This card should have gotten a different name. With hugely increased clock speeds, more memory, a beefy heatsink (the one used on the Quadro FX 4500), and a new board layout, the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 is one very powerful card. Oh yeah, and it's got more RAM too.

Earlier this month we started seeing ATI's new Radeon X1800 XT show up for sale. Today, ATI's high end part gets some revamped competition from NVIDIA's new offering. And even though we don't like the name, the 7800 GTX 512 is an excellent performer. Will the increased core and memory clock speed be enough for NVIDIA to topple ATI's high end monster? Will the additional memory make a tangible difference? The answers may not be as straight forward as they could be, but we were certainly excited to get our testing done and find out.

As we can see, the heatsink has had quite a change and the new card is now a two slot design. This is a small price to pay for the performance boost we see with the new GTX, as most people who will be shelling out the money for this card will likely want to drop it in very performance oriented systems (which usually throw space restrictions out the window). The competition (the Radeon X1800 XT) is also a two slot solution, so neither camp has the advantage on this point.

Before we get into the thick of it, it is important to note that ATI released drivers last week that greatly improve OpenGL performance with 4xAA. One of the suprises we will see from this new ATI creation is that the X1800 XT actually bests the current 7800 GTX in Doom 3 when 4xAA is enabled. This driver is a welcome development from ATI (whose OpenGL drivers have been somewhat lacking for quite some time), but with the new 7800 GTX 512 coming up to bat, it may be too little too late.

In any case, this is the second card in as many weeks that NVIDIA has brought out in response to new ATI parts. We found the 6800 GS to be quite a good fit for it's price point, and the 7800 GTX 512 is no slouch either. But with our price engine showing a $700 barrier to entry at the time of publication, we aren't quite as excited about price/performance ratio potential. Of course, the Radeon X1800 XT is still running between 600 and 700 at the moment, so the competition is still in the same ball park price wise.

Let's take a look at what we actually get for all that cash before we decide whether it's worth it or not.

The Card, The Test, and Power
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  • Gogar - Saturday, November 19, 2005 - link

    The only thing i'm still wondering about is what the performance difference between the 1800XT and the 7800GTX 512 would be if a dual core processor was used.
    Since Nvidia makes use of dual core with their drivers, the gap might be even wider.. but who knows?
  • Regs - Friday, November 18, 2005 - link

    I doubt Nvidia cared about it's price/performance one bit. This card is just a spin-off to show what 512 MB's can do....(nothing). You give a GTX a 120 MHz core speed bump with a 200 MHz RAM bump and of course it's going to perform better than the GTX 256. Pure marketing. 700 dollars? What target market is this? And even better that they decided to keep the name to make it more confusing. Let's see how much money we can squeeze out of you by putting in more RAM which Vendors all ready have ordered in Bulk 8 months ago.
  • Regs - Friday, November 18, 2005 - link

    In other words you are paying 300 dollars more for a GTX with a better HSF unit.
  • cryptonomicon - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    awesome card, i'm a bit confused though as to what nvidia was trying to release it as though.

    the boosted clock speeds are typical of the mid-quarter 'refresher' products (same core, with boosted stats) but it also is posing as the same product but in a 512mb variation.

    i think it should have a new model name (*agree* with derek!)
  • MadAd - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    LOL! Thats what I thought, I wonder if he read the same review as we did? 2x GTs SLId are either within a couple of fps, or between 10-20 fps higher. Considering the GT is just over 200 here, I can get 2 and add an extra 50 for an sli board (over a non sli) and still save 50 notes.

    As for soundcards, well its not a soundcard review so I dont want sound complicating anything. If I was really perdantic i'd say ATs review of the motherboard showed the a8n32 to be several FPS above all the rest of the mobos currently and would skew the data higher than normal boards, but thats not the point, the point is about comparability on the same platform.

    Finally, another thanks goes to Derek for the higher resolution coverage - although some here are mystified why resolutions above 1600x1200 are mentioned, well some of us have TFTs with native resolutions of 1920x1200 and anything lower has to be either stretched or windowed- thats not what I paid all that money to do, I want fullscreen lovelyness at full res and right now, thanks to Dereks patience, I can see that the minimum setup to enjoy all current games with FSAA at 1920x1200 is 2xGTs. Even the GTX512 isnt quite man enough.
  • MadAd - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    OOps, that was in reply to:

    RE: Newegg has it!!!! by viciousvee on: Nov 14, 2005 10:53 PM
    Might want to read the Review again (just a thought) but the GT SLI pretty much beats the GTX 512mb ("NON SLI") by a few FPS... So I stand by what I said, Get "TWO" GT's (7800) and Call it a day....
  • Eidolon - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    I am guessing you cannot SLI this card with an existing 7800 GTX 256MB. Is this correct?
  • Fluppeteer - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    ISTR Tom's tried it, and no, you can't. (Presumably the core is tweaked
    just enough that it doesn't work.)

    Maybe nVidia will fix that in a new driver?
  • jeffrey - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link


    I have been an open critic of some of your recent work, but this review was fairly solid. Don't sweat someone saying a sentence was a run-on. The review read as an unbiased work and was inquisitive where it needed to be.

    Thanks for including the disclaimer for multiple-clocks on lowering the core clock. The addition of the 256mb vs. 512mb benchmarks was a welcome addition.

    That's all,

  • ElJefe - Monday, November 14, 2005 - link

    Eh. I dont see the point of playing at 1600 yet, so I wouldnt be TOO concerned with needing to upgrade. Obviously, this is an amazing card though, so that cant be said enough.

    anything over 300 dollars for a non all-in-wonder vid card is a ripoff though. x800XL is still more than adequate. Dont listen to the hype.

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