EVGA e-GeForce 7950 GX2

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When we first took a look at the Gigabyte GA-SN-SLI Quad Royal motherboard a few months back, we gave it solid praise, yet lamented on what we thought was an exciting opportunity. The board was capable of supporting up to four individual PCI-e based graphic cards, but the Quad Royal was only able to support two GeForce cards running in an SLI configuration. Around the same time we posted that review, however, NVIDIA was promoting Quad SLI in pre-configured systems through a handful of resellers - typically for a premium. NVIDIA remained mum on the prospect of a DYI Quad SLI setup for a time, while in the labs they better prepared the hardware and drivers.

From this testing was born the GeForce 7900 GX2, and subsequently the readily available GeForce 7950 GX2. While both cards essentially used the same GPU, the 7950 GX2 board was smaller, sleeker, and worked on a broader number of chipsets. This came about through the use of a custom PCI Express switch that adhered to the PCI Express standard. EVGA has provided us their own GeForce 7950 GX2, and we've got one in the lab for testing, so let's get down to comparing this behemoth to the current stable of GeForce cards.

   

EVGA 7950 GX2: Features & Specs
EVGA gives us a two-for-one deal
NVIDIA CineFX 4.0 Shading Architecture
Vertex Shaders
Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0
Displacement mapping
Geometry instancing
Infinite length vertex programs


Pixel Shaders
Support for DirectX 9.0 Pixel Shader 3.0
Full pixel branching support
Support for Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
Infinite length pixel programs

Next-Generation Texture Engine
Accelerated texture access
Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
Support for 16-bit floating point format and 32-bit floating point format
Support for non-power of two textures
Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
DirectX and S3TC texture compression

API Support
. Complete DirectX support, including the latest version of Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0
._Full OpenGL support, including OpenGL 2.0

64-Bit Texture Filtering and Blending
._Delivers true high dynamic-range (HDR) lighting support
._Full floating point support throughout entire pipeline
._Floating point filtering improves the quality of images in motion
._Floating point texturing drives new levels of clarity and image detail
._Floating point frame buffer blending gives detail to special effects like motion blur and explosions

NVIDIA Intellisample 4.0 Technology
._Advanced 16x anisotropic filtering (with up to 128 Taps)
._Blistering- fast antialiasing and compression performance
._Gamma-adjusted rotated-grid antialiasing removes jagged edges for incredible image quality
._Transparent multisampling and transparent supersampling modes boost antialiasing quality to new levels
._Support for normal map compression
._Support for advanced lossless compression algorithms for color, texture, and z-data at even higher resolutions and frame rates
._Fast z-clear

NVIDIA UltraShadow II Technology
._Designed to enhance the performance of shadow-intensive games

NVIDIA Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0 Technology
._DVC color controls
._DVC image sharpening controls

NVIDIA SLI Technology
._Patented hardware and software technology allows two GPUs to run in parallel to scale performance
._Scales performance on over 60 top PC games and applications


NVIDIA PureVideo Technology
._Dedicated on-chip video processor
._High-definition H.264, MPEG2 and WMV9 decode acceleration
._Advanced spatial-temporal de-interlacing
._Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
._High-quality video scaling
._Video color correction
._Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) supports multiple video windows with full video quality and features in each window

Composited Desktop Hardware Engine
._Video post-processing
._Real-time Desktop compositing
._Accelerated antialiased text rendering
._Pixel shader-driven special effects and animation

Advanced Display Functionality
._Dual integrated 400MHz RAMDACs for display resolutions up to and including 2048x1536 at 85Hz
._Dual-link DVI capability to drive the industry's largest and highest resolution digital flat panel displays up to 2560x1600
._Integrated HDTV encoder provides analog TV-output (Component/Composite/S-Video) up to 1080i resolution
._Full NVIDIA nView multi-display technology capability

Advanced Engineering
._Designed for PCI Express x16
._Designed for high-speed GDDR3 memory

Software/Game Bundle
._Driver CD
._Voucher for Half Life 2:Episode One

Accessories Bundle
._User Manual
._1 x S-video cable
._1 x Component Video cable

._2 x DVI-to-VGA adapters
._PCI Express power cable

 


    

One typically expects higher prices for a card with the expected performance of the 7950 GX2, never mind buying two of them for a Quad SLI setup.  As such, it would be nice to get a little something extra in the package.  EVGA does their best to mitigate the situation by including the essentials: a component-out cable, an S-Video cable, two DVI-to-VGA adapters, and a PCI-Express power splitter. Of course, installation guides and CD-ROMs were included, although the latest drivers from NVIDIA were needed to test some of the cards in our testing suite.  A last throw-in was an activation code for Half-Life 2: Episode One.  One still needs to download the game over Steam, but we appreciate the ability to try out a newer game to show off all of this hardware.

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