Now that we’ve tested the Nvidia G71 (GeForce 7900) graphics processor and the GeForce 7900 GTX graphics card who are we to call the king of 3D? Is the new graphics card from Nvidia better than the Radeon X1900 XTX?
The new chip is very good beyond doubt. Thanks to the new, thinner tech process and the optimized design of the pixel processors Nvidia has come up with a top-end graphics chip which is the smallest and most economical in the industry. Although the G71 consists of only 278 million transistors – 24 million less than in the G70 – it is quite capable of rivaling the much more complex ATI R580 (Radeon X1900). The new GPU doesn’t bring about anything particularly new at that; it is in fact a GeForce 7800 improved and working at a higher clock rate. The GeForce 7900 differs from its predecessor in three things only: it consists of fewer transistors, it is manufactured on a thinner tech process, and it supports dual-link DVI.
The chip embodies Nvidia’s approach to making GPUs, which is to keep the number of pixel processors and TMUs in balance. The G71 has 24 of either, while the Radeon X1900 has 48 pixel processors and only 16 TMUs. Our tests have shown that Nvidia’s approach is justifiable even in modern games with their abundance of pixel shader-based visual effects because the Radeon X1900 often slows down under high textural load. You should also keep it in mind that though the Radeon X1900 XTX may be architecturally better suited for future games, its raw performance may prove too low to run such games at an acceptable speed when they do come out.
So, we can’t say the GeForce 7900 GTX is a clear winner today, but it has done at least no worse than the Radeon X1900 XTX in 14 out of 18 tests. And it has the advantage of lower price: $499 against $549. ATI’s graphics card, however, does better in high resolutions as well as in FSAA modes higher than 4x thanks to its more advanced memory controller. It is not quite clear why the memory frequency of the GeForce 7900 GTX has been set lower than that of the GeForce GTX 512, especially as the new graphics card carries memory chips capable of working at frequencies up to 900 (1800) MHz. This must have been made to ensure a higher stability of the device, but its performance has obviously suffered: there’d surely be a higher performance growth relative to the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 if it were not for the reduced memory clock rate.
Talking about the GeForce 7900 GTX it is impossible to omit its very low power consumption (for a top-end graphics card), which is about 85 watts under load. A SLI configuration with two such cards is going to consume 170W as opposed to 240W consumed by a Radeon X1900 XT CrossFire system. Particularly it means that a lower-wattage and less expensive power supply will be required for a computer with a GeForce 7900 GTX SLI graphics subsystem than for a Radeon X1900 XT CrossFire.
So, the new flagship product from Nvidia looks competitive enough, even though it has not become an indisputable performance leader. It’s now up to Nvidia to satisfy the demand for this highly appealing graphics card which is going to be high, considering the price tag. We hope the GeForce 7900 GTX will not repeat the fate of the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 and will come to market in mass quantities very soon.
- High performance in a majority of applications
- High performance in OpenGL
- Well-balanced architecture with 24 pixel processors and 24 TMUs
- Transparent textures antialiasing
- Hardware decoding of H.264 and other HD video formats
- Silent cooling system
- Low power consumption and heat dissipation
- Dual-link DVI support
- Low price for this device category ($499)
- Slower than the Radeon X1900 XTX at executing complex shaders and in extremely high FSAA modes
- Does not support FSAA and HDR simultaneously