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Just a few weeks ago I took a look at the nVidia GeForce 8800 GT and was so impressed by it I gave it an Editor's Choice award. Its combination of good performance, class leading features, and incredible price made it undeniably the best graphics card we've seen since the original 8800 GTX over a year ago. However, for the review I chose to use what's called a reference board, which basically means it's one made by nVidia to a standard spec. We receive just the card and run our performance tests on it and assess the underlying technology. However, you can't actually buy reference boards in the shops so, in order to give you a true impression of what you can expect to get when you lay down your hard earned cash, we've grabbed a proper retail board for a TrustedReviews once over.
The card we've chosen to look at is made by Leadtek and, specifically, it is called the PX8800 GT Extreme. As you may have guessed, the Extreme in the name refers to the fact the card comes overclocked right out of the box so we should expect it to perform slightly better than the reference card we looked at the other day.
Most of the usual board partners seem to have overclocked boards available in the shops and the majority of them are demanding a small premium of about £15, or 14 percent, over the standard clocked boards. In the case of the Leadtek Extreme, it appears to be among the highest overclocked boards available with a core clock speed of 680MHz and memory running at 2000MHz (effective) - standard clocks are 600MHZ and 1,800MHz. Respectively these figures equate to 15 percent and 11 percent increases over the standard speeds and, if our past experience is anything to go by, we can expect the resultant performance to be faster by the same average proportion. With a quick bit of on-the-fly calculation, this means the price/performance ratio of both the standard clocked card and the overclocked card is nearly identical so whichever you buy, you're still getting great value for money. Therefore, the decision of which to go for comes down to whether you feel that extra little bit of performance is required to run your games as you would like or whether you can get away with just the standard clocked version.
However, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. I'll take a look at performance figures and come to a final decision shortly. First, though, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of what this card is all about and look at the pretty colours…
As we've come to expect from Leadtek, the box design for the PX8800GT Extreme leaves a fairly considerable chunk to be desired. If the big robotic figure, orange and white colouring, and holographic finish appeal in the Far East, well that's one thing. However, over here I don't know anyone that will be attracted by such garish box design. I think judicious use of a brown paper bag might be required when buying one of these - if the card doesn't fit, at least you can put it over your head.