The GeForce 7800 GTX graphics card was an ingeniously designed product. Its power consumption was only 3 watts higher than that of the GeForce 6800 Ultra, but the newer card was equipped with an almost silent single-slot cooling system on heat pipes with “smart” control over the fan speed. The card wasn’t much larger in size (just a single centimeter longer than the predecessor), while the power requirements for it were even relaxed: NVIDIA recommended a 480W and higher power supply for the original GeForce 6800 Ultra, while the GeForce 7800 GTX is satisfied with 350W and higher units that can output 22 amperes on the +12V rail. The new card exists only in a PCI Express version, and its AGP version is unlikely to ever appear – the ATI RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition AGP (R481) will probably remain in history as the fastest solution with the AGP interface.
The GeForce 7800 GTX met no rivals as concerns speed, using the power of its 24 improved pixel pipelines to beat the RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition in nearly all gaming tests. Two GeForce 7800 GTX cards joined in a SLI system also set a new record as the fastest consumer 3D solution in the world. We won’t dwell much on the performance characteristics of the GeForce 7800 GTX as we already wrote a special review on this subject.
Quite importantly, the problem of market availability of the new product never arose. NVIDIA had learned much with the GeForce 6800 Ultra and made the GeForce 7800 GTX available for purchase almost on the day it was announced, even though slightly overpriced. Right now the price has stabilized and new cards can be even found at a smaller price than the officially recommended $599. A side effect of that laudable promptness in bringing the new product to the market was that all GeForce 7800 GTX cards come out almost identical irrespective of their manufacturer, differing only in the design of the cooler casing. There’s nothing wrong in that, however, as the new cooling system from NVIDIA is quiet and highly efficient for the G70 chip. So, NVIDIA again got the crown of a market leader, but ATI didn’t react immediately as in the previous year. GeForce 7800 GTX and GT cards found themselves competitor-less in their market sector.
As for other NVIDIA-related news in the first half of this year, we can mention the further improvement of the multi-GPU SLI technology. It has become compatible with more games, has acquired new rendering modes and has offered the opportunity to use two graphics cards in a SLI configuration without the adapter. Besides that, NVIDIA developed and implemented SLI-exclusive high-quality antialiasing modes (we are going to publish a review of these modes soon)
That’s all about NVIDIA. Now let’s recall what happened in the ATI camp in the same time stretch.