NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT: Full-Throttle Graphics for $449

NVIDIA Corp. has just launched its new high-end graphics card that supports numerous modern technologies and offers performance similar to the top-of-the-range GeForce 7800 GTX. X-bit labs has tested the newcomer in 23 gaming benchmarks and performed some other interesting tests. Check the details now!

by Anton Shilov
08/11/2005 | 06:14 AM

The launch of GeForce 7800 GTX in the beginning of summer not only changed NVIDIA’s position in the GPU market, but affected the entire market in general. Today it is by far not enough to simply roll out a new technology or a promising new graphics processor.

 

It is even more important to start shipping a working product based on it as soon as possible. Besides the pretty rare announcement of GeForce 7800 GTX with immediate availability of ready products, this solution is also remarkable for raising the price of fast graphics accelerators to an unbelievable height: $599.

Of course, far not every hardware enthusiast can afford such expensive graphics solutions. Moreover, unlike all previous years NVIDIA this time announced not the entire graphics card family, but only one single model: GeForce 7800 GTX, which immediately excluded the users with the budget below $600 from the potentials owners of the products from the new generation. However, the demanding users get less excited about GeForce 6800 series with the time, so the company undoubtedly needs a new solution that could take over from GeForce 6800 Ultra/GT.

NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT had every chance to become this solution. Although it raised the price bar of the GT model to $449, it boasts better performance than GeForce 6800 Ultra, offers lower power consumption and at the same time supports all new features of the GeForce 7 series GPUs.

GeForce 7800 GT: GeForce 7800 GTX’s Younger Brother

Both, GeForce 7800 GTX and GeForce 7800 GT are based on G70 GPU manufactured by TSMC with 0.11micron technology. The NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT graphics processor differs from its elder brother by fewer functional units and lower working frequency. As for the functional features of the product family leader, the more affordable version of it has it all onboard.

The major difference between the GT and GTX models is the 20 pixel processors (instead of 24) and 7 vertex processors (instead of 8). NVIDIA claims that the newcomer works at 400MHz core clock speed, compared with 430MHz of the GTX modification.

So, we can clearly see that even a “lite” version of the new GeForce 7800 GTX solution boasts better specifications than the GeForce 6800 Ultra. Of course, it implies also higher performance in games and other applications.

Cooling System and PCB Design

Despite our suppositions, the GeForce 7800 GT graphics adapter doesn’t use the same PCB as GeForce 7800 GTX is based on. The newcomer is based on a specifically designed PCB, which should probably boast lower production cost.

The graphics processor and graphics memory voltage regulator circuitry of the GeForce 7800 GT is much simpler than those of the GeForce 7800 GTX and GeForce 6800 Ultra. There are fewer electronic components involved than in case of the other two graphics solutions. Since the voltage regulator design is simpler and the load-bearing elements have been moved to the other side of the PCB, the board is overall shorter than the PCB of GeForce 7800 GTX, although it is not so compactly built as the solutions from ATI Technologies.

There are very few components onboard of GeForce 7800 GT, which may indicate that there is enough room for further price reduction.

The reference GeForce 7800 GT card uses 256Mbit GDDR memory chips from Infineon with 2.0ns access time. The nominal working frequency of this memory is 1000MHz. the graphics card can accommodate up to 16 memory chips, which allows using up to 512MB GDDR. Note that NVIDIA refused to equip its GeForce 7800 GT with 256MB of memory on both sides of the PCB to ensure better cooling of the memory chips: the not very high working frequency of the GDDR memory they use doesn’t require very powerful heat-spreaders.

The cooling system of GeForce 7800 GT has also changed compared with what we see on GeForce 7800 GTX. The cooler of the new GeForce 7800 GT is much more compact than the one used on GTX model, the fan is also smaller, and its rotation speed doesn’t change. From the conceptual point, the cooling system of NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT inherited a lot from its predecessor: the chip cooling system is built with heatpipes, and the fan is installed in such a way that the chip heatsink could receive best cooling.

As for the additional features of GeForce 7800 GT, I would like to mention the VIVO controller – SAA7115HL from Philips, which was also installed on GeForce 7800 GTX. It looks like the video capturing features have become standard for all NVIDIA based high-end solutions.

