Ultra High-End Graphics

Starting off our ultra high-end graphics section, we have NVIDIA's 7900 line-up. With the 7900 GTX, you'll find it performs right up there with the X1900 XT and X1900 XTX. It's difficult to say which is better as the 7900 GTX brings some excellent competition to ATI. The 7900 cards also generate less heat, use less power, and generally run quieter than their ATI counterparts, the X1900 XT and XTX. The main deciding factor between these cards will be the price and features, as well as the intended use. We would say that ATI tends to have the performance advantage in many games right now, but there are still titles that favor NVIDIA's cards. Taking a step down in performance, we've discovered that the 7900 GT performs slightly better than a 7800 GTX, which compared to ATI's offerings would put 7900 GT up with the X1800 XL and X1800 XT cards, performing about the same or slightly better than them.

At the moment, the MSI GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB [RTPE: NX7900 GTX-T2D512E] is going for $430 after a $30 mail-in rebate. Leading the 7900 GT pack this week are two cards, the MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB [RTPE: NX7900 GT-T2D256E] and the XFX GeForce 7900 GT XTREME 256MB VIVO [RTPE: PV-T71G-UCF7] going for $250 after a $30 mail-in rebate. Coming up very close behind are the eVGA GeForce 7900 GT CO 256MB [RTPE: 256-P2-N563] and the BFG GeForce 7900 GT OC 256MB [RTPE: BFGR79256GTOCE] on sale for $260 after a $40 mail-in rebate. You'll note that many of the 7900 GT/GTX cards come factory overclocked, so if you don't want to overclock on your own, you should pay attention to clock speeds.

The GeForce 7800 GT/GTX used to be very popular. However, we are only picking up on a single GT card this week as all the others are now out of stock, and as mentioned already you will get better performance out of the 7900 GT cards. All the other 7800 GT cards listed in the RPTE are coming up as pre-order only, so you will not see them displayed in the above chart. The best/only price we are able to find on a 7800 GT is the BFG GeForce 7800 GT OC 256MB [RTPE: BFGR78256GTOC] going for $305 shipped. With only 20 pipelines compared to 24 on the 7900 GT, there's absolutely no reason to recommend a 7800 GT anymore. If you already have one and are looking to upgrade to SLI, you can get a moderate performance increase, but that's about the only reason to even think about the 7800 GT cards.

In the 7800 GTX line-up, the best price we're pulling up on is the eVGA GeForce 7800 GTX KO 256MB [RTPE: 256-P2-N529] which is currently going for $408 shipped. You can also find quite a few of these cards going for between $445 and $460. As with other models, these 7800 GTX cards come with many different package alternatives, so read the details carefully to get what you really want or avoid what you don't. Given that the 7900 GT is over $100 cheaper and will generally overclock and outperform a 7800 GTX, we again emphasize that your money is probably better spent elsewhere - or just save it for the next graphics card generation.

Moving on to ATI's ultra high-end offerings, we'll start off with the X1900 XT cards. We found a few X1900 XTs priced roughly the same as the 7900 GTX cards. The best price we're able to bring you is the MSI Radeon X1900XT 512MB [RTPE: RX1900XT-VT2D512E] for $400 after a $30 mail-in rebate. If it wasn't for the mail-in rebate, we would also suggest either the PowerColor Radeon X1900XT 512MB [RTPE: 1900XT512OEM] on sale for $436 shipped, or coming in very close behind that is the Sapphire Radeon X1900XT 512MB [RTPE: 100149] for $437. Since the X1900 XT and 7900 GTX perform similarly, the deciding factor will usually be the price. As you can see here, the X1900 XT wins this week at a considerably lower price.

Just as we hoped, we're seeing the X1900 XTX going for under $500. We're finding the Gigabyte Radeon X1900XTX 512MB [RTPE: GV-RX19X512VB-RH] running for $478 shipped and also the Sapphire Radeon X1900XTX 512MB [RTPE: 100150] for $490 shipped. The XTX cards are really only about 5% faster than the XT cards, and of course if you ever upgrade to CrossFire you will be stuck with XT speeds anyway. We definitely recommend the XT cards, as the extra $75 really isn't worth spending.

