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Why is it that the 320 mb 8800gts beats the 640 mb one in performance?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 27, 2007 11:11:14 PM

I just began a search for a new graphics card and thought immediately of the 8800gts 320 mb. I looked at tom's vga charts and the 320 mb version outperforms the 640mb version in pretty much every benchmark, barring a few where the 640 mb card outperforms the 320mb version.

I was wondering why it runs more efficiently? is it because it has a 320-bit bus? and having that on a 640mb card cripples it a bit?

thanks.
T.
August 27, 2007 11:23:19 PM

the 2 cards are IDENTICAL except for the quantity of memory (unless I've been lied to) and if they have the same bus then having more memory isn't going to cause a problem I would have thought, but for most modern games you will find that between the 320 and 640 versions the difference is nothing more than luck, an extra 1 or 2 fps either way I excpect, unless the textures are set to high or the res and aa and af is set to high then the extra memory isn't going to come into play (and this reply hasn't been well thought out and there are probably a lot of grammatical errors),
August 27, 2007 11:54:23 PM

Yep, its just random luck, not every benchmark are 100% accurate. As spuddy said if memory are not pushed beyond 320mb then they will have the similar results. I think an additional 320mb of memory is nothing but a hype, only a couple of single digit frames gained.
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a c 143 U Graphics card
August 28, 2007 12:18:07 AM

Maybe the 320 MB version was overclocked and they didn't mention it or it was in the fine print.
August 28, 2007 12:20:03 AM

On Dark Messiah of Might and Magic the 640 gets 12fps higher at 1280x1024. And at 1600x1200 it gets over 30fps higher. Is this just because it can store more textures in VRAM rather than having to access the hard drive?

What other games does the 640 have such a large margin? I'd like to get a list of these games to see if it's worth the extra $100.
a c 143 U Graphics card
August 28, 2007 12:48:18 AM

Well, you can always find other sites with benchmarks, Google is good for that. Or just get the 640 version and start using it already. I'm sure future games will take advantage of it, now that game companies know it's out there.
August 28, 2007 1:13:23 AM

Hm..interesting.
now, is the extra memory worth the $100 bucks? Imo,no.
especially if the next gen of nvidia gpu's are around the corner.
August 28, 2007 1:16:05 AM

Most likely an OC'd 320 card. But I think the 320 bit bus allocates/uses 320 MB a tad more efficiently than 640 MB, it just retrieves data from a smaller data pool faster, but I am most likely talking out of my ***...
August 28, 2007 1:21:59 AM

And yes, the extra 100$ for double the vram is a good deal when games like GRAW force you to use Med textures if you don't have enough RAM, even if the card can handle high textures at your given res. Even "old" games like Doom 3 limit your textures based on Ram, not card speed. Who wants to find out when Crysis is out after laying down the bulk of the cash for the 320?? Also, if you wait 3-5 months to buy a card your system gets less use=less value, and if a system is ancient in 2 years...
a c 108 U Graphics card
August 28, 2007 2:15:23 AM

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic can use alllot of gpu power and ram... hell even a gtx can get down as low as 35-40 in the boat spot near the start(with MAX settings......bastards).

With current prices the 640 is worth it...but if you play less or older or just don't want to max games the 320 will be fine....
August 28, 2007 3:08:45 AM

qwertycopter said:
On Dark Messiah of Might and Magic the 640 gets 12fps higher at 1280x1024. And at 1600x1200 it gets over 30fps higher. Is this just because it can store more textures in VRAM rather than having to access the hard drive?

What other games does the 640 have such a large margin? I'd like to get a list of these games to see if it's worth the extra $100.


Yes when you start upping the res and turning on graphic options that where the extra Vram comes into play. If you turn on AA & AF you'll see the 8800GTS 320 lose FPS.
August 28, 2007 3:50:47 AM

so, it seems silly to me that a more powerful graphics card does worse in older architecture games than one that has a little less memory. I understand why, but shouldn't nvidia make the card so it can handle the less need for memory and give the same results if not better?
August 28, 2007 5:46:33 AM

The world doesn't work like that, Nvidia is thinking about the budget gamer to that doesn't play games that require much power to run. Most games that are made (Oblivion) are designed for two to three years ahead in the hardware department. Not many people can run Oblivion at max everything just yet unless someone has two 8800GTX's and these weren't around when Oblivion came out.
August 28, 2007 1:15:10 PM

but that only applies at the absolute highest res, an x1900xt can max oblivion at 1280x1024 (no aa) and run smoothly as you like
August 28, 2007 1:38:07 PM

spuddyt said:
but that only applies at the absolute highest res, an x1900xt can max oblivion at 1280x1024 (no aa) and run smoothly as you like


The X1900XT can not do AA & AF & HDR @1280x1024, therefore it can not do max setting. The 8800 series G-cards are the only ones that can run HDR, AA and AF @1280x1024 at the same time.
a c 169 U Graphics card
August 28, 2007 2:02:38 PM

i have seen the benchmark of oblivion with x1900xt with everything maxed out +hdr , it was when they were released
August 28, 2007 2:23:11 PM

The Memory in the 320Mb cards may also have better timings which could help in cases where the extra memory is not needed.

Example - Check the timings of the 2x2gb Desktop Memory Sets vs the 2x1gb memory sets. The 2x1gb timings are available with better timings.

Now, I have no evidence to support this idea, but just food for thought.
August 28, 2007 2:55:04 PM

This is quite interesting. Wow, thanks for the info!
August 28, 2007 3:05:50 PM

This from Xbit and is a bit dated:
The new GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB is a good buy for its official price of $299. Among its advantages are support of DirectX 10, high-quality anisotropic filtering and good performance in common display resolutions. So, if you are going to play in resolutions of 1280x1024 or 1600x1200, the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB will be an excellent choice.

Unfortunately, the technically promising graphics card, which differs from the more expensive version in the amount of memory only, is sometimes much slower than the GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB not only in games that demand a lot of graphics memory (e.g. Serious Sam 2 ), but also in applications that didn’t reveal any difference between graphics cards with 512MB and 256MB of memory before. Particularly, these are TES IV: Oblivion, Neverwinter Nights 2, and F.E.A.R. Extraction Point . 320MB is considerably more than 256MB, so this is a memory management problem, probably a driver issue. Anyway, even with the mentioned drawbacks, the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB looks much more appealing than the GeForce 7950 GT or Radeon X1950 XT, even though the latter are going to become cheaper now.


Of course now there are much newer drivers available. I think the similiarly clocked cards are very comparable in performance until the need for the additional memory comes into play. I have the 640mb version but in short, go with the 320mb unless you play a game that requires the addtional memory or use a display greater than 1600x1200.

August 28, 2007 5:11:16 PM

So we know Dark Messiah will utilize the extra memory and gain FPS. What other games do you guys know that will benefit?
August 29, 2007 2:01:52 AM

qwertycopter said:
So we know Dark Messiah will utilize the extra memory and gain FPS. What other games do you guys know that will benefit?


Oblivion needs lots of Vram because the draw distance is so far away and it needs to be rendered in advance. You think Oblivion uses alot wait till newer games come out, and even games that are poorly optimised(DX10).
a b U Graphics card
August 29, 2007 2:26:27 AM

In response to an earlier post, the 2900XT. 8800s, and the X1900 can all do HDR + AA.
August 29, 2007 6:31:16 PM

Systemlord: according to Tom's charts, the 640 doesn't provide any benefit over the 320 in Oblivion, even at 1920x1200.

We can rule out these games based on the charts:

Oblivion
Prey
Battlefield 2142
MS Flight Sim X
Warhammer MoC
Doom 3
August 29, 2007 7:33:54 PM

I think the problem is with 2gb of ram windows 32bit (Vista32 or Xp32) has a problem addressing that much memory to a single program.

I'd be interested to see if there's a bigger difference in 64bit os/programs.

For now though I would say there's not much gain for anything over 256mb...
August 29, 2007 9:05:05 PM

systemlord said:
The X1900XT can not do AA & AF & HDR @1280x1024, therefore it can not do max setting. The 8800 series G-cards are the only ones that can run HDR, AA and AF @1280x1024 at the same time.

well my 8600 does that with 4x aa at 1024x768
August 29, 2007 11:50:30 PM

Its because the lower mb cards use better ram. The can fill up/ refresh faster then the higher mb versions.
August 29, 2007 11:57:28 PM

so basically, untill the extra ram comes into play the 320 will have a small advantage, but after it does come into play the 640 will have a big advantage
August 30, 2007 7:46:50 AM

qwertycopter said:
Systemlord: according to Tom's charts, the 640 doesn't provide any benefit over the 320 in Oblivion, even at 1920x1200.


