With its 24-pixel shader architecture, the most of any GPU up to that point, NVIDIA’s GeForce 7800 GTX dominated the high-end performance segment of the 3D graphics market for most of last year. NVIDIA re-architected the GeForce 7800 GTX’s G70 graphics core from the ground up with more robust pixel and vertex shaders that were to designed to deliver higher computational capability per clock with lower latency. For instance, the GeForce 7800 GTX’s pixel shaders were better designed to handle the complex math operations increasingly found in the shaders used in today’s latest games, while the vertex shaders were rebuilt to speedup geometry processing.
All these enhancements (and more) added up to increased individual pipeline efficiency clock-for-clock than previous GeForce architectures, not to mention the increased number of pixel and vertex shading units that NVIDIA added to GeForce 7800 GTX.
The GeForce 7800 GTX was about more than just performance though – the G70 GPU inside the GeForce 7800 GTX featured full support for NVIDIA’s PureVideo technology, a feature which its predecessor, GeForce 6800 Ultra (NV40) lacked. With GeForce 7800 GTX, NVIDIA also introduced a new transparency AA mode. By taking additional texel samples and antialiasing passes NVIDIA was able to remove the jaggies often found on thin-lined objects such as chain link fences and foliage (strands of grass for instance, or leaves).
Not everyone can afford to spend $500+ on a new graphics card though. To service the lower-end of the high-end market, NVIDIA concocted the GeForce 7800 GT. The 7800 GT was based on the same G70 GPU as the GeForce 7800 GTX and shared most of its key features, only it had four of its pixel shaders disabled and one vertex unit turned off (for a total of 20 and 7 respectively), as well as running at lower clock speeds.
Despite its reduced functionality the 7800 GT was still a terrific performer, delivering very good frame rates at high resolutions and with high graphics settings. This 1-2 punch of the 7800 GTX/GT was a terrific combo for NVIDIA, racking up huge volumes in sales at both the OEM and retail levels. Not since the GeForce4 had NVIDIA enjoyed so much success with both markets.
Replacing such a successful product wouldn’t be easy, but it can’t be denied that NVIDIA’s new G71 GPU powering the GeForce 7900 GT and GeForce 7900 GTX isn’t a strong successor. The new GPU is based on TSMC’s smaller 90-nm manufacturing process, allowing it to consume less power and thus generate less heat than G70. The new process also allows NVIDIA to crank up the clock speeds: at 450MHz, the GeForce 7900 GT runs 20MHz faster than the GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB, while the GeForce 7900 GTX runs 200MHz faster at 650MHz. And of course the smaller process makes the GPU cheaper to manufacture, something everyone likes as the GeForce 7900 GT is officially priced at $300 – that’s half the price of the GeForce 7800 GTX on its debut. When you factor in that the GeForce 7900 GT also delivers faster performance
than the GeForce 7800 GTX, you’ve got a pretty appealing product that’s hard to resist, and unlike it predecessor, the GeForce 7800 GT, the GeForce 7900 GT shares all the functionality of the more expensive GeForce 7900 GTX. None of its shaders have been disabled.
But for some people, even a stock GeForce 7900 GT isn’t good enough, they want more performance and/or they want better cooling than what the stock GeForce 7900 GT is capable of delivering. For these enthusiasts, we’ve rounded up four of the hottest enthusiast-level GeForce 7900 GT cards on the market; none of these cards are bone stock 7900 GT reference boards, they’ve all got something special added to them, whether it’s higher clock speeds, custom cooling, or both. Let’s take a look at the first card shall we?
|GeForce 7900 GT Comparison|
|Card||Core Clock Speed (MHz)||Memory Speed||Noise Level||Warranty Period||Custom Cooling?|
|GeForce 7900 GT Reference||450||660||5||N/A||No|
|ASUS EN7900 GT TOP||520||720||1||3 years||Yes|
|BFG GeForce 7900 GT OC||475||680||5||Lifetime||No|
|EVGA e-GeForce 7900 GT KO Superclocked||580||790||2||Lifetime||Yes|
|EVGA e-GeForce 7900 GT Signature Series||600||800||2||Lifetime||Yes|
|XFX GeForce 7900 GT XXX Edition||560||825||5||Lifetime||No|