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XFX 8800GTS Alpha Dog Overclocking Adventure

The NVIDIA G92 has been causing a stir in the overclocking community. Notable is the well executed process change. We look at how the average enthusiast gets to squeeze their dollar with some elbow grease.

NVIDIA’s G92 now puts the successful G80 architecture on the 65nm process. After the 8800GT’s release, NVIDIA rolled out the 8800GTS 512MB to realise the full rendering potential of 128 Shader Processors. NVIDIA’s well-executed die-shrink has been causing a stir in the overclocking community. Out of the box, the 8800GTS 512MB easily reaches clockspeeds that trounces a fair few highend graphics accelerators. A bit of work is all it takes to squeeze extra performance out of your purchase so you can be cruising through Crysis with a few more options enabled. The star of today’s show is XFX 8800GTS Alpha Dog Edition which comes factory overclocked at 675/1674/990 (we’d be using this format of presentation for clockspeeds throughout this review). This thing does a fine 14823 in 3DMark06, when it’s slower brethren would only do 14456 out of the box.

Generic 8800GTS in 3DMark06.

The Alpha Dog munching down Futuremark.

Of course, most of our readers here don’t stop at overclocked graphics accelerators. They go on to overclock overclocked graphics accelerators. This is exactly what’s on the menu today; we take the XFX 8800GTS XXX Alpha Dog edition for a ride down the clockspeed highway. Most factory-overclocked graphics cards are notorious for poor overclocking headroom due to the already-high clockspeeds programmed into them. Whether or not the Alpha Dog will justify it’s price tag for the LN2-hugging overclockers’ everyday PC shall be explored in this review. Before the nitty-gritty, let’s just undress the Dog.

If there was an anti-static G-String equivalent, this is it.

Now that we’re done with looking at the overall package, the first thing an overclocker has to do is to get your hands on a graphics accelerator overclocking utility. RivaTuner has been gracing our labs for a fairly long time, and that is what we need today. In it’s 2.06 revision, you won’t get to recognise the G92 8800GTS 512MB immediately after installation. What you need to do is really simple. Grab this configuration file and throw it into your RivaTuner installation folder in replacement of the original. Mission complete? Move on soldier!

2.06 does not immediately recognise the 8800GTS 512MB.

Eventually, you can make it work.

Next portion is pretty cool, you get to gain the status of a "Power User" which comes close to sounding as Marvel as the Man-in-Rayon. Tab over to "Power User" and check the option, clicking "OK". Now you should see an array of options. Expand "RivaTuner NVIDIA Overclocking" and replace the blanks with "1" as follows. This keeps your eventual overclocked settings in shape.

Scroll to the "Rivatuner Overclocking Gobal" part and expand the list. Put a "1" in "DisableClockTest" so you don’t have to get a message bugging you to be The Great Stock-Clock Saint. Under "MaxClockLimit", throw a large value in the box so you never get to hit the end of the bar.

Now go over to "System Settings" in the RivaTuner panel. Check "Enable driver-level hardware overclocking." Out pops an option box. Keep "Allow Separate 2D/3D Clocking" checked. Uncheck "Link Clocks" You’re ready to start pulling the bars! For convenience, launch a 3D application in a window so you can load the graphics accelerator while you overclock on-the-fly. Games running in Window mode, or RTHDRIBL works well here. ForceWare 169.21, Windows XP Professional 32bit, Asus Maximus Extreme with PCIe frequency raised to 120MHz, Enermax Galaxy 1kW PSU and Cosair Dominator RAM are on the menu for today. Credits goes to Firefox and floppy for configuring the tweaked-out test bed.

Penryn power.

The 8800GTS uses a dual slot thermal solution known as the TM68. As we’ve discovered, the heatsink element has no fewer than 3 heatpipes. Very hefty for a default cooler even by today’s standards, and definitely no slouch when you pump up the fan speed. If you’re out of budget for better cooling, you’re not out of luck overclocking the 8800GTS. To take care of the heat, launch RivaTuner and drag up the fan speed. Under control, select "direct control" and check the box allowing this setting to be applied on boot.

Whining for the eyecandy.

After some trial-and-error, our Alpha Dog came to 799/1998/1080 on core/shader/memory clocks. That’s a FREE 13% boost in 3DMark06 scores!

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

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