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EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX EGS
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Date: Jul 26, 2005
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction, Specifications & Bundle

Almost immediately after we begun working with NVIDIA's reference GeForce 7800 GTX cards in the days and weeks leading up to the launch, we were contacted by a handful of NVIDIA's launch partners and informed that they'd have retail hardware ready to coincide with the official announcement of the GeForce 7800 GTX.  Leadtek, Gigabyte, BFG, MSI, Asus and EVGA were among the first to contact us with some specifics regarding their respective GeForce 7800 GTX cards.  The first one to send us a sample for review, however, was EVGA.

The e-GeForce 7800 GTX we'll be showcasing today is one of three 7800 based products EVGA currently has in their line-up, but we know a fourth model with a custom cooling solution should be available in the not-too-distant future as well. The e-GeForce 7800 GTX we have here, part number 256-P2-N528-AX, is essentially a duplicate of NVIDIA's reference design, with slightly different default core and memory clock speeds and a custom decal on the fan shroud.  EVGA's other 7800 GTX packages, part numbers 256-P2-N538-AX and 256-P2-N525-AX, are very similar, but one ships with a copy of Battlefield 2 in addition to what we're going to spotlight for you here, and the other has a lower default core clock speed...

  

EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX EGS Specifications
The New Flagship
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
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_Support for Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
·
_Infinite length pixel programs

_Next-Generation Texture Engine
·
_Accelerated texture access
·
_Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
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_Support for 16-bit floating point format and 32-bit floating point format
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_Support for non-power of two textures
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_Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
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_DirectX and S3TC texture compression

_Full 128-bit studio-quality floating point precision through the entire rendering pipeline with native hardware support for 32bpp, 64bpp, and 128bpp rendering modes


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
_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
_Adaptable programmable video processor
_High-definition MPEG-2 and WMV9 hardware acceleration
_Spatial-temporal de-interlacing
_Inverse 2:2 and 3:2 pull-down (Inverse Telecine)
_4-tap horizontal, 5-tap vertical scaling
_Overlay color temperature correction
_Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) supports multiple video windows with full video quality and features in each window
_Integrated HDTV output


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 DVO ports for interfacing to external TMDS transmitters and external TV encoders
_Full NVIDIA nView multi-display technology capability


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


Operating Systems
_Windows XP/Windows XP 64
_Windows ME
_Windows 2000
_Linux
_Macintosh OS X

    

EVGA included a nice assortment of software and accessories in the bundle for their e-GeForce 7800 GTX.  Along with the card itself, EVGA included a small folder that contained a basic user's guide, a couple of EVGA stickers, a driver / utility CD with trial versions of SnapStream's Beyond Media and Ulead's DVD Movie Factory 3, and EVGA's ResChanger 2005 tool, and another disc with a copy of Cyberlink's PowerDirector software. EVGA also included a pair of DVI-to-DB15 adapters, a dual-molex-to-PCIe power adapter, an S-Video cable, and a small breakout box that housed S-Video and composite inputs, and component and S-Video outputs.  The breakout box and PowerDirector software compliment the e-GeForce 7800 GTX card's ViVo (Video-In / Video-Out) capabilities.

EVGA's bundle was decent, but we would have liked to have seen a couple of other items included as well. Noticeably absent in the e-GeForce 7800 GTX's bundle was any type of game or full-version DVD playback software. Although, the trial version of Beyond Media can playback DVDs and the 256-P2-N538-AX model is available for only a few dollars more, that includes a copy of the excellent Battlefield 2.

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Included Software & The Card

As we mentioned on the previous page, because this card has ViVo capabilities, EVGA includes a few multimedia related and video authoring / editing applications with the e-GeForce 7800 GTX. We experimented with the bundled applications briefly and have some opinions and screenshots for you below...

