ASUS Extreme N7800GT/2DHTV in SLI: Two Is Better Than One

The GeForce 7800 GT graphics card NVIDIA announced on August 11, 2005, proved to be a very appealing and unique product with performance just a little lower than that of the senior GeForce 7800 GTX model, with support of Shader Model 3.0 and HDR, and with an MSRP of $449. But it has recently got a dangerous opponent, ATI RADEON X1800 XL, which appears to be a better product, at least in some aspects. In this review the Extreme N7800GT/2DHTV graphics card, an ASUS version of the GeForce 7800 GT, is going to prove its worth against the ATI challenger.

by Alexey Stepin
11/04/2005 | 10:34 AM

The GeForce 7800 GT graphics processor is based on the same G70 chip which is the heart of the GeForce 7800 GTX. But unlike with the senior model, the junior GPU has only 20 pixel processors out of 24 and 7 vertex processors out of 8 enabled. Its core clock rate is 400MHz against the GeForce 7800 GTX’s 430MHz. Besides that, NVIDIA developed a special simplified PCB for the GT graphics card to have some room for price adjustment.

 

The cooling system turned to be the only serious drawback of the GeForce 7800 GT. Using the heat pipes technology, the cooler was very efficient, but its small and high-speed fan with a questionable configuration of the blades was rather too loud for the user to feel comfortable near a computer with an installed GeForce 7800 GT. There are in fact two, externally identical versions of the GeForce 7800 GT cooling system. One system uses a combination of an aluminum heatsink and a heat pipe while the other has a copper heatsink which contacts directly with the GPU die surface. The systems are equipped with identical fans and are identically loud.

Despite using a simplified PCB and power circuit, the new graphics card was as good at overclocking as the GeForce 7800 GTX. This was in part due to the initially high frequency potential of the 0.11-micron G70 chip and also to the smaller number of active pixel and vertex processors. By the way, NVIDIA prevented any attempt to re-enable the turned-off pixel and vertex processors by disabling them on the core level. So, we don’t think it is possible to turn them on again and we don’t know if GeForce 7800 GT GPUs are made from G70 chips with defective subunits and/or not capable of working normally at 430MHz, or NVIDIA uses normal chips.

Like with the GeForce 7800 GTX, an overwhelming majority of GeForce 7800 GT cards are a copy of the reference graphics card, maybe with a different picture on the cooler’s casing. As you know from our ASUS Extreme N7800 GTX TOP review, NVIDIA currently sells ready-made cards rather than PCB + GPU + memory kits to its partners. This is true for GeForce 7800 GTX and there seem to be no exceptions. But it’s different with GeForce 7800 GT or, at least, there are exceptions. We’ll talk about that at length later as we will be examining the PCB design of the ASUS Extreme N7800GT/2DHTV. Right now let’s examine the card’s package and accessories.

Package and Accessories

Being a high-end product, the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is supplied in a huge box with a handle. We should say it would be a real trouble to carry the box about without the handle – so big it is! It looks really impressive and fascinating for the potential buyer.

The colorful cover envelopes a white cardboard box that contains the graphics card as well as its numerous accessories. Our readers should already know that generosity is a typical trait of ASUS when it comes to adding accessories to a graphics card, especially as concerns software. To be specific, the Extreme N7800GT brings to you the following games and applications:

That’s a nice selection, yet we think they might have added some popular bestseller game. The discs are supposed to be repacked into a round plastic box rather than into a stylish-looking leather pouch (as the one included with the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP). This box, however, doesn’t look cheap as ASUS’ older orange-colored boxes – it uses the winning combination of black and silver to look quite stylish, too.

The kit also includes two DVI-I → D-Sub adapters, a power splitter (for PSUs without a 6-pin connector for the graphics card), and a VIVO unit with a conveniently long cable. The VIVO unit offers you S-Video and YPbPr outputs (one of which can work as a composite video output) and, on the other side, S-Video and RCA video inputs. The VIVO unit displays an NVIDIA logo for some reason rather than ASUS’. Just like with the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP, S-Video and RCA cables are missing among the accessories.

