NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX Preview
What can be said today which has not already been said about NVIDIA's flagship mobile products this past year? For a significant amount of time, NVIDIA's GPU's have been able to dominate the top of the mobile platform unchallenged, as no major new mobile developments have come out of rival ATI for some time. However, NVIDIA has pushed forward regardless and brought the industry the world's first mobile multi-GPU configuration with the launch of mobile SLI. The advancements made in the high-end segment of the notebook platform have allowed NVIDIA to build a comfortable lead over ATI and they're not going to let go of without a fight. With the launch of the GeForce Go 7950 GTX, NVIDIA is furthering that lead and solidifying their position with what should be the fastest mobile GPU available.
Beyond the sheer performance increases which this new GPU provides, NVIDIA has made significant progress in other areas as well. Here, the company remains committed to the upgradeable MXM module as the GeForce 7950 GTX retains the same physical dimensions, power consumption, and pin layout as the GeForce 7900 GTX. As a result, those currently gaming with a GeForce 7900 GTX should be able to purchase a new GeForce 7950 GTX module directly from their notebook vendor. Easily more important however is the arrival of a process to allow consumers to utilize the latest drivers when they are released rather than wait for their particular notebook vendor to adopt them. Although the performance enhancements some drivers provide are more than welcome, it is the bug fixes for issues within games and new functionality which are critical items in this area. When you go out and purchase a game and are unfortunate enough to encounter an issue, the last thing you want to do is wait until a notebook vendor decides to update the driver listed on their support website. Rather, you'd want a solution to the issue as soon as it is created so that you can play the game you paid for.
As is the case with all hardware, there are some caveats to counter the glowing positives with the GeForce Go 7950 GTX. The first issue will not effect the vast majority of users as it is directed squarely at those which are already gaming using the GeForce Go 7900 GTX. Here, the preliminary performance increases the GeForce Go 7950 GTX brings over the previous flagship mobile GPU do not appear to warrant the hefty cost the new GPU module will demand. Regardless, it is hard to not be satisfied with a product that will likely be the fastest mobile GPU on the planet with the potential of adding a second GeForce Go 7950 GTX for even better performance.
Easily the most controversial aspect of the GeForce Go 7950 GTX is its timing. Here, some might see the timing of the release of this new GPU as a negative, as the industry is eagerly awaiting the next-generation G80 GPU architecture for the desktop platform. Supposedly fully supporting DX10 and with a wealth of bells and whistles, it is hard to remain too excited about a GPU based around the GeForce 7 architecture when the rumor mill is obsessed with the upcoming G80 and DirectX 10. One thing to remember with the notebook platform is that it is grossly unlike the desktop platform. Notebook vendors and ODM's have design cycles which are present due to the high overall complexity and long design lead times for creating a new notebook. As a result, notebooks which are slated to come to market this holiday season have already been designed around products the notebook vendors have been able to test and reliably design around for months. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to design a notebook around such a bleeding edge technology such as the rumored G80 architecture as any design issues NVIDIA encounters could ultimately delay the launch of the notebook and cause the notebook vendor to miss a critical holiday buying season. With this dose of reality in mind, we focus on the immediate future and what enthusiast gamers will be faced with. Here, we have no immediate DX10 games on the horizon and instead find a wealth of DX9 titles and Microsoft Vista to deal with. Make no mistake, NVIDIA's GeForce Go 7950 should easily the fastest mobile GPU available and looks to remain so for the foreseeable future. By combining two GeForce Go 7950 GTX GPUs in SLI, an enthusiast can have a notebook which could easily outperform many desktop systems in a wide array of benchmarks. Beyond sheer performance, the new GPU also retains full support for NVIDIA's PureVideo HD technology as well as the company's PowerMizer 6.0 mobile optimizations. We here at HotHardware are anxious to get our hands on a test system so that we can further explore the performance potential of NVIDIA's latest mobile GPU and witness how it handles the benchmarks and testing first hand.