EVGA's Bundles Software
Value Adding Goodies

    
Snapstream Beyond Media, EVGA's Installation Menu, and CyberLink PowerDirector

All of the applications included with the e-GeForce 7800 GTX reside on the two CDs bundled with the card. Upon insertion of EVGA's driver / utility CD, users are greeted by a very clean interface where one can choose to install a variety of software, including the drivers, Acrobat Reader (for viewing the manual), ResChanger XP 2005, DirectX 9, SnapStream Beyond Media, and Ulead DVD Movie Factory 3. The driver installation uses EVGA's ADM (Automated Driver Management) tool to check the system for older software before completing the installation, but the rest of the installations are fairly standard. We particularly liked SnapStream's Beyond Media (21 day trial), and think many users will find its simple, clean interface easy to use for viewing an image library, watching videos, or playing music. Cyberlink's PowerDirector is another easy to use application for video editing / authoring, that we think is a nice addition to the e-GeForce 7800 GTX's bundle as well. Some other vendors also include PowerDirector with their ViVo capable cards, so we've worked with the application in the past and found it to be very useful for those just beginning to get involved in digital video on the PC.

EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX
The Chip Formerly Known As The G70

    

    

If you go back and take a look at NVIDIA's reference GeForce 7800 GTX in our launch article, you'll see an abundance of physical similarities between it and EVGA's card. In fact, the only things that physically set this card apart from NVIDIA's reference design are the custom EVGA decal on the fan shroud, and the serial number sticker on the backside of the card. Other than those two differentiating factors, the cards are essentially identical. But under the surface, there is another way in which the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX deviates from NVIDIA's reference design.

The EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX we have here, model number 256-P2-N528-AX, is equipped with 256MB of GDDR3 RAM, clocked at 1.2GHz (1.23GHz to be exact), and its G70 core is clocked at 450MHz - 20MHz higher than NVIDIA's original reference specification.  The 20MHz bump in core clock speed should give the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX an edge in compute and fillrate limited situations over NVIDIA's reference card, but the difference won't be dramatic. Should you be in the market for one of EVGA's GTX cards, pay attention to the model numbers.  The 256-P2-N528-AX and 256-P2-N538-AX BF2 Edition have 450MHz core clock speeds, but the 256-P2-N525-AX (only available on EVGA's website) has its core clocked at 430MHz.

  
EVGA 7800 GTX with ACS3 Cooling: Coming Soon?

We've also got a couple of teaser-shots of EVGA's future 7800 GTX that features their custom ACS3 cooling solution. Unfortunately, EVGA hasn't given us any specs for this custom model, so for now we'll just let you know that it exists and should be available sometime in the future.

For more information about the underlying technology powering the e-GeForce 7800 GTX, including a look at the drivers and an in-depth image quality analysis, please reference our launch article mentioned earlier (see here).  In that article, we explain what makes the G70 tick, and detail the GeForce 7800 GTX's main features, power requirements, performance, and thermal characteristics in both a single card configuration, and in a dual-card SLI configuration.

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Our Test System & 3DMark05

 

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: We tested EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX on a Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI nForce 4 SLI chipset based motherboard, powered by an AMD Athlon 64 FX55 processor and 1GB of low-latency Corsair XMS RAM. The first thing we did when configuring this test system was enter the BIOS and loaded the "High Performance Defaults."  The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP Professional with SP2 was installed. When the installation was complete, we installed the latest nForce 4 chipset drivers, installed all of the other necessary drivers for the rest of our components, and removed Windows Messenger from the system. Auto-Updating and System Restore were then disabled, the hard drive was defragmented, and a 768MB permanent page file was created on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed all of the benchmarking software, and ran the tests.

