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Digital-Daily : Video : vgapcie_roundup_q306

A Roundup of 45 PCI-E video cards, Q'3 2006

A Roundup of 45 PCI-E video cards, Q'3 2006
Author: Andrey Kuzin
Date: 04.08.2006

Two years have passed since the start of first PCI-Express x16 video cards at Computex 2004. At that moment, merely six models were available to users - see our review PCI-E VGA Roundup 2004, but a year after there were already 23 solutions like these - see the review PCI-E VGA Roundup 2005 Q2. Today, one more year afterwards, we are reviewing twice as more PCI-Express x16 video cards.

A Roundup of 45 PCI-E video cards, Q'3  2006

Our today's tests were not run for the purpose of direct recommendations on selection and purchase of a video card. By now, the two leaders of the 3D market have already released the third generation of PCI-E graphic chips for al the three segments, and the number of "canonical", i.e. reference solutions alone have approached to 50. The assortment of whatever unheard-of suffixes - GS, GTO, XL, XTX - has been expanded essentially, and even not every specialist will immediately recall what follows what in the lines of both companies, and which performance level matches to which performance level.

The purpose of the presented graph is to give an approximate idea of the general situation, on the positioning of a topical video card of yours in the general line of all the existing PCI-E solutions. And of course the other goal is to help you make up your mind as to the necessity and expediency of whatever upgrade, thus to of you "trade bad for worse" as a result of another hasty "fork-out".

A few key notes prior to reviewing the graphs

Of the whole variety of "non-traditional" solutions, we took only SUS GeForce 7800 GTX Top 256 MB as a truly "overclocked" version of GeForce 7800 GTX. It's not frequent these days when manufacturers please us with official overclocking of cards for the top-end sector, and we were really amazed when this card was released.

Currently, there is no such a universal chipset which would offer simultaneous support for both SLI and CrossFire. The reason is solely related to marketing, and until these artificial barriers are abandoned, we won't present a direct test of these technologies on the graphs. To be more precise, the CrossFire mode on our test configuration based on the motherboard ASUS P5WD2-E Premium (i975X) is there, and we were even able to read the results for the upper combination of CrossFire, but ATI CrossFire master cards are still unavailable in wide retail either in Taiwan or Moscow. Therefore, the urgency for this solution is almost zero.

The latest topical flagship, NVIDIA's "sandwich" card 7950GX2, at first persistently refused to run, but update with the motherboard's BIOS of most recent version 0601 did save the situation. The card is not a simple one, and before making up your mind to buy it, you'd better study the compatibility page for motherboard on NVIDIA's web site.

The video card S3 Chrome S27 wouldn't run on our test setup. We did not include the card to the list of cards to be tested until the causes are found out, but admit it, it would be really interesting to look at its ranking among other solutions. Let's hope that by the next roundup this issue will be settled.

We used rather aggressive setting just in order to produce more relevant results for video cards of the top-end sector. Under soft settings, we are unlikely to see any difference between today's hi-end and mid-end solutions. So, you don't have to draw your attention to the complete unfitness of inexpensive video cards for games - these are merely tests and no more than that. Having lowered the bar of resolutions, effects, antialiasing and anisotropic filtering, we can get by even with these resolutions.

We do welcome sound criticism of this material on our forum and would be willing to listen your suggestions and ideas with appreciation.

Test setup

A full-featured test of today's top-end video cards, let alone the CrossFire mode and the doubled GeForce 7950GX2 requires a most top-level powerful CPU of all the available. To start with, we had to conduct a curious experiment for detect such a specimen.

Of course, with the start of mass sales of most recent desktop CPUs based on the Conroe core - Intel Core 2 Extreme and Intel Core 2 Duo - the leadership will certainly be with absolutely different chips rather than those which took part in our tests. However, if we don't escape from the reality, for now let's target what is there and is really available.

Clearly, the major competition hostilities in the line by Intel are expected to go on between P4 3.73 Extreme Edition and P4 670 Prescott 3.8 GHz (support for two cores is still poorly implemented in the gaming sector of applications). Nevertheless, we included the 2-core P4 D820 (2.8 GHz, SmithField core) into the tests. And of course, to observe the so-called "justice" we took the "folk" CPU Celeron D 331 2.66 GHz.

Here are the detailed specifications of all the four CPUs used:

L2 cache
2 cores
P4 3.73 GHz Extreme Edition
2 MB 1066 MHz
P4 670 Prescott 3.8 GHz
2 MB 800 MHz
P4 D820 SmithField 2.8 GHz
2x1 MB 800 MHz
Celeron D 331 2.66 MHz
256 K 533 MHz

These are brief specifications of the video cards to take part in today's tests:

