ASUS Extreme N7800 GTX TOP: RADEON X1800 XT Gets an Extreme Rival

The RADEON X1800 XT 512MB has been considered as the world’s top-performing graphics card to date after the launch. But what about the GeForce 7800 GTX with boosted clock-speeds? Witness, how the GeForce 7800 GTX with 486MHz engine speed and 1.35GHz memory manages to leave behind the RADEON X1800 XT in loads of benchmarks as we share our experience about ASUS Extreme N7800 GTX TOP graphics card.

by Alexey Stepin , Anton Shilov
10/24/2005 | 11:54 AM

NVIDIA’s GeForce 7800 GTX was introduced more than three months before the RADEON X1800 XT 512MB graphics card made it to the hands of the first reviewers and it will have more than four months lead over the top-of-the-range part from ATI Technologies when the model X1800 XT becomes available in early November. But while ATI is only about to deliver its leading-edge product, some graphics cards makers seem to offer accelerators that match and even surpass the top part of ATI in a number of benchmarks. Perhaps, there is no point to wait?

 

Having run into loads of issues with low yields, low performance, extreme clock-speeds and high power consumption with the GeForce FX product lineup, NVIDIA Corp. decided to create processors with higher efficiency and, perhaps, greater amount of logic, but moderate clock-speeds. After the GeForce FX 5900-series that ran at up to 475MHz or higher, NVIDIA released its GeForce 6800-series, which clock-speed range was from 325MHz to 425MHz, but which delivered performance much higher than that of the predecessors. This cost the company a huge amount of transistors: the GeForce 6800 Ultra (NV40) chip consisted of 222 million of gates, whereas the predecessor featured only about 125 million. Basically speaking, going up from 8 to 16 pixel processors forced NVIDIA to increase the number of transistors by nearly 78%. By contrast, the same kind of transition cost ATI about 45% of extra gates: the RADEON 9800-series weigh in 110 million of transistors, whereas the RADEON X800-series consists of 160 million of gates.

But NVIDIA’s difficulties were paid in fully: its engineers learned all the peculiarities concerning large low-speed chips and how to make them efficient. When the company started to develop the 7th generation of the GeForce products (G70), it already knew that the chip would consume tremendous amount of logic, would run at moderate clock-speed, would be made using proven process technology and would be able to deliver excellent performance. The result was fascinating and the GeForce 7800 GTX surpassed all the expectations: it was large in terms of die size and transistor count, it was showing very good benchmark results, it ran at frequency in-line with the previous generation, but it was consuming virtually the same amount of power, did not require large cooling system, did not draw excessive amount of heat… and had excellent abilities for further overclocking!

What NVIDIA Corp.’s engineers have achieved with the G70 was higher amount of pixel and vertex processors compared to the NV40, some extra features, and better ability to scale in terms of clock-speeds. While the company itself decided not to clock the reference GeForce 7800 GTX higher than 430MHz, it allowed its graphics card partners to pre-overclock their boards and sell higher-performance accelerators. And it now looks that the strategy proved to be a success, several makers of expensive computer components already sell the GeForce 7800 GTX with speeds much beyond the official specification. One of such manufacturers is ASUS with its Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV that ups core frequency from 430MHz to 486MHz and memory speed from 1200MHz to 1350MHz. So, let’s have a look at the beast!

Package and Accessories

ASUSTeK Computer’s Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV comes in a traditional large package for ASUSTeK’s product. The box has carry handles and, given its sizes, more resembles a colourful trunk rather than a container for a graphics card. As usually, the package has a picture of an extreme computer enthusiast with violet hair, ear piercing and in a kind of Space Tribe scarf.

It cannot be said that the box for the ASUS Extreme GeForce 7800 GTX TOP is as stylish as packaging of the company’s mainboards, but it will definitely catch your eye in a retail outlet. A problem for retail and online stores will be its sizes: given that it is large, it takes huge amount of shelf-space as well as warehouse space. While, for users, large box hardly means a lot, a carry handle is definitely an advantage.

The accessories provided with ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV tell us that we’ve got some serious product for high-end computer hardware enthusiast. The graphics board’s bundle is not only full of different software, but along with the card customers will get useful adapters too.

Take a look at the list of supplied software:

While the software applications ASUS supplies are not among the best selling titles, it may be pretty useful for those, who do not want to purchase certain software separately.

It was also pretty pleasant to find a CD case made of artificial leather in the box. Earlier ASUS supplied an orange CD box made of plastic that was not that good looking and also took more place.

While a case for CDs made of genuine leather would probably be even more stylish, this one is still good enough.

Given that ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV supports two DVI-I connectors, HDTV output and video input, the company supplies a couple of DVI-to-D-Sub adapters in addition to a universal hub that has S-Video, YPbPr and RCA connectors as well as video input connectors. The hub comes with a pretty long wire, which will make it comfortable for end-users to plug necessary cables into it. To a great regret ASUS did not include any additional cables with the graphics card, which requires end-user to purchase them individually.

Installation guides and instructions are probably something that ASUS deserves credit for: loads of languages and very easy to understand, the booklets may be very useful to people, who are not completely familiar with hardware and software installation procedures.

Quite naturally, ASUS’ top-of-the-range graphics card sports numerous proprietary technologies by ASUSTeK Computer, including the following:

Back in 2004 ASUSTeK supplied a pretty convenient USB web-cam along with its high-end graphics cards, but it looks like the situation has changed in 2005: we did not find a web-cam bundled with ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV.

All-in-all, the pre-overclocked GeForce 7800 GTX from ASUS is tailored for extreme gamers: it has excellent product bundle aimed at hardcore gaming enthusiasts and, supposedly, top performance.

There are several things that require improvement in our mind. Firstly, games supplied with the leading-edge graphics cards should be really popular among gamers. Secondly, more cables in the bundle are unlikely to make an already expensive product too pricey. Thirdly, an inexpensive, but quality, web-cam is likely to be appreciated, especially noting that it is required by ASUS’ own software! Finally, those, who buy luxurious pre-overclocked graphics cards will hardly truly enjoy a picturesque individual, at least, he is not that freaky to be enjoyed by certain type of audience.

PCB Design

Due to the fact that virtually all graphics cards based on the GeForce 7800 GTX graphics processing units (GPU) are made by a manufacturing partner of NVIDIA Corp. in large quantities and the company sells ready products to other add-in-board partners, there is not much to talk about when it comes to the board design of ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV.

 

The print circuit board (PCB) of ASUS’ top-end graphics card has no ASUSTeK’s signs or markings, but there is NVIDIA’s logotype instead, which proves the theory that NVIDIA sells its partners pre-made boards rather than graphics and memory chips.

The lack of PCB design originality has a good role and a bad role: the advantage is that end-users will get equally high-quality graphics cards based on the GeForce 7800 GTX processor, the disadvantage is that graphics cards makers have small headroom for increasing clock-speeds or reducing the cost of a product.

What is really special about the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV is probably its cooler, the NV Silencer 5 (Revision 3), which was made by well-known Arctic Cooling company.

Arctic Cooling NV Silencer 5: Taking the GeForce 7800 GTX to the Extreme

Computer enthusiasts who seek for both quiet operation and additional overclockability are pretty familiar with the Silencer family of coolers from Arctic Cooling company. The coolers utilize pretty large, but low-speed, fan along with copper radiators for both GPU and memory.

ASUSTeK uses a special revision (revision 3) of the NV Silencer 5 to power its N7800GTX TOP product. The cooling system features large 3.5mm thick copper base along with a huge aluminum heat sink. Such construction has proven its efficiency on various graphics cards and processors, as copper is among the best heat conductors, whereas aluminum is among the best heat dissipaters; provided that the copper and aluminum are connected together properly, such tandem should be very efficient.

There is a drawback the NV Silencer 5 has: it uses thermal pads to cool down GDDR3 memory on the front side of the board. Probably, special lugs made of copper would conduct heat better than the pads, however, lugs require a bit more thorough installation in order to contact memory really well. Furthermore, Arctic Cooling could probably supply a copper heat-spreader for memory located on the back side of the graphics card, as currently users have to use the aluminum plate supplied with reference coolers, which is probably not the most efficient thing.

Featuring 2000rpm fan, the NV Silencer 5 is not only capable of cooling down the GeForce 7800 GTX quietly, but very efficiently as well. It is a dual-slot cooling solution, but performance increase compared to the reference cooler probably worth an extra slot.

