The Test and Power

For our test setup, we are using two different 2x x16 ASUS boards: one based on NVIDIA and the other ATI core logic. For all tests with NVIDIA GPUs we used the NVIDIA motherboard, and for all tests with ATI GPUs we employed the ATI based motherboard. All power tests were performed using the same motherboard (the RD580 board).

In an attempt to keep everything readable and manageable, we have split up the high end and mid range comparisons. Our high end parts will be compared at 1280x1024, 1600x1200, 1920x1440, and 2048x1536. The mid range comparison will look at 1024x768, 1280x1024, and 1600x1200. All SLI and CrossFire tests will be included with the high end data.

Test Setup:
ASUS A8N32 NVIDIA nForce 4 X16 SLI Motherboard
ASUS A8R32 ATI RD580 Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 FX-57
2GB OCZ 2.5:3:3:8 DDR400 RAM
160GB Seagate 7200.7 Hard Drive
600W OCZ PowerStream PSU

Drivers:
NVIDIA ForceWare 84.17 (Beta)
ATI Catalyst 6.2

For power consumption, we once again take a look at the power draw of the system at the wall using our trusty Kill-A-Watt. Power load was measured while running the 3dmark06 feature tests as they tend to provide something near a worst case power load. What we see in games is usually a handful of watts lower than this. For idle power, we don't see that much difference between the high end cards, and the 7900 GT is similar in power to the 6800 GS. The 7600 GT seems to be on par with the X1600 XT for idle power.

Idle Power

When it comes to load, the new NVIDIA parts simply clean up. The performance per watt leader in this contest is hands down NVIDIA. The 7600 GT and 7900 GT both come in at a lower power than the 6800 GS and the 7900 GTX pulls the same wattage as the much lower clocked 7800 GTX.

Load Power

The Competition 7900 GT: Just Another 7800 GTX?
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  • yacoub - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    Any idea when we'll see a comparo showing the 7900GT against following cards?

    X800XL
    X1800XL
    X1800XT
    7800GT

    It is important for people running cards like those right now to know how much gain they will see going with a 7900GT versus going with a 7900GTX. Clearly they can see the difference between the 7900GT and 7900GTX on this review, but no one knows what improvement the 7900GT would have today (with today's drivers and games) over the cards many people are still using such as the X800XL or 7800GT.

    It's important to know if the 7900GT offers enough gain for such users over their current cards, or whether they should step all the way up to the 7900GTX.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • spinportal - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    I definite like the review and the presentation Derek. There are definite tradeoffs for price, power load and performance.
    All this talk of HDCP, DX10 (with Vista) and HD (1080p) PureVideo vs. AVIVO (shame on you nVidia for asking more from the consumer when ATI bundles such goodies) just around the corner, I'm still on the wait-n-see list before making the plunge to PCIe (besides AMD's M2 chipset, and Intel's DuoCore refresh to spank the PentiumD).
    What I don't get is how drastic ATI's ability to do AA with HDR (how many games truly support this? FarCry? but Splinter Cell can't? Half-Life2 engine?) shines above nVidia's lack. Is this the only feature ATI has an exclusive win over nVidia?
    Also, there was a preface of the 7900GT being marginally faster than the 7800 GTX-256, with a nice price advantage going to the 7900GT (as well as lower power load), killing off the 7800 line for newcomers. So where is ATI's high-mid or low-high 300$ competing part? Along with the 1900XTX being a gratutitous weak "ultra" offering, since a Crossfire only paces the 1900XT, "wasting" the XTX's 5% extra power, except to prove the King-of-the-Hill mentality. More power to ATI's customers paying a cost premium.
    The 7900GT SLI might be penny-wise & pound-foolish, as two of these cards cost substaintially more (350x2 vs. 550 = ~150$ / 20%) a single 7900GTX, draw more power (hence hidden cost of a beefier UPS upgrade) for roughly ~15% gain (YMMV with oc'ing, or manufacturer tweaks).
    And sure, the ATI X1800GTO squeaks a victory from the nV 7600GT, with est. end of March '06 MSRP of 249 vs. ~180-200. For the non-graphic fanatic, cost-conscious WoW player, the 7600GT is a nice target for newer PCIe. For the gung-ho FPS shooter, for a bit more, why not aim for the 7900GT instead of the X1800GTO?
    For curiosity sake, Derek, could you downgrade a 7900GTX to GT core/mem clock speeds and see how much a difference the extra 256MB makes? If the GT has good OC headroom, it can be a better bargain. With the same basic core, how much can the clock be pushed on the GT? As for memory, how much is 256MB more of GDDR3 RAM worth (over the same bus), and how far can the GT's bandwidth get pushed to help the benchmarks? Is nVidia able to push a GT to a GTX due to better active cooling? This might be wait tweakers looks for to justify their purchase. We see that a 7800GTX-512 had definitive victories over a 7800GTX-256/7900GT of about ~20%, which does bring nearly playable frame-rates into the 60 fps point. Maybe an enterprising third-party might offer a $400 7900GT-512 with a slightly higher mem clk; there is room for opportunistic pricing there.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    I like what XFX and eVGA are offering: http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/nvidia_geforce...">http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/nvi...orce_790... Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    Good article, good conclusion.

    7900GTX @ $475 is perfect competition for the X1900XT/XTX.
    7900GT @ $300 is a great price for 7800GTX performance.

    A 7900GT with a quieter, better cooling solution and accompanying overclock for around ~$350 will be my next purchase as soon as Asus or Gigabyte or someone releases such a card at such a price.
    Reply
  • Leper Messiah - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    too bad the only 7900GTX I've seen is $559.00 Man, I though I read somewhere in Video that these things were supposed to be uber cheap. Guess that was just rumor. :( Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    Really? I saw ones as low as $499 in the RealTime Pricing results.. Reply
  • KHysiek - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    I know it can be used to beat world record of fastest graphics cards, but for whom this tests are targeted. I think they are useless for 99.99999% of readers. Atlhon FXs, SLIs all over the place and almost none nonSLIsetups of currently available cards. How typical user, which has card 6-18 months old is supposed to evaluate speed of new cards and value of upgrading. I think it's the main task of such test - convince people to upgrade. Who have such systems like your testbed and who use SLI in real life - 0.00001% of these readers. Maybe even less. Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    some of us have been making this request for months now but it routinely falls on deaf ears. it appears most anandtech readers would prefer to read what is essentially technical advertising for GPU performance as tested in ubersystems 99% of us will never own. Reply
  • Egglick - Friday, March 10, 2006 - link

    Trying to compare cards with all those SLI and Crossfire scores everywhere can get really irritating. Reply
  • bigboxes - Thursday, March 09, 2006 - link

    Can we please have separate charts for SLI/Crossfire setups and single cards that normal people will end up using. That way we can easily compare apples to apples. I'm sure that the 1% of you that use an SLI/Crossfire setup will like the articles, but the rest of us normal people will appreciate a direct comparison between the various single cards. Reply

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