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The nVidia cards were tested on an Asus A8N32-SLI using an Athlon 64 FX-60, 2GB of CMX1024-3500LLPRO RAM and a Seagate Barracuda ST340083A8 hard disk. Power was supplied by a Tagan 900W TG900-U95. For ATI testing, everything was kept the same except for the use of an Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe and an Etasis 850W ET850.
All of the nVidia cards were tested using the WHQL 84.21 ForceWare drivers, except for the eVGA 7300 GTs in SLI, which was using the 94.31 driver. Although the 7300 GT is not officially supported by this driver, I modified the INF file to support the new card. I don't like to use beta drivers if I can get away with it and as this was not a new architecture there was no reason why I shouldn't use WHQL drivers instead. The X1300 was tested using the official Catalyst 6.5 drivers.
Using our proprietary automated benchmarking suite, aptly dubbed 'SpodeMark 3D', I ran Call of Duty 2, Counter Strike: Source, Quake 4, Battlefield 2 and 3DMark 06. Bar 3DMark06, these all run using our in-house pre-recorded timedemos in the most intense sections of each game I could find. Each setting is run three times and the average is taken, for reproducible and accurate results. As these are low-end cards, I ran at slightly different resolutions. I ran each game test at 1,024 x 768, 1,280 x 1,024, 1,600 x 1,200 each at 0x FSAA with trilinear filtering, 2x FSAA with 4x AF and 4x FSAA with 8x AF.
In our performance graphs, I have included results from the Inno3D 7300 GT and the Sapphire X1300.
The difference between this 7300 GT and the Inno3D 7300 GT was huge – on average the Inno3D is 55 per cent faster. Even with two cards in SLI, it couldn't quite match the performance of a single Inno3D card.
When overclocked, the performance gap was bridged considerably, but naturally still behind the Inno3D due to the lower clock speeds. It was interesting to see that most of the performance hit was from the core speed being too low, and not from memory bandwidth. Most G73 cores should be able to do 500MHz+, so bare this in mind.
The X1300 took quite a pasting when compared to the Inno3D 7300 GT and things don't look that much better compared to the DDR2 eVGA version. On average the eVGA 7300 GT was 91 per cent faster than the Sapphire X1300. For comparison, the Inno3D 7300 GT was on average 200 per cent than the X1300 and 50 per cent faster than the eVGA 7300 GT.
At these lower clock speeds, the eVGA DDR2 7300 GT is still faster than the Sapphire Radeon X1300. Although there are DDR2 7300 GT cards by other brands available at around £45 (i.e cheaper than the Sapphire X1300), this particular card is pitched at around the same price as the previously reviewed DDR3 7300 GT – between 60 and 70 pounds. Although the eVGA comes with a lifetime warranty and the "Step-Up" program, I'd still sooner have the extra performance of the Inno3D card.
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