Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 1
Introduction

With the introduction of the 7900 series nVidia were making up ground lost to ATI since the release of their X1900 series. The 7900 series of cards run quieter and cooler than both their previous generation counterparts, and their ATI competition.

I take a look at three cards from three of nVidia's add in board partners. I'll try to show which card is your best buy hopefully give you more of an idea of what kind of speed nVidia's top-end cards are.

The cards

For this review I have:

XFX 7900GT 256mb
Gainward Bliss Golden Sample 7900GT 512mb
Club3d 7900GTX 512mb

Interestingly two out of three of these cards have dual slot coolers. The 7900GTX 512mb has a dual slot cooler as you would expect...but as does the Gainward Bliss card.

Let's take a look at them side by side

7900roundup


7900 roundup


Read on for how they perform...


Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 2
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://ufo1.com/ad/c.js"></script> Posted 18/05/2006
Author: Matthew Kemp (kempez)
Hardware Acquired: XFX, Gainward


Meet the Gainward Bliss


With a very long name - the Gainward Bliss Golden Sample 7900GT 512 starts off with something to live up to already.

Specs:

GPU: Geforce 7900GT
GPU Clockspeed: 550 MHz
Memory: 512MB 1,2ns DDR3
Memory Clockspeed: 1400 MHz
Pixels per clock (peak): 24
Bandwidth: 51,2 GB/s
Ramdac: 400 MHz
Bus: PCI-Express
Cooling: Fan (One-Slot)
Video-Features: Component, S-Video & Composite Out
Connectivity: Dvi + Dvi + Video-Out

Packaging

Gainward have done a nice job with the packaging on this card. It's in a huge box with their new cga female character. The card is packed up very well in its white box with a software package that is isn't too bad.

Gainward bliss 7900GT 512mb


Gainward Bliss 7900gt 512mb


The Package

Gainward Bliss 7900GT 512mb


You get:

Quick Start Guide
Driver CD
Expertool overclocking facility
User Manual (PDF on CD)Gainward Muvee auto producer Personal video application
Power DVD 5 Premier
Gainward "Free to Choose" Game voucher x 1 game
2 x DVI-VGA Adaptors
1 x Dual Molex to PCI-E Power Connector
1 x Video out connector with s-video, composite and component video out

The package is actually pretty decent although I would have preferred an AAA title to be in the box. Gainwards "Free to choose" game voucher gives a decent selection of games however, and I feel that this is a better solution than Sapphire's four-title selection offering.

First impressions

The first impressions that you get of the card is that it has the looks to be a performance card. Indeed - it almost looks like a top-spec ATI card. The cooler takes up two slots but I'm not sure if Gainward couldn't have made it take up just one instead.

Installation was easy as usual with graphics cards. The quick start guide is there for those who do not know how to install the card which is a nice touch.

Gainward installed


Above we have it installed in the test setup.

The Card

The card looks very much like an ATI card as I have mentioned above. I'm not so sure this is a good thing as I would have thought an nvidia card should look like an nvidia card. That aside, the card is very good looking.

Gainward Bliss 7900GT 512mb


The back of the card has a decent retention mechanism that looks pretty stable. This seems to keep the card in decent contact with the heatsink.



Gainward Bliss 7900GT 512mb


Nice Red DVI ports on the back...not that you'll look at them much but a nice touch

Gainward Bliss 7900GT 512mb


The side view of the X180......the 7900GT

Gainward Bliss 7900GT 512mb


Noise and Cooling

Before I start on noise I will say that I have not got an actual db rating measure in the test setup. The test setup is quite loud but I throttled all of the fans down to hear the cards whilst testing.

The card isn't as noisy as the stock 7900GT cooler. However I do wonder why Gainward didn't just put on a nice cooler like the stock 7900GTX cooler. That is one of the best stock coolers you can get for a GPU in my opinion. The cooler is not whiney like the one on the XFX but I could still hear it above the noise of my not-so-quiet test setup. Half a thumbs-up for noise

Gainward Bliss 7900GTX 512mb


The cooling on this card is good it has to be said. The 7900GT's do not run hot and even overclocked the highest temperature I recorded the cooler at was 70°C which isn't over the top.

