The overall benchmark performance of the PNY GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is very impressive, and the NVIDIA shift to 65nm, and its resultant higher clock speeds, has created a very impressive video card. In most games, its performance is well ahead of both the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB and Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB, and it easily outpaced our video card competition in the benchmarking section. At higher detail levels, the performance gap usually became larger still, as even with less memory bandwidth than some of the other high-end cards, its extreme fillrate more than made up the difference.
In terms of real-world usage and stability, the PNY GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB also received very high marks. The card was rock solid through all testing, and exhibited no issues, even when overclocking. PNY has produced a very solid card, and even though it's quite large, even the fan noise is much lower than expected. Other than the usual spin-up when the PC is started, ambient noise is quite manageable, and better than some mainstream cards. That's one of the side benefits to a larger heatsink-fan unit on a 65nm GPU - often it doesn't need to run at high speeds to provide adequate cooling.
Overclocking Results and Performance
Ever since NVIDIA disabled the easy-to-use Coolbits hack in Windows XP (it doesn't even work under Vista), it's been a tougher job using nTune, but we persevered and found the PNY GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB to be a very good overclocker. The final result was a 792 MHz core speed and an effective 2.14 GHz memory speed, both of which are significant jumps compared to the 650 MHz/1.94 GHz defaults. We were initially able to go a bit higher on the GPU core, to over 800 MHz, but longer term testing showed a few graphical issues, so we ramped down to our eventual 792 MHz rock-solid overclock.
The retail price of the PNY version of the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB checks in at approximately $320-$340, which puts it at the higher-end of the GeForce 8800 GTS-512 range. This compares to other cards like the Radeon HD 3870 512MB ($200), GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB ($210), GeForce 8800 GT 512MB ($220), GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB ($270), GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB ($450), Radeon HD 2900 XT 1GB ($490), and Radeon HD 3870 X2 1GB ($450). PNY also offers a full 3-year warranty, along with an additional 2 years if you register on the PNY website.
There is a lot to like about the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. Its 65nm core allows unprecedented clock speeds, and supplies fillrate numbers that would look more at home at the $450 level. Sure, the memory architecture and bandwidth are lowered to properly position the card, but it still has a ton of horsepower under the hood. The PNY edition of the card is a very good one, with excellent performance and stability, with some overclocking headroom tossed in for good measure. Add in excellent warranty coverage and surprisingly low fan noise, and you're looking at a very good bet for the $300+ enthusiast crowd.