Introduction

A vast expanse of destruction lies before you. Billowing blue smoke rises from the ashes of the destroyed city, and flames continue to lick towards the sky. The horizon shimmers from the heat waves and smoke emanating from the rubble. As you proceed into the wreckage, your boots splash through puddles, sending out ripples and churning up the ashes. One of the buildings appears to have escaped most of the force of the blast, so you head towards it hoping to find some shelter and a place to relax for a moment.

A glint of light reflects off of the cracked windows, and you instinctively dive to the ground. A split second later, the glass shatters and fragments rain down around you as the bullet misses its intended mark. You roll to the side and watch as dirt and rubble plumes into the air from the spot you so recently occupied. As you marvel at the small particles of dirt scattering into the air, you realize it's already too late; you're too far from cover and the sniper is skilled. As your body slams towards the ground and the scene fades to black, you're glad to know that this was only a game, regardless of how lifelike it appears...


That's not a description of any actual game, but it could be in the very near future judging by the progress we continue to see on the graphics front. The attempt to bring such visions to life is reason enough for us to encourage and revere continued excellence in the field of computer graphics. The ongoing struggle between ATI and NVIDIA to bring forth the most parallel and powerful GPUs at reasonable prices opens new possibilities to developers, pushing them to create content beyond the realm of dreams and move onto ground where angles fear to tread: reality. With each successive generation we work our way closer and closer to blurring the line between reality and rendering, while every step leaves us wanting more. Once again it is time to check in on our progress down the infinite road to graphical perfection.

The latest offering from NVIDIA does not offer a host of new features or any upgraded shader model version support as have the past few generations. The NV4x architecture remains a solid base for this product as the entire DirectX 9 feature set was already fully supported in hardware. Though the G70 (yes, the name change was just to reconcile code and marketing names) is directly based on the NV4x architecture, there are quite a few changes to the internals of the pipelines as well as an overall increase in the width and clock speed of the part. This new update much resembles what we saw when ATI moved from R300 to R420 in that most of the features and block diagrams are the same as last years part with a few revisions here and there to improve efficiency.

One of the most impressive aspects of this launch is that the part is available now. I mean right now. Order it today and plug it in tomorrow. That's right, not only has NVIDIA gotten the part to vendors, but vendors have gotten their product all the way to retailers. This is unprecedented for any graphics hardware launch in recent memory. In the midst of all the recent paper launches in the computer hardware industry, this move is a challenge to all other hardware design houses.

ATI is particularly on the spot after today. Their recent history of announcing products that don't see any significant volume in the retail market for months is disruptive in and of itself. Now that NVIDIA has made this move, ATI absolutely must follow suit. Over the past year, the public has been getting quite tired of failed assurances that product will be available "next week". This very refreshing blast of availability is long overdue. ATI cannot afford to have R520 availability "soon" after launch; ATI must have products available for retail purchase at launch.

We do commend NVIDIA for getting product out there before launching it. But now we move on to the least pleasant side of this launch: price. The GeForce 7800 GTX will cost a solid $600. Of course, we do expect retailers to charge a premium for the early adopters. Prices we are seeing at launch are on the order of $650. This means those who want to build an SLI system based on the GeForce 7800 GTX will be paying between $1200 and $1300 just for the graphics component of their system.

So, what exactly is bigger better and faster this time around? And more importantly, what does that mean for game performance and quality (and is it worth the price)? This is the right place to find the answers. As developers continue to grow in shader prowess, we expect to see hardware of this generation stretch its legs even more as NVIDIA believes this is the point where pure math and shader processing power will become the most important factor in graphics hardware.

The Pipeline Overview
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  • CrystalBay - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Does this card play Riddick smoothly @ shader 2++ ????? Reply
  • fishbits - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    "In aboot 5 years i figure we'll be paying 1000 bucks for a video card. These prices are getting out of control, every generation is more expensive then the last. Dont make me switch to consoles damnit."

    Funny, I can't afford the very best TVs the minute they come out. Same for stereo components. But I don't cry about it and threaten "Don't make me switch to learning the ukelele and putting on my own puppet shows to entertain myself!" Every time a better component comes out, it means I get a price reduction and feature upgrade on the items that are affordable/justifiable for my budget.

    Seriously, where does the sense of entitlement come from? Do these people think they should be able to download top-of-the-line graphics cards through BitTorrent? Do they walk around Best Buy cursing out staff, manufacturers and customers for being so cruel as to buy and sell big-ass plasma TVs?

    On second thought, get your console and give up PC gaming. That way you can stop being miserable, and we can stop being miserable hearing about your misery.
    Reply
  • tazdevl - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Funny how the single card deltas here are higher than at any other site.

    Unwhelmed for the amount of money and lack of performance increase.

    Have to commend nVIDIA for ensuring retail availability at launch.
    Reply
  • archcommus - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Impressive, but I'm still happy with my X800 XL purchase for only $179. For what it seems, with a 1280x1024 display, I won't need the kind of power this card delivers for a very long time. And less than $200 compared to $600, with still excellent peformance for now and the forseeable future? Hmm, I'll take the former. Reply
  • Lonyo - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    I would have liked some 1280x1024 benchmarks with 8xAA from the nVidia cards and 6xAA from ATi to see if it's worth getting something like a 7800GTX with 17/19" LCD's to run som esuper high quality settings in terms of AA/AF. Reply
  • segagenesis - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    I'm not disappointed. For one thing the price of current cards will likely drop now, and there will also be mid-range parts soon to choose from. I think the transparency AA is a good idea for say... World of Warcraft. The game is loaded with them and too often can you see the blockyness of trees/grass/whatever.

    #44 - Actually are you new to the market? :) I remember when early "accelerated" VGA cards were nearly $1000. Or more.

    Everybody lambasted NVIDIA last year for the lack of product (6800GT/Ultra) to the market, so them actually making a presence this year instead of a paper launch should also be commended. Of course, now what is ATI gonna pull out of its hat?
    Reply
  • KeDaHa - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    The screenshot shows very clearly that SSAA provides quite a quality improvement over no AA

    The difference is bloody miniscule, perhaps if you used an image SLIGHTLY larger than 640x480 to highlight the difference?
    Reply
  • L3p3rM355i4h - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Wowzers. Time to get rid of teh 9800... Reply
  • shabby - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    In aboot 5 years i figure we'll be paying 1000 bucks for a video card. These prices are getting out of control, every generation is more expensive then the last.
    Dont make me switch to consoles damnit.
    Reply
  • Xenoterranos - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Hell, for the same price as an SLI setup I can go out and get a 23 inch cinema display...And since these cards can't handle the 30" native resolution anyway, it's a win-win. And yeah, whats up with the quality control on these benchmarks! I mean really, I almost decided to wait for the ATI next-gen part when I saw this (GeForce man since the GeForce2 GTS!) Reply

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