There is also no web-camera that you could earlier find included with top-end graphics cards from ASUS. This isn’t good since the product is advertised as a gaming solution and supports ASUS’ exclusive technologies to facilitate communication during networked play. A webcam would make the ASUS Extreme N7800GT (and the N7800GTX TOP for that matter) a more appealing purchase for any gamer.

ASUS’ installation and user guides have repeatedly and deservedly received our praises for their simple and comprehensible language and detailed descriptions of all the actions and procedures the owner of the card must perform. We think even inexperienced users should not find it difficult to install and use the graphics card if they read through the manual attentively. And you don’t have to know English to read them – the manuals are written in several languages which is another nice thing about them.

So, like with the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP, there are some things calling for improvement in this product. We think the company should include S-Video and RCA cables. They are quite cheap and the user wouldn’t have to purchase them separately to connect the newly bought graphics card to a TV-set. This graphics card would also be more attractive if it was accompanied with an inexpensive webcam, especially since all the necessary software is already bundled. And lastly, we think a top-end graphics card targeted at devoted gamers should have at least a single really popular game among its accessories.

PCB Design

Here’s a refutation of the theory that NVIDIA’s partners receive all GeForce 7 series cards ready-made. Although the ASUS Extreme N7800GT uses the reference PCB design, its PCB is colored blue rather than traditional red.

The graphics card doesn’t have an NVIDIA logo, carrying ASUS’ ones instead. It means that the GeForce 7800 GT may come to graphics card makers as a GPU + memory kit, and it’s up to the manufacturer to choose the color of the lacquer, to put any logos on it and to mount an appropriate cooling system. ASUSTeK Computer took the opportunity to deflect from NVIDIA’s reference model, as you can see. According to the manufacturer’s website, this graphics card exists in two versions, a reference one and the one we are dealing with now. They are called Original Edition and ASUS Blue LED Edition, respectively.

The ASUS Extreme N7800GT strongly resembles ASUS’ V9999 Gamer Edition card we described in our earlier article (for details see our article called ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition Graphics Card Review ), largely due to the same cooling system. The system is a mixture of the reference coolers from GeForce 6800 Ultra and GeForce 6800. The former contributed the memory chips heatsink and the latter, the low-profile design. ASUS also added a few touches of its own: they replaced the material of the fan and of the cooler’s casing with blue translucent plastic that reacts to ultraviolet light, embellished the casing with an ASUS logo and installed bright blue LED highlighting. Well, beauty has nothing to do with functionality, yet this cooling system should surpass the reference GeForce 7800 GT cooler in efficiency and noise characteristics, too. First, it uses an all-copper heatsink which directly contacts with the GPU and, second, ASUS’ blower is less noisy than the one employed in the reference cooler.

High-efficiency thermal paste is used as thermal interface between the heatsink’s sole (which might have been polished better, by the way) and the GPU die. The memory touches the cooler through cloth pads soaked in thermal paste. This solution is quite efficient, we should say. The fan is attached via a two-wire cable, meaning the lack of smooth speed adjustment as was implemented on the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition. And still, you can control the speed of the fan. The latest version of RivaTuner allows you to set up different speeds for 2D, Low Power 3D and Performance 3D modes.

A curious design detail is a metal plate that goes along the top edge of the PCB and prevents it from bending. This plate was present on the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP where it was obligatory because of the massive cooling system installed on that card. Here, however, it is hardly really necessary and is nothing else but a decoration element. There’s a cut in the plate near the MIO connector so that nothing hindered you in attaching a SLI connector.

The graphics card employs Infineon HYB18T256324F-20 chips of GDDR3 memory with 256Mb capacity, 2.0V voltage, and 2.0ns access time. The memory is clocked at its rated frequency, i.e. at 500 (1000) MHz. The GPU is clocked at 400MHz (the default frequency of the GeForce 7800 GT). We want to remind you that this clock rate refers to the GPU’s pixel processors and raster operators only. Its vertex processors are clocked at 440MHz.

