmarking craze. Other accessories include two DVI to analog converters, a
dual molex to six pin power cable and a component output cable. At $341 CDN ($308 US, £154
GBP) the Asus
EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M is a bit more expensive than the average GeForce 8800GTS
320MB, but the accessories do well to justify this premium.
Asus dress the EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M videocard
with a flashy Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter sticker, but apart
from this the unit is based entirely on the reference
nVIDIA GeForce 8800GTS 320MB. Unlike a few of the GeForce 8800GTS 320MB videocards
that have passed through the PCSTATS test labs recently, the Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M runs
at stock speeds. Its core is set to 500 MHz, its memory to
Based on NVIDIA’s G80 architecture, the Geforce 8800GTS GPU
relies upon a unified architecture which allows it to dynamically allocate processing power to
geometry, vertex, physics, or pixel shading operations. The highlights of this GPU include; DirectX 10
Shader Model 4.0, DirectX 9.0 and NVIDIA Quantum Effects technology for
physics computation, and 96 stream processors.
incorporates a Shader clock running at 1200MHz, output display resolutions as
high as 2560x1600, HDCP ( High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection ) and High Definition resolutions
up to 1920 X 1080i.
nVidia Reference Videocards Dominate - Features
You don't need to be a
computer expert to recognize that Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M is based entirely on
the nVidia reference design. In fact the only thing different about the
EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M videocard is that it has a Ghost Recon sticker on top of the shroud,
and Asus sticker on the fan.
to the full fledged
768MB GeForce 8800GTX, the
GeForce 8800GTS 320MB videocard is a bit shorter. It requires
a single 6-pin PCI Express power connector and has just one SLI bridge connector.
The videocard requires a large dual slot cooler, and so it's generally
a good idea to make sure the adjacent expansion slot is free. The 60mm PWM
fan is temperature controlled and for the most part runs too quiet to notice
when installed in a case.
Make no mistake about it, the Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M videocard, like all nVidia
'G80' models exhausts a ton of heat. Good case cooling is a wise measure.
One nice thing about the EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M videocard is that the heatsink pushes hot air
out the back of the computer chassis, rather then just mixing it around inside
the case like a fancy space heater.
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter - I LOVE THIS GAME!
Ghost Recon Advanced
Warfighter (aka GRAW) is certainly one of the best First Person Shooter (FPS)
games I've had the pleasure of playing in 2006. It has stunning visuals and a well
thought out story line, and there is no overlooking the awesome game play too. GRAW was
one of my personal favorites of the year.
few years in the future, the game basically has you leading a group of American special forces
into Mexico to save the President of the US, and to retrieve some stolen
technology (like the famed Nuclear Football) while battling it out with
guerillas, APCs, tanks and helicopters.
on the Unreal 3 engine, GRAW boasts wicked graphics and its game play that is
top notch. Your AI partners when playing single player mode still need a bit of
babysitting, but enemy AI is excellent. The bad guys won't play whack a mole with
you, most of the time they'll move to a new location to engage, and if possible
will flank your position.
haven't played it yet, get yourself a copy of Ghost Recon Advanced
Warfighter. I was particularly pleased to see this title
included with the Asus EN8800GTS/HTDP/320M videocard. Whether you get this videocard for
GRAW, or pick it up some time later, it will keep
you busy for a few good weeks. This is not a game you can
finish in a solid weekend of playing... but you can try to! ;-)