We know that some of you won't balk at the $829 price tag of Nvidia's new highest-end GeForce 8800 Ultra 3D card, as long as it's the fastest thing around. With ATI's next-gen Radeon cards right around the corner, though, we'd definitely wait and take a few more laps around the money bin before springing for any high-end 3D cards today. The 8800 Ultra doesn't hit the street until May 15th, so you have a few days to think it over. But even if the Ultra card beats its soon-to-be-released competition, we have to ask if it's worth paying $125 or so more for only a 10% to 15% performance gain (according to Nvidia itself) over Nvidia's former king card, the GeForce 8800 GTX.
Basically an overclocked 8800 GTX, the 8800 Ultra gets its performance gains from faster core, memory, and shader clock speeds. Whereas the GTX has a 575MHz core, a 1.8GHz memory clock, and 1,350MHz for the shaders, the 8800 Ultra has 612MHz for the core, 2.16GHz memory, and a 1.5MHz shader clock. Both cards have 768MB of DDR3 SDRAM, currently the most memory we've seen on any consumer 3D card.
Nvidia didn't send a standalone 8800 Ultra for us to test, so we'll send you to the fine folks at Anandtech and PC Perspective for the full run-down of benchmark results. Their opinions from their testing mirror our own nonscientific conclusions based on the card's on-paper specs. The GeForce 8800 Ultra is indeed faster than the 8800 GTX (the former single fastest GPU), but even if you possess the financial wherewithal to shop for a near-$1,000 gaming card, we don't think it's worth the high price for what seems to be a nominal boost to 3D performance.