Introduction

Last week saw NVIDIA's introduction of the 7900 GS and the announcement of the 7950 GT. Availability of the 7900 GS has been good since launch, and quite a few manufacturers have released cards above stock clock speeds. We've been able to get ahold of a few of these cards, so we will be able to explore 7900 GS SLI performance. We will also be publishing a 7900 GS mini roundup up in the very near future. For now, here's a list of the cards we have and are currently testing, along with their core/memory clock speeds (though there are more out there).

Albatron GeForce 7900 GS 450/660
EVGA e-GeForce 7900 GS KO 500/690
Leadtek WinFast PX7900GS TDH Extreme 520/700
XFX GeForce 7900 GS 480/700
BFG GeForce 7900 GS OC 540/660

Today also marks the day that ATI slated for the availability of their X1300 XT, X1650 Pro, X1900 XT 256MB, and X1950 series. We currently see very limited availability of the X1950 XTX, X1900 XT 256MB and X1300 XT cards, but the X1950 CrossFire and X1650 Pro are still not to be found. This is certainly one of the major downsides of a paper launch: we don't know when we will see product available. Right now, the products ATI has announced appear very competitive. Their performance looks good, and the ATI stated MSRP is right on target. Unfortunately, both of these aspects could change between now and when we actually see high availability of product on the shelves. Currently, X1950 XTX cards are about $50-$100 higher than expected, as well as being mostly on back order. Some of the X1300 XT cards we've seen are hitting over $100: a price point not even the X1650 Pro is supposed to break. All of this will absolutely factor into our recommendations today.

Aside from all of this, our focus with this second and final part of our NVIDIA GPU refresh series is on the GeForce 7950 GT. We covered the specifications in our previous article, but for a quick and dirty recap, the 7950 GT is essentially an overclocked 7900 GT with 512MB of RAM as opposed to 256MB. The 7950 GT could also be viewed as an underclocked 7900 GTX. All of these cards have the same number of vertex, pixel, and raster pipes, and some 7900 GT cards can even overclock higher than stock 7950 GT speeds. At this level of performance, NVIDIA is targeting a $300 to $350 USD price range. This puts it in competition with the higher priced overclocked 7900 GT cards, as well as the X1900 XT from ATI. To bring it all home, here are our tables of GPU specifications and prices.

NVIDIA Graphics Card Specifications
Vert Pipes
Pixel Pipes
Raster Pipes
Core Clock
Mem Clock
Mem Size (MB)
Mem Bus (bits)
Price
GeForce 7950 GX2
8x2
24x2
16x2
500x2
600x2
512x2
256x2
$600
GeForce 7900 GTX
8
24
16
650
800
512
256
$450
GeForce 7950 GT
8
24
16
550
700
512
256
$300-$350
GeForce 7900 GT
8
24
16
450
660
256
256
$280
GeForce 7900 GS
7
20
16
450
660
256
256
$200-$250
GeForce 7600 GT
5
12
8
560
700
256
128
$160
GeForce 7600 GS
5
12
8
400
400
256
128
$120
GeForce 7300 GT
4
8
2
350
667
128
128
$100
GeForce 7300 GS
3
4
2
550
400
128
64
$65


ATI Graphics Card Specifications
Vert Pipes
Pixel Pipes
Raster Pipes
Core Clock
Mem Clock
Mem Size (MB)
Mem Bus (bits)
Price
Radeon X1950 XTX
8
48
16
650
1000
512
256
$450
Radeon X1900 XTX
8
48
16
650
775
512
256
$375
Radeon X1900 XT
8
48
16
625
725
256/512
256
$280/$350
Radeon X1900 GT
8
36
12
525
600
256
256
$230
Radeon X1650 Pro
5
12
4
600
700
256
128
$99
Radeon X1600 XT
5
12
4
590
690
256
128
$150
Radeon X1600 Pro
5
12
4
500
400
256
128
$100
Radeon X1300 XT
5
12
4
500
400
256
128
$89
Radeon X1300 Pro
2
4
4
450
250
256
128
$79


Before we take a look at performance numbers, we've got a couple retail versions of the 7950 GT in house already. Both EVGA and XFX have sent us cards, and we were quite happy to learn that the XFX card is passively cooled. Up first is a brief look at what we can expect to see from manufacturers on the 7950 GT front.

Retail 7950 GT Cards: EVGA and XFX
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  • Genx87 - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    In this price category it is hard to justify Nvidia here. Nvidia's pressure from the top with the GX2 has pushed ATI's 2nd best card into this price range. The X1900XT is faster and better compared to this card IMO. It needs to be dropped to the 280-300 range and let it settle in around the 250 if it wants to compete with the X1900XT.

    Reply
  • ieskorp - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    What is the added value of a review/test when you are comparing Nvidia SLI configurations with single ATI 19k cards???? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    We've looked at the CF performance in the recent past, and nothing has changed. You'll notice in the conclusion that we really don't recommend getting two new current gen GPUs regardless of manufacturer. If you look at the X1950 XTX article, you can see where CrossFire sits in the performance ladder. Basically, it's competitive with SLI, though most will agree the SLI bridge is far more elegant than the CF dongle. Basically, the graphs were already crowded, and adding more cards/configurations just gets really messy. We included SLI numbers for the new cards mostly to show where they fall, i.e. 7900 GS SLI about equals 7900 GTX, while 7950 GT SLI is slightly faster than 7950 GX2.

    Quick summary of CF vs. SLI:
    ATI "owns" Quake 4 now, along with Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. NVIDIA still clearly leads in Black and White 2. Performance in most of our other tested titles is very close. Price performance is more difficult to call, as X1950 are in very limited availability with no CF cards currently showing up, and prices are thus quite inflated. You can get Quad SLI for the cost of X1950 CrossFire... and neither one support the DirectX 10 feature set.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    Would really appreciate temperature testing of the XFX card idel and under full 3D load. Passively-cooled cards notoriously run hot so it would be nice to know ahead of time just how well it's cooled. Additional overclocking potential would also be nice to know. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    we are working on a 7950 gt roundup that will address this and other issues Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    Great thanks.

    Looks like the traditional 10-15 degrees Celcius for passive cooling holds true by Guru3D's review:

    Card Temperature in idle (Celsius) Temperature at 100% load in (Celsius)
    GeForce 7950 GT 45 64
    XFX 7950 GT Extreme 64 81


    I can't fathom allowing a GPU to run at over 60-65C. That's REALLY hot. 81C is downright dangerous and life-sapping for sure.
    Reply
  • SniperWulf - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    It's pretty gratifying to see that the card I bought at the beginning of the year is still holding its own pretty good (X1900XT) Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    X1900 XT has been a good performer. It's also be a much better value than the X1900 XTX for its entire lifetime. Definitely a good purchasing decision. Reply
  • Tilmitt - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    You'd have to be stoned off your head to find 20FPS "a good experience" in any game. Unless you're a girl...they can't see lag or jaggies. Reply
  • VooDooAddict - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    I greatly disagree. Most casual girl gamers that I've had sit down and play a PC game are MORE distracted by and less tolerable of lag and low framerates then guys who game frequently. Those of us who play often know it's a fact of life and can tolerate it. New PC gamers (male and female) who may be more used to console systems are frustrated easily by the little things we putup with in the PC gaming world. Reply

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