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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.

Appeared on: Wednesday, October 05, 2005
AOpen Aeolus 7800GTX SLI

1. Introduction

After the release of the new GeForce7 chipset from nVidia, most manufacturers have incorporated this chipset in their new graphