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