All in all the cooler is good and for most people a replacement would not be needed.


Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 3
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://ufo1.com/ad/c.js"></script> Posted 18/05/2006
Author: Matthew Kemp (kempez)
Hardware Acquired: XFX, Gainward


Meet the XFX 7900GT

XFX have a very good reputation in the Graphics Market. We're taking a look at their fastest current 7900GT - the "XXX Edition"

Specs:

GPU: Geforce 7900GT
GPU Clockspeed: 560 MHz
Memory: 256MB 1,2ns DDR3
Memory Clockspeed: 1650 MHz
Ramdac: 400 MHz
Bus: PCI-Express
Cooling: Fan (One-Slot)
Special Features: Dual DVI Out , HDTV ready , SLI ready

Packaging

XFX always go for innovative packaging and this card is no exception. The familiar "X" packaging once again comes with this card. XFX's package is a bit light on software for my liking. The only thing in the package is the game Starship Troopers. The packaging is very secure and innovative though.

XFX 7900GT XXX edition




XFX 7900GT XXX edition


You get:

Quick Start Guide
Driver CD
Starship Troopers
2 x DVI-VGA Adaptors1 x S-Video Out Connector

Although Starship Troopers is included as a full game out of the box, this isn't exactly an AAA title. In fairness to XFX they couldn't get us the VIVO edition of this card for the review - which I would imagine would have a lot more in it. Putting an "HDTV" sticker on the packaging is not something I'm very impressed by though as this card is NOT HDCP ready and does not have a bundle to support this claim. All in all though someone would not buy this card for the bundle.

First impressions

XFX brand their cards very well but you can tell that the stock cooler is only slightly modified with a green cooler. After handling all of the top-line cards the cooler gives the impression of the card being "weedy"...maybe looks bely what is underneath. At least the cooler is a proper single slot cooler and won't take up any more space.

I am not impressed that there are no RAM sinks but we'll see if this affects the cards overclocking capabilities.

XFX 7900GT XXX edition


The rear of the card is a pretty standard affair.

XFX 7900GT XXX edition


As you can see from the side the cooler is made of copper.

XFX 7900GT XXX edition

Dual DVI and S-Video out.

XFX 7900GT XXX Edition

Same as the Gainward - installation and a quick start guide is there for those who do not know how to install the card which, again, is a nice touch.

XFX 7900GT XXX Edition


Above we have it installed in the test setup. It takes up far less room than the other two cards we have on show.

Noise

The card is pretty whiney. I couldn't tell much of a noise difference between the XFX and the Gainward until the games started firing up a bit. The XFX cooler is definately a bit whiney, though I don't think that it's enough to put me off of gaming. If you have a very quiet setup this may get on your nerves quite a lot.

XFX 7900GT XXX edition


The cooler once again is very good. This may be due to the amount of copper and the way that the vents are positioned on the card or it may be due to the fact that the 7900GT chip is generally quite cool anyway. 72°C was the top temperature I recorded the card at.

If you like a quiet case you may want to buy yourself an aftermarket cooler.


Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 4
Meet the Club3d 7900GTX

We have decided to include the Club3d 7900GTX 512mb as it is at a very close price-point to the two 7900GT's that are in our review.

Specs:

GPU: 7900GTX
GPU Speed: 650MHz NVIDIA® G71 GPU
Memory Speed: 1600MHz 256BIT memory
Memory: 512MB GDDR3 memory
RAM: 400MHz RAMDAC
Pipelines: 24 DirectX® 9.0 pixel-pipelines
Special Features: Dual DVI, Dual Link DVI, SLI Ready
1 x Club3d Case Badge Sticker

Packaging

Club 3d have gone for a very basic looking packaging. I do not count this necessarily as a bad thing in all honesty. The card is wrapped up safe and secure and I can't see it getting broken so that's the main thing.