As mentioned above, the graphics card is VIVO-compatible by using a Philips SAA7115HL controller equipped with two 9-bit analog-to-digital converters and capable of hardware scaling of the captured image. This chip is installed on all GeForce 7 series cards, endowing them with additional functions.

Noise, Overclocking, 2D Quality

Alas, our hopes for the cooling system to be really quiet didn’t come true. The card makes rather much noise even after the driver is loaded and the fan speed is reduced. Well, the noise is at a comfortable level when the card is in a closed system case, yet the card is far from being completely noiseless. And when you install two such cards into a SLI-compatible system, the noise doubles and becomes uncomfortable – you wouldn’t want to be near such a computer for long. The problem has a solution, though. You can restrain the cooler with the RivaTuner utility, but don’t slow the fan down too aggressively or the graphics card may overheat. Before starting with RivaTuner, make sure your system case is properly ventilated.

We received two samples of the ASUS Extreme N7800GT/2DHTV card and we checked them both at overclocking. The results were practically identical: the maximum stable GPU frequency on both cards was 460MHz. More exactly, it was 454MHz, since all GeForce 7 cards overclock with a discrete 27MHz step. We couldn’t reach the next frequency step (486MHz) due to the limitations of the cooling system and of the simplified power circuit of the GeForce 7800 GT. The memory frequency grew up to 600 (1200) MHz on one sample and to 590 (1180) MHz on the other sample of the Extreme N7800GT. This is a very good result considering that 2.0ns memory is supposed to work at 500 (1000) MHz. So, we recommend the reviewed card to overclockers – it shows good overclockability which may be even improved further by using a more advanced cooling system, for example a water-based one.

The 2D image quality was perfect with both samples of the card up to 1800x1440@75Hz display mode. We did not observe fuzziness or ghosting or any other undesirable effects.

Testbed and Methods

We tested the ASUS Extreme N7800GT/2DHTV graphics card on the following testbed:

We set up the ATI and NVIDIA drivers in the following way:

ATI CATALYST:

NVIDIA ForceWare 81 .85 :

We select the highest graphics quality settings in each game, identical for graphics cards from ATI and NVIDIA. If possible, we use the games’ integrated benchmarking tools (to record and reproduce a demo and measure the reproduction speed in frames per second). Otherwise we measure the frame rate with the FRAPS utility. If it is possible, we measure minimal as well as average fps rates to give you a fuller picture.

We turn on 4x full-screen antialiasing and 16x anisotropic filtering in the “eye candy” test mode from the game’s own menu if possible. Otherwise we force the necessary mode from the driver. We don’t test the “eye candy” mode if a game engine doesn’t support FSAA.

ASUS was kind to offer us two samples of the Extreme N7800GT/2DHTV, so we had an opportunity to test them in the SLI mode. Besides the ASUS Extreme N7800GT/2DHTV, the following graphics cards took part in this test session:

These games and applications were used as benchmarks:

First-Person 3D Shooters:

Third-Person 3D Shooters:

Simulators:

Strategies:

Semi-synthetic benchmarks:

Synthetic benchmarks:

Performance in First-Person 3D Shooters

Battlefield 2

We managed to disable the speed limiter in this game to objectively compare the performance of today’s top-end graphics cards. As you can see, the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is capable of competing with the RADEON X1800 XL in the “pure speed” mode but not at the “eye candy” settings when ATI’s new devices reveal their main trump, the memory controller with the RingBus architecture, and meet no competition, except from the SLI configuration based on two Extreme N7800GT. Overclocking lifts the performance of the ASUS card up almost to the level of the more advanced GeForce 7800 GTX.

The Chronicles of Riddick

The ASUS N7800GT runs this game very fast thanks to NVIDIA’s efficient support of the OpenGL API. You get a comfortably high speed in all resolutions, yet there’s almost no speed reserve at the “eye candy” settings. This problem can be solved by joining together two ASUS cards into a SLI system: the combined power of 40 pixel processors provides over 60fps in 1600x1200 resolution with enabled FSAA and anisotropic filtering! These numbers are also indicative of the performance of the dual-processor graphics card ASUS Extreme N7800GT Dual that we will hopefully have a chance to review in near future.

