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Himeji Castle

Rig Shopping - Video

Since I'm thinking seriously about buying a new gaming rig in January, and two of my friends have been asking about video cards and CPUs, I did a bit of research on the subject. It turns out PC technology is in a weird place right now, which makes building a new system a bit tricky. I started with video cards, which are the heart and soul of any good gaming machine, and found that nVidia are still top of the heap. This is fine with me because I've always liked their cards, but their 8800 range is confusing as all buggery at the moment. The big problem is that they've just launched the sexy new G92 chipset, but instead of creating a new line of high end, midrange and budget cards, they've scattered the new cards amongst the existing G80-based range. We've got the old 8800 Ultra, the 8800 GTX and the 8800 GTS cards, and we've got the new 8800 GTS 512, the 8800 GT and the 8800 GT 256MB cards, and their performance isn't easy to rank. Anandtech has an excellent review of them all, but I don't quite agree with their final ranking, particularly as it doesn't look like they had a GTX in their tests. The Tech Report does include a GTX in their rundown, and they look at SLI configs as well, so I think I'm going to go with their numbers (fastest on top).

Card Chipset Price ($US)
8800 Ultra G80 $600 - $800+
8800 GTX G80 $500 - $600
8800 GTS 512 G92 $349+
8800 GT G92 $299 - $349
8800 GTS 640 G80 $450
8800 GTS 320 G80 $270

If you want the fastest video card around and money is no object, the Ultra still rules the waves, even though it's old. The GTX is just a teensy little bit better than the new GTS, but it's a lot more expensive, which makes the new GTS a much better purchase. The GT is still a good card if the new GTS is too rich for your wallet, and it's good to note that if you're in the market for a new GTS, avoid the 640MB or 320MB models - they're the older, G80 based cards. Personally I think I'll grab the GTS 512, although I'll have to wait and see how it's priced in Australia, and how available the cards are from local retailers.