The HotHardware Test System
AMD Athlon 64 FX Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Cards -






Memory -


Audio -

Hard Driv
e -

 

Hardware Used:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 (2.6GHz)

Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI
nForce4 SLI chipset

EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX
GeForce 7800 GTX
GeForce 6800 Ultra (x2)
GeForce 6800 GT
ATI Radeon X850XT PE
ATI Radeon X800 XL 512MB

1024MB Corsair XMS PC3200 RAM
CAS 2

Integrated on board (ALC850)

Western Digital "Raptor"

36GB - 10,000RPM - SATA

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-




Synthetic (DX) -
DirectX -
DirectX -

DirectX -
DirectX -
OpenGL -
OpenGL -
Relevant Software:
Windows XP Professional SP2 (Patched)
nForce Drivers v7.13
DirectX 9.0c

NVIDIA Forceware v77.62

ATI Catalyst v5.6


Benchmarks Used:
3DMark05 v1.2.0
Halo v1.06
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory v1.03
FarCry v1.31*
Half Life 2*
Doom 3 v1.3 (Single & Multi-Player)*
Chronicles of Riddick v1.1*

* - Custom Test (HH Exclusive demo)
Performance Comparisons with 3DMark05 v1.2.0
Details: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/

3DMark05
3DMark05 is the latest installment in a line of synthetic 3D graphics benchmarks, dating back to late 1998.  3DMark99 came out in October 1998 and was followed by the DirectX 7 benchmark; 3DMark2000, which was released roughly two years later.  The DirectX 8.1-compliant 3DMark2001 was released shortly thereafter and became a very popular tool used by many hardcore gamers.  3DMark03, however, wasn't quite as well received thanks in no small part to the disapproval of graphics giant NVIDIA.  With 3DMark05, though, Futuremark hopes to regain some of its audience with a versatile and advanced DirectX 9 benchmarking tool. We ran 3DMark05's default test (1,024 x 768) on all of the cards and configurations we tested, and have the overall results for you posted below.

EVGA's e-GeForce 7800 GTX performed very well in 3DMark05's default test, besting every other single card configuration, including NVIDIA's reference card -- thanks to it's higher core clock speed. The only other configuration to come close to, or surpass the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX in terms of performance in this case, was a pair of GeForce 6800 Ultras running in SLI mode.

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Halo v1.06

Performance Comparisons with Halo v1.06
Details: http://www.bungie.net/Games/HaloPC/

Halo
No additional patches or tweaks are necessary to benchmark with Halo, as Gearbox has included all of the necessary information to test with this game within its Readme file. Basically, all that you have to do is install the game and modify its shortcut to set the resolution, refresh rate, and rendering mode.  Then the benchmark works by running through four of the long cut-scenes from the game, after which the average frame rate is recorded. We patched Halo using the most recent v1.06 patch and ran this benchmark twice, once at a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 and then again at 1,600 x 1,200. Anti-aliasing doesn't work properly with Halo, so all of the tests below were run with anti-aliasing disabled.

 

The EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX was the top-dog in the Halo benchmark. In this test, fillrate and shader compute performance have the largest impact on the game's framerate. This is why the EVGA card did so well here; its higher core clock speed directly affects both fillrate and computer performance, which is why it was able to pull ahead of NVIDIA's reference card, and also outpace a pair of GeForce 6800 cards running in SLI mode.

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Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory v1.03

Performance Comparisons with Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory v1.03
Details: http://www.splintercell3.com/us/

SC: Chaos Theory
We've recently added Ubisoft's great new game, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, to our suite of game benchmarks. Based on a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine, enhanced with a slew of DX9 shaders, lighting and mapping effects, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is gorgeous with its very immersive, albeit dark environment. The game engine has a shader model 3.0 code path that allows the GeForce 6 & 7 Series of cards to really shine, but it does not have shader model 2.0 path to fall back upon at the moment. So, when paired with the current generation of ATI's 3D hardware, Chaos Theory uses a shader model 1.1 code path. For these tests we turned off High Dynamic Range rendering to somewhat level the playing field and benchmarked the game at resolutions of 1,280 x 1024 and 1,600 x 1,200, both with and without anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering.

 

From this point forward, we'll be detailing the performance of the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX with and without anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled. And as you can see, even though this set of graphs has another data point, the story remains basically the same.  The EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX is the fastest of the single card configurations, outpacing the reference GeForce 7800 GTX by a few frames per second at both resolutions, regardless of whether or not AA and aniso are enabled.

