Introduction

There are a couple of interesting developments in this launch that we would like to take the time to point out first. It is well worth noting that the 7300 GS will not launch first in the USA. We recently saw an Asia first launch from ATI as well, and NVIDIA cites the Chinese New Year as their reason for shifting things around. Parts aren't slated to start showing up state-side for a couple of weeks, and while we aren't getting the same style of hard launch that we are used to seeing, we will certainly be checking to make sure that we can find parts in Asian markets.

The "hard" launch is something that we don't want to let slip into oblivion. While on this side of the world, we essentially have a paper launch, yet we are at least thankful that parts will be available somewhere (China, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan). The logical end to the push for hard launches will eventually build to the point where we will want to see global availability at launch, but managing logistics on that level is out of reach for now. Generally, with a US hard launch, we get availability where the largest demand is centered. If NVIDIA really thinks that this part will sell amazingly well in Asia, then maybe launching there first is the right thing to do. At the same time, with the US having enjoyed the benefit of NVIDIA hard launches for so long, this move leaves us scratching our heads.

At the same time, we were just notified of this launch yesterday and we don't yet have parts to test. These two factors contribute to the reason why we are bringing out this brief overview article rather than an in-depth investigation. Usually, even if a part is launching elsewhere, we will have something to test, but budget parts like this can often slide under the radar. NVIDIA attributed the fact that they opted not to seed reviewers with cards to the common lack luster reviews for extreme budget hardware. While it is true that it's easier to get really excited about the "bigger, better, faster" of the high end market, the budget segment is one of the absolute most important. For this reason, either we must be a little concerned about the lack of importance placed on this chip or we must start to worry that there are other reasons why we don't have parts and heard about the card so late.

Why are good cheap cards necessary? Because many game developers write software for the least common denominator. The worst thing for gaming out right now is the poor feature set (and huge market share) of Intel's integrated graphics. When game developers can completely leave behind older techniques and move on to completely shader driven architectures featuring full floating point content, we will truly start to see the potential of programmable hardware mature. Even now, most developers are simply pasting some "cool effects" into games written around stale fundamental graphics architectures and most current HDR lighting is a hack that works around not having HDR artwork.

Fast, feature rich, and cheap are the three ingredients necessary for ATI and NVIDIA to help get game developers excited about pushing the limits of their craft. After all, no one wants to spend time pouring their heart and soul into something if the majority of people who buy it won't get the full experience. And here's to cards like the 7300 GS continuing the trend of raising the bar for budget parts. Now all we really need is for Intel to care about putting performance and quality into their graphics hardware.

We are quite interested in getting our hands on the GeForce 7300 GS in order to put it through its paces and see how NVIDIA's newest sub $100 part fairs. We are expecting some pretty good things as the new part combines the features of the 7 series parts at a nice low price point. The major upgrade from the 6200 series is that this part supports floating point framebuffer blends (the 6200 series was the only line of 6 series parts not to support this feature). FP16 framebuffer blends are becoming increasingly attractive to game developers who want to implement HDR lighting, and the 128 to 256 MB of RAM the 7300 GS will carry on board is plenty.

Let's take a look at what else the new 7 series part will have to offer.

What's Under The Hood?
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  • Puddleglum - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    You're mything with your facts. The quote "Because many game developers write software for the least [slowest] common denomintaor" is indeed true. However, obviously there are some games that simply push the envelope well past the slower cards. You cannot reason that "this card is once again not need when on board video will do," if you're basing that on "Most real games this card can't do anything."

    One of the more real games that exists right now is Battlefield 2, which will run on a GeForce FX 5700; EA recommends 256MB of on-card RAM. This card not only beats out a 5700, but, from the article, there may be a 256MB version with the 7300. For < $100.

    Upgrading from onboard video will be a common reason for a buyer to look at this card, as this card brings the user into the possibility of playing nearly all games that are out right now. Not only will it play the game, but this card will support the new features, such as rendering DX9 or even HDR, where I don't believe any onboard can touch right now.

    There will certainly be customers in line at Fry's with a game in one hand and a 7300 in the other.
    Reply
  • highlnder69 - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    "Now all we really need is for Intel to care about putting performance and quality into their graphics hardware."

    Maybe they should start with their processors first and then move on upgrading their integrated graphics...
    Reply
  • deathwalker - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    ouch..you are mean. It is amazing how Intel has let themselves fall from there position of dominance in the processor market forn years ago. Then again..did they really fall or is it the prespective that thay have fallen when measured agains how fast AMD has come on since the since the introduction of their XP line? Reply
  • neogodless - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    While it is impossible to do a direct match-up between PCI Express cards and AGP, I'd like to see how this competes against previous budget cards, or even previous mainstream cards that can now be bought on a budget. At the very least, I'd like to see this compared to Dell's de facto PCI Express card, the Radeon X300 SE, because we can see what kind of upgrade option this would be for those on a budget.

    And... in a perfect world, it'd also be put up against the likes of the previous generation as well, but those are all AGP... oh well!
    Reply

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