Gigabyte's GV-NX88T512H-B, GV-NX88T512HP, and GV-RX387512H
A healthy dose of alphabet soup
We have a trio of Gigabyte cards, and while they offer similar bundled extras, the same three-year warranty, and equally awkward names, the cards themselves are actually quite different. We'll start at the bottom, which in this case, is the least interesting among the three.
Behold the GV-NX88T512H-B, which is essentially a GeForce 8800 GT reference design. Gigabyte has shown admirable restraint here, electing to only apply a small sticker with its name on the cooling fan. The heatsink is otherwise devoid of the half-naked women, generic video game characters, and bold proclamations of Xtremeness.Moving upmarket, here's the GV-NX88T512HP, which ditches the GeForce 8800 GT's reference cooler for one of Gigabyte's own choosing. This cooler was designed by Zalman and features a couple of heatpipes that loop up from the GPU and through a tight array of cooling fins inlaid with a fan. This design takes up two slots and doesn't provide any direct cooling for the memory or voltage regularly circuitry.
There's more to this card than its cooler, though; it also falls under Gigabyte's "Ultra Durable 2" family, whose models make use of higher quality MOSFETs, chokes, and solid-state capacitors. Gigabyte has another little trick up its sleeve for overclockers. The card features a voltage regulation chip that, with a little help from software Gigabyte provides, allows users to change the GPU voltage from a standard 1.1V to 1.05 or 1.20V. This isn't much range to play with, but it's more than you get with the other cards in this round-up. Gigabyte also uses the voltage regulation chip to lower power consumptionsomething we'll put to the test a little later.On the Radeon side of the fence, the HD 3870-based GV-RX387512H gets the Ultra Durable 2 treatment and a different Zalman cooler. Unlike its 8800 GT counterpart, this card doesn't have a fancy voltage regulation chip. If you want to overvolt its RV670 graphics chip, you'll have to resort to more extreme measures.
Early out of the gate
MSI's NX8800GT was the first example of the GeForce 8800 GT to hit our labs, so it holds something of a special place in our hearts. We're also noting the card's age because Nvidia has made some subtle changes to the GT's reference cooler since it first introduced the card. Pay particular attention to the size of blower and venting on the heatsink shroud, since they're both a little different with some of the newer cards.MSI slaps a massive sticker on the GT's reference cooler, complete with eye candy that looks as if it's been pulled from a role-playing game. The card itself is just about as stock as they come save for factory overclocking that touches the core, shader, and memory clocks. None of the clocks are pushed high enough to thrust the NX8800GT into contention as one of the fastest GeForce 8800 GT's of the lot we've assembled, but the card should be faster than straight-up reference designs.
MSI's warranty coverage is three years for parts and two for labor, and that's fine, except that other industry giants like Asus and Gigabyte offer a full three-year, parts-and-labor warranty. MSI would do well to at least match its competition.