Doom 3

Everything said about The Chronicles of Riddick is also true for Doom 3 since it is an OpenGL application as well. It’s only after we turn on full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering that the RADEON X1800 XT climbs up to the level of NVIDIA’s solutions, and only due to its sky-high operational frequencies.

Quake 4

This shooter doesn’t differ much from Doom 3 , except that its plot has nothing to do with dark mysticism. By the way, Quake 4 is developed by Raven Software in collaboration with id Software. The game carries on the famous Quake series and puts the player again amidst the war between the human race and the Strogg civilization. The gameplay is quite engaging with some tactical elements – you get a small troop of marines under your command once in a while. The missions vary in character, and there is also some battle machinery you can control. The levels of Quake 4 are bigger than those of Doom 3 and are better illuminated, but you can still spot some similarity between the two games. The engine seems to put restrictions on the size of a level. The textures are not as detailed as in Half-Life 2 , but the interiors and characters look nice anyway. Friends and enemies alike are detailed but lack polygons and, like in Doom 3 , people still don’t have a tongue in their mouths – this spoils the overall impression somewhat.

Although this is an OpenGL application, the results are different from what we’ve seen in the two previous cases. The ATI RADEON X1800 XT has a very good speed here, being just a little slower than the GeForce 7800 GTX in the “pure speed” mode. It is possible the game requires a large amount of graphics memory, and the RADEON X1800 XT is the only graphics card participating in this test session to carry 512 megabytes of GDDR3 SDRAM on board.

The ASUS Extreme N7800GT outperforms the RADEON X1800 XL in high resolutions of the “pure speed” mode, but falls behind it as we switch to the “eye candy” settings. It’s strange, but it’s a fact: products from ATI Technologies, RADEON X1800 XT and X1800 XL, manage to beat their rivals, GeForce 7800 GTX and 7800 GT, in a game that uses the Doom 3 engine!

Overclocking doesn’t help the ASUS Extreme N7800GT much, providing a speed gain of 15% at best. This is enough to get even with the RADEON, though.

The SLI configuration with two Extreme N7800GT cards has the best result, but note that it’s not so much better than the single RADEON X1800 XT. Moreover, the performance of the SLI system is sometimes a little lower than that of the ATI RADEON X1800 XT. This fact agrees with our supposition that the game requires a large amount of graphics memory to run.

Far Cry

Although NVIDIA’s SLI is a mature technology already, some compatibility problems still crop up from time to time. In this case two Extreme N7800GT graphics cards working together in the multi-GPU mode have a lower speed than the single cards. This is not crucial for Far Cry , however, because all high-end graphics cards reach the speed ceiling set by the system’s central processor at the “pure speed” settings. The picture is more diverse in the “eye candy” mode: the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is a little slower than the RADEON X1800 XL starting from 1280x1024 resolution. When overclocked, the ASUS card is ahead of the GeForce 7800 GTX. The SLI configuration built out of two ASUS Extreme N7800GT cards is on top, but the gap between it and the RADEON X1800 XT is very small despite the twofold difference in the number of pixel processors.

The ASUS Extreme N7800GT looks much better in this demo because the G70 graphics processor executes the 3.0 pixel shader code from Far Cry more effectively than the ATI R520 does. That’s why the ASUS is has a higher “pure speed” than the RADEON X1800 XL and is at least no worse than it in the “eye candy” mode. The ASUS Extreme N7800GT SLI system has no rivals and delivers more than 100fps even in the hardest operational mode.

F.E.A.R.

Now that First Encounter Assault Recon or F.E.A.R. has been officially released, we include this shooter into our list of benchmarks.

The game is known to be very challenging for any graphics subsystem. The beta version was such and the final version isn’t much different. At least, only the SLI system with two ASUS Extreme N7800GT could provide more than 60fps in 1600x1200. Note also that the overclocked ASUS has the performance of the more powerful and expensive GeForce 7800 GTX throughout the test – thanks to the high frequency potential of the NVIDIA G70 chip. As for the “eye candy” mode, even SLI platforms on GeForce 7800 GTX and 7800 GT allow playing F.E.A.R. with comfort in resolutions no higher than 1280x1024. If you have a single top-end graphics card, you have to limit yourself to 1024x768 resolution, at the maximum graphics quality settings at least.