Noise, Overclocking, 2D Quality

Noise level of the original GeForce 7800 GTX graphics card cannot be typically heard when a computer case is closed, so, there is no strong demand for even quieter cooling solution when it comes to the model 7800 GTX. Nevertheless, the NV Silencer 5 (revision 3) proves to be virtually noiseless: even in an open test system it proves itself to be absolutely noiseless.

Overclocking potential of the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV did not really impress us: we could not push the speed any further. But that is certainly not a disappointment: the card already works at its maximum speed and, in fact, 1350MHz is already an extraordinary result for 1.6ns GDDR3 memory.

We have also measured power consumption of ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV graphics card. It did not exceed the reference design GeForce 7800 GTX substantially: the ASUS board consumes 81.8W, whereas the reference card consumes 80.3W.

Needless to say that the premium graphics card demonstrated amazing 2D quality on our Dell P1110 and Dell P1130 monitors: in all resolutions, including 1800x1440@75Hz, ASUS’ top-of-the-line offering produced a crystal-sharp image without any ghosting or blur.

Testbed and Methods

We tested the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV graphics card on the following testbed:

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

ATI CATALYST:

NVIDIA ForceWare 78.01:

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 full picture of performance.

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 didn’t test the “eye candy” mode if a game engine didn’t support FSAA.

Besides the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV, the following graphics cards took part in this test session:

The following games and benchmarks were used:

First Person 3D Shooters:

Third Person 3D Shooters:

Simulators:

Strategies:

Semi-synthetic Benchmarks:

Synthetic Benchmarks:

Performance in First Person 3D Shooters

Battlefield 2

This game has a built-in speed limiter set at 90fps and since we’re dealing with top-end graphics cards today we should not wonder that all of them have the same “pure” speed. You can only note some differences in 1600x1200 resolution where the increased frequencies of the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX seem to bring it no advantage. In the “eye candy” mode, however, the higher frequencies ensure a certain performance gain which allows the ASUS to compete with the RADEON X1800 XL successfully.

The Chronicles of Riddick

The ASUS card enjoys a 10% speed advantage over the standard GeForce 7800 GTX in resolutions above 1024x768. The same is true for the “eye candy” mode where the Extreme N7800GTX TOP gives you enough speed even in the highest resolution.

The Chronicles of Riddick is an OpenGL application and uses stencil shadows intensively, so the RADEON X1800 XT cannot challenge even the GeForce 6800 Ultra, not to mention the ASUS card.

Doom III

Doom III is another game that can make good use of some special features of the GeForce 6 and 7 architectures and of the efficient OpenGL driver written by NVIDIA’s programmers. That’s why the RADEON X850 and X1800-based solutions are at the bottom again. Unlike in The Chronicles of Riddick, the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP doesn’t profit much from its higher frequencies, at least in the “pure speed” mode. This gain is noticeable in the “eye candy” mode, but doesn’t exceed 10% even in 1600x1200 resolution.

The multiplayer d3dm4 map unveils a somewhat different picture: released from the single-player mode limitations, the graphics cards of the GeForce 7800 family can now show their best. The Extreme N7800GTX TOP is 7% faster than the reference card in 1280x1024 and 10-11% faster in 1600x1200. The gap grows wider in the “eye candy” mode since the higher, 1.35GHz memory frequency of the ASUS card contributes even more to its performance. The RADEON X1800 XT competes with the GeForce 6800 Ultra here and allows you to play this game with comfort in all resolutions.

Far Cry

This review is about a very advanced graphics card and we compare it with same-class solutions, so there is nothing wrong in all the cards reaching the performance ceiling in the “pure speed” mode on the Pier level. When full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are enabled, we can see that the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP is somewhat slower than the RADEON X1800 XT starting from 1280x1024 resolution. Thanks to its Ring Bus architecture and 1.5GHz memory frequency the senior RADEON X1800 model increases the gap in the higher resolution. The ASUS card still beats the RADEON X1800 XL, though.

As we said in our review of the RADEON X1800’s gaming performance (for details see article called ATI RADEON X1800 XT and XL Performance: Crushing NVIDIA's 7800? ), NVIDIA’s solutions execute the version 3.0 shader code from Far Cry more effectively than the RADEON X1800 do. This statement is reconfirmed here: the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP is a leader in the “pure speed” mode and is less than 5% slower than the RADEON X1800XT in the “eye candy” mode, despite the considerable difference in the GPU and memory frequencies of the two graphics cards.