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FarCry v1.31

Performance Comparisons with FarCry v1.31
Details: http://www.farcry.ubi.com/

FarCry
If you've been on top of the gaming scene for some time, you probably know that FarCry is one of the most visually impressive games to be released for the PC. Courtesy of its proprietary engine, dubbed "CryEngine" by its developers, FarCry's game-play is enhanced by Polybump mapping, advanced environment physics, destructible terrain, dynamic lighting, motion-captured animation, and surround sound. Before titles such as Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 hit the scene, FarCry gave us a taste of what was to come in next-generation 3D Gaming on the PC. We benchmarked the graphics cards in this review with a custom-recorded demo run taken in the "Catacombs" area checkpoint, at various resolutions without anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering enabled, and then with 4X AA and 16X aniso enabled concurrently.

 

Our custom FarCry benchmark proved to be another strong point for the e-GeForce 7800 GTX. With the game running at resolutions of 1280x1024 and 1600x1200, only the GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI configuration was able to outrun the EVGA card when anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering were enabled; every other card fell behind by varying margins. The Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition put up a strong performance with AA and aniso enabled, but it wasn't quite able to catch the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX at either resolution.

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Half Life 2

Performance Comparisons with Half-Life 2
Details: http://www.half-life2.com/

Half Life 2
Thanks to the dedication of hardcore PC gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time.  So, when Valve announced Half-Life 2 was close to completion in mid-2003, gamers the world over sat in eager anticipation. Unfortunately, thanks to a compromised internal network, the theft of a portion of the game's source code, and a tumultuous relationship with the game's distributor, Vivendi Universal, we all had to wait until November 2004 to get our hands on this classic. We benchmarked Half-Life 2 with a long, custom-recorded timedemo in the "Canals" map, that takes us through both outdoor and indoor environments. These tests were run at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 without any anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering and with 4X anti-aliasing and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.

 

In a game that used to be ATI's bread and butter, the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX skunked the fastest card currently in the Radeon line-up by a significant margin at both resolutions, especially when anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering were enabled. Our custom Half Life 2 benchmark had the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX besting all comers, including the pair of GeForce 6800 Ultra cards running in SLI mode. At this point in time, there is no single video card better suited to playing Half Life 2 than the GeForce 7800 GTX.

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Doom 3: Single Player

Performance Comparisons with Doom 3 - Single Player
Details: http://www.doom3.com/

Doom 3
id Software's games have long been pushing the limits of 3D graphics. Quake, Quake 2, and Quake 3 were all instrumental in the success of 3D accelerators on the PC. Now, many years later, with virtually every new desktop computer shipping with some sort of 3D accelerator, id is at it again with the visually stunning Doom 3. Like most of id's previous titles, Doom 3 is an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a ton of dynamic lighting and shadows. We ran this batch of Doom 3 single player benchmarks using a custom demo with the game set to its "High-Quality" mode, at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 without anti-aliasing enabled and then again with 4X AA and 8X aniso enabled simultaneously.

 

As you probably expected, the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX performed exceptionally in our custom single player Doom 3 benchmark. At both resolutions, regardless of whether or not anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering were enabled, it was the fastest single-card we tested. The GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI rig was the top dog here, but that setup costs hundreds of dollars more than a single 7800 GTX.

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Doom 3: Multiplayer

 

Performance Comparisons with Doom 3 - Multi-Player
Details: http://www.doom3.com/

Doom 3
The first round of Doom 3 tests on the previous page focused on single-player performance.  This time around, though, we'll take a look at a few test results using a custom multi-player demo to see how things unfold.  These tests were taken with our custom "HH_Frag2" demo, which is a recording of a five-player online deathmatch that took place in the "Frag Chamber" map. Like the single-player tests, we ran this batch of benchmarks with Doom 3 set to its "High-Quality" mode. The timedemos were run at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 without anti-aliasing enabled and then with 4X anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.