Half-Life 2

The graphics cards all have the same “pure speed” in Half-Life 2 , being limited by the CPU performance. The same is true for the “eye candy” mode, but we can see in 1600x1200 resolution that the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is as fast in this game as the RADEON X1800 XT. None of the cards sinks below 60fps.

It’s all roughly the same on the d3_c17_02 map. In high resolutions of the “eye candy” mode you see that the ASUS card is as fast as the RADEON X1800 XL and is no more than 10% behind the RADEON X1800 XT at the overclocked frequencies.

Serious Sam 2

The new Serious Sam follows the best traditions of the first two titles in the series, giving you a simple plot, crowds of enemies that totally lack any intellect, and a lot of various weapons. The fans of the series should appreciate that. On the other hand, the game acquired a new engine with support of all new technologies, including HDR, and lost the last links with reality. The design of the levels and characters is too bright and gaudy for our taste. Anyway, the game is quite popular and makes a good benchmarking tool with its advanced visuals, so we decided to add it to our benchmarks list. For some unknown reason graphics cards of the GeForce 7 family refused to work in 1600x1200 in the “eye candy” mode. The testbed would show us a “blue screen of death” as soon as we tried to switch to that resolution. Two ASUS cards in a SLI configuration passed the test in 1600x1200 without problems, however.

Of course, the SLI pair of two Extreme N7800GT is the absolute winner here – this graphics subsystem boasts a total of 40 pixel processors clocked at 400MHz! When performing as a single card, the ASUS product did well both at the default and overclocked frequencies. The RADEON X1800 XL nearly fails this test, ensuring an acceptable frame rate in 1024x768 resolution only. What’s interesting, the senior RADEON model is more successful: its very high clock rates and 512 megabytes of graphics memory make up for the driver or architecture-related problems in this game. Note also that none of the graphics cards has a performance reserve here: the min frame rate never exceeds 25fps even in the lowest resolution.

Pariah

Pariah does not support full-screen antialiasing, but uses a number of rather simple pixel shaders, so the G70-based products have very good results in this test. The ASUS Extreme N7800GT is just a little slower than the RADEON X1800 XT and even outperforms it in high resolutions at the overclocked frequencies. The two SLI-linked ASUS cards are faster than the GeForce 7800 GTX by about 50% in 1600x1200.

Project Snowblind

There are some problems with SLI in this game: the single ASUS Extreme N7800GT is as fast as the SLI configuration of two such graphics cards. Otherwise, the ASUS competes with the RADEON X1800 XL at the default frequencies and with the RADEON X1800 XT at the overclocked frequencies, especially in high resolutions. The card from ASUS has enough strength for you to play comfortably even in 1600x1200 with enabled 4x FSAA and 16x anisotropic filtering – the game speed never goes below 35fps.

Unreal Tournament 2004

All graphics cards from this review have the same speed on the Torlan level. Both members of the RADEON X1800 family are a little slower than the GeForce 7 cards in the “eye candy” mode, though.

The same goes for the Metallurgy map: the cards have nearly the same performance, excepting high resolutions of the “eye candy” mode. The RADEON X1800 suffer from being optimized to execute complex version 3.0 shader code, and even the senior RADEON model is slower than the ASUS Extreme N7800GT here. The overclocked ASUS was almost as fast as the GeForce 7800 GTX, while the joining of two ASUS cards into a SLI configuration brought no tangible effect since its speed was limited by the performance of the central processor of the testbed.