Clib3d 7900gtx 512mb


The Package

Club3d 7900gtx 512mb


You get:

Quick Start Guide
Nvidia Driver CD and Card Manual
WWF Panda Junior in Africa
PowerPack (Power DVD Pack with PowerDVD 5, Power Director, Power Producer and MediaShow)
Colin McRae Ralley 2005
2 x DVI-VGA Convertors
1 x Multiformat Breakout-Box with Dual S-Video, Component Video and Composite Video out
1 x Dual Molex to PCI-E Power dongle

First impressions

I've had a 512mb 7800GTX with this cooler before and it never fails to impress me if I'm honest. The Cooler is huge and has 4 heatpipes for heat dispersion. Its quite with a large cooling fan and it's almost the quietest thing in my test setup. This is the standard 7900GTX cooler but Club3d have stuck some branding onto the card.

Club3d 7900GTX 512mb


Club3d 7900GTX 512mb


Club3d 7900GTX 512mb


Dual DVI out and S-Video once again

Club3d 7900gtx 512mb

Same as the previous two cards - quick installation and a quick start guide is there for those who do not know how to install the card which, again, is a nice touch.

Club3d 7900GTX 512mb

As you can see this card is certainly a dual slot cooled card. No doubt about it.

Noise

This card is barely audible above a performance system and I would suggest that a quiet enthusiast would put up with it quite easily as the fan is very quite. Definately a bonus above the coolers seen on the previous cards.

Club3d 7900gtx 512mb

Once again even with the good OC I got on this card temperatures didn't rise very high with 70°C being the peak that I saw. The cooler is very efficient and you will not need to get an aftermarket cooler at all.


Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 5
How we tested

With the pure speed of cards out on the market at the moment I tend to focus on gameplay in my reviews. I will play each of the test suite games on as high settings as I could possibly play them at while maintaining a frame rate that is enjoyable to play at. If the quality of the gaming looks the same at different settings then I will choose the setting with the best FPS. This differs from game to game and person to person but I play a lot of games and have played with a lot of graphics cards so I hope that I can impart a decent opinion.

To offset this angle I also run a test suite of 3dMark03, 05 and 06. These will give you some numbers on what the cards perform like at stock speeds, for comparison. I also ran 3dMark06 after overclocking the cards - to see how much of an effect the overclocking will make. Overclocking was performed using the coolbits registry hack and done as in This Thread from the OC3D forums.

Test Setup

For these high-end cards I am using an overclocked Dual Core Opteron 175. Running at speeds exceeding an FX-60 at 2.8GHz, this will hopefully allow the cards to perform up to their fastest.

AMD Opteron 175 @ 2.8GHz (watercooled)
DFI LANPARTY UT Sli-D motherboard
Mushkin Redline PC4000 running at 255 x 11 1:1 3-3-2-5
HDD: OS - 160gb Hitachi Deskstar SATA II
HDD: Gaming - 2 x 40gb Hitachi Deskstars in RAID 0
Sound: SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS
Power: PCP&C 510 SLi
Case: Coolermaster stacker with a lot of additional cooling

For installation I have installed the card as usual with the normal PCI-E power dongle. Checked that the card is seated correctly and powered on. I am using a clean install of Windows XP Professional SP2 with all the latest patches. I am using nvidia's latest official forceware drivers - 84.21.

 

For reference I will also be using a Sapphire X1900XTX 512mb. The ATI card was run through on Catalyst 6.3 as I had some issues with 6.4.


Cards:

Gainward Bliss 7900GT 512mb Golden Sample.
Clock speed: 550. Memory speed: 1400 (700)

XFX 7900GT 256mb "XXX" Edition. Clock Speed: 560. Memory Speed: 1650 (825)

Club3d 7900GTX 512mb. Clock Speed: 650. Memory Speed: 1600 (800)

Sapphire X1900XTX 512mb. Clock Speed: 650. Memory Speed: 1550 (775).

All game tests were run on stock speeds. Initial benchmarks were run stock speeds apart from the overclocked 3dMark06 run. All benchmarks were performed three times on each card.



Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 6
F.E.A.R. is a game based on an engine that uses many features of DirectX 9.0c.

It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects, with a slow-motion mode that really taxes today's top of the line GPU's. I fully patched version the game with the latest patch. I played three two-minute runs on a taxing part of the game with plenty of action, using slow-motion for the full time whilst firing at enemy soldiers and using grenades that produce a cool "blast" contortion effect when blown up.

