Despite its poorly chosen name (more on that later), the MSI GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB is a very nice card that will suit gamers looking for an affordable interim card with some punch. On this iteration of the 8800 GTS 512MB, the NX8800GTST2D512E- OC, MSI has chosen to overclock the core and shader frequencies for a little extra kick.
Based on the G92 GPU (graphics processing unit), the 8800 GTS 512MB card is more closely related to the 8800 GT than it is to the other two 8800 GTS cards, the 640MB and 320MB versions; hence the confusion over its name.
On this 65-nanometre (nm) GPU there's 128 stream processors, the very same as is used on the 8800 GTX, and the core clock speed has been marked up to 678MHz, a 4 per cent increase on the GTX and around 11 per cent increase over the other GTS cards. The shader clock has also seen a significant boost up to 1944MHz, around 22 per cent more than the GTX and 30 per cent more than the previous GTS iterations. It has 512MB of GDDR3 RAM and the memory clock runs at 972MHz (1944MHz effective speed), a 21 per cent increase over other GTS cards and a marginal improvement over the GTX.
It all sounds very promising, but the MSI 8800 GTS 512MB is let down by one vital feature, its 256-bit memory bus, which throttles its potential. Other features of the card include Nvidia's PureVideo, a dedicated video decoder core on the GPU that helps to free up the CPU from video decoding tasks. It's also HDCP compliant, meaning it's ready for high-definition Bluray movies.
In our benchmarks we saw fairly promising results. The biggest test is Crysis, a DirectX 10 title that's practically designed to push the limits.
Running the game in high quality mode with a resolution of 1920x1200, the maximum resolution of our Samsung SyncMaster 245B monitor averaged 24.7fps (frames per second); just 2 frames over our standard clock Inno3D 8800 GTS 512MB. In our other DirectX 10 tests we saw equally palatable results. In DirectX 9 games, the scores were significantly higher, though we actually saw a drop in Half-Life 2. On this card we saw an average of 91fps using maximum resolution and quality settings. On the Inno3D we got a nicer 123fps. We also ran 3DMark 2006 resulting in a score of 11,225.
Although the smaller memory bus may hinder taxing games at higher resolutions it's clear from our benchmark results that users are going to get a good playing experience on even the latest of games.