Half-Life 2

Today’s high-end graphics cards are so incredibly fast that they have roughly the same speed in Half-Life 2 , being limited by the performance of the system’s central processor. The previous-generation solutions like GeForce 6800 Ultra and RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition make an exception since they can’t keep pace with the new-gen graphics cards in high resolutions of the “eye candy” mode. They can maintain a frame rate of 70-80fps, however, which is more than enough for comfortable play.

It’s all generally the same in the d3_c17_02 demo which contains a battle scene. The cards are overall slower than in the previous case, but even the GeForce 6800 Ultra makes the resolution 1600x1200 with enabled FSAA and aniso-filtering playable with comfort. The ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP is no worse than the RADEON X1800 XT, not to mention the less powerful solutions from ATI, even in the hardest mode.

Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell

All the participating cards deliver more than 140fps in Painkiller , and most of them even hit against the speed ceiling imposed by the performance of the CPU.

F.E.A.R. Multiplayer Demo

The Extreme N7800GTX TOP enjoys a 5-8% advantage over the reference card in the F.E.A.R. demo, but this doesn’t help it to overtake the RADEON X1800 XT with its highly efficient memory subsystem in the “eye candy” mode. On the other hand, the ASUS card’s frame rate of 81fps in the “pure speed” mode should be considered an excellent result for this graphically heavy game.

Pariah

There’s a profusion of relatively simple shaders in the fantastic shooter Pariah and we already know that executing such shaders (without branching and not using Shader Model 3.0) is not a strong aspect of the new family of RADEONs. The ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP and the GeForce 7800 GTX feel some competition in 1024x768, but then confidently take their respective first and second places in higher resolutions. The higher frequencies of the Extreme N7800GTX TOP ensure an 8-9% advantage over the reference GeForce 7800 GTX in 1600x1200 resolution.

Project: Snowblind

The higher frequencies of the Extreme N7800GTX TOP give it a 10-20% performance gain over the reference card and put it very close to the RADEON X1800 XT in high resolutions as well as with enabled full-screen antialiasing. So, ATI’s superiority in this game (achieved through the indecently high operational frequencies) is challenged now. Note also that the game does not bottom out below 30fps even on the slowest of the participating graphics cards.

Unreal Tournament 2004

Like in Half-Life 2 , Far Cry and Painkiller , all the participating graphics cards, including the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP and the RADEON X1800 XT, have identical speeds in the Torlan demo.

The Metallurgy demo puts a smaller load on the central processor and a higher load on the graphics on and gives us an opportunity, at least in the “eye candy” mode, to evaluate the performance of the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP. The ASUS card is a negligible 4fps ahead of the reference GeForce 7800 GTX, the absolute frame rates being about 120-125fps. Anyway, the Extreme N7800GTX TOP and the GeForce 7800 GTX take the first two places since the RADEON X1800 XT and, moreover, XL can’t show their best in games that do not use complex pixel shaders.

Performance in Third Person 3D Shooters

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

The ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP is 15% ahead of the GeForce 7800 GTX in 1600x1200 and this is enough to beat the RADEON X1800 XT as well as the rest of the cards. The performance gain is negligible in lower resolutions – the game uses only simple pixel shaders, so the 56MHz GPU frequency increase over the standard GeForce 7800 GTX must be too small to affect the shader execution speed much. Meanwhile, the memory subsystem performance becomes more important in 1600x1200 and the memory frequency increase from 1.2 to 1.35GHz is most welcome since it leads to a bandwidth increase from 38.4GB/s to 43.2GB/s.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory uses version 3.0 pixel shaders if the graphics card supports Shader Model 3.0. The GPU clock rate plays an important role then, and it is the higher GPU frequency that helps the ASUS card to compete with the RADEON X1800 XT which had previously been a leader in this test. The senior RADEON X1800 model still has the best min fps value, however.

The RADEON X1800 XT rarely meets any competition in the “eye candy” mode, with enabled 4x FSAA and 16x anisotropic filtering. Even the overclocked memory can’t help the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP here – its frequency is still below 1.5GHz (the memory frequency of the RADEON X1800 XT) and, as all GeForce 7 series cards, it has a less efficient memory controller than the RADEON X1800 series have. The ASUS card holds its second place in the “eye candy” mode, however, outperforming the reference GeForce 7800 GTX by 10-12%. The ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP and the RADEON X1800 XT both allow you to play Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory comfortably in all modes and resolutions, although the min performance of the ASUS card is very close to the dangerous mark of 30fps in 1600x1200 resolution of the “eye candy” mode.

