Last week, Nvidia announced that it was readying a version of its GeForce 8800 GT graphics card with half the memory and a price tag squeezed down to $179-199. This GeForce 8800 GT 256MB has yet to materialize (Nvidia said it would roll out over the next two weeks), but the folks at Chinese site Expreview have gotten hold of a card and run some benchmarks to see how it compares to not only its 512MB big brother, but also AMD's Radeon HD 3850.
Expreview only tested 3DMark06 and Half-Life 2 Episode Two, so it wouldn't be wise to draw too many conclusions from these results. Nonetheless, in those two tests, the GeForce 8800 GT 256MB performs within about 1% of the GeForce 8800 GT 512MB at resolutions up to 1920x1200 without antialiasing and anisotropic filtering. With AA and aniso cranked up, though, the performance gap between the two cards goes up to as much as 32% in 3DMark and 7% in Episode Two.
Compared to the Radeon HD 3850, which launched last week at $179, the GeForce 8800 GT 256MB is unsurprisingly quite a bit faster. In Episode Two, the 8800 GT produces frame rates that are between 27% and 54% higher than the 3850's. 3DMark results are more mixed, with the Radeon outperforming the GeForce at 1920x1200 with AA/AF, and the GeForce retaining the upper hand overall.
If those results are any indication, the GeForce 8800 GT 256MB should turn out to be a much better deal than the Radeon HD 3850. However, as we said last week, the current G92 shortage doesn't bode well if the 8800 GT 256MB is to become available in its announced price range this year.