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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  • ViRGE - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    AFAIK 4xAA is the last level of AA that's constant between ATI and NV. The X850 tops out at 6xAA(which NV doesn't have), then there's 8xS, and the list goes on... Reply
  • Griswold - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Thats a beast no less. The only thing ATI can do now is kick off that mysterious R580 and it better have a few more pipes than the 520 at the same or even higher clock speeds - and no paperlaunch this time. Or just give up and get the launch right for the next generation...

    Is there any particular reason for only showing nvidia SLI results and no crossfire numbers at all?
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    This is something we discussed when working on this article, and there's really no purpose in testing a Crossfire setup at this point. The X1800 Crossfire master cards are not available yet to test an X1800 setup, and as we noted in our X850 Crossfire review, an X850 setup isn't really viable(not to mention it tops out at 1600x1200 when we test 2 higher resolutions). Reply
  • Griswold - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Ah well, woulda thought AT has a few master cards in their closet. Guess not. :) Reply
  • Kyanzes - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    ONE WORD: DOMINATION Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Very interesting to see that 512MB has little to no impact on the performance - it is instead almost entirely the clock speed of the GPU and the RAM that makes the difference.

    Also, I think this is the first time in PC gaming history where I've seen testing done where video cards more than ~9 months old are all essentially 'obsolete' as far as performance. Even the 7800 GT which only even came out maybe six months ago is already near the bottom of the stack at these 1600x1200 tests, and considering that's what anyone with a 19" or greater LCD wants to ideally play at, that's a bit scary. Then you realize that the 7800GT is around $330 for that bottom-end performance and it just goes up from there. It's really $450-550 for solid performance at that resolution these days. That's disappointing.
    Reply
  • ElFenix - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    no one with a 19" desktop LCD is playing a game at any higher than 1280x1024, in which case this card is basically a waste of money. i have a 20" widescreen lcd and i find myself playing in 1280x1024 a lot because the games often don't expand the field of view, rather they just narrow the screen vertically. Reply
  • tfranzese - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    SLi/XFire scews the graphes. You need to take that into account when looking at the results. Reply
  • Cygni - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    We have seen this in every successive generation of video cards. Unless your running AA at high res (ie over 1280x1024), RAM size has little impact on performance. Heck, 64mb is probably enough for the textures in most games. Reply
  • cw42 - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    You really should have included COD2 in the tests. I remember seeing a test on another site that showed COD2 benefited GREATLY from 512mb vs 256mb of ram. Reply

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