The Competition

ATI has been very aggressive as of late, and we have been quite happy with what we have seen so far. After their circuit design setback with the X1800 last year, ATI really turned things around and offered the X1900 lineup in rather quick succession. Before today, the X1900 was clearly the king of the hill in all things graphics. With the new RD580 chipset from ATI offering 2x x16 PCI Express slots, Crossfire is looking better than ever as well. The comparison at the high end is very exciting: it's never been a better time to be a graphics enthusiast with tons of excess money.

At the same time, the midrange is heating up as well. With prices on the X1600 looking good, the new pressure on NVIDIA from ATI's upcoming X1800 GTO (which we unfortunately don't have), and solid products like the 6800 GS and 7800 GT already out there, the 7600 GT is a welcome addition in price/performance.

So we can get a good idea of what we will be working with, we are providing tables comparing the features of the high end cards and mid range cards we will be testing from NVIDIA and ATI. CrossFire and SLI will be looked at as well.

NVIDIA Graphics Card Specifications
  Vert Pipes Pixel Pipes Raster Pipes Core Clock Mem Clock Mem Size (MB) Mem Bus (bits) Price
GeForce 7900 GTX 8 24 16 650 800 512 256 ~$500+
GeForce 7900 GT 8 24 16 450 660 256 256 ~$325
GeForce 7800 GTX 512 8 24 16 550 850 512 256 $600+
GeForce 7800 GTX 8 24 16 430 600 256 256 $450
GeForce 7800 GT 8 20 16 400 500 256 256 $300
GeForce 7600 GT 5 12 8 560 700 256 128 ~$200
GeForce 6800 GS 5 12 8 425 500 256 256 $180


ATI Graphics Card Specifications
  Vert Pipes Pixel Pipes Raster Pipes Core Clock Mem Clock Mem Size (MB) Mem Bus (bits) Price
Radeon X1900 XTX 8 48 16 650 775 512 256 $600+
Radeon X1900 XT 8 48 16 625 725 512 256 $500
Radeon X1600 XT 5 12 4 590 690 256 128 $150


We will also be including SLI and CrossFire setups for these cards in all cases but for the X1600 XT. Unfortunately, during testing one of our X1600 cards decided to roll over and die (such is the price of working with engineering samples and prerelease products). The other card we would love to have included is the X1800 GTO which has 12 pixel pipes and is clocked similarly to the X1800 XL. As we mentioned previously, ATI didn't get a card to us for testing.

For our comparison, we have decided to test all applications with 4xAA and 8xAF in all tests but Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. For Splinter Cell we are testing with SM3.0 options enabled and AA disabled as the game doesn't allow both to be set while playing. With all of this power available, our opinion is that AA is worth enabling in just about any situation. The visual quality benefit, even at high resolutions, is well worth it.

NVIDIA's Die Shrink: The 7900 and 7600 The Test and Power
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  • Regs - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    I can agree with that. SLI is clearly still a segregated part of the market.

    It's welcome...but...segregated.
    Reply
  • Ozenmacher - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Yes, good point. Or atleast use a different color or formatted bar so it is easy to distingush on another. Reply
  • smitty3268 - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Yes, that is the by far the biggest complaint I have about recent AT GPU reviews. Please, please put SLI/CF tests in a seperate graph from single card tests. Reply
  • Zoomer - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    Ditto. SLI is really a retarded marketing move and I hate nVidia for starting this.

    Look at all the recent mobo designs. Due to some weird fascination for SLI, almost all of them have weird slot designs with few PCI slots.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    I agree too, SLI/Crossfire results should be in a seperate graph. Reply
  • JNo - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    Me too Reply
  • Ozenmacher - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Oh, is there anyway you can allow post editing so I can change my bone-headed spelling errors ^^ Reply
  • frostyrox - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Derek, all these new cards say on the box "Built for Windows Vista", but i don't see anywhere that they support HDCP (High Bandwidth Content Protection). If i'm not mistaken HD-DVD and Blu-ray are going to be upon us soon, and they both will require hdcp compliant components, specifically your monitor and videocard. Seeing as these cards just came out and theyre boasting of Windows Vista compliance, could u possibly ellaborate on this for me. I seen to be missing something, thanks. Reply
  • Zoomer - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    Vista doesn't require HDCP. These cards, and many previous cards, will work just fine with vista.

    Only playing HD content with stock windows, stock everything, etc will require HDCP.
    Reply
  • Phantronius - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    I see no reason to part with my 7800GTX OC 256meg from BFG just yet Reply

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