I’ve had an NVIDIA brand video card in my computer for approximately ten years. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a better one than the 8800GT.

I think I’ve talked before about buying this card. It was a sort of convoluted mess where one online retailer claimed to have them in stock for a great price, then proceeded to back order my card, ship more to other people (including new orders) and keep me back ordered. I cancelled the online order the day I saw Best Buy’s online inventory system show them in stock at the store. I picked up that BFG 8800GTOC and that’s what’s outputting the video to the monitor I’m typing this in front of right now.

I’ve made big video card upgrades in the past. Moving from a GeForce 2 series card to a GeForce4 Ti4200 was a nice jump. Moving on to the 6800GT from there was an even better jump. But I don’t think anything tops the move from a 6800GT to the 8800GT I have now. Where I could run games at lower resolutions with most effects and high texture quality on the 6800GT before, now I can run all games at my LCD’s native resolution (1280×1024) with everything turned up to the max. Best of all, there were no other upgrades needed. My Athlon 64 3500+ w/2GB of RAM is more than powerful enough to work alongside the 8800GT at that resolution and I’m probably able to make it a year or more before I truly need an upgrade there.

With some free time today, I was finally able to reinstall Bioshock and Company of Heroes to the new hard drive I purchased back before Christmas. The transformation of those games–which were both running great before–is phenomenal. They easily stand toe to toe with anything on consoles and the 8800GT is the driver. It’s exactly the reason that PC gaming is such a powerful thing. With one hardware purchase, I’ve essentially got a brand new computer to play with. It makes “old” games into “new” ones literally overnight. This doesn’t happen with consoles except maybe in the case of the smoothing that PlayStation One games get on PS2 and PS3. Heck, as good as those PlayStation enhancements are on there, even better smoothing is done through emulators that run PlayStation discs on the PC. Once again showing the power of the personal computer as a game playing device.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, that’s exactly the reason I wish Microsoft has poured their enormous Xbox resources into the PC instead. The benefits would have been far greater as far as I’m concerned.

But back to the title of this topic–the 8800GT. Call it a sales pitch if you want, but this is the best card NVIDIA has released, maybe ever. It’s not that it’s the most expensive or the highest of the high end, it’s that it’s completely affordable and provides enormous value for those dollars. I suppose if you were already running an 8800GTS, you’re not so enamored of the 8800GT. After all, it provides comparable performance for at least $50 less than you paid for that card. It’s sort of callous but that’s the price you pay for adopting early. Maybe I’ll regret the 8800GT somehow when the next range of NVIDIA cards ships later this year? Looking at it today though, this is the best money I’ve spent on computing in a long time. Now I’m off to play some more!



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