There are a couple more X1900 cards worth mentioning. First, there's the All-In-Wonder model. The X1900 AIW has lower clocks than the X1900 XT (500/960), but you also get VIVO support, and the price is lower. With a $50 MIR currently available, the card is certainly a reasonable alternative. The other card worth mentioning is the X1900 GT. These cards trim the number of pipelines from 16/48 down to 12/36, along with having slightly slower clock speeds than the XT (575/1200). Given the price and features, we would currently go with the AIW model instead, as both sell for about $330 (with rebates). The AIW card has more pixel processing power but less memory bandwidth, so both end up offering similar performance.

These X1800 cards aren't very appealing. While the lower priced cards seem reasonable, anything after about $350 isn't a good idea considering the X1900 XT we found above going for $400 (AMIR). We feel the performance found with X1900 XT would be well worth the ~$50 additional cost. However, we can give a moderate recommendation to the Sapphire Radeon X1800XL 256MB [RTPE: 100133] going for $292.

Let us head on over to the high-end graphics cards and take a look at what we have there.

Index High-End Graphics


View All Comments

  • Egglick - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    I'm kinda confused as to why there are so many old cards in this guide. The entire range of last-gen PCIe cards is pretty much obsolete because of the performance of the 7600GT for only $150. Aside from the X850XT for $159, it's a joke to even list most of those cards up there.

    I also think that the X1600Pro should have been touted quite a bit more. For $100, you get the entire AVIVO feature set, in either PCIe or AGP flavor. This makes them extremely useful for HTPCs, and negates just about the entire low end range.

    Also, no discussion whatsoever on the $239 X1800XT 256MB?? That's a pretty big descrepency.
  • tayhimself - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    The old cards (barring a few AGP models maybe) should be removed from the guide. I would put them all in a not reccomended list page. But it may be more important for you to get advertising $ by providing a direct buy link which would explain the old shitty cards still in the guide. Oh well... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Every time we put out a price guide, we get complaints if we don't list just about every conceivable option. Catch-22. I don't know where the cheap X1800XT is, but it doesn't show up in our pricing engine right now, which is why it doesn't get mentioned. Anyway, if you can find some better deals than we have listed here, that's great; these articles are a snapshot in time, and we don't track every vendor on the planet for a variety of reasons. Reply
  • Egglick - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Scratch that.....you can get the X1600Pro for http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...">$85 after $15MIR (PCIe model). Reply
  • bloc - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Your price engine is rather nice, but...to make it the ultimate price guide is to factor in fps. Even though you don't have fps for most games and cards, it would help to show the ones you do have.

    You made some arguments about 6600 GT, x1600 XT, 7600 GT...well if you look at the price vs fps...I believe all three are on a similar line.

    Meaning they're equal in value...and you're getting the appropriate performance for the price you pay.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    X1600 XT is about as fast as 6600 GT (not even quite that!), so not worth it in my opinion since it costs a bit more. 7600 GT runs about 75% faster (provided you're not CPU limited), and it only costs may 40% more. Best bang-for-the-buck out right now, I think. Reply
  • bloc - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Using anand's oblivion benchmarks http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2746...">http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2746...

    And the top graph because it stresses the cards the most:

    256 mb cards - taking lowest price from the chart
    6600 GT - $120
    x1600 xt - $140
    7600 gt - $153

    oblivion gate - bloom
    6600 GT - 18.05 - 0.15 fps/$
    x1600 xt - 26 - 0.186
    7600 gt - 30.3 - 0.198

    oblivion gate - hdr
    6600 GT - 14.3 - 0.119 fps/$
    x1600 xt - 19.1 - 0.136 fps/$
    7600 gt - 25.7 - 0.168

    The higher the fps/$ the better the bang for the buck

    for reference
    7900 GT - gate hdr - 33.5 $280 has a fps/$ of 0.119
    1800 xt - gate hdr - 42.4 $290 has a fps/$ of 0.147

    Conclusion: the 7600 GT has the best bang for the buck, followed by the x1600 xt then the 6600 GT. (for this game of course)

    See how fps/$ or $/fps is a better indicator?
  • bloc - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    btw the 7600 GT price is $153 ($35 MIR)..which is a lot lower than the average of $170. With the adjusted price, the x1600 XT and 7600 GT fps/$ ratio is about even. But my point was to highlight how price charts is an alright solution...while a fps/$ is better. Reply
  • the Chase - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    The MSI X1800XT(512MB) is only $269.99 after $30 MIR at Newegg. Reply
  • the Chase - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    Price engine missed the $50 MIR on the ATI X1800XT at Newegg that brings the price down to $289.99. Not a bad deal for the 512MB 1800XT. Reply

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