A vast expanse of destruction lies before you. Billowing blue smoke rises from the ashes of the destroyed city, and flames continue to lick towards the sky. The horizon shimmers from the heat waves and smoke emanating from the rubble. As you proceed into the wreckage, your boots splash through puddles, sending out ripples and churning up the ashes. One of the buildings appears to have escaped most of the force of the blast, so you head towards it hoping to find some shelter and a place to relax for a moment.

A glint of light reflects off of the cracked windows, and you instinctively dive to the ground. A split second later, the glass shatters and fragments rain down around you as the bullet misses its intended mark. You roll to the side and watch as dirt and rubble plumes into the air from the spot you so recently occupied. As you marvel at the small particles of dirt scattering into the air, you realize it's already too late; you're too far from cover and the sniper is skilled. As your body slams towards the ground and the scene fades to black, you're glad to know that this was only a game, regardless of how lifelike it appears...

That's not a description of any actual game, but it could be in the very near future judging by the progress we continue to see on the graphics front. The attempt to bring such visions to life is reason enough for us to encourage and revere continued excellence in the field of computer graphics. The ongoing struggle between ATI and NVIDIA to bring forth the most parallel and powerful GPUs at reasonable prices opens new possibilities to developers, pushing them to create content beyond the realm of dreams and move onto ground where angles fear to tread: reality. With each successive generation we work our way closer and closer to blurring the line between reality and rendering, while every step leaves us wanting more. Once again it is time to check in on our progress down the infinite road to graphical perfection.

The latest offering from NVIDIA does not offer a host of new features or any upgraded shader model version support as have the past few generations. The NV4x architecture remains a solid base for this product as the entire DirectX 9 feature set was already fully supported in hardware. Though the G70 (yes, the name change was just to reconcile code and marketing names) is directly based on the NV4x architecture, there are quite a few changes to the internals of the pipelines as well as an overall increase in the width and clock speed of the part. This new update much resembles what we saw when ATI moved from R300 to R420 in that most of the features and block diagrams are the same as last years part with a few revisions here and there to improve efficiency.

One of the most impressive aspects of this launch is that the part is available now. I mean right now. Order it today and plug it in tomorrow. That's right, not only has NVIDIA gotten the part to vendors, but vendors have gotten their product all the way to retailers. This is unprecedented for any graphics hardware launch in recent memory. In the midst of all the recent paper launches in the computer hardware industry, this move is a challenge to all other hardware design houses.

ATI is particularly on the spot after today. Their recent history of announcing products that don't see any significant volume in the retail market for months is disruptive in and of itself. Now that NVIDIA has made this move, ATI absolutely must follow suit. Over the past year, the public has been getting quite tired of failed assurances that product will be available "next week". This very refreshing blast of availability is long overdue. ATI cannot afford to have R520 availability "soon" after launch; ATI must have products available for retail purchase at launch.

We do commend NVIDIA for getting product out there before launching it. But now we move on to the least pleasant side of this launch: price. The GeForce 7800 GTX will cost a solid $600. Of course, we do expect retailers to charge a premium for the early adopters. Prices we are seeing at launch are on the order of $650. This means those who want to build an SLI system based on the GeForce 7800 GTX will be paying between $1200 and $1300 just for the graphics component of their system.

So, what exactly is bigger better and faster this time around? And more importantly, what does that mean for game performance and quality (and is it worth the price)? This is the right place to find the answers. As developers continue to grow in shader prowess, we expect to see hardware of this generation stretch its legs even more as NVIDIA believes this is the point where pure math and shader processing power will become the most important factor in graphics hardware.

The Pipeline Overview
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  • Johnmcl7 - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    If they're too busy for the article, that's fair enough, the point is they should put it up when they've had time to check it over, rather than rush an article up that isn't ready to be published.

  • IronChefMoto - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Regarding the "shame on Anandtech" comments -- y'all ever think they were too busy sh*tting themselves at the performance of this card to really pay that much attention to the article? ;-)

  • Johnmcl7 - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    The prices I've seen here in the UK for the 7800s here are around 400 pounds, the 6800 Ultras are currently around 300 pounds. So quite an increase over the NV40s but not unacceptable given the performance, I'm sure they'll come down in price once the early adopters have had their fill.

  • yacoub - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    #26 - You must be new to the market, relatively speaking. I remember quite well the days when high-end new videocards were at MOST $400, usually $350 or less when they debuted. It was more than a year or two ago though, so it might have been before your time as a PC gamer.
  • rimshot - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Not sure why the price is so high in North America, here in Aus you can get a 7800GTX for the same price as a 6800GT ($850AU).

  • nitromullet - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    "What no Crossfire benchies? I guess they didn't wany Nvidia to loose on their big launch day."

    Ummm... maybe because CrossFire was paper launched at Computex, and no one (not even AT) has a CrossFire rig to benchmark? nVidia is putting ATI to shame with this launch and the availability of the cards. Don't you think if ATI had anything worth a damn to put out there they would?

    All that aside... I was as freaked out as the rest of you by these benchmarks at first (well moreso than some actually, becuase I just pulled the $600 trigger last night on an eVGA 7800GTX from the egg). However, these graphs are clearly messed up, and some appear to have already been fixed. I guess someone should have cut Derek off at the launch party yesterday.
  • blckgrffn - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Very disapointed at the fit and finish of this article. Anandtech is supposed to have the best one, not a half baked one :( I even liked HardOCP better even with their weird change the levels of everything approach - at least it has a very good discussion of the differences between MS and SS AA and shows some meaningful results at high res as well.

    Shame on Anandtech :(
  • fishbits - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Good release.

    Can we get a couple of screen shots with the transparency AA?

    "Maybe this one of the factors that will lead to the Xbox360/PS3 becoming the new gaming standard as opposed to the Video Card market pushing the envelope."
    Yeah, because the graphics components in consoles don't require anything but three soybeans and a snippet of twine to make. They're ub3r and free! Wait, no, you pay for them too eventually even if not in the initial console purchase price. Actually I think the high initial price of next gen graphics cards is a sign of health for PC gaming. There are some folks not only willing to pay high dollars for bleeding edge performance, they're willing to pay even higher dollars than they were in the past for the top performers. Spurs ATI/Nvidia to keep the horsepower coming, which drives game devs to add better and better graphics, etc.

    "They only reveresed a couple of labels here and there, chill out. It's still VERY OBVIOUS which card is which just by looking at the performance!"
    Eh, I use benchmarks to learn more about a product than what my pre-conceived notions tell me it "ought" to be. I don't use my pre-conceived notions to accept and dismiss scientific benchmarks. If the benches are wrong, it is a big deal. Doesn't require ritual suicide, just fixing and maybe better quality control in the future.
  • Thresher - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    2x6800GT costs almost the same amount as this single card and gives up nothing in performance.

    The price of this thing is ridiculous.
  • rubikcube - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Just wanted to say thanks for starting your benchmarks at 1600x1200. It really makes a difference in the usability of the benchmarks.

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