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

    Or am I going to have to look for myself? Im too lazy Derek. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    well... since the 7900 GT performs the same as the 7800 GTX ... and the 7800 GT performance relative to the 7800 GTX is well documented :-)

    You're right though, it might have been good to make this more clear.
    Reply
  • Regs - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    So I suspect a 5-10% difference going from a 7800GT to a 7900GT. Reply
  • Phantronius - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Derek, why are only the first graphs hightling the 7900' series in orange while the rest are totally blue? It makes it hard to compare them to the 7800 series. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    sorry, we've had some problems with our graphign engine today -- I will make sure to update the colors on the rest of the graphs so they are more readable.

    my plan is to make the new single cards orange and their sli counterparts green.

    I understand that it is a lot of data in one place, but I hope this helps.

    Thanks,
    Derek Wilson
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link


    I though sites reported that the die size of the R580 is supposed to be 313mm2 not 353mm2 as stated in the article???
    Reply
  • APKasten - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Man, I've been reading this sight for like two years now and they always find a way to make me feel like a noob. Can anyone tell me what 'the IC' is? Didn't see the long form in the article. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Sorry ...

    Integrated Circuit.

    It is the term for what is commonly refered to as a "chip"
    Reply
  • APKasten - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Oh man that's embarassing...for some reason I just couldn't figure that. Sometimes the brain just doesn't work right. Reply
  • 4AcesIII - Thursday, March 9, 2006 - link

    Not an ATI fan anyways but it does seem that these boys favor ATI in almost every review. Now having had experience with ATI it makes me wonder how they can sleep at night knowing what sort of reputation, and consistant reputation ATI has for absolute crap software/drivers. Some of the TV cards they've put out aren't supported by themselves, left to 3rd party software and powervcr at that. Both ATI and Nvidia have good hardware the huge difference between them is implimentation via drivers and software. Nvidia can do it, ATI can't and they've proven it over time. Nvidia drivers are compatible with more of their older cards until you go back to 2mb TNT cards. ATI wasn't able to do this. I don't find Anandtech impartial anymore, they don't put out anywhere near the amount or quality of articles they used to and there's some plagerism claims about them floating around the web. Because of all this I only keep this link for amusement it's not considered a serious source of info anymore. Reply

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