The Test

Coming up with an ideal testbed for graphics card comparisons has become a bit tricky of late.  In the past, we used AMD Athlon 64/X2 configurations as these were the highest performing platforms.  We had the added benefit of being able to run SLI and/or CrossFire with the best chipset options for the respective GPUs.  Intel's Core 2 Duo launch has muddied the waters somewhat, as we are now stuck with testing CrossFire on a non-ATI chipset, and SLI testing with Core 2 Duo requires that we use a somewhat outdated nForce4 SLI X16-based motherboard.  NForce 590 SLI for Intel will become available in the near future, and although the primary difference will be in features, performance may also be better.

In the end, decisions have to be made on how to test our GPUs, and compromises may be necessary.  For now, we have restricted testing to single PCI-E X16 solutions.  When we provide the second part of this GPU launch covering the 7950 GT, we will also take a look at CrossFire and SLI performance from the various offerings.  Here's the test configuration we used.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz/4MB)
Motherboard: Intel D975XBX (LGA-775)
Chipset: Intel 975X
Chipset Drivers: Intel (Intel)
Hard Disk: Seagate 7200.7 160GB SATA
Memory: Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 4-4-4-12 (1GB x 2)
Video Card: Various
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 6.8
NVIDIA ForceWare 91.47
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1440 - 32-bit @ 60Hz
OS: Windows XP Professional SP2


The games we have chosen to test represent a wide variety of engines and styles. We are testing 7 games today due to the time constraints of this article. As the interest in HDR and advanced visual effects continues to rise, the tradeoff required for antialiasing is often overshadowed by the quality available from other options. This is especially true in games like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Oblivion, and Black & White 2. In every game but Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Oblivion, we will be testing with and without 4x antialiasing. These games really shine when HDR is enabled, so we won’t bother disabling it.

In reporting our results, in hopes to increase readability, we will be including a snapshot of one resolution using our standard graphing engine graphs along side a resolution scaling line graph.

XFX Card and Competitors GeForce 7900 Battle: GT vs. GS
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  • sirfergy - Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - link

    Woot had this card for $139 a few weeks ago. So glad I jumped!
  • artifex - Thursday, September 7, 2006 - link

    I wish I'd bought 3 and sold them on eBay. Instead, I bought 0. :(">woot entry

  • Spoelie - Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - link

    I dunno the situation in the US, but Europe is seeing an interesting war. We have 7900GT's costing 230€, right above there is the X1900XT 256mb at 244€ and the X1900XT 512mb at 280€, with the overclocked 7900GT's overlapping in price with the X1900XT's.

    Check it on for example.

    At these prices, the X1900XT's are a pretty sweet deal, and warrant the little extra money paid over the 7900GT imho.
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - link

    just to be clear, those are the minimum prices found, in general you have about price parity between the GT's and XT 256mb, with a few superclocked cards costing as much or more as the XT 512mb...

    Incredible value in the 200-300€/$ range imho, with cards that just months ago were in the 300-500€/$ range
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - link

    The concluding paragraphs on pages 4 and 5 are identical (i.e., the proper paragraph is missing for the XFX 480M Extreme vs. Stock Performance section).
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - link

    thanks, fixed
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - link

    there's also a layout error in the table on page 9
  • TheLiberalTruth - Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - link

    I don't know if it's just me or what, but I can't get any page from this article after 1 to load. :\
  • peldor - Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - link

    The BFG 7600GT is down to $115 after rebate at Newegg.

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