Just over a month ago, I took a look at the Leadtek 8800 GTX. Obviously it's still early days for the 8xxx series and prices haven't dropped much in this time (£25 in fact), but it performed amazingly. As Windows Vista hasn't hit the consumer market yet, and DirectX 10 games haven't arrived, most people are choosing to hold off before upgrading.
However, there's no denying that the 8xxx series is currently the fastest available, even in current DirectX 9 applications. Due to its unified shader architecture, running legacy games doesn't create inefficiencies in rendering as it will balance the stream processors perfectly. If that whole paragraph confused you, you might want to read my, unified shader architecture 8800 GTX review first.
The GTS suffix hasn't been seen on an nVidia card for quite some years now, and it's nice to see it resurrected. As with most of the three letter acronyms stuck on the end of model numbers, they mean very little and don't actually give much of an indication of expected performance. Think of them more as Jack, John and David, rather than 1st, 2nd and 3rd – especially when comparing cross brands, as the competition will often play on this and name budget cards with top-end acronyms.
In this case, going from the GTX to a GTS means a price reduction of close to £150. By moving from the GTX to the GTS, we see a drop in the number of stream processors from 128 to 96. These are also running at a slower frequency of 1.2GHz, compared to the 1.35GHz of the GTX. We also see a drop in the number of pixel output engines, from 24 to 20. This drop in pixel throughput should only really be an issue at very high resolutions.
As well as the lower frequency of the stream processors, the core runs at a slower 500MHz (compared to 575MHz) while the memory runs at 800MHz (1,600MHz effective) when compared to 900MHz (1,800MHz effective).
In practice, I expect all these little things to create quite a performance difference between the two cards – unlike previous generations. I also expect to see another card to be released to fill the gap between the two cards at a later point.
The card I'm using for testing was supplied by BFG. The artwork is somewhat reminiscent of myself when I'm struggling to hit a 5AM deadline, but wouldn't look out of place advertising the latest perfumes – Eau De Spode anyone?