Asus 7900 GT

The Asus 7900 GT is possibly the most boring of the selection, mainly because unlike the rest of these cards, it runs at the default 450MHz core and 660MHz (1,320MHz effective) clock speeds. They do sell a pre-overclocked version of this card, but you pay an extra £40 for the privilege, which is more than I would happily pay. But £240.73 is about average for a vanilla 7900 GT. All of Asus’ graphics cards come with a three year warranty, which is more than enough for most people.

Included with the card is Cyberlink MediaShow SE 2.0, Cyberlink PowerDirector 3DE and VirtualDrive 9, which will probably never venture outside the box the card comes in. XR Xpand Rally is also included and though it doesn’t look too bad for a two year old game it’s hardly cutting edge.

Naturally, this was the slowest performer out of all the cards because of its lower clock speeds, but it does give us an excellent indication of how any other stock clocked 7900 GT would perform. The answer is - excellently. It’s around 25 per cent slower than a 7900 GTX but considering the price difference and cooling requirements, it’s a small sacrifice. At 1,280 x 1,024, which is the native resolution of 17in and 19in panels, and therefore the most commonly used, frame rates were excellent - even with FSAA and AF enabled. The only game that really shows signs of struggling at all is Call of Duty 2 with only 37.19 fps with 4x FSAA and 8x AF.

At 2,048 x 1,536 which is where most CRT owners will be pitching for, Battlefield 2 still averaged 55.1fps even with 4x FSAA and 8x AF! This resolution in Call of Duty 2 brings even a Multi-GPU setup to its knees, so it’s not surprising that a single card only manages a poor 14.36fps with 4x FSAA and 8x AF on. Bear in mind that a 7900 GTX only manages 25.17fps.

Counter-Strike: Source paints a similar picture, with all resolutions playable until you hit 2,048 x 1,536 where FSAA and AF really cause it to take a hit. With 4x FSAA and 8x AF it only averages 26.96fps. This is questionably playable but there will be noticeable dips in performance during tough sections of the game. In multiplayer games, frame rate lag can mean the difference between a kill and being killed.

Being an nVidia card, it is naturally good at Quake 4 thanks to its superior OpenGL implementation and support for UltraShadow II. 45.9fps at 2,048 x 1,536 with 4x FSAA and 8x AF is no mean feat.

Overclocking on this card was astonishing, with 565MHz on the core and 885MHz on the memory. The big question is, does overclocking help? Overall, we saw around a 20 per cent improvement in performance, bringing it exceptionally close to the performance of a 7900 GTX. During the overclocking, I did notice how extra memory bandwidth offered very little performance increase. Instead, it was overclocking the core that offered the biggest improvement in performance.

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