Introduction

There has always been a lot of competition in the graphics card market between different card manufacturers, and also between ATI and NVIDIA in general. For each new board released by ATI or NVIDIA, another one pops up sooner or later from the other company as an answer. A lot of times the most notorious performance wars happen at the highest end, with ATI and NVIDIA trying to hold the coveted title for the "fastest card." We saw an example of this back when NVIDIA released their 7800 GTX much to the dismay of ATI, who had no direct competitor on the high-end for this card for a good while. This was one case where the clear winner in performance was NVIDIA on the high-end, but usually things aren't so cut and dry.

Of course, perhaps more importantly, competition also happens with cards around the $200-$300 mark, as these are the kind of prices most gamers are willing to spend for higher performance. Many die-hard and casual gamers have budget constraints but will gladly shell out $200 on a graphics card they know will give them significantly improved performance in a given game. This makes this price range important for graphics card companies to focus on, and we often see heavy competition in this area of the market.

NVIDIA's GeForce 7900 GS shipped recently without a lot of fanfare, but we are seeing lots of them available right now for about $200, which is right at NVIDIA's MSRP. This could be great news to a lot of gamers looking for a graphics card upgrade, provided the 7900 GS has the necessary performance capabilities. We recently took a look at how this card performs in relation to a number of cards from ATI and NVIDIA when it launched (here), and then we looked at its SLI performance in the more recent Fall '06 NVIDIA GPU Refresh - Part II: GeForce 7950 GT and SLI.

Today, we happen to have five of these cards from different hardware manufacturers, and as always we are interested in seeing just how they perform relative to each other as well as a few other cards on the market. Since NVIDIA's 7900 GS is an answer to ATI's X1900 GT, we'll of course be including this in our tests, as well as the X1800 GTO, 7800 GT, and 7900 GT. As it sometimes happens, all five of the 7900 GS cards we have for this review come factory clocked at different speeds, with only one of them (from Albatron) at reference speeds (i.e. not factory-overclocked; 450MHz/660MHz). This means we'll get a detailed view of what we can expect from this card out-of-the-box compared to its competitors.

It appears as though overclockability will be one of the interesting features of these cards and might ultimately be a primary selling point. Of course, we will do some overclocking of our own on these cards, as well as the usual power load and heat tests, to give a thorough evaluation of each of these cards. The price tag is always a factor when considering a graphics solution, so we will be breaking down the prices of these cards and taking into account their individual performance to determine their overall value for this review. These are the things we'll be keeping in mind as we look at these different 7900 GS offerings from EVGA, BFG, Leadtek, XFX, and Albatron. So without further ado, let's talk about the cards.

The Cards
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  • VooDooAddict - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I'd have to agree. Most people with 1280x1024 LCDs that I've met prefer to leave FSAA off (if they even mess with the setting) to get the best possible frame rates. While the max framerate might not dip below 60 ... it's the minimum framerate spike that will effect competition.

    I used to enjoy turning on FSAA for Everquest, but for anything more FPS competition oriented I don't know anyone who uses FSAA unless they have SLI. (Which would be why they got SLI ... to run FSAA without noticable impact to framerates.)
    Reply
  • Josh Venning - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the comment. We didn't include FSAA tests in this article because it isn't a full analysis of 7900 GS performance, but a comparison between different 7900 GS products. For an in-depth look at the 7900 GS performance in more games and settings take a look at the 7900 GS launch coverage(http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2827...">http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2827..., and the 7950 GT article which has some 7900 GS SLI numbers (http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2833...">http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2833....

    As far as driver settings, we test with default driver settings with the exception of vsync which is disabled. We do the same with ATI hardware; we leave catalyst AI on its default setting. We find this is the best way to keep our tests consistent for an article like this.
    Reply
  • giantpandaman2 - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I wonder if part of the difference in heat/power consumption had to do with how much power was supplied to the fans. Slow running fan=low power=high heat. Faster fan=higher power=low heat.

    Meh, I'm not sure a tiny fan could ever put a dent in a 20 watt difference though.
    Reply

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