- Review Price: £118.99
Back at the beginning of September, nVidia launched the 7900 GS and 7950 GT. Although I covered this in a news story, it’s only now that I have managed to take a look at the 7900 GS. With the ATI X1950 Pro launched today, and G80 just around the corner, I felt I couldn’t really review the former without first looking at this card first.
The 7900 GS card I was sent came courtesy of Inno3D. Inno3D has really impressed me recently with it’s great pricing and balanced products. Its 7300 GT has definitely stuck in my mind, because of its amazing price and performance balance.
The 7900 GS is exactly the same as a 7900 GT with a couple of minor tweaks. The PCB hasn’t changed one iota, and the chip is still the same (G71). However, it has been crippled somewhat, no longer having the full 24 pipelines, instead making do with only 20. By disabling this quad, we also see a drop from eight to seven vertex shaders. Clock speeds are the same as current 7900 GT cards with a 450MHz core and 256MB of 660MHz (1320MHz effective) memory.
There is nothing new in the underlying technology, and it still can’t do full precision HDR and FSAA simultaneously. However, this reduction in pipelines means that a lot of the chips that didn’t quite make the 7900 GT/GTX cut will be usable, helping drive the price down. At the moment, this card will cost you £118.99 from Dabs, which is amazing value for money.
The bundle with this card is pretty minimalistic, with an S-video cable, component output cable, molex to PCI-Express converter and a DVI to D-SUB adapter.
This particular card came with a Zalman cooler attached as standard. This is something you have to pay extra for, and we haven’t found it in stock anywhere yet. However, the cooler is excellent – being very similar to the recently reviewed VF700 but in aluminium rather than copper.
I tested this card in an Asus A8N32-SLI motherboard 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.
I used ForceWare 91.47 drivers for the nVidia cards and Catalyst 6.9 drivers for the ATI card. For comparison purposes, I used a 7900 GT and an X1900 GT. The 7900 GT illustrates how much of a performance impact there is by turning off one of the quads, while the X1900 GT is the best comparison for this price bracket – until I finish benchmarking the X1950 Pro.
Using our proprietary benchmarking suite, I ran Call of Duty 2, 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. I ran each game test at 1,280 x 1,024, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,920 x 1,200, 2,048 x 1,536 each at 0x FSAA with trilinear filtering, 2x FSAA with 4x AF and 4x FSAA with 8x AF.
Results were surprising on two fronts. The first surprise was how much the ATI drivers have improved since I last looked at the X1900 GT. Where as before the 7900 GT was clearly winning, in this case – Call of Duty 2, Battlefield 2 and 3DMark scores were competitive and in many cases superior. Quake 4 and Prey continued to prove nVidia’s superior OpenGL performance.
The real question in my mind, is how little turning this quad of pipelines off has affected performance. On average there was only a 4.5 per cent performance difference. In reality, this is very little difference in performance at all.
It’s getting harder and harder to actually find a 7900 GT in the shops, so this is set to replace rather than complement the 7900 GT. Considering the minimal negative performance impact of removing the four pipelines, this is still a choice card at an excellent price point. The only reason you’d want to fork out the extra money for a 7900 GT is if you were looking for a second one to pair up with your current card. And if you are – I would do it now while you still can.
There is no doubt this is a good card and is cheaper than the X1900GT competitor. However, if it was my money, I’d be waiting to read my X1950 Pro review as preliminary testing shows it to be a good performer.
Score in detail
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