While the 8800 series has been around for some time and the higher end Geforce 9 series is on the horizon, the Geforce 8800GT still manages to find a fine balance between price and performance, which even casual gamers can benefit from.
What you get straight out of the box is a Palit Geforce 8800GT, and more specifically the non reference designed card, which features the standard DVI and SD/HD output ports as well as the increasingly popular HDMI interface. The package contains the usual assortments of accessories which include the DVI-VGA adapter, HD Component Cable, 4pin Molex-6pin PCI-E Power Adapter, and even a S-Video - Composite adapter. On the software front is the drivers' disc in addition to a full copy of Eidos Interactive's remake - Tomb Raider Anniversary. While the game itself doesn't showcase the full potential of the graphics card, it's still a welcomed edition to the bundle.
Prior to installing the card, it's recommended to uninstall any previous graphics card drivers before shutting the system and removing cables; those using onboard graphics solutions, can simply disable them via the device manager before installing the new card. With any electrostatic sensitive device it is always a good idea to discharge yourself, by simply touching your computer's chassis, in order to prevent static build up, which could otherwise damage the card's circuitry whilst handling. This card physically occupies two PCI slots due to its cooling fan; apart from an improved cooling unit the card is also shorter in length when compared to the single slot reference cards. However due to the 6pin PCI-E power socket being located at the rear of the card, some users may find it a tight squeeze trying to position hard drives and other components closer to the card.
Once the card is physically installed and the system is turned on, the card will initially sound like a new hair dryer, before quietening down. Windows should automatically recognise the new hardware and request to locate the drivers, at which point you could insert the provided driver disc and get going.
As you can imagine, the transition from using a Geforce 6200 graphics card to a Geforce 8800GT was immense, and this card will easily play any DirectX 9 based game at maximum settings whilst offering highly playable frame rates. Most games that feature the ability to configure themselves for optimal performance will automatically turn up all the settings appropriately depending on your computer's hardware configuration; with DirectX 10 games like Crysis automatically setting all options to 'Very High' upon detection.
In short this card certainly delivers and at its current price, it is one of the cheapest 8800GTs around, considering its specification and the items that come bundled with it. Throw in the fact that you could conceivably pair it with a relatively low end dual core CPU and still notice an increase in gaming performance; the 8800GT is definitely the way to go, even if you're a casual gamer, looking for a graphics card upgrade.