Asus Extreme N7800GTX Top - GeForce 7800 GTX

Introduction, Specifications & Bundle

When NVIDIA launched the GeForce 7800GTX back in June, most of the retail cards we saw were cookie-cutter replicas of each other, at least physically.  About the only things that differentiated one card from another were various clock speed tweaks depending on the manufacturer or the software and game bundles that were included.  Regardless, with the design elegance that the reference GeForce 7800 GTX offers, we were certain it wouldn't be long before the various AIBs brought out their own customized variations on the product.

Although its PCB design is still very much a stock GeForce 7800GTX layout, the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX Top is the first retail board we've seen that incorporates a significant departure from the cooling solution NVIDIA designed for its reference 7800GTX cards.  We recently took a pair of these new ASUS boards for a spin in the HotHardware test lab in an effort to see what they were made of, and if the new cooling system ASUS has put together for the GeForce 7800GTX offers benefits above and beyond the high-performance and relatively quiet product that NVIDIA has already brought to market. 

ASUS Extreme N7800GTX Top Specifications
When Killer Fast Just Isn't Fast Enough
Core GPU Clock - 486MHz
256MB - GDDR3 Memory @ 1.35GHz (675MHz DDR)

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 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
_Macintosh OS X

Software Bundle
_Project Snow Blind
_Xpand Rally
_Second Sight
_Power Drome
_Chaos League
_Media & Show
_Power Director 3
_ASUS Driver & Utilities
_Leather CD caseAdapter/Cable Bundle
_VIVO cable w/ breakout box
_DVI adaptors
_Power cord

Again the base technology that the Extreme N7800GTX Top is designed around is standard-issue NVIDIA reference design.  In fact, as you'll see in the pages ahead, the PCB is very much the same as any other 7800GTX out there.  Where ASUS took steps to differentiate was with respect to the integrated active cooling solution on this product. This allows ASUS to bump up clock speeds to 486MHz on the GPU and 1.35GHz on the memory, versus 430MHz and 1.2GHz respectively with NVIDIA's reference design. ASUS decided to go the way of a dual-slot cooling system to achieve this; we'll have more details on it and how it performs in the pages ahead.  We'll also be comparing performance of the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX Top against a standard reference design approach product from BFG, which also comes overclocked out of the box at 460MHz/1.3GHz.

Beyond that however, ASUS bundles a rather uninspiring offering of software to accompany this high-end card, with such titles as Project Snow Blind, Xpand Rally, Second Sight, Power Drome, Chaos League, ASUS DVD, Media & Show, Power Director 3, ASUS Drivers & Utilities.  They are also all wrapped up with a leather CD case, but for what it's worth, we would much rather have seen a more popular game title thrown into the mix.  ASUS seemed to opt for quantity not quality with this game bundle of no-names, while others such as BFG and MSI are tossing in titles like Far Cry and Riddick.  Regardless, there is still some level of play value with some of these titles.  More on this to come.

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