Performance in Third-Person 3D Shooters

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

The graphics card from ASUS is confidently ahead of the RADEON X1800 XL at the default frequencies. When overclocked from the default 400/1000MHz to 460/1200MHz, it delivers the performance of the RADEON X1800 XT. Surprisingly enough, our combining two Extreme N7800GT cards into a SLI system yielded a smaller speed gain than we got at overclocking the single card.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

The SLI technology brings an impressive performance gain in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory . Two ASUS Extreme N7800GT graphics cards working together yielded over 60fps in 1600x1200 with turned-on full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering! The single card was competing with the RADEON X1800 XL in the “pure speed” mode, but sunk to the last place at the “eye candy” settings. Overclocking lifts the ASUS card up to the level of the GeForce 7800 GTX, however.

Performance in Simulators

Colin McRae Rally 2005

The results of this test are expectable. Thanks to its 20 pixel pipelines and the ability to effectively execute relatively simple pixel shaders, the non-overclocked ASUS Extreme N7800GT leaves the RADEON X1800 XL behind in the “pure speed” mode. But when we turn on FSAA and anisotropic filtering, the ASUS card finds itself occupying the last place – its memory works at the same frequency as on the RADEON X1800 XL, but the memory controller is less efficient. NVIDIA’s SLI technology helps the two ASUS Extreme N7800GT cards win this test and ensure a frame rate of 100fps and higher even in the hardest display mode.

Pacific Fighters

Pacific Fighters being an OpenGL application, the G70-based graphics cards deliver the maximum performance here. You can see in high resolutions of the “eye candy” mode that the overclocked ASUS Extreme N7800GT offers more speed than the GeForce 7800 GTX, not to mention the rest of the participating cards. The SLI effect is only felt in the highest resolution of the “eye candy” mode and amounts to a mere 20%.

Lock On: Modern Air Combat

The graphics cards all have identical results here, and the speed barrier goes somewhat higher for the GeForce 7 family than for the RADEON X1800. This is probably the last time we use this flight simulator in our tests. We are going to replace it with the recently released space simulator X3: Reunion.

Performance in Strategies

Age of Empires 3

This epic strategy is a new title in the well-known Age of Empires series, bringing the player to the New World where eight European nations are contesting for supremacy. Highly detailed and complex visuals are the game’s obvious and main advantage. That’s why we chose it as a replacement to Perimeter.

The RADEON X1800 family just fail here. They only give you enough performance in 1024x768 with disabled full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering. The GeForce 7 cards, on the contrary, show their best in Age of Empires 3. Overclocking of the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is not very rewarding as the card cannot reach the level of the GeForce 7800 GTX, yet the ASUS is quite fast for comfortable play in 1024x768 and 1280x1024 resolutions. The two cards from ASUS in the SLI system provide an astonishing 50 and more fps in 1600x1200 at the “eye candy” settings – where the most powerful single card can’t give out even 40fps!

Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War

Featuring complex geometry and stencil shadows, Dawn of War is like a home turf for NVIDIA’s GeForce 7 cards, including the ASUS Extreme N7800GT. The performance of the CPU is the main limiting factor in low resolutions, so the SLI effect is seen best in high resolutions of the “eye candy” mode where it amounts to near 40%.

Performance in Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks

Aquamark3

The ASUS Extreme N7800GT goes abreast to the ATI RADEON X1800 XT in the “pure speed” and to the ATI RADEON X1800 XL in the “eye candy” mode. This benchmark doesn’t have any complex shaders the RADEON X1000 architecture might show its advantages upon. When overclocked, the ASUS card is close to the GeForce 7800 GTX in high resolutions. The results of the SLI configuration with two Extreme 7800GT cards require no comments.

Final Fantasy XI Official Benchmark 3

Working at its default frequencies, the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is no worse than the RADEON X1800 XT in this rather simple, as today’s benchmarks go, test. Overclocking makes the ASUS card a leader as it leaves even the GeForce 7800 GTX behind!

Performance in Synthetic Benchmarks

Futuremark 3DMark03

The combined power of two ASUS Extreme N7800GT graphics cards scores over 23,000 points. A single such card also looks good, being better than the RADEON X1800 XL at the default frequencies and nearly equal to the RADEON X1800 XT at the overclocked frequencies. Let’s now see what we have in each of the subtests.

