Our Summary & Conclusion
We're sure your heads are spinning now (as are ours quite frankly) with the level of information overload we've presented you with in the preceding pages. So we'll break it down for you in more digestible chunks of juicy data-bits.
GeForce 7600GT Performance Summary:
This new budget-minded mid-range card from NVIDIA thoroughly trounced ATI's Radeon X1600 series card, under every test condition, offering significantly better performance in both Direct 3D based game engines and of course NVIDIA's strong suit with Quake 4 in OpenGL. Games like FarCry and Half Life 2, where ATI has historically held strong, were a complete loss for ATI's nearest competitor in this price range, often times at deficits that were hard to believe, comparing these two competing 12-pixel pipe architectures. In some cases, like FarCry and Half Life 2, the performance advantage of the GeForce 7600 GT was on the order of 25-50%. In others like Quake 4, the 7600GT more than doubles the performance of the Radeon X1600 XT and in SLI versus CrossFire, ATI's pain is only greater.
Unfortunately, we'll have to refer you here for a reference on how the GeForce 7600GT's performance matches up versus that of the newly released and more expensive Radeon X1800 GTO. This new card from ATI came in late to our test process, so it couldn't be included in this article. However, even with roughly a $50 premium, this new chop-down X1800 offering isn't able to diffuse the strength the GeForce 7600GT obviously has and definitely not its next of kin, the GeForce 7900GT, which we'll cover next.
GeForce 7900GT and GeForce 7900GTX Performance Summary:
Our personal favorite card in this showcase, the performance mainstream GeForce 7900GT, actually out-performed NVIDIA's own legacy high-end card, the GeForce 7800 GTX in every test. It also put up a good showing versus a ATI's Radeon X1900 XTX, which has an MSRP today of over $250 more versus the GeForce 7900GT's expected $299 street price. And in game engines like Quake 4 and F.E.A.R., the 7900GT was actually nip-n-tuck with a Radeon X1900 XTX. We'll speak more on price / performance metrics in a bit but you simply can't beat the GeForce 7900GT for the money.
The GeForce 7900GTX was able to take the lead more often than not versus a Radeon X1900 XTX, with the exception of Half Life 2 and Far Cry, where ATI had a slight edge. Then of course we have to consider the flip side advantage for NVIDIA in Quake 4, which is much more dramatic actually, with a 15 - 35% spread in favor of the GF 7900GTX. Across the board however, NVIDIA still has work to do on Anti-Aliasing performance, where clearly ATI suffers much less performance degradation at roughly equivalent sample settings. Counter-balance this situation once again with the enormous advantage in performance NVIDIA has with their SLI configurations, as was obvious in our testing. In F.E.A.R., for example, a pair of much lower cost GeForce 7900GT's can actually best a pair of high-priced Radeon X1900 XTX cards and a pair of GeForce 7900GTX's simply lays all competitors to waste. The same situation largely holds true in Quake 4 testing but Half Life 2 and the now aging FarCry do still show good promise for ATI CrossFire, with slightly better performance even over a pair of these new monster NVIDIA GeForce 7900GTXs.
So what's the bottom line here? Well, the bottom line is that NVIDIA has taken their already strong G70 core GPU architecture first introduced with the GeForce 7800 GTX, tweaked each block within the GPU to lower the transistor count, incorporated dual-link DVI outputs, and moved the manufacturing to a more advanced 90nm process. The end result are three new cards in the GeForce 7 series that offer excellent performance in each of their respective segments of the market, at lower, more reasonable power levels than the previous generation.
If we focus specifically on each new part, the GeForce 7900 GTX offers performance that's clearly superior to NVIDIA's previous flagship and somewhat better than ATI's Radeon X1900 XTX in certain situations. It would be unfair to say either card is the definitive performance leader, however. The cards trade victories depending on the application or specific test configuration. But this situation bodes very well for NVIDIA because the G71 die is significantly smaller than the R580. Even with a much smaller die, comprised of significantly fewer transistors, the G71 competes very favorably with the best ATI currently has to offer. So, not only will NVIDIA likely have higher yields on the G71, but it'll also be less expensive for them to produce G71 relative to R580. This is physics and you just can't defy the laws. This is a very good position for NVIDIA to be in. And it appears that NVIDIA may pass some of these savings onto consumers considering some GeForce 7900 GTX cards are expected to sell for about $500.
Things just get better for NVIDIA with the GeForce 7900GT. This card is sure to be popular amongst performance enthusiasts. If street prices settle around $299 as we suspect they will, the GeForce 7900 GT is going to be immensely popular. The card offers excellent performance with a single slot design, at a very aggressive price point. Performance is marginally better than a GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB, and significantly better than the more expensive Radeon X1800XL. In fact, we would suggest that if you're looking at dropping down over $500 for a 3D Graphics solution, rather than going with one Radeon X1900 XTX, a pair of GeForce 7900GTs for slightly more has a better frame rate per dollar ratio.
The GeForce 7600GT is also in an excellent position. This card easily outpaced ATI's Radeon X1600XT to the point where ATI wasn't even competitive. The GeForce 7600GT is the reason you'll also be reading about the new Radeon X1800 GTO today. ATI simply had to react to this part. Again though, the miniscule die and excellent price performance ratio will surely make the 7600GT a success. And all three of these new cards, of course, fully support NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU technology, which continually gets better with each new driver release.
NVIDIA is hard-launching all three of the new cards in the GeForce 7 series today, and as you can see they are already in-stock and waiting to be sold at numerous popular retailers. NVIDIA continues to execute very well, and the company shows no sign of slowing down. We have to commend NVIDIA for successfully introducing three exciting new products simultaneously. It's looking a lot like a hat-trick for the Green Team.
|• Higher Performance @ Lower Power
• Aggressive pricing in each segment
• Another Hard Launch!
• Dual Link DVI
• Highly Overclockable GTs
• SLI Keeps getting better
• 7900 GT Price / Performance
|• Still pricey at the high-end