NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX

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Back in April of last year, NVIDIA released the GeForce 6800 Ultra and began to rebuild a reputation that had been tarnished by a couple of products that didn't quite live up to the expectations of many hard-core gamers. The GeForce 6800 Ultra, unlike the GeForce FX line of products that came before it, had more features than competing high-end products from ATI, and its performance was far superior than anything ATI had available at the initial time of launch. Soon after the release of the GeForce 6800 Ultra, though, ATI brought its Radeon X800 Series of cards to market and closed the performance gap, but NVIDIA's flagship still was considered more feature-rich, with full Pixel Shader 3.0 support.  However, with subsequent driver releases, determining which card was the better overall performer became increasingly more difficult. Depending on which applications were used to gauge performance, the pendulum could swing either way.

Today, NVIDIA is aiming to change all this, with the launch of the GeForce 7800 GTX. The GeForce 7800 GTX is NVIDIA's latest Shader Model 3.0 architecture, which the company claims offers vastly improved performance and a handful of new features over its previous flagship card. We've have a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX cards in the lab for a while, and have done some testing of our own in an attempt to verify NVIDIA's claims. The information on the pages ahead details our experience with the GeForce 7800 GTX. Strap yourself in and prepare yourself for a wild ride. This one's a screamer...

NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GPUs Specifications
The Chip Formerly Known As The G70
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

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 externa l 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
•Macintosh OS X

The GeForce 7800 GTX:

The GeForce 7800 GTX:


Looking at the specifications above, it's clear that the GPU, formerly codenamed "G70," that's powering the GeForce 7800 GTX is very similar to the NV40, now known as the GeForce 6800 Ultra. If you haven't already done so, we strongly recommend reading our article covering the launch of the GeForce 6800 Ultra (available here). There is a lot of information in that piece that we won't be covering in-depth here again. The G70 does have a few unique features, though, that aren't available on any of the GeForce 6 Series of cards, that we'll cover a little later on in this article. For example, the GeForce 7800 GTX has support for new anti-aliasing modes that aim to improve the appearance of partially transparent textures, such as those used in many outdoor scenes for foliage (Intellisample 4.0). And the GeForce 7800 GTX also has an updated dedicated video processor, with more features than the previous generation (PureVideo), and it has enhancements to its pixel and vertex shader pipelines for increased performance, as well (CineFX 4.0).

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