Gigabyte GeForce 7900 GTX (GV-NX79X512DB-RH-ED)
- Great performance
- Value for money
Although this card is expensive, it's still an excellent component for any enthusiast's computer. If price isn't so much of an issue, but enough to not warrant purchasing an 8800, this may very well suit your needs.
Price$ 639.00 (AUD)
Until very recently the 7900 GTX was NVIDIA's flagship model, rivalling ATI's own flagship model the Radeon X1900XTX in a head-to-head battle to capture the hearts of today's extreme gamers. However, despite the fact that both these cards are now overshadowed by the monster NVIDIA 8800 with its DirectX 10 capabilities and unified architecture, unless you're hoping to make Windows Vista look that little bit prettier, there's very little currently in the gaming world that will push a graphics card to do more than the 7900 GTX can.
Unfortunately though, this may not make it a sensible card to purchase for the long term. It may be $300-$400 cheaper than the latest and greatest technology and run every game currently available, but at $639, it's still a hefty layout for most people. You might be better to opt for something a little less costly while you wait for a more affordable card from NVIDIA's G80 GPU range, or wait and see what ATI comes out with using their expected R600 chip. NVIDIA seemed to be trying to offload some of their excess G71 GPUs at a lower price recently with the 7900 GTO, potentially because of this no-mans-land price bracket they've created between the low to mid-range 7900 cards and their new 8800 cards.
All that said, this is still a potent piece of hardware and deserves some respect. The G71 chip, also known as the 7900 chip was the pinnacle of NVIDIA's graphics card technology for most of 2006, until the 8800s hit the scene. The board itself is quite large and the fan and heatsink that cools it fattens the board out to around two PCI slots in width, so keep this in mind when considering your other hardware. Gigabyte often adds its own touches to the boards they manufacture, such as changing the fan or heatsink and changing the capacitors, but this particular sample appears to be in line with the standard NVIDIA specifications. Unlike its key rival, the Radeon X1900XTX, the 7900 GTX operates at bearable noise levels, even with the standard fan which remains cooler over extended periods.
Although the 7900 chip has been used on a number of different cards, the 7900 GTX boasts the highest specifications. The core clock speed comes in at an impressive 650MHz, 200MHz faster than the 7900GT and comes packed with twice as much video RAM as the GT, utilising 512MB of GDDR3 RAM clocked at 800MHz (1600MHz). Although ATI's cards are more heavily geared towards shading processors, the 24 pixel pipelines and 8 vertex shaders in the 7900 GTX should happily suffice for most games available now.
We ran it through our normal benchmarks to see how it performed. In 3DMark 2006 on our test bed it scored 4487. Generally speaking that's plenty for most games based on the rest of the components in the test bed we used. In FEAR's in-game benchmark, with a resolution of 1280x960 at full quality settings, including 8x AA (antialiasing) and 16x AF (anisotropic filtering), it averaged 64fps (frames per second), a comfortable rate for smooth gaming. We also put it through Quake 4 on high quality settings, including 4x AA with a resolution of 1280 x 1024 in which it scored an average of 75fps. One thing that NVIDIA cards are lacking in the 7900 chip generation is the ability to process high dynamic range (HDR) lighting with AA turned on. This could become a problem as games, such as those based on the Half-Life 2 engine begin to utilise this feature more and more.
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