There has always been a lot of competition in the graphics card market between different card manufacturers, and also between ATI and NVIDIA in general. For each new board released by ATI or NVIDIA, another one pops up sooner or later from the other company as an answer. A lot of times the most notorious performance wars happen at the highest end, with ATI and NVIDIA trying to hold the coveted title for the "fastest card." We saw an example of this back when NVIDIA released their 7800 GTX much to the dismay of ATI, who had no direct competitor on the high-end for this card for a good while. This was one case where the clear winner in performance was NVIDIA on the high-end, but usually things aren't so cut and dry.

Of course, perhaps more importantly, competition also happens with cards around the $200-$300 mark, as these are the kind of prices most gamers are willing to spend for higher performance. Many die-hard and casual gamers have budget constraints but will gladly shell out $200 on a graphics card they know will give them significantly improved performance in a given game. This makes this price range important for graphics card companies to focus on, and we often see heavy competition in this area of the market.

NVIDIA's GeForce 7900 GS shipped recently without a lot of fanfare, but we are seeing lots of them available right now for about $200, which is right at NVIDIA's MSRP. This could be great news to a lot of gamers looking for a graphics card upgrade, provided the 7900 GS has the necessary performance capabilities. We recently took a look at how this card performs in relation to a number of cards from ATI and NVIDIA when it launched (here), and then we looked at its SLI performance in the more recent Fall '06 NVIDIA GPU Refresh - Part II: GeForce 7950 GT and SLI.

Today, we happen to have five of these cards from different hardware manufacturers, and as always we are interested in seeing just how they perform relative to each other as well as a few other cards on the market. Since NVIDIA's 7900 GS is an answer to ATI's X1900 GT, we'll of course be including this in our tests, as well as the X1800 GTO, 7800 GT, and 7900 GT. As it sometimes happens, all five of the 7900 GS cards we have for this review come factory clocked at different speeds, with only one of them (from Albatron) at reference speeds (i.e. not factory-overclocked; 450MHz/660MHz). This means we'll get a detailed view of what we can expect from this card out-of-the-box compared to its competitors.

It appears as though overclockability will be one of the interesting features of these cards and might ultimately be a primary selling point. Of course, we will do some overclocking of our own on these cards, as well as the usual power load and heat tests, to give a thorough evaluation of each of these cards. The price tag is always a factor when considering a graphics solution, so we will be breaking down the prices of these cards and taking into account their individual performance to determine their overall value for this review. These are the things we'll be keeping in mind as we look at these different 7900 GS offerings from EVGA, BFG, Leadtek, XFX, and Albatron. So without further ado, let's talk about the cards.

The Cards
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  • Bonesdad - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I'd have to go with the Leadtek card. Near to the BFG in almost every level of performance, nearly equal in watt consumption, lower heat output under load, a couple of (suspect, I admit) games included. the (maybe) $20 more is worth it for the heat output alone to me.

    Also, why no noise output comparisons?
  • Nimbo - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Why ATI cards are not overclock in the reviews? Are they bad overclokers? Why are not factory overclock versions?
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    ATI's current generation of GPUs have not been good overclockers. It is also not as easy to find ATI factory overclocked cards.

    We will look at ATI overclocking in similar roundups of ATI cards.
  • formulav8 - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I was hoping to see a 7600GT including in the mix to see what I would have to gain from a 7900gs. :(

  • Josh Venning - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    The 7900 GS launch article compared the 7900 GT to the stock 7900 GS, which you can take a look at here:"> We tested these overclocked 7900 GSs on the same system, so you can compare the numbers directly (with the exception of Oblivion which we tested with different quality settings for this article).
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - link

    Hmm, only roughly 5FPS more on the 7900GS vs the 7600GT acrossed the board. Thats pretty sad, but I think I know what I'll be doing when I get a conroe system going, I'll be adding another 7600GT for SLI . . .
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - link

    across the board is a little off I think ... in bw2 and oblivion, yes the fps difference is low. But when 4.2 fps is the increase over 17 (a 24% difference), you can't ignore it -- it does make a big difference. I would tend to argue that at these very low framerates, a 5 fps difference is much more noticable than the difference between 60 and 120 fps. In most other tests (especially with AA) frame rate differences were much higher in addition to being higher precent differences.
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link">
  • sum1 - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    "The BFG 7900 GS OC's core clock is set at 520MHz, a 70MHz increase over the standard NVIDIA 7900 GS"
    It’s listed at 540MHz everywhere else.

    Is usually written eVGA.

    "Something slightly unique about this 7900 GS..."
    Uniqueness does not come in shades of grey.
  • rushfan2006 - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    You are WRONG on all 3 of your points....Stop being so damn anal for the sake of just busting stones because you are bored.

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