Fall '06 NVIDIA GPU Refresh - Part I: GeForce 7900 GSby Derek Wilson on September 6, 2006 9:00 AM EST
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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now stuck with testing CrossFire on a non-ATI chipset, and SLI testing with Core 2 Duo requires that we use a somewhat outdated nForce4 SLI X16-based motherboard.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 Drivers:||Intel 188.8.131.527 (Intel)|
|Hard Disk:||Seagate 7200.7 160GB SATA|
|Memory:||Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 4-4-4-12 (1GB x 2)|
|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.