The settings used are as follows:

fearfps

Here are the minimum, maximum and average FPS for the cards:

FEAR FPS

As you can see the X1900XTX and the 7900GTX can play at very nice settings, although the 7900GT's do very respectably.

F.E.A.R. is a little of a slower playing FPS and so even the 18FPS that the Club3d gets minimum is easily good enough to play the game. I am just going to summarise how each card played F.E.A.R. briefly.

XFX 7900GT 256

The XFX card played FEAR very smoothly. The minimum frame rate was very nice and gave a slightly more smooth experience than the Gainward card. This is strange as I would have thought that the extra 256mb would mean that it would run at this high resolution faster than the XFX. Obviously the pure speed of the memory on the XFX is a good advantage on this card.

Gainward 7900GT 512mb

The Gainward again produced a good game playing experience in F.E.A.R. The lowest FPS was 20 which is both perfectly suitable for the game and also looks very nice at this res. An average FPS of 58 is perfectly good for playing this game. I was a bit suprised that the XFX outstripped the Gainward in this test: but this is a trend that I am beginning to see already.

Club3d 7900GTX 512mb

As expected the Club3d 7900GTX played this game at a very high res. The X1900XTX outstripped this card in terms of minimum FPS but suprisingly the nVidia cards average frame rate was quite a bit better giving a better experience overall. The Club3d card is a 7900GTX chip clocked quite a bit higher than the other two card and I think the GT's stood up pretty well in this game.


Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 7
Call of Duty 2 is a fairly recent game that uses a lot of DirectX 9.0c features, including real time shadows, amazing smoke effects and some nice looking HDR effects. This maked the game very taxing at these high resolutions. I played a fully patched up version of the game. Once again I played through the game with a two minute gaming session including explosions, smoke and also lots of snow. This should tax all our cards.

The settings used are as follows:

FEAR SETTINGS

Here are the minimum, maximum and average FPS for the cards at the above settings:

COD2FPS

Once again 1920 x 1200 were managed by the top-end cards and the GT's had to be lowered very slightly. 1680 x 1050 is still an awesome performance for these cards and looks great.

Here's how I felt the cards played.

XFX 7900GT 256

CoD 2 was a title that the XFX card struggled very slighly with it. The game was playable at this level but I felt that the Gainward managed to tackle the task better than the XFX card. Perhaps the extra 256mb of memory helped here, rather than just brutal memory clock speed. Still - playing CoD 2 at this resolution is awesome. 2 x AA on most resolutions looks lovely on this sexy looking game.

Gainward 7900GT 512mb

The Gainward was the fastest of the two 7900GT cards on show in this roundup. The extra memory undoubtedly helped the card render the game at this high resolution with 2 x AA. I did try 1920 x 1200 but this was not playable - though not by much. I felt that the image quality lost by taking AA out of the secenes was not worth it even at the higher resolution. I personally really do not like jaggies.

Club3d 7900GTX 512mb

The Club3d once again played the game at the highest setting out of the three nvidia cards. This was to be expected but I felt that the X1900XTX did provide quite a bit smoother experience than the GTX, even though the game was very playable at this high resolution.

Call of Duty looks spectacular at the resolutions played by these cards and I was very impressed once again by how the cards coped with the game.


Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 8
Quake 4

Quake 4 is a game built on the Doom 3 engine. This uses many DX 9.0c features and is a game that has not always ran so well on ATI hardware, being an OpenGL game. Once again I did three two minute runs on Quake 4 on each card and took the average of all my readings from these. I played a fast and furious part of the game that required both internal and external scenes.

The settings used are as follows:

QUAKE 4 settings

Here are the minimum, maximum and average FPS for the cards at the above settings:

quake 4 fps

I was very happy with all of the nvidia hardware in this game test. I managed to set them all at 1600 x 1200 on Ultra settings with at least 2 x AA.

Here's how they matched up.