Noise, Overclocking and 2D Image Quality

Since the fan of the GeForce 7800 GT cannot regulate its speed automatically, like the GeForce 7800 GTX, the noise level should have a couple of pre-sets: for 2D and 3D, provided that the ForceWare driver supports the GeForce 7800 GT. In fact, even in 3D the fan never works on its maximum speed, which ensures relatively quiet operation. In 2D the GeForce 7800 GT is even less noisy than the RADEON X800 XL.

The GeForce 7800 GT reference graphics card we had in our lab proved quite overclockable. We managed to increase its working frequencies from 400MHz for the chip and 1000MHz for the memory to 470MHz for the chip and 1200MHz for the memory, which should ensure a significant performance increase during our tests.

We were not impressed by 2D quality of the reference NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT board much. While clearness was excellent in all resolutions, we noticed visible shadows and trails from letters and pointers. The poor 2D quality was observed on both DVI-I outputs of the graphics card on our Dell P1110 (21”) display. We are not sure whether the problem was only with our graphics card or is a result of print-circuit board (PCB) simplification and improper BIOS tuning, but we’ll keep our eye on the issue.

GeForce7: Battle for the Watts

As is known, the reduction of the graphics chip power consumption was one of the goals the GeForce7 developers tried to achieve when they were working on this solution. This way, a much faster GeForce 7800 GTX consumes only 3W more power than the GeForce 6800 Ultra. And what about GeForce 7800 GT?

Since the market our today’s hero is targeted at is much more sensitive to the PC component pricing, it would be very logical to suppose that the system intended for NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT is less likely to have a pricy and powerful PSU. According to NVIDIA, GeForce 7800 GT requires a 350W power supply unit, which is not an extraordinary specification nowadays.

While generally our power consumption measurements are very precise, this time we would recommend to consider them cautiously, as NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT graphics card behaved very strangely during the measurements. Our multimeter, indicated that the graphics card consumes nearly nothing from 3.3V lines (about 2.1W), which is something that we see for the first time. Still, power consumption of approximately 57W seems to be correct, as the GeForce 7800 GTX that has more pixel and vertex pipelines enabled and operates at higher clock-speeds consumes about 80W.

We also attempted to measure power consumption of the GeForce 7800 GTX with 20 pixel and 7 vertex processors activated and set to operate at the clock-speeds of the GeForce 7800 GT. It is interesting to note that power consumption of such emulated GeForce 7800 GT (marked with asterisk on the graph) consumes more than the real GeForce 7800 GT, which probably means that voltage settings of the 7800 GTX model are higher compared to the 7800 GT version.

Testbed and Methods

For our test session we assembled a standard test platform with the following specifications:

For a more illustrative comparison we also included the results of a few other graphics cards in the nominal and overclocked mode, as well as in SLI configuration:

Here are the driver versions we used:

According to the standard performance evaluation methodology and our testing approaches, we enabled all NVIDIA ForceWare optimizations, except Anisotropic mip filter optimization. Image Settings engine was set to Quality mode. Also, we enabled Gamma correct antialiasing option. For ATI CATALYST we set CATALYST A.I. function to Standard, and Mipmap Detail Level - to Quality. VSync was disabled for both driver versions.

We used the settings and control tools offered by the gaming applications to adjust the full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering levels. In case there were no options for these parameters, we forced the desired mode from the drivers. The level of detail was set to the maximum in each game and was the same for ATI and NVIDIA solutions.

We used the following benchmarks and games in our today’s test session.

First Person 3D Shooters:

Third Person 3D Shooters:

Simulators:

Strategies:

Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks:

Synthetic Benchmarks:

Performance in First Person 3D Shooters

Battlefield 2

Battlefield 2 game was written with Shader Model 2.0 hardware in mind, it features per-pixel lighting, normal mapping, bloom as well as plethora of post-processing effects.

In low resolutions performance of all graphics cards is limited by the speed of central processing unit (CPU), however, in 1600x1200 the GeForce 7800 GT manages to demonstrate tangible advantage over the GeForce 6800 Ultra as well as ATI’s RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition (PE).

The difference in speed of the GeForce 7800 GT and 7800 GTX is not really substantial with full-scene antialiasing and anisotropic filtering enabled. The former is definitely faster compared to the GeForce 6800 Ultra, but the RADEON X850 XT PE sometimes manages to leave the novelty behind, which is mostly due to very efficient FSAA patterns of the RADEON X8 as well as its high memory speed.