Performance in Simulators

Colin McRae Rally 2005

Both GeForce 7800 GTX models reach the highest possible speed in low resolutions. The ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP has an 11-13% advantage over the reference card in 1600x1200 and this is enough to compete successfully with the RADEON X1800 XT. The “eye candy” rankings are different: the sky-high frequencies of the RADEON X1800 XT lift it on the top position again, while the Extreme N7800GTX TOP has to content itself the second place.

Pacific Fighters

All the GeForce 7 solutions, including the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP, deliver the maximum possible performance in Pacific Fighters , while the results of the RADEON X1800 XT and XL are much humbler. Note that the RADEON X1800 XT is no faster than the RADEON X1800 XL in low resolutions which indicates the low efficiency of the OpenGL driver from ATI Technologies. The speeds of the Extreme N7800GTX TOP and the GeForce 7800 GTX only differ in 1600x1200 resolution of the “eye candy” mode and by no more than 5-6%. Both GeForce 7800 GTX models and the GeForce 7800 GT can run this game at a comfortable speed in all modes and resolutions.

Lock On: Modern Air Combat

The speed ceiling in Lock On goes at 28-29fps if you enable the maximum graphics quality settings. All GeForce 7 solutions, including the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP, easily reach this barrier even in 1600x1200 with enabled 4x FSAA and 16x anisotropic filtering.

Performance in Strategies

Perimeter

Perimeter yields rather queer results. The CPU’s limiting influence is not too obvious in this game as the results of the RADEON X1800 XT and XL suggest, but the GeForce 6/7 cards all have the same speed in all resolutions for some unclear reason. The performance limit varies for each resolution, and for the minimal and average fps rates. The same thing occurs in both test modes: “pure speed” and “eye candy”. We’ll try to find out as soon as possible if this is a special feature of the Perimeter engine or a problem of the current ForceWare version.

Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War

Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War is a geometrically heavy application. It’s easy to reckon that 100 models in a scene, each made up of 2000 polygons, give a total of 200,000 polygons – and this wouldn’t be the most complex scene possible! The winning of this test comes naturally to NVIDIA’s solutions with their UltraShadow technology since the game makes use of stencil shadows. Note that the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP is not much faster than the GeForce 7800 GTX – less than by 10% in the hardest operational mode.

Performance in Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks

Aquamark3

With the recent advances in the 3D graphics field, Aquamark3 has become a very easy test for top-end graphics cards – they all reach the speed ceiling in the “pure speed” mode. The ATI RADEON X1800 XT is a little faster than the GeForce 7800 GTX and ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP in the lowest resolution of the “eye candy” mode, but the gap diminishes almost to zero in higher resolutions.

Final Fantasy XI Official Benchmark 3

We had some problems with Final Fantasy XI Official Benchmark 3 . The Extreme N7800GTX TOP was always slower in this application than the GeForce 7800 GTX clocked at its default frequencies. There were no overheat or image quality problems, so we don’t know how to account for such a strange result.

Performance in Synthetic Benchmarks

Futuremark 3DMark03

A few days ago we published a review of ATI’s new-generation top-end graphics cards and found a new 3DMark03 performance leader – the ATI RADEON X1800 XT scored over 16,000 points. This time we’ve got another record-breaker: the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP overcomes the 17,000 points mark and wrests the leadership from the hands of ATI Technologies.

The ASUS card doesn’t show anything exceptional in the first test. Moreover, it is slower than the reference GeForce 7800 GTX in the “pure speed” mode for some unknown reason. It’s only with enabled full-screen antialiasing and in 1600x1200 resolution, i.e. when the memory subsystem performance comes to the fore, that you can see a considerable performance gain.

The second test goes beyond the DirectX 7 limits, using normal maps and dynamic stencil shadows. It shows that the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP is 10-13% faster than the standard GeForce 7800 GTX, even in the lowest resolution. As a result, the ASUS card can successfully compete with the dangerous ATI RADEON X1800 XT. The latter wins its first place back in 1280x1024 resolution of the “eye candy” mode due to its 1.5GHz memory frequency and the Bus Ring architecture. The ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP is no farther than 10% behind even in the highest resolution, though.