XFX 7900GT 256

Quake 4 played at Ultra settings on this card. I was slightly suprised at this as I thought that Ultra settings required more video memory than 256 to play on. The brute force of the XFX card's memory must have helped it in this test. The card managed to run just a small amount faster than the Gainward card in this test which is a testament to its speed. I felt Quake 4 at 2 x AA looked good, but I also got similar looks at High settings with 4 x AA. I chose to include the higher settings in this review for reference sake.

Gainward 7900GT 512mb

The Gainward suffered from slightly slower memory in this test although the playable settings were exactly the same. Once again 4 x AA at high settings looked and played pretty similarly but I included the higher results. I was slightly disappointed with the Gainward card in this game as I would have thought the extra memory would help it out.


Club3d 7900GTX 512mb

The 7900GTX chip once again did very well at this resolution and added 2 x AA to the scene. You do not see much benefit from buying the GTX chip rather than the GT chip in this title, although 4 x AA does look a small amount nicer. The card beats the X1900XTX in that its fastest and slowest FPS is better. Nvidia have had the lead in this game for some time and do not look like giving it up.

If you are a big quake 4/Doom 3 engine game fan then an nvidia 7900 chip is exactly what you are looking for.


Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 9
Oblivion

Oblivion is an awesome RPG with a simply huge immersive environment, great graphics and incredibly realistic scenary. This game is currently one of the most testing games that you can buy and it is certainly a test of our high-end nvidia cards here. I chose to do a run-through of the Arena part of the the game. I spoke to a character, did some magic whilst in a fight and fought in the arena that is pretty huge. Also as well as doing this test I took a wander around to make sure that the benchmark resembled the general gameplay with each card

I had to do these in slightly more detail as Oblivion has so many settings and they affect performance so much. The general settings are as follows:

oblivion settings

Here are the minimum, maximum and average FPS for the cards at the above settings:

oblivion fps

I feel that nvidia's performance is not as good as ATI's in this game

XFX 7900GT 256

The XFX card had to have the resolution lowered to 1600 x 900 to run Oblivion. This did still look nice but I felt that this res was a little aliased. The settings in-game for the XFX were slightly higher than the Gainward could handle and the FPS was still above what the Gainward card outputted. Gaming was smooth and enjoyable, if a little jaggy. I used HDR rather than AA in this title as it gives the game a more realistic and immersive feel. I must have missed a screen with this card, but specular dist was very slightly higher than the Gainward card.

oblivion


Gainward 7900GT 512mb

The Gainward managed to play Oblivion at the same resolution as the XFX card but I had to tune down the settings a little in-game. This was a little disappointing as I like the larger view distance with the XFX card as well as some of the extra details. As before the scenes were a little jaggy but the game was playable at this resolution. The Gainward struggled ever so slightly when you walked outside to a huge scenery, but not enough to spoil the games smooth running.

gainward oblivion


Club3d 7900GTX 512mb

The 7900GTX managed to play Oblivion at 1680 x 1050. This gave far less jaggies than the GT's but then this card is a GTX chip. The in-game settings were also a bit higher and this again made the game more enjoyable. Playing on the GTX looked very nice, but I was a little disappointed that the nvidia hardware ran the game at lower settings than the ATI hardware. The X1900XTX ran this game pretty much at the same in-game settings as the GTX, but at a higher resolution of 1920 x 1200. This gives a lot less jaggies and is more enjoyable. I did run the "Chuck patch" on the ATI hardware and AA + HDR looked awesome. I had issues with this patch though so I could not include these results in the review.

oblivion 7900gtx


Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 10
Benchmarking

I used the popular gaming benchmarks made by Futuremark to bench all four of the cards. I used 3dMark 03, 05 and 06. All benches were performed at stock speeds for this section. I ran all benchmarks from the stock settings just like the free versions to give you a good comparison of scores.

The Results were as follows:

3dMark 03

First we start with 3dMark03. This is a benchmark that relies heavily on DirectX 8 features. This will give an indication of how the cards will run on games that rely on DX 8. None of the cards in the review had any problems running this benchmark.


3dmark03

As you can see the Club3d scored quite a lot higher than the ATI card. In fact: all nvidia cards scored a lot higher than the ATI card. I ran all benchmarks through three times to make sure that there was not a problem and this score is accurate. I am slightly confused at this but it appears ATI cards do not fare well in this benchmark. The XFX did very well in this benchmark and left the Gainward trailing behind. The slower memory speed seems to be a definate negative in these benchmarks.

3dMark05

I ran 3dMark05. This benchmark requires some more features of directX 9 and gets slightly more taxing on the cards. Once again this top-end hardware ran the test fine.

3dmark05
Once again we see the Gainward trailing behind in this benchmark. The slower memory speed is definately affecting the cards performance in this test. The XFX performed well again with the GTX taking the nvidia's top 3dMark. Here we see the ATI card coming into its own with a higher stock score than the GTX. All nvidia cards performed well in this test and this is an indicator (only) that the cards will be fine with games from that time.

3dMark06

3dMark06 is the latest in the benchmarking tests from Futuremark. It has a lot of DirectX 9.0c features such as HDR and use of Shader model 3.0. This benchmark is very taxing for the cards and also includes quite a harsh CPU benchmark. Seeing as this was run with the exact same CPU this was not an issue.

3dmark06


By this point we see that the trend is for the Gainward card to be slower in the benchmarking stakes than the XFX. As stated before this is almost certainly due to the speed that the memory is running at. The GTX steps slightly ahead in this benchmark over the X1900XTX, but that is not enough of an issue to say that one is definately faster than the other.

Benchmarking Roundup

If you are after cards that score well at stock than the XFX is the best cards out of the GT's by some margain. The battle between nvidia and ATI high-end hardware is somewhat blurry though, with the XTX and the GTX showing strength in different areas.



Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 11
Overclocking

As stated before all of the overclocking was done inside coolbits for the nvidia cards. For the XTX I used the ATI overdrive overclocking facility. Please note that all overclocks were done with stock voltages and were what I call "Quick overclocks". That is: I overclocked, ascertained stability, then benchmarked. Any unstable overclocks will be talked about below.

XFX

The XFX is a very fast card at stock. Using Coolbits I was able to get an overclock of:

XFX overlcock

The card got up to a very nice memory speed of 873 before I had to clock down due to artifacts. The core speed did not get as high (594) but this is still a good OC at stock cooling with temps no higher than 72°C. I think putting this card under water and adding some RAM sinks would get you a huge OC. Definately a good card if that is your kind of thing.

Gainward

I had some issues with the Gainward card which I am curently speaking to Gainward about at the moment. I could get a nice OC on the card with coolbits recognising the below speeds. However, as soon as I fired up 3dMark06 I got wavey artifacts on the screen and had to cold reboot. This was very frustrating and the fault was almost certainly with the memory speed as the core clocked nicely. In the end I ended up using the settings 611/745. The problems were not due to high temperatures either.

Gainward OC

I have a feeling that the above overclock would have made the Gainward card very fast indeed. Unfortunately running the card at 611/745 could only just not keep up with the XFX at very high memory speeds. As I mentioned above: Gainward are looking into this issue and I will edit this article accordingly if they reply with information.

Club3d

The Club3d overclocked very well, and managed an impressive 710Mhz stable overlcock. The memory also overclocked nicely. This speed means that the Club3d 7900GTX can score quite a bit more than the XTX running at 690/800. I got to 710/865.

club3d overclock

This improves the cards performance by quite a bit: going from a fast card to a very very fast card. The 7900GTX cooler is no doubt an excellent one.

Results

Here are the results for the 3dMark 06 run when all of the cards were overclocked:

3dmark 06 overclocked


Overclocking Summary


Although not included in the stock game benches, these overclocks improve game performance quite a bit. The best thing is that this costs no extra, does not ruin the card and does not require any volt modding at all. I think that the XFX card performed pretty well, with a great memory overclock, but if the issues with the Gainward get ironed out: that card will be very fast and have an extra 256mb of video memory to boot.




Nvidia 7900 GT and GTX Card Mini Roundup Review Page: 12
Image Quality

For any current generation graphics card the issue HAS to be image quality. There is no doubt that all of the cards I have benchmarked in this review are fast, but how do they make the games look?

Nvidia and shimmering textures. Nvidia have had an issue for quite some time now with shimmering textures in games. This is due to poor implementation of anistropic filtering by nvidia. I have not talked too much about the "High Quality" driver settings in this review, as I did not feel that the 7900GT cards were quite fast enough to run this higher quality filtering well. But the GTX chip CAN run this level of driver setting. This does increase the quality of the scene overall, but the shimmering is still (barely) visible. I would not say that the shimmering issue would effect most people but it can become an issue if you are a bit of a quality nut. Here ATI excels and the High Quality AF and Adaptive AA are great features to have. Nvidia's Transparency AA is also an excellent feature, but again I feel the the GTX chip is the best chip to run the features on.

Having said that if you are running a CRT/TFT that is 1280 x 1024 then you will definately have the option of running these excellent features without slowing the performance down too much.

Conclusion

I have to say that the nvidia high-end card product lineup is very fast and performs very well in games. I am a fan of nvidia's drivers over the rather bloated .NET ATI drivers: but that's a great shame as the ATI cards are incredibly fast cards in the hardware as well.

The 7900GT lineup is a great lineup from both nvidia and its partners. Nvidia really stepped up its high-mid range performance with this card.

I was looking at the slightly pricier section of the 7900GT lineup and they did not fail to impress. XFX's card is a very fast card at stock and performs very well in all of the benchmarks. I was most impressed with the card but the cooling solution let it down a little. The Gainward card was a mixed bag. It performed well, but got beaten out by the XFX in most games. I feel that Gainward should perhaps think of upping the memory speed on the card to match the competition and then the card would be awesome. The cooling on the Gainward card is superior to the XFX card as far as sound is concerned and to many people this is a definite issue.

The Club3d 7900GTX is a very nice card. The reference cooling on the card is quiet and provides enough contact/airflow for a good overclock. While this card is a little more expensive than the XFX and the Gainward (around £25-40), perhaps it is worth the stretch. Would it be worth stretching even further to buy an X1900 series card? I'm not altogether convinced it would be.

Club3d 7900GTX 512mb

For Value for money the Club3d has it out of the three cards. At £299 from Ebuyer, this card is awesome value. Our value award goes to the Club3d.

Pro's

Cheap for a top-line card
Very fast
Very quiet
Looks great

Con's

Gets outperformed by the X1900XTX in some games/benchmarks
Still expensive at £300




XFX 7900GT 256 "XXX" Edition

If you are looking for an Sli setup then I would definately reccomend the XFX card. The cooler is slightly noisy, but it is single slot and as such does not take up that valuable additional PCI slot. At £269 from SCAN and an even better £258 at Overclockers UK it is a little on the pricey side but a great investment. The XFX gets the recommended award.

Pro's

Very fast 7900GT
Nice overclock at stock
Great performance
Nice looking cooler

Con's

Loud whiney cooler
Quite expensive

gamers choice

gamers choice


Gainward

The Gainward card has better cooling than the XFX card, but if you are looking for silence you will want to go for a little extra and get the Club3d. I am hesitant to give this card a reward due to the problems I had overclocking it. The cooler is nice and the card looks great though: a definate plus for a windowed system. At £271 at SCAN and £270 at Overclockers UK, the card is a little on the pricey side.

Pro's

Nice cooler
Great looking card
512mb memory may be needed in future

Con's

**Slow memory** Please see note below
Gets outperformed by similarly priced XFX card

Reply From Gainward

We always ask the manufacturers to give us feedback. Gainward have been kind enough to get back to us on this card.

I have spoken to a technician at Gainward who was very suprised that I would not overclock the Bliss card past 1500Mhz on the memory. He said that whilst this is a Golden Sample Card and only guaranteed at the Golden Sample Pre-overclocked clocks: it SHOULD have overclocked much further. Gainward did offer to send a new retail card to prove that this was a one-off but we feel that this was correct. I am therefore asking the reader to temper the overclocking results with this in mind.

We now feel that the Gainward can be "recommended" and have a score of 8.

Our thanks to Gainward for the Feedback.

reviewed


Editors Choice

The most prestigeous of our awards: the Editors Choice Award goes to...

Club3d 7900GTX 512mb

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