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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  • sum1 - Friday, September 22, 2006 - link

    quote:

    The BFG 7900 GS OC's core clock is set at 520MHz, a 70MHz increase over the standard NVIDIA 7900 GS
    It’s listed at 540MHz everywhere else in this article (including the benchmarks).

    I posted this discrepancy twice, days ago, hasn’t anyone else noticed yet?
    Reply
  • Josh Venning - Saturday, September 23, 2006 - link

    It's been fixed. Thanks for pointing this out, and we apologize for not fixing it sooner. Reply
  • PerfectCr - Thursday, September 21, 2006 - link

    Fan Noise? How do I know how loud/quiet the fans are? Do they throttle? Reply
  • Simplex - Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - link

    I live in Poland, here you can buy Galaxy 7900GS which:
    1) is cheaper than other 7900GS out there (evga, xfx, etc)
    2) Has silent Zalman VF-700Al instead of horrible and loud stock coolng and RAM heatsinks.
    3) Is factory overclocked to... (you won't believe!) 540/750! (yes, it's true - it has 1,2ns memory , not 1,4 like other 7900GS)).
    5) overclocks to 600/900 (at least mine did)

    http://www.galaxytech.com/news/25/7900GTnews.jpg">http://www.galaxytech.com/news/25/7900GTnews.jpg

    It's a deal, it's a steal, it's the sale of a f***ing century! :)
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Its interesting how the XFX card (the only RoHS card - uses less lead and other hazardous chemicals) uses more power. I wonder if this will be true of other RoHS devices. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - link

    I can tell you that the motherbord I use, which is also RoHS 'certified' (Asrock AM2NF4G-SATA2) runs pretty dahmed cool (sub 95F, when ambient is 80F ish), doesnt even use active cooling for the chipset etc either. Reguardless, if its the actual cause or not, I think its well worth it in the long run. Reply
  • Zaitsev - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    On page 3 third line, "NVIDIDA intends for it to be a direct competitor to ATI's X1900 GT"

    Reply
  • Zaitsev - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Sorry, that should be page 2. Reply
  • Josh Venning - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    fixed, thanks Reply
  • Howard - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I believe the bar is there to reduce PCB bending under weight. Reply

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