The third test gives out a similar picture, except that the RADEON X1800 XT only beats the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP in 1600x1200 resolution with enabled full-screen antialiasing (but even in this case the difference between the cards is no more than 5-6%). It’s hard to explain the results since the third test only differs from the second one in having a more complex geometry – the number of vertex processors is the same in the ASUS card and in the ATI RADEON X1800 XT. And the latter card clocks them at a higher frequency.

The fourth test demands high pixel as well as vertex shader performance from the graphics card. The ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP performs brilliantly here. Its computational capabilities have increased along with the operational frequencies, reaching the level of the RADEON X1800 XT. The ASUS card offers the same speed as the senior model from ATI Technologies irrespective of the resolution and test mode.

So, the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP was slower than the RADEON X1800 XT in the first test only, otherwise being better or equal to it. Its higher overall score seems well-deserved.

Futuremark 3DMark05

3DMark05 uses much more complex pixel and vertex shaders than the previous version, so the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP could not repeat its record-breaking 3DMark03 performance here. And still, it got more than 8,000 points in total and only 471 points less than the ATI RADEON X1800 XT. Let’s see where the ASUS card failed to even the score.

The first test, a typical sci-fi shooter, gives us an answer: there’s only one resolution where the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP is worse than the ATI RADEON X1800 XT – 1024x768. In the rest of the resolutions, and in the “eye candy” mode, the ASUS is no worse than the senior model from ATI Technologies despite the latter having higher clock rates and boasting various architectural innovations.

The second test is satisfied with a lower fill rate but puts a heavier load on the GPU’s vertex processors. The ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP isn’t slower than the RADEON X1800 XT even in 1024x768. The ASUS card is slower than the RADEON X1800 XT in the “eye candy” mode, but the gap hardly amounts to 4-5%.

The third and the most complex test produces a similar picture, but the difference between the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP and the reference GeForce 7800 GTX is much smaller in the “eye candy” mode than before: 1-2fps (or 5%) against 20% in the second and third tests. This can be explained by a higher textural load in the scene – the scene has open landscapes and complex materials that realistically simulate the surface of the cliffs and water.

As you have seen, the lower 3DMark05 score of the ASUS Extreme N7800GTX TOP comes from this card being slower than the RADEON X1800 XT in low resolutions for some reason. In higher resolutions, however, these two graphics cards have similar performance, even when full-screen antialiasing is enabled.

Conclusion

Even though ASUSTeK’s Extreme N7800GTX TOP/2DHTV graphics card is pushed to the very limits and does not offer any overclocking potential, something that may be expected from an enthusiast-class board, the new top-of-the-range product does offer so high performance that, in fact, any higher overclockability is simply not needed.

Talking about the speed of the Extreme GeForce 7800 GTX TOP from ASUS, we should note that it either beats or matches the RADEON X1800 XT 512MB at default clock-speeds in the majority of the benchmarks. There are a few cases when the RADEON X1800 XT 512MB has some noticeable lead over the overclocked GeForce 7800 GTX, but there are not a lot of such cases. In fact, we can definitely call the Extreme GeForce 7800 GTX TOP as the fastest graphics accelerator for OpenGL games to date.

But besides being among the top-performing graphics cards today, ASUS Extreme GeForce 7800 GTX TOP is also utterly quiet: it cannot be heard even in open systems, something that is very valuable today.

Another advantage of ASUS’ top-end board is that it is available now, whereas the RADEON X1800 XT will be commercially launched later. One of the problems, however, is that its availability is not really wide, which may not allow it to drop the price quickly enough to match that of the model X1800 XT. Recommended pricing for the RADEON X1800 XT is $499 and $549 for 256MB and 512MB models respectively, whereas at press time pricing for the ASUS Extreme GeForce 7800 GTX TOP was approximately $599, the recommended price-point for NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB.

Yet one more strong point concerning ASUS Extreme GeForce 7800 GTX TOP graphics card is excellent product bundle. That’s not an ideal one, at least one popular game and some accessories noted in appropriate chapter would be much appreciated.

Highs:

Lows:

Having summed up our test results we here at X-bit labs decided to award ASUS Extreme GeForce 7800 GTX TOP graphics card with the prestigious Editor’s Choice Title as the today’s Best Graphics Card for OpenGL Games: