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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  • sum1 - Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - link


    For some reason, BFG's website lists it as 525MHz. We'll double check our sample, but we listed the speed of the card we reviewed.

    Let me clarify:
    "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 in this article (including the benchmarks).
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    For some reason, BFG's website lists it as 525MHz. We'll double check our sample, but we listed the speed of the card we reviewed.">

    EVGA is actually EVGA despite the fact that people tend to lowercase the leading 'e'. Check their own press releases on their site.">

    Maybe uniqueness can come in shades of blue if it can't be grey :-) I see your point, but sometimes taking a little liberty with language gives us the ability to succinctly convey something like the idea that "this is mostly the same as everything else with a slight difference in one area".
  • yacoub - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I really don't like the line graphs... very hard to read when more than three or four lines are close together. Get much more meaningful data much more quickly from traditional bar graphs or a simple table with numbers.
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    the line graphs include a table -- just ignore the top part :-)

    the problem with bar graphs are that they don't clearly show trends between cards over different resolutions, they don't show the impact of increasing resolution for each card, and they take up qutie a bit more space.

    we'd love to hear more good suggestions on ways we can better present our data though.
  • Questar - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link


    the problem with bar graphs are that they don't clearly show trends between cards over different resolutions

    Stacked bars do.
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    i think those are harder to read than line graphs.
  • VooDooAddict - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I agree that they are harder to read. Persoanlly I like the way they show how the cards scale. Unfortunetly while it's nice to have all the data right there. I used to be able to show non-techie friends a page or two from your review to pointout the performance advantages of one video chipset over the other.

    With the new line graphs and data grids I need to make my own simple bar graphs from your data to show friends info relivant to thier purchase decision. (I would never re-publish these graphs with your data... just used to give non-techie friends better direction.)

    As a side note. I personally know quite a few people out there debating over the current $100-$240 range: The new X1300 XT (Which is baqsicly a X1600 Pro), X1600 XT, 7600GS, 7600GT, X1900GT, 7900GS, 7900GT (with rebates) ... you might want to take note of these if you ever toss up more Low-Midrange buying guides.
  • yacoub - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    "The EVGA 7900 GS's heat sink is slightly longer than the reference 7900 GS's heat sink and it has two gill-shaped cutouts exposing some copper ridges from the inside of the sink. Aside from that, the card has the signature EVGA black coloring, with their logo and card name in clear view on the face."

    You could also mention that it covers the RAM chips. That's kind of the point of its design and something nice to have.
  • Kougar - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Finally happy to see that eVGA only cooler get tested, looks like they knew what they were doing desiging it and using it on many of their G70 cards...

    Should also note the eVGA has had a $20 MIR on it for over a week, ties it with the XFX for best priced... but the warranty, non-stock cooler, and HDCP support ought to make it an obvious choice between the two.
  • mostlyprudent - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    XFX makes a passively cooled 7950GT, but puts a fan on their 7900GS? Maybe it's a price issue (more expensive to passively cool a card and less profit margin at the $200 price range)?

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