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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  • Ryan Smith - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Actually, we were hoping to bring you CoD2 benchmarks for this review, but it didn't pan out. We do not equip our video testbeds with sound cards, so that we can more accurately compare cards; the problem with this is that we could not get CoD2 to run without sound, and we ran out of time unable to find a solution. It's still something we'd like to benchmark in the future if we get the chance though. Reply
  • ElFenix - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    then benchmark it with sound and disclose that fact... Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Ditch DoD:Source for CoD2.

    Ditch DOOM3 for Quake4.

    Rename FEAR.EXE to anything else .exe (PHEAR.EXE, TEST.EXE, whatever) when benchmarking ATI cards if you're running any of the latest ATI driver sets since they have yet to fix a faulty "IF" code from the FEAR demo that is hindering performance in the full version game. (The fix did not make the latest driver release earlier this week.) It has shown to improve performance by as much as 15fps.
    Reply
  • xbdestroya - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    I don't know about that FEAR 'fix' though. I mean how many card owners/PC users will actually know to do that? I think it's more legit to leave the bug in the testing - it is a legitimate bug afterall - and wait for the new Catalyst release where it will be 'fixed' and show the increased performance. Or if that's too strong against ATI, publish an article with benchmarks in FEAR highlighting that bug. But for standard comparisson benchmarks, I think it's best if they're done in as much of an 'out-of-the-box,' load it and play situation as possible. Reply
  • tfranzese - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    I disagree with the 'out-of-box' notion. A product can't ship as a turd, but this is an enthusiast site. Enthusiasts should have the knowledge to use the proper drivers (not always the latest, which is why I say proper). Reply
  • xbdestroya - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Well but has this site even published anythign on that fix? Not to my knowledge. I only know abotu it because I'm on the B3D forums where it originated. I imagine that whoever knows it here knows about it from the AT forums. But the fact is that if you're going to include the 'fix' in benchmarks, you might as well have an article preceding it announcing that this fix even exists, don't you think? Not everyone's a forum-goer; I know there was a time once not-too-long ago were I just went to tech sites and rad the articles, not the forums.

    First the article describing this fix to the masses - *then* the banchmarks incorporating it. Don't you think that makes sense?
    Reply
  • xbdestroya - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    I wish these posts could be edited after the fact, but alas they can not. Anyway sorry for the bad spelling above.

    Basically though, if we're talking about 'enthusiast' sites, the sites should be publishing 'enthusiast' news like the fear.exe fix, right? Then after that article I could agree with it's inclusion in benchmarks, because a precedent has been established.
    Reply
  • ElFenix - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    or they could just write a blurb in the article, when they do the fear benches, that you can rename fear to anything else and fix the problem. and then bench it both ways. Reply
  • xbdestroya - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Seriously though, it deserves it's own article. If it doesn't deserve that, it doesn't deserve benches mixed in with a 'general' comparison. The vast majority of people don't even read the associated text with benchmarks anyway, so it would probably go unnoticed by quite a few if it just had a short explanation on the FEAR page of a banchmark round-up. Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    quote:

    For our benchmarks, we test with sound disabled.


    LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME. Start doing REAL tests. Okay fine, this is your last PEAK FPS test, right? Right?

    From now on show us average fps, sound on, etc. What we'll ACTUALLY GET using the card to PLAY the game, not dick-measure it.
    Reply

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