The ASUS is slower than the RADEON X1800 XT only in the “eye candy” mode. The “pure speed” results of both cards are similar, despite the huge difference in the clock rates. The overclocked ASUS Extreme N7800GT is equal to the RADEON X1800 XT at the “eye candy” settings, too. Well, this test is limited by DirectX 7, and NVIDIA’s graphics processors are very efficient in applications that use fixed T&L functions.

The second test is more complex, using normal maps and dynamic stencil shadows. The ASUS Extreme N7800GT can’t keep up the pace anymore. It tries to compete with the RADEON X1800 XL in the “pure speed” mode, but falls back to the last position as soon as we turn on full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering. Overclocking improves things for the ASUS card, but the RADEON X1800 XT with its RingBus architecture and 1.5GHz memory remains unrivalled.

The third test differs from the second one in having a more complex geometry, and the ASUS Extreme N7800GT looks better than the RADEON X1800 XL in the “pure speed” mode and equal to it in the “eye candy” mode, excepting 1600x1200 resolution.

Although the fourth test differs much from the second and third ones (mostly in using version 2.0 pixel shaders), it presents a picture similar to the third test: the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is no worse than the RADEON X1800 XL and, when overclocked, equals the GeForce 7800 GTX.

So, 3DMark03 thinks the ASUS Extreme N7800GT and the ATI RADEON X1800 XL are equals and have roughly the same performance.

Futuremark 3DMark05

The ASUS Extreme N7800GT is less successful in 3DMark05 where it finds itself the last of the participating graphics cards. Meanwhile, the SLI configuration with two ASUS cards takes the first position, stopping short of the 11,000 mark.

As you see, the ASUS Extreme N7800GT and the RADEON X1800 XL match each other throughout the first test – the gap between them isn’t wider than a single fps. Overclocking lifts the EN7800GT up to the level of the GeForce 7800 GTX, but the RADEON X1800 XT with its super-high frequencies is still beyond competition.

The second test produces a similar picture, excepting 1024x768 resolution where the Extreme N7800GT is slower than the RADEON X1800 XL for some reason. Considering that 3DMark05 uses that resolution to calculate the overall performance score, we can now explain the worse overall score of the ASUS Extreme N7800GT.

The third test contributes to the final score, too. The ASUS card is again slower than the RADEON X1800 XL in 1024x768, although the gap is smaller than in the previous test.

So, the worst overall score of the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is easily explained: this graphics card is noticeably slower than the RADEON X1800 XL in 1024x768 resolution of two tests our of three, but it then overtakes the RADEON in higher resolutions.

Conclusion

The generally favorable impression about the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is somewhat marred by its cooling system which might have been less loud. Like with the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP, we have a high speed and a lot of accessories (even though with some necessary items missing). As for the overall performance, the ASUS Extreme N7800GT is directly opposed to the RADEON X1800 XL, but the ASUS product does not slow down in OpenGL games and in games that require processing large amounts of relatively simple pixel shaders.

The SLI configuration based on two ASUS Extreme N7800GT cards performed just excellently, with rare exceptions like in Project Snowblind . We think we should expect roughly the same performance from ASUS’ exclusive new product – the dual-processor graphics card Extreme N7800GT Dual. Only a pair of SLI-linked GeForce 7800 GTX may offer more speed today, but it would also cost more money.

Another advantage of the Extreme N7800GT is its good overclockability which is in fact typical of all graphics cards based on NVIDIA’s G70 chip, excepting those that are already overclocked by the graphics card manufacturer (like the above-mentioned ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP). The efficient cooling system, which served well back on the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition, is not, unfortunately, silent, so if silence is your priority, you may want to replace it with something bigger, but quieter. As it is, the noise of the cooling system is audible and becomes rather uncomfortable if you install two such cards into a SLI platform.

So, the ASUS Extreme N7800GT can be recommended to all users, including overclockers and modders (remember the bright blue highlighting of the cooler!) who want to have a high-performance graphics card for about $450. You may be interested in this product even if you value quietness no less than speed: most other GeForce 7800 GT graphics cards also come with noisy coolers, so you have to replace the cooling system anyway.

Highs:

Lows: