Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Summary: The GeForce 7800 GTX is a "Best of Class" performer in a multitude of categories. In all but a few benchmark situations, where the test system was essentially CPU bound anyway, a lone GeForce 7800 GTX was the fastest, single 3D video card we've ever tested here at HotHardware.com. Only a pair of GeForce 6800 Ultras running in an SLI configuration were able to touch it in some tests. However, a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX cards running in SLI mode significantly outpaced every other configuration, in every benchmark we ran regardless of the test settings.
But please keep in mind that frame rates don't tell the whole story. The GeForce 7800 GTX also produced some of the most impressive in-game visuals we have seen to date, thanks to its new Transparency Anti-Aliasing feature, it consumed similar amounts of power with much higher frame rates than a GeForce 6800 Ultra or Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition, HD video acceleration was also excellent, and the 7800 GTX is a single slot card that runs quieter than NVIDIA's previous generation of cards. That's what we call a "clean sweep" around here; it's faster, has better IQ, more features and is quieter.
We couldn't help but be impressed by the new GeForce 7800 GTX. NVIDIA has improved upon the GeForce 6 Series of cards in virtually every respect. The GeForce 7800 GTX has more features, it's faster and quieter than NVIDIA's previous flagship, and it does it all while using only a single slot and consuming about the same power. When compared to ATI's current flagship card, the Radeon X850XT Platinum Edition, the benefits of a GeForce 7800 GTX expand to include support for Shader Model 3.0 and SLI. In short, the GeForce 7800 GTX is simply the best overall choice at this point in time for hardcore gamers who will settle for nothing less than the fastest, most feature-rich video card available. And when we say "available," we mean it. Unlike many others from recent memory, this is no "paper launch". GeForce 7800 GTX cards should be available at multiple on-line retailers, and through large OEMs, almost immediately. In fact, we've already had conversations with a few of NVIDIA's partners and have retail-ready cards on the way to the lab right now. Of course, GeForce 7800 GTX cards will be relatively expensive for a while, with an MSRP of $599, but street prices will inevitably drop over time. Early adopters have always paid a premium; things aren't about to change now.
Before we wrap things up, we should speculate a bit about what's coming down the pipeline from both NVIDIA and ATI. As of press time, NVIDIA hasn't announced any AGP or mid-range cards based on the G70 GPU, although we suspect mid range and lower end 6600 and 6200-like products are in the works. We also assume higher clocked, 512MB 7800 cards are on the way, too, based on conversations we've had with certain insiders. ATI's plans, however, aren't quite as clear. CrossFire-ready products have yet to arrive, and there is very little credible information available with regard to R520 - ATI's next-generation GPU. It's possible ATI shifted focus after the initial announcement of CrossFire, and plans to release R520-based products sooner rather than later. This of course is all pure speculation on our part; however the latest FarCry v1.32 patch hints at this possibility in its release notes, where CryTek noted a "fix for a Shader Model 3.0 issue that caused graphics corruption on new ATI hardware". None of ATI's current cards have support for SM 3.0. The "new ATI hardware" CryTek speaks of is likely the R520.
Speculating can be fun, but playing games at high resolutions, with every eye-candy-enhancing features fully enabled is more fun. And the bottom line is that's just what the GeForce 7800 GTX will allow you to do. You can't play Doom 3 or Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory on a product that's not available yet, but you can on a GeForce 7800 GTX, and you can do it with smooth frame rates and excellent visuals. The GeForce 7800 GTX is a winner. Until something else comes along to knock it from atop its position at the very top of the 3D graphics food chain. For now there is no better choice for gamers who want the best of the best.
•Superior Image quality
•Shader Model 3.0 Support
•More Performance per watt
•Single Slot Cooler
•Quieter than GeForce 6 Series
•SLI not "transparent" for all games