Manufacturer:XFX Price (as reviewed):£458.11 (inc. VAT)
Core Clock: 650MHz Shader Clock: 1620MHz Memory Clock: 2260MHz Warranty: Two years (parts and labour) in Europe
Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 Ultra almost needs no introduction – it’s quite simply the fastest graphics card on the planet. But, the title came at a heavy price premium until we learned at Computex that Nvidia and its partners were set to drop the price.
Initial reference-clocked cards were priced at a ridiculous £530 (inc. VAT) and then EVGA’s e-GeForce 8800 Ultra Superclocked was priced at around £540 (inc. VAT). Both of these cards represented poor value for money and were definitely products for those with more money than sense.
Things have changed though, especially after the noise Nvidia’s partners made at Computex. The first Nvidia board partner to reduce its prices is XFX and we have had one of its GeForce 8800 Ultra 650M XT Edition cards in the labs for a bit of benchmarkery. Could XFX’s aggressive price point make the GeForce 8800 Ultra a graphics card that’s actually for hardware enthusiasts gamers that not only have money, but also have some sense too? Let’s find out...
The first thing to note is that XFX’s card is clocked appreciably higher than the reference clocks, with the core clock increased from 612MHz to 650MHz, shader from 1500MHz to 1605MHz and memory from 2160MHz to 2260MHz. These are quite impressive increases, but the card isn’t clocked quite as high as EVGA’s e-GeForce 8800 Ultra Superclocked that we reviewed at the end of last month. Having said that though, this isn’t XFX’s flagship GeForce 8800 Ultra – that title goes to XFX’s XXX Edition, which is clocked at 675MHz core, 1667MHz shader and 2300MHz memory for the time being.
We say for the time being, because XFX is already planning to release a faster version of the card that runs at 685MHz core, 1667MHz shader and 2.3GHz memory very soon. XFX tells us that this card will simply replace the current XXX Edition and will come in at the same price point – it’s always nice to get something a little extra for free, even if it is only another 10MHz on the core!
Not surprisingly, the card looks the same as any other GeForce 8800 Ultra on the market – the cooling solution is Nvidia’s standard design and the only differentiating factor is the sticker in the centre of the fan. EVGA managed to put a sticker on the top edge of the card too but, frankly, it wasn’t the best sticker application we’ve ever seen and it looked pretty awful.
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The box is a different design to the one we saw when we looked at XFX’s GeForce 8800 GTX and GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB XXX Edition cards earlier this year. Instead of the white design, XFX has opted for black this time around – I guess it fits in with the card’s cooling solution. The rest of the design is pretty much the same as what we’ve seen before and there’s also the same masked hog on the left hand edge of the box.
Inside the box, the card is packed securely in an anti-static bag and then surrounded by foam to ensure there isn't any damage during transit. The bundle is slightly upmarket for what we're used to seeing with XFX's cards, as there is a full version of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter included in the box.
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On top of that, there is also a driver / utility CD, a user manual, a quick install guide, a pair of DVI-to-VGA converters, an S-Video cable and a component dongle. The notable omission is the pair of 6-pin PCI-Express power adapters that are required to use the card. Of course, all recent power supplies come with at least one or two 6-pin connectors, but it'd be nice to see a couple included with a graphics card that costs the best part of £460.
XFX's Warranty Terms:
XFX's video cards have differing warranties depending on the region you buy your video card in. In the UK and mainland Europe, XFX operates a standard limited two year warranty service covering the repair or replacement of the product – this is similar to what most other board partners offer in their own products.
However, it is still unclear why the company gives preference to its US customers, who get a “double lifetime warranty”. We’d like to see the company offer something up there with the likes of BFGTech and EVGA in Europe, but some would argue that two years is a fairly reasonable life expectancy for a high-end graphics card; especially given the rate at which technology progresses these days.