It is also very interesting to note that sometimes single GeForce 7800 GT is on par or even faster than two GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics cards in SLI mode.

Chronicles of Riddick

Without any surprises the GeForce 7800 GT delivers excellent performance in all resolutions in The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from the Butcher’s Bay title. It is clearly a lot faster compared to the GeForce 6800 Ultra and, due to better support of OpenGL by NVIDIA ForceWare drivers, the RADEON X850 XT PE.

The situation does not change much with eye-candy features (anisotropic filtering and FSAA) enabled: the GeForce 7800 GT comes second after the 7800 GTX, but already in 1280x1024 cannot deliver 60 fps.

Doom III

Doom III traditionally works perfectly on NVIDIA’s GeForce 6 and 7 hardware, which is why the gap between the GeForce 7800 GT and the RADEON X850 XT PE is very large. Performance difference between the former flagship product and the GeForce 7800 GT is not sizeable at all, it should be noted.

Once FSAA and anisotropic filtering are activated, the performance gap between the GeForce 7800 GT and 6800 Ultra shrinks further and neither of them can achieve 60 fps, a level of performance usually considered as minimal acceptable for first person shooter games.

Similar comments can be written for the second demo we use in Doom III: GeForce 7800 GT provides sufficient frame-rate for all resolutions and is tangibly faster than the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the RADEON X850 XT PE.

With FSAA and anisotropic filtering turned on. the GeForce 7800 GT continues to be a very strong performer, even though it does not offer really significant advantage over the former king of the hill this time.

Far Cry

Traditionally, our demo recorded on the “Pier” level is limited by the whole system performance and nothing can be said about GPU performance here.

With eye-candy triggered NVIDIA’s new mid-range GeForce 7800 product comes after the GeForce 7800 GTX and is outperformed by the RADEON X850 XT PE.

On the “Research” level the situation is more obvious for high-end graphics cards: the GeForce 7800 GT is faster than the RADEON X850 XT PE and the GeForce 6800 Ultra, but the difference in performance is not significant.

Similar may be said for the case when FSAA and anisotropic filtering are turned on: the 7800 GT is not much slower compared to the GTX model, but is generally faster than the two previous-generation graphics solutions.

Far Cry with HDR Lighting

We could not resist to test the Far Cry game with HDR enabled, as it is obvious that HDR is a strong side of the GeForce 7800-series.

It is understandable that due to increased amount of pixel processors the GeForce 7800 GT is much better performer than the GeForce 6800 Ultra with HDR enabled, even though it is not that blazingly fast as the 7800 GTX model. Unfortunately, multi-GPU SLI technology does not offer any performance boosts for the HDR mode in Far Cry .

F.E.A.R. Multiplayer Demo

F.E.A.R. game due out this Fall sports a game engine that features dynamic per-pixel lighting as well as materials created using pixel shaders for higher realism. The developer says that the title uses a lot of HLSL DirectX 9.0 shaders and, based on performance scalability of F.E.A.R. on different graphics cards, we can state for sure: there are a lot of shaders in the game.

Being the most demanding first-person shooter among our benchmarks, F.E.A.R. Multiplayer Performance Test show clearly which graphics solution is the most promising today. NVIDIA’s GeForce 7800 GT is just a little behind two GeForce 6800 Ultra (each of them used to cost $499) and manages to outperform one such card by a substantial margin.

With eye-candy enabled, no graphics card can hit 60 fps even in 1024x768, which means that it would be uncomfortable to play with such settings and performance on currently available hardware. Still from “pure interest” standpoint we may note that the 7800 GT can beat former champions even in this benchmark.

Half-Life 2

While Half-Life 2 game is pretty demanding in a lot of cases, modern high-end graphics cards are so fast that even in 1600x1200 resolution performance is bounded by that of the central processing unit.

With the FSAA and anisotropic filtering turned on, the GeForce 6800 Ultra lags behind all the other boards, while the GeForce 7800 GT is as fast as two GeForce 6800 Ultra in SLI mode, which is not too surprising – CPU performance limitations exist even in eye-candy mode.

The demo which we call “town clash” resembles a lot of Half-Life 2 scenes that are limited by both CPU and GPU performance due to extensive amount of special effects and physics in the scene. Due to CPU performance limitations we can only say that the GeForce 7800 GT runs on par with other high-end graphics cards, save for the GeForce 6800 Ultra, which delivers a bit slower speed.

To our surprise, the good-old RADEON X850 XT PE managed to outperform not only the GeForce 6800 Ultra, but even the GeForce 7800 GT by a small percent point. Still, modern graphics cards are so fast that even in 1600x1200 resolution and eye-candy enabled all the boards deliver absolutely comfortable frame-rate.

Painkiller: Battle out of Hell

The Painkiller game runs smoothly on all graphics cards of today.

Even with FSAA and anisotropic filtering, all high-end GPUs score more than 150 fps in Painkiller .

Pariah

Pariah uses heavily-modified Unreal Engine features blurring effects as well as bump-mapping; that’s is not a state-of-the-art technology today, but Pariah still can offer an exciting gameplay.

Observably, Unreal Engine is not something, which can put the modern graphics accelerators on their knees, however, more powerful GeForce 7-series graphics cards tend to show better results compared to the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the RADEON X850 XT PE.

Due to the presence of post-processing effects in Pariah, NVIDIA GeForce-based and ATI RADEON-based graphics card cannot render it properly with full-scene antialiasing activated, which is why we do not publish obtained results.

Pariah is not among the games supported by NVIDIA’s multi-GPU SLI technology, which is why there is no performance boost here.

Project Snowblind

Project Snowblind is a yet another sci-fi first-person shooter that greatly uses pixel shader 2.0 effects.

As resolution increases, performance drops a bit faster than we saw with other games. NVIDIA’s GeForce 7800 GT is substantially speedier than previous-generation top offerings as well as the RADEON X850 XT PE, which is currently the fastest graphics card ATI Technologies can supply.

Due to some reason, in eye-candy mode the GeForce 7800 GT does not leave the RADEON X850 XT PE behind by a considerable margin, which is primarily conditioned by high clock-speeds of the latter.

Project Snowblind is also not among the games that benefit from NVIDIA’s multi-GPU technology and the second graphics card in a PC does not provide any performance improvements here.

Unreal Tournament 2004

The Torlan demo in Unreal Tournament 2004 is mostly limited by the system’s central processor, so we can’t make any comparisons about the participating graphics cards here.

Not much can be said when running Torlan demo in eye-candy mode as well, save for the fact that all the GeForce 7 graphics cards cannot expose their potential fully due to limitations by CPU performance.

Well, it’s been some time since we started to use the Unreal Tournament 2004 game for our performance measurements and it seems that modern graphics cards are too fast to be measured by this title.

With full-scene antialiasing and anisotropic filtering enabled, the GeForce 7800 GT product is not much behind the 7800 GTX model even in 1600x1200. The gap in performance between the RADEON X850 XT PE and the GeForce 7800 GT is wide.

Performance in Third Person 3D Shooters

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

Benchmark results in Prince of Persia 2: Warrior Within do not bring any surprises: SLI duo of two GeForce 7800 GTX is beyond competition, the GeForce 7800 GT is just slightly behind the GeForce 7800 GTX, whereas the older-generation products deliver excellent performance, but cannot compete with modern solutions.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

As is known, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory uses Shader Model 3.0 for NVIDIA GeForce 6 and 7 graphics cards, whereas support of other graphics cards used to be limited by the Shader Model 1.1, only recently the developer of the game added support for Shader Model 2.0 for ATI RADEON hardware.

This time we tested NVIDIA GeForce-based graphics boards using Shader Model 3.0 preset, while ATI’s RADEON was benchmarked using Shader Model 2.0 rendering mode.

Due to increased fill-rate and computational power, the GeForce 7800 GT is much ahead of the GeForce 6800 Ultra in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory .

With full-scene antialiasing and anisotropic filtering, the GeForce 7800 GT cannot leave 60 fps mark behind in 1280x1024 resolution. To tell you the truth, the 7800 GTX model also does not deliver 60 fps with such settings.

Performance in Simulators

Colin McRae Rally 2005

Smoke, dust from under the wheels, sun flares on the polished sides of rally cars – that’s Colin McRae Rally 2005 and its pixel-shader-heavy game engine.

The title is substantially limited by CPU performance in low resolutions, which is why no performance advantage of dual-GPU configurations may be observed. In 1600x1200, however, it is clear that the dual GeForce 7800 GTX is the absolute champ, whereas the GeForce 7800 GT is about 3 fps behind the RADEON X850 XT PE. In fact, this seems to one of a few games so far, where ATI’s top-of-the-range product may compete with much more affordable offering from NVIDIA.

With eye-candy on the GeForce 7800 GT, to our surprise, appeared to be much behind ATI’s RADEON X850 XT PE. Still, it managed to deliver truly great performance.

Il-2 Shturmovik: Aces in the Sky

NVIDIA GeForce 6-based hardware has been superior performer in IL2 game for some time now, even though this title still cannot benefit from NVIDIA’s multi-GPU technology when it comes to additional performance. The GeForce 7800 GT is much faster than the GeForce 6800 Ultra and RADEON X850 XT PE here and delivers much more than 60 fps in all resolutions.

Neither of old-generation graphics cards can compete with the GeForce 7800 GT: 20 pixel pipelines and very efficient architecture do not leave any chances to the former kings of the hill.

Lock On: Modern Air Combat

We’ve repeatedly complained about the capriciousness of this game which sometimes produces nearly absurd results. The speed of this flight simulator doesn’t exceed 30fps at the maximum graphics quality settings, and the current case is no exception.

Both GeForce 7800 graphics cards tested are the only is the only to reach the speed barrier in 1600x1200. As a result, the new graphics cards cannot show their potential, being limited by the game itself.

Performance in Strategies

Act of War

Act of War is a real-time tactic strategy game that makes heavy use of pixel and vertex shaders, which means that the game is unlikely to be limited much by performance of central processing unit, but will benefit from faster GPU.

Due to higher speed vertex processors ATI’s RADEON X850 XT PE manages to outperform the GeForce 7800 GT and GTX in Act of War game. Nevertheless, the difference in performance between the RADEON and the GeForce products is not large enough to be considered as huge victory for ATI’s board.

With eye-candy activated the GeForce 6800 Ultra finds itself behind all the rest participants of the test that deliver very similar performance.

Act of War is a yet another game that does not benefit from the second GPU when launching in SLI mode.

Perimeter

In our most-demanding benchmark – the Perimeter game – NVIDIA’s new GeForce 7800 GT demonstrates speed comparable to the GeForce 7800 GTX, which may imply that performance in this title may be limited not by graphics card, but by something else. Nonetheless, we can notice very tiny performance benefit the RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition has over the rest boards in 1600x1200 resolution.

Since the game itself is very demanding, antialiasing and anisotropic filtering did not bring any huge performance hits once enabled. The GeForce 7800 GT is very slightly slower than the GTX model and very insignificantly faster compared to the RADEON X850 XT PE.

Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War

Obviously, all the graphics cards tested are sufficiently fast for the Warhammer 40 000 game and there are hardly a lot of points to care much about performance in a strategy game. Nevertheless, we should again say that the GeForce 7800 GT is not much slower compared to the GTX model, which may be a result that the main performance limiting factor in this game is the number of raster operation (ROP) blocks in a GPU.

With anisotropic filtering and full-scene antialiasing activated, performance of the high-end GeForce 7 lineup remains on the top level, notably ahead of the RADEON X850 XT PE, but moderately faster compared to the GeForce 6800 Ultra.

Performance in Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks

Aquamark3

This benchmark used to be one of the NVIDIA favorites back in the days, however when RADEON X850/X800 based product families appeared the situation changed drastically. The competitor solutions won their market position due to high working frequencies, which allowed processing geometry faster. The GeForce 7800 GT returned the leader’s laurels to NVIDIA: although it doesn’t go sky-high, it maintains steady leadership over RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition in all resolutions. The overall advantage makes about 5%. It falls by about the same number behind the faster GeForce 7800 GTX.

In the eye candy mode the results show a little bit different picture. Although in lower resolutions our hero competes successfully against RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition, the latter manages to dash forward in 1600x1200 due to higher memory frequency. All in all, I think we could declare stable parity here.

Final Fantasy XI Official Benchmark 3

The official SquareSoft benchmark doesn’t favor NVIDIA solutions, because its major requirement is fast geometry processing and fast memory subsystem. Despite 20 pixel pipelines and 7 vertex processors working at 440MHz, GeForce 7800 GT fails to get over 6000 points while RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition copes with this task in no time, and yields just a tiny bit to GeForce 7800 GTX.

Performance in Synthetic Benchmarks

Futuremark 3DMark03

The new NVIDIA graphics adapter performed just great in 3DMark03, which is no wonder at all: the three benchmarks out of four included into this tests set have been perfectly adjusted for NVIDIA solutions since the times of GeForce FX. Our today’s hero lacked only 19 points to hit the 19,000-point bar. How did it achieve this victory?

GeForce 7800 GT started defeated RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition in the first game test already: the advantage varied between 8% and 20% in pure speed mode depending on the resolution. When the full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are enabled, the performance difference changes to 10%-15%. Note that in high resolutions the gap is smaller, as RADEON X850 can still work efficiently with the memory. The curious thing is that GeForce 7800 GT is not that far ahead of GeForce 6800 Ultra here: the performance difference is about 7%-9%, even though the newcomer features much more pixel pipelines and more vertex processors working at higher frequency.

Unlike Game 1, the second game test is not limited by the DirectX 7 and uses normal maps and dynamic stencil shadows. Due to UltraShadow II technology, GeForce 6800 Ultra doesn’t yield in any way to RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition, while GeForce 7800 GT appears about 8%-10% ahead of both previous generation products in all resolutions.

In the third test significant workload is put onto vertex processors: they are responsible for calculation of the benchmark’s main character’s behavior. Here GeForce 7800 GTX shows its best, as it features 7 vertex units onboard, while RADEON X850XT Platinum Edition only has 6. Moreover, these units work not at the GPU frequency, as by GeForce 6800 Ultra, but at 40MHz higher, i.e. 440MHz. In general, the newcomer is about 10% faster than the competitor from ATI Technologies.

The Game 4 benchmark is a true test for GeForce 7800 GT. The test uses pixel shaders 2.0 and vertex shaders 2.0, as well as “overbright” effect, which creates realistic sunshine. In pure mode GeForce 7800 GT fails to outperform RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition. Moreover, it even falls behind the rival in high resolutions, although the lag is only 3%-5%. At the same time, when FSAA and anisotropic filtering are enabled, the new graphics solution from NVIDIA runs as fast the one from ATI.

So, we can state that GeForce 7800 GT deserved its 3DMark03 victory, even though this test package uses 1024x768 resolution by default. According to the results of our detailed testing, GeForce 7800 GT doesn’t yield to its major competitor in most test modes and resolutions, and if it does fall behind the ATI card, the performance difference is really small.

Futuremark 3DMark05

3DMark05 is not so easy for GeForce 6/7 architectures, which you can clearly see from the summary graph. Although GeForce 7800 GT manages to outpace RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition, the performance advantage is not very big, only 168 points, despite more pixel pipelines, enhanced ALU and Shader Model 3.0 support.

Game 1 test represents a scene from a typical science-fiction shooter. It uses bump mapping by normal maps and per-pixel lighting alongside with dynamic shadows with high-resolution depth maps. It is not as complex as, say, the Game 3 test from the same set, so the advantage of our GeForce 7800 GT over RADEON X850 XT in pure speed mode is not that great, although it increases as the resolutions grows up. As for the eye candy mode when FSAA and anisotropic filtering are enabled, the situation is completely different: GeForce 7800 GT appears 25%-35% faster than the rival!

The second test loads mostly vertex processors, although the scene also has a lot of complicated lightning effects. The shadows are generated dynamically, just like in the first test. The advantage of GeForce 7800 GT over RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition can already be seen in 1280x1024 and reaches 17%-20%. In the eye candy mode the newcomer is also ahead of the rival, although this time the performance difference is only 10%, since RADEON took good advantage of its effective memory controller.

As usual, the third game test is the hardest one. Here we see a fantastic zeppelin fly over the canyon. The walls of the canyon are created with extremely complex pixel shaders, which hardly fit into the Shader Model 2.0 requirements, and the water surface is rendered not only with the reflection and refraction but also with the depth fog, which makes it highly realistic. Therefore, the test is heavily loaded with texturing as well as math1ematical calculations.

In the pure speed mode GeForce 7800 GT is just a little bit ahead: it runs only 1-3fps faster, while the overall performance is within 20-30fps. In eye candy mode with enabled full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering we are talking about 4-5fps advantage even though RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition boasts faster onboard memory. All in all, the overall result achieved by GeForce 7800 GT is quite logical, just like in 3DMark03: the newcomer didn’t yield to its major competitor in any test.

Conclusion

The Best Graphics Cards for the Money?