ATI GPU PS/VS Core/Memory, MHz Memory type /bit Company
ATI Radeon X1900 XTX 512Mb R580 48/16 650/1550 GDDR3 256 -
ATI X1900 CrossFire Edition 512Mb R580 48/16 625/1450 GDDR3 256 ATI
ATI Radeon X1900 GT 256Mb R580 36/12 500/1200 GDDR3 256 MSI
ATI Radeon X1800 XT 512Mb R520 16/8 600/1400 GDDR3 256 ASUS
ATI Radeon X1800 XL 256Mb R520 16/8 500/1000 GDDR3 256 PowerColor
ATI Radeon X1600 XT 256Mb RV530 12/5 590/1380 GDDR3 128 ASUS
ATI Radeon X1600 Pro 256Mb RV530 12/5 500/780 GDDR3 128 ASUS
ATI Radeon X1300 Pro 256Mb RV515 4/2 600/800 GDDR2 128 Gigabyte
ATI Radeon X1300 256Mb RV515 4/2 450/500 GDDR2 128 -
ATI Radeon X1300 32Mb HyperMemory RV515 4/2 450/1000 DDR Sapphire
ATI Radeon X850 XT PE 256Mb R480 16/6 540/1180 GDDR3 256 Sapphire
ATI Radeon X850 XT 256Mb R480 16/6 520/1080 GDDR3 256 GeCube
ATI Radeon X850 Pro 256Mb R480 12/6 507/1040 GDDR3 256 -
ATI Radeon X800 XT 256Mb R423 16/6 500/1000 GDDR3 256 ASUS
ATI Radeon X800 XL 512Mb R430 16/6 400/1000 GDDR3 256 HIS
ATI Radeon X800 XL 256Mb R430 16/6 400/1000 GDDR3 256 GeCube
ATI Radeon X800 GTO 256Mb R480 12/6 400/980 GDDR3 256 Gigabyte
ATI Radeon X800 256Mb R430 12/6 400/700 GDDR3 256 Gigabyte
ATI Radeon X700 Pro 256Mb RV410 8/6 425/864 GDDR3 128 Gigabyte
ATI Radeon X700 256Mb RV410 8/6 400/700 GDDR3 128 Gigabyte
ATI Radeon X700 128Mb RV410 8/6 400/700 GDDR3 128 Gigabyte
ATI Radeon X600 XT 128Mb RV380 4/2 500/740 DDR MSI
ATI Radeon X600 Pro 256Mb RV380 4/2 400/600 DDR ABIT
ATI Radeon X550 256Mb RV370 4/2 400/500 DDR -
ATI Radeon X300 128Mb RV370 4/2 325/400 DDR -
ATI Radeon X300 SE 128Mb RV370 4/2 325/600 DDR -

NVIDIA GPU PS/VS Core / Memory, MHz Memory type /bit Company
NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX 512Mb G71 24/8 650/1600 GDDR3 256 NVIDIA
NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT 256Mb G71 24/8 450/1320 GDDR3 256 ASUS
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 512Mb G70 24/8 550/1700 GDDR3 256 ASUS
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 Top GTX 256Mb G70 24/8 486/1350 GDDR3 256 ASUS
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 256Mb G70 24/8 430/1200 GDDR3 256 Leadtek
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT 256Mb G70 20/7 400/1000 GDDR3 256 ASUS
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GS 256Mb G70 16/6 375/1000 GDDR3 256 Leadtek
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT 256Mb G73 12/12 560/1400 GDDR3 128 Gigabyte
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GS 256Mb G73 12/12 400/800 GDDR2 128 Leadtek
NVIDIA GeForce 7300GS 128Mb G72 4/4 560/800 GDDR2 128 ASUS
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256Mb NV45 16/6 400/1100 GDDR3 256 Gigabyte
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT 256Mb NV45 16/6 350/1000 GDDR3 256 ASUS
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS 256Mb NV42 12/5 425/1000 GDDR3 256 Leadtek
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GTO 256Mb NV45 12/5 350/900 DDR256 Gigabyte
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 128Mb NV41 12/6 325/700 DDR256 Chaintech
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 LE 256Mb NV41 8/4 325/600 DDR256 Leadtek
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT 128Mb NV43 8/3 500/1000 GDDR3 128 ASUS
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 256Mb NV43 8/3 300/700 GDDR 128 Point Of View
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 128Mb NV43 8/3 300/500 DDR128 Point Of View
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 LE 128Mb NV43 8/3 300/600 DDR128 Leadtek
NVIDIA GeForce 6200 128Mb NV43 4/3 300/550 DDR64 Point Of View
NVIDIA GeForce 6200 64Mb TurboCache NV44 4/3 350/550 GDDR 64 Point Of View
NVIDIA GeForce 6200 16Mb TurboCache NV44 4/3 350/700 GDDR 32 Point Of View
NVIDIA GeForce PCX5900 128Mb NV38 4/3 350/950 DDR32 Gigabyte
NVIDIA GeForce PCX5750 128Mb NV36 4/3 475/850 GDDR2 128 Albatron
NVIDIA GeForce PCX5300 128Mb NV34 4/1 250/650 DDR64 -


  • Test prerequisites
  • Synthetics - PCMark, 3DMark, GLExpress
  • Half Life 2, Far Cry, Comanche
  • HALO, DOOM 3. Final words

  • Top Stories:

    ECS X58B-A (Intel X58)
    ASUS Rampage II Extreme (Intel X58)
    MSI DKA790GX and ECS A780GM-A Ultra
    MSI P7NGM (NVIDIA GeForce 9300)
    Intel X58 and ASUS P6T Deluxe
    MSI P45 Neo2 (Intel P45)
    Foxconn A7GMX-K (AMD 780G)
    VGA Card:

    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 – a new leader in 3D graphics!
    ECS HYDRA GeForce 9800GTX+. Water-cooled and SLI "all-in-one"
    Radeon HD 4830 CrossFire - better than Radeon HD 4870!
    XFX GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition in the SLI mode
    Leadtek WinFast PX9500 GT DDR2 – better than GeForce 9500GT DDR-3
    Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic: exclusive, with unusual features
    Palit HD 4850 Sonic: almost Radeon HD 4870, priced as HD 4850
    CPU & Memory:

    GSkill high-capacity memory modules
    CPU Intel Core i7-920 (Bloomfield)
    DDR3 memory: late 2008
    CPU AMD Phenom X3 8750 (Toliman)
    AMD Phenom X4 9850 – a top-end CPU at affordable price
    CPU Intel Atom 230 (Diamondville)
    Chaintech Apogee GT DDR3 1600

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