Introduction, The Card & 3DMark05
Asus recently presented us with an opportunity to evaluate a rather unique video card, namely their soon to be released Extreme N7800 GT DUAL. What makes the Asus Extreme N7800 GT Dual somewhat unique is that this card sports a pair of NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT GPUs and 512MB of GDDR3 RAM on a single PCB. The Extreme N7800 GT Dual essentially simulates a two-card GeForce 7800 GT SLI configuration with a single card. Both Asus and Gigabyte did something similar with NVIDIA's GeForce 6 series of GPUs, but the relatively quick release and availability of the GeForce 7 series overshadowed anything available from the previous generation. This time around though, Asus is ready with a dual-GeForce 7800 GT based card only weeks after the introduction of the Geforce 7800 GT GPU. Feast your eyes on this beauty.
A couple of things you should know about the card we have for testing, pictured in the shots above. First, this particular card is labeled "for media review only". We were assured the card is representative of full retail product but we did want to make clear that this particular card was obviously hand picked for us. Also, you'll note that the card has "limited edition 17 of 2000" engraved on the heat sink as well. Asus informed us that there will be only 2000 of these built world wide and these are special serialized models for the end user. Future versions of the card will be produced, with availability in the retail channel late this month, but cards may come in different packages and potentially a different game bundle. Our card also actually had a flyer in the box that said "available to bundle with Call of Duty 2 on 10/25/2005". We think that game title is a great pack-in for the card, as the current game bundle, which is identical to the one that can be found in the Asus Extreme N7800GTX Top, is a little week with a bunch of no name titles for all intents and purposes.
Physically the card is massive. It's length is every bit as long as the ATX form factor standard will allow. Once installed, the card spans the PCI Express slot all the way back to the edge of the other end of the motherboard. Our card also came with an "optional" external 80 watt power adapter, which certainly is a nice addition, taking the load off the PSU and in the process allowing your power supply to run that much cooler. However, optional doesn't mean your can buy a board without this adapter unfortunately but you can run the card on a standard 6 pin PCI Express power connector just fine, so we are told. Basic specs of the card are as follows:
- Dual Geforce 7800 GT GPUs
- 430 MHz core engine clock
- 1.2 GHz memory interface clock
- 512 MB DDR3 memory (256 MB per GPU)
- Dual DVI and Dual VGA outputs
- TV output, HDTV and ViVo support
- Chassis must be able to contain the size of the product - 14.5 cm (H) x 24.6 cm (L) x 3.4 cm (W)
- Estimated street price USD $799 - $819
That last bullet above may sting a bit for those of you who don't have copious amounts of disposable income or aren't bleeding edge graphics/gaming enthusiasts. However, doing the math, the Extreme N7800 GT DUAL is approximately 2X the retail price of a GeForce 7800 GT card, plus ~ $100 - $120 for that external power supply.
The beauty of our sneak peek preview here is that with the bare technical essentials out of the way, we can now just simply dive right into the benchmarks. Let's roll...
|3DMark05 is the latest installment in a long line of synthetic 3D graphics benchmarks, dating back to late 1998. 3DMark2005 is a synthetic benchmark that requires a DirectX 9.0 compliant video card, with support for Pixel Shaders 2.0 or higher, to render all of the various modules that comprise the suite. To generate its final "score", 3DMark05 runs three different simulated game tests and uses each test's framerate in the final tabulation. Fillrate, Memory bandwidth, and compute performance especially all have a measurable impact on performance in this benchmark. We ran 3DMark05's default test (1,024 x 768) on all of the cards and configurations we tested, and have the overall results posted for you below.|
The Asus Extreme N7800 GT Dual hung right along side a pair of sotck GeForce 7800 GTX cards in 3DMark05's default benchmark. Its score of 11821 is roughtly 80% higher than that of a single GeForce 7800 GT, and only about 3% behind a pair of GTXs. We also threw the results from the still unavailable ATI Radeon X1800 XT in for comparison, but there is no single-GPU configuration out there than can compete with the Asus Extreme N7800 GT's effective 40-pixel pipelines.