Launch of the GeForce 7800 GT is NVIDIA’s second major graphics related event this year and that is again a big success. Not only the GeForce 7800 GT is scheduled to become available at the day of the formal launch, but we also experienced no issues with the new product, which means that customers will receive a graphics card that will satisfy their needs and will not disappoint anyone.

NVIDIA’s GeForce 7800 GT conquers everything on the market right now, except the GeForce 7800 GTX of course, which makes it pretty obvious selection when choosing between products like the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the RADEON X850 XT PE.

In case price has so far been the only issue that kept someone from buying the GeForce 7800 GTX, then more affordable GeForce 7800 GT should probably become their choice these days because of numerous advantages the graphics card delivers:

Still, when buying such an advanced graphics card users should remember that they should have central processing units fast enough to expose the full potential of top-end graphics cards as well as big displays that support high resolutions. While it is correct to expect the GeForce 7800 GT and similar products to have some reserves for next-generation games in terms of performance, it is better to be in position to enjoy the potential of such fast graphics cards right here and right now.

Market of High-End Graphics Cards Shrinking

By launching the GeForce 7800 GT in mid-August NVIDIA solidifies its positions in the high-end market with the offering that comes at lower price point, sports richer feature-set and consumes less power and space in a PC. Furthermore, the GeForce 7800-series is available in mass quantities around the world, which is a worth mentioning, as a year ago leading-edge graphics cards were in short supply. NVIDIA seems to have learned the lesson well: the company’s current GeForce 7 architecture is not only a good overclocker, but being made using 0.11 micron process technology seems to have pretty strong yields, which means high profit margin for the company.

Unfortunately, without any cult games coming out this year, such as Doom III or Half-Life 2, the market of high-end graphics cards is shrinking. For instance, the market of high-end graphics cards was down 30% in the second quarter compared to the first quarter, according to Mercury Research. While sales of really expensive GPUs that cost above $400 probably remained on approximately the same level, the market in general may soon show signs of stagnation, as enthusiasts may decide not to upgrade their graphics cards acquired last year before new games show up.

In fact, there are a number of promising games on the pipeline: F.E.A.R. is to be released this Fall, Serious Sam 2 is also due in Autumn, whereas the next title from Crytek was promised to be released in the first half of 2006. Will these games really catalyze gamers to upgrade? That’s the question, which should be answered by designers of graphics processors, primarily by ATI Technologies, whose rival NVIDIA is currently feeding the shrinking market with its GeForce 7800-series.

Market Prospects of the Newcomer

NVIDIA’s GeForce 7800 GTX product became available quickly and widely, which conditioned that in online stores its price right now is lower than MSRP or $599. While demand and supply definitely do affect real pricing, it is pretty clear that NVIDIA does its best to make the GeForce 7800 GTX more affordable. The GeForce 7800 GT comes with reduced amount of functional logic inside the GPU and also on seriously simplified print-circuit board, which may imply that the product has substantial headroom for cost reduction.

In addition to the launch of the GeForce 7800 GT at $449 price-point NVIDIA has reduced the recommended prices for the GeForce 6800 Ultra, GeForce 6800 GT and GeForce 6800 to $399, $299 and $199 respectively. It is not yet clear whether NVIDIA wants to quickly phase-out its older-generation products in order to release new products with similar or a bit higher performance based on the GeForce 7 architecture.

On the one hand, GeForce 6 chips made using 0.11 micron at TSMC offer enough performance for the markets they are aimed at and they are less complex than the GeForce 7800 GT/GTX (G70). On the other hand, at some point in future NVIDIA will have a lot of GeForce 7800 chips that can enable 16 pixel and 6 vertex processors and offer speed higher than that of the GeForce 6800 GT, but a bit lower compared to the GeForce 6800 Ultra. Once NVIDIA has enough G70 chips with cut-down specs, it would launch “vanilla” version of the GeForce 7800 that is likely to reduce attraction the GeForce 6800 Ultra and force its phase out; the GeForce 6800 is likely to survive on the market for longer, but is also likely to be discontinued by early 2006. All in all, it is obvious that the days of the GeForce 6800 Ultra and GT on the market are counted, but it is unclear, when NVIDIA may decide to cease the supplies.

While the roadmap of NVIDIA is not currently known, it is clear that with headroom for price reduction of the GeForce 7800 GT and clock-speed improvement of the GeForce 7800 GTX, NVIDIA is ready for ATI’s launch of its new family of visual processing units.