You know your right, I'm going to do some research on this doesn't make sense. In GRAW 1 & 2 you can't even chose high texures with a 320MB, but with the 640 you can.
August 30, 2007 3:51:34 PM

Systemlord: Thanks, please post back what you find out :) 
August 31, 2007 1:51:08 AM

qwertycopter said:
Systemlord: Thanks, please post back what you find out :) 


In FEAR & Ghost Recon Advanced Warefighter 1 & 2 the 320 OC version can't keep up with the non-OC 640MB. Look at GRAW running at 1600x1200, theres a 30FPS difference between the 640 and the 320 OC version. So people with LCD's at 1600x1200 & 1680x1050 the 640 is a much better buy. We can only expect newer games to be more like GRAW/FEAR using lots of Vram.
www.guru3d.com/article/Videocards/416/13/
a c 169 U Graphics card
August 31, 2007 8:29:25 AM

thats what i always say ^^
August 31, 2007 12:56:29 PM

I think most people realize there will always be varying disputes over a cards performance but at the end of the day one must look at the application that you personally will use the card for, and not the over all picture painted by mass benchmark results about programmes you will never use. If the use you have for the card requires no more than 320 mb of ram why spend the extra for a difference that most people could never notice. I run a XFX 320mb standard edition and overclocked to 650 core 2030 mem and flew past the speeds of the advertised so called XXX editions speeds and run 56 degrees idle and perfectly stable which i am sure will kick the but of most 640mb 8800gts in any game and left dollars in my pocket for more important things. Yep watch the 640mb byers jump down my throat. It will always be that what some one has bought will always be the best choice because they will never admit they made a wrong choice. We all know that given the dollars everyone would buy the top of the range in all parts but in the real world we must balance the books between performance and needs and if you can achieve the same end results for your needs and save $$$$$$$ in the process the answer is obvious
August 31, 2007 7:46:29 PM

makoau58 said:
I think most people realize there will always be varying disputes over a cards performance but at the end of the day one must look at the application that you personally will use the card for, and not the over all picture painted by mass benchmark results about programmes you will never use. If the use you have for the card requires no more than 320 mb of ram why spend the extra for a difference that most people could never notice. I run a XFX 320mb standard edition and overclocked to 650 core 2030 mem and flew past the speeds of the advertised so called XXX editions speeds and run 56 degrees idle and perfectly stable which i am sure will kick the but of most 640mb 8800gts in any game and left dollars in my pocket for more important things. Yep watch the 640mb byers jump down my throat. It will always be that what some one has bought will always be the best choice because they will never admit they made a wrong choice. We all know that given the dollars everyone would buy the top of the range in all parts but in the real world we must balance the books between performance and needs and if you can achieve the same end results for your needs and save $$$$$$$ in the process the answer is obvious


Great point. I went through the same thing when I chose to get my 7600gt. Figured I didn't need a ton of gpu power (even though I really wanted it) so I went for it.
August 31, 2007 9:17:34 PM

systemlord said:
In FEAR & Ghost Recon Advanced Warefighter 1 & 2 the 320 OC version can't keep up with the non-OC 640MB. Look at GRAW running at 1600x1200, theres a 30FPS difference between the 640 and the 320 OC version. So people with LCD's at 1600x1200 & 1680x1050 the 640 is a much better buy. We can only expect newer games to be more like GRAW/FEAR using lots of Vram.
www.guru3d.com/article/Videocards/416/13/


I couldn't find how much system memory they used for that test. I am wondering if they had to use 1gb of system memory so that the program could address the extra video card memory?
September 1, 2007 6:53:51 AM

jwolf24601 said:
I couldn't find how much system memory they used for that test. I am wondering if they had to use 1gb of system memory so that the program could address the extra video card memory?


Look harder, it does show that the bench system had 2 GB of ram. GRAW 1 & 2 really needs a big frame buffer, I suffer low frame rates with my card. Some games need lots of Vram and some games don't. I know that Guru 3D would not make false claims.
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