What can we advise to a potential customer after we have tested 17 graphics cards in 30 gaming and benchmarking applications? It depends on what category of devices you are interested in. Let’s start from the top.
Ultra High End
This class is represented exclusively with NVIDIA’s products in this review:
- GeForce 7800 GTX SLI
- GeForce 7800 GTX
- GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI
For an easier comparison, we prepared summary diagrams with results of same-category products only:
The SLI kit of two GeForce 7800 GTX cards will be the most expensive graphics subsystem, yet the fastest, too. So if you don’t care much about the price factor, it might be your choice. You will have the maximum possible speed in all modes and resolutions, including HDR modes, and will also have an opportunity to enjoy such an exciting feature as transparency antialiasing.
It is harder to choose between the GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI and the single GeForce 7800 GTX: the former solution ensures a somewhat higher level of performance in average, but does not have some exclusive features of the G70 architecture and depends greatly on driver support of particular games. If a given game is not explicitly supported, you’ll most likely get the speed of a single GeForce 6800 Ultra, while the GeForce 7800 GTX will always give you its maximum performance in all applications. Besides that, the GeForce 7800 GTX does not require a SLI-compatible mainboard – any mainboard with a PCI Express x16 slot will do.
We also do not think it wise to purchase two GeForce 6800 Ultra cards to join them in a SLI pair because the GeForce 7800 GT has become available. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have a second sample of the GeForce 7800 GT to check it in the SLI mode, but we still think such a configuration is going to be faster than the GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI. The fact that the GeForce 7800 GT has all the advantages of the G70 architecture is another point against the GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI.
So, the GeForce 7800 GTX SLI is the best graphics subsystem available today. The cost of that solution being quite steep, you may want to go for the fastest single graphics card available, GeForce 7800 GTX.