This category is represented with the following solutions:
- GeForce 7800 GT
- GeForce 6800 Ultra
- GeForce 6800 SLI
- GeForce 6600 GT SLI
- RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition
- RADEON X850 XT
We have products from ATI Technologies, too, in this category. The RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition and the RADEON X850 XT are the fastest of the RADEON solutions as yet. They are rarely slower than the GeForce 6800 Ultra (mostly in games that use OpenGL or are specially optimized for NVIDIA’s architecture) and sometimes leave the competitor far behind. Until recently, the RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition was in fact unrivalled, being obviously preferable to the GeForce 6800 Ultra, but now it has got a dangerous opponent.
We mean the GeForce 7800 GT, a card we unfortunately had not time to test in all the applications included into this review. But our experience with this card suggests that the GeForce 7800 GT is either faster or equal to the RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition, very rarely being slower that it. The new product is also endowed with such features of the G70 architecture as HDR and Shader Model 3.0 the RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition/X850 XT are devoid of. Thus, the GeForce 7800 GT seems to be a more appealing purchase today than ATI RADEON X850 models. If you don’t want to wait for R520-based products, but want to have a good high-end graphics card, the GeForce 7800 GT will be an optimal choice.
SLI configurations with GeForce 6800 and 6600 GT cards, on the contrary, can’t be considered an optimal solution. These graphics cards have 128MB of graphics memory. Both cards in a SLI configuration have identical memory contents (i.e. the memories of the two cards do not double), and 128 megabytes may prove too little sometimes. For example, such graphics cards simply lack memory to work in resolutions above 1024x768 with enabled full-screen antialiasing in 3DMark05. This problem is not very urgent as yet, but as soon as games like F.E.A.R. are released, a graphics subsystem with 256MB of memory may become a real necessity. Don’t also forget that NVIDIA SLI is a driver-dependent technology and you may find yourself with the performance of a single GeForce 6800/6600 GT if a given game is not supported by ForceWare.
So our opinion about multi-GPU systems remains unchanged – we think such systems only make sense when based on topmost products available (today, these are GeForce 7800 GTX and GeForce 7800 GT). In other case, it would be better to buy a single and faster card than two slower ones (well, if the single card costs much more money, the choice may become more complicated).
So, the NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT card is the best buy in the below $500 category.