 

Our custom multiplayer Doom 3 benchmark tells the same story as the single player benchmark on the previous page. Regardless of the test settings or resolution, the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX was the fastest single video card we tested.  And just looking at those graphs proves ATI has their work cut out for them.  The EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX makes the Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition seem like an entry-level video card when playing Doom 3.

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Chronicles of Riddick

Performance Comparisons with Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
Details: http://www.riddickgame.com/

Chronicles of Riddick
Starbreeze Studios is responsible for creating the surprisingly good game, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. Those familiar with the movie will recall Butcher Bay was one of the prison options on tap for the main character. While the movie never actually made it to Butcher Bay, we find the main character right at home in this first person shooter that's powered by the proprietary Starbreeze Engine. Not only does The Chronicles of Riddick - Escape From Butcher Bay boast excellent game play with impressive visuals and a mature story line, but the Chronicles of Riddick also proves to be a tough challenge and a game actually worth buying, which makes it an excellent addition to our suite of custom benchmarks.

 

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay has got to be one of the most demanding games currently available for the PC, as is evident by the framerates listed in the graphs above.  This game can bring any video card shipping today to its virtual knees when running at higher resolutions, or with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled. The EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX ran through our custom Chronicles of Riddick benchmark fairly well, once again besting any other single card we tested.  Only the 6800 Ultra SLI configuration was faster, and neither ATI card could even come close to the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX.

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Overclocking the e-GeForce 7800 GTX

Overclocking the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX
(Fast 3D Video Card) + Overclocking = Geek Euphoria

As we neared the end of our testing, we spent a little time overclocking the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX using the clock frequency slider available within NVIDIA's Forceware drivers after enabling the "Coolbits" registry tweak. To find the card's peak core and memory frequencies, we slowly raised their respective sliders until we begun to see visual artifacts on-screen while running a game or benchmark...


EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX (Overclocked) = 491MHz Core / 1.3GHz Memory

 

 


EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX (Overclocked) = 491MHz Core / 1.3GHz Memory

We found our particular EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX's peak core and memory clock speeds to be 491MHz and 1.3GHz (650MHz DDR), respectively, for an increase of 41MHz to the core and 70MHz to the memory. While the card was overclocked, we re-ran a couple of benchmarks and have the results posted above. As you can see, the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX's overall 3DMark05 score jumped up by a few hundred points, and its framerate in Doom 3 went up a few FPS while overclocked.

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Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Throughout our entire battery of synthetic and in-game benchmarks, the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX was the fastest single-video card we tested. The ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition performed also well in FarCry when anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering were enabled, but in every other test, the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX's performance was only rivaled by the reference NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX, or the pair of GeForce 6800 Ultra cards running in an SLI multi-GPU configuration.

We were very pleased by the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX. This card proved to be an excellent performer in every game or benchmark we ran, it's in-game image quality was great, it proved to be a decent overclocker, and perhaps best of all the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX is one of the least expensive GeForce 7800 GTX cards currently available. We found the 256-P2-N528 model showcased in this article available for about $540 at NewEgg, although 7800 GTX cards with lower core-clock speeds are available for a bit less money. We do wish EVGA shipped the e-GeForce 7800 GTX with a more complete bundle, however, that included a recent game to show off the card's capabilities, but we suppose that's what the "Battlefield 2 Edition" of the card is for. All things considered, the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX is a fine choice for anyone looking to purchase a GeForce 7800 GTX, but we'd recommend springing for the Battlefield 2 Edition, which is available for only a few dollars more. We're giving the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX a solid 8 on the Heat Meter...

_Great Performance
_Relatively Silent Cooler
_Single Slot
_Relatively Low Price (For a 7800 GTX)
_Good overclocker
_SLI Ready
_Somewhat Limited Bundle
_Battlefield 2 Edition available for only a few more dollars

 



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