Introduction

This card should have gotten a different name. With hugely increased clock speeds, more memory, a beefy heatsink (the one used on the Quadro FX 4500), and a new board layout, the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 is one very powerful card. Oh yeah, and it's got more RAM too.

Earlier this month we started seeing ATI's new Radeon X1800 XT show up for sale. Today, ATI's high end part gets some revamped competition from NVIDIA's new offering. And even though we don't like the name, the 7800 GTX 512 is an excellent performer. Will the increased core and memory clock speed be enough for NVIDIA to topple ATI's high end monster? Will the additional memory make a tangible difference? The answers may not be as straight forward as they could be, but we were certainly excited to get our testing done and find out.

As we can see, the heatsink has had quite a change and the new card is now a two slot design. This is a small price to pay for the performance boost we see with the new GTX, as most people who will be shelling out the money for this card will likely want to drop it in very performance oriented systems (which usually throw space restrictions out the window). The competition (the Radeon X1800 XT) is also a two slot solution, so neither camp has the advantage on this point.

Before we get into the thick of it, it is important to note that ATI released drivers last week that greatly improve OpenGL performance with 4xAA. One of the suprises we will see from this new ATI creation is that the X1800 XT actually bests the current 7800 GTX in Doom 3 when 4xAA is enabled. This driver is a welcome development from ATI (whose OpenGL drivers have been somewhat lacking for quite some time), but with the new 7800 GTX 512 coming up to bat, it may be too little too late.

In any case, this is the second card in as many weeks that NVIDIA has brought out in response to new ATI parts. We found the 6800 GS to be quite a good fit for it's price point, and the 7800 GTX 512 is no slouch either. But with our price engine showing a $700 barrier to entry at the time of publication, we aren't quite as excited about price/performance ratio potential. Of course, the Radeon X1800 XT is still running between 600 and 700 at the moment, so the competition is still in the same ball park price wise.

Let's take a look at what we actually get for all that cash before we decide whether it's worth it or not.

The Card, The Test, and Power
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  • stephenbrooks - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Shh don't say that or they'll deliberately start making games with detail that can only be seen at 1600x1200 to drive hardware sales... :) Reply
  • ElFenix - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    by testing power consumption with and without SLI/crossfire you can figure out the consumption of a single card with pretty decent accuracy. Reply
  • Leper Messiah - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    um, if you read the review, they said that they had to run two different circuts in their testing room due to the power draw, on two different PSUs. I guess that you could put two measuring devices up, but IDK how accurate that's going to be...

    Nice card BTW. Makes my 9800pro look like Intel's intergrated graphics...
    Reply
  • ElFenix - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    yeah, i saw that part. but they don't have to do it on just the SLI'd 512. in fact, they could do it with any card, subtract out two cards worth of power to find out the base consumption of the system, and then subtract from the 512 to get just the 512's consumption.

    it's just a thought.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Sounds to me like the AT lab in question really needs to be looked over by an electrician if the mains circuit can't supply enough power to run a few computers. Here in the UK, even domestic households should have 13 amp sockets (which with our 230V mains voltage is equivalent to 3KW power), and a typical ring main circuit will be rated for some 30amps (or 7KW). You can run a helluva lot of computers with up to 7KW of juice available on each ring, and this is just an average home. Of course the electric bill will be a bit scary if you do use that much :)

    I know things aren't so good in the US as you are only on 110V mains-supply so either the wires need to be a lot thicker to carry the higher current (nearly 30 amps for 3KW, and over 60 amps for 7KW), but still you shouldn't have a problem drawing say 2KW or so. Or is it normal for US mains wiring to be rubbish?
    Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Or is it normal for US mains wiring to be rubbish?
    Old homes usually have crappy wiring over here. I ran about 15 computers off of a 15 A breaker before tripped at a LAN party.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    I wish for an edit button. That said, I ran those 15 computers in a new house (newer than 5 years). Reply
  • Live - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Nice review! Still have a question tough:

    Considering this cooler uses heat pipes how does the orientation of the card affect performance? It looks to me that if positioned with the cooler on the downside as in a normal ATX tower the heat is traveling downwards instead of up as it should. This should in theory affect performance negatively. Granted the angel and distance is not that great but it would be nice to know.

    The reason I ask it that many of the test done on review sites are done on an open test bed with desktop style orientation of the motherboard. How AnandTech test I don’t know but if orientation affect cooling the reviews seen today might be off in temperatures, sound and I guess overclocking.

    Other comments:
    As always on AT I miss minimum fps and/or some time scale to see how much of the time the card drops under say 30 fps or whatever is “unplayable” in different titles.

    CPU scaling would be nice to but I guess that is for another article.

    I also really think you should consider building up some testing methodology for sound. It does not have to be exact. Just use quiet watercooling like the reserator from Zalman and passive PSU and sound proof the test area a bit and buy a good soundmeter and you should be set to go. Considering the budget of AT and the considerable benefit for the readers I can’t se how that would be a high cost. Noise matters!
    Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Just thought I'd drop by and tell you all that Black & White 2 runs just fine on R9600XT/A643000+(S754) machine at 1280*1024, so it's not as demanding as you made it out to be, if you only turn off some GPU raping quality settings. Thumbs up to Lionhead for that.

    Nice card nVidia! Now that you've crushed ATi AGAiN, how 'bout you get to work on the 7600GT eh???

    Yea ATi have become the Intel of GPUs (high clocks, not so good performance, failed launches), and nVidia looks even better than AMD (relatively low clocks, high performance, great launches). But let's not forget ATi has the XBOX360 just around the corner and nVidia still has some time to play till PS3 comes out, so I'd guess they had more spare time on their hands or something.

    As for my pseudo X850 XT looking like a dog in this graphs, let's not forget we're talking 1600x1200 @ HIGHEST QUALITY!!! here. It's still a fine card for the money (born from X800GTO2 ;-) though CoD2 is a real performance hog and I don't really know why. Probably some stupid quality setting, we'd be better off without.

    2005 was nVidia's year but I'm willing to bet in 2006 we'll see ATi coming back strong. R580 should be the breakthrough I think.
    Reply
  • Deku - Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Just thought I'd drop by and tell you all that Black & White 2 runs just fine on R9600XT/A643000+(S754) machine
    "Just thought I'd drop by and tell you all that Black & White 2 runs just fine on R9600XT/A643000+(S754) machine"

    I've got Black and White 2, and a Radeon 9550 and it works generally fine...problem is, I can't change detail levels of features such as vegetation or water detail to at least a decent state...it's unavailable to me, and I've sent an email to Lionhead and they haven't replied yet...do you need some high-end card to get it to work or something? Lionhead obviously didn't realize that not everyone in the world's going to buy a new computer everyday...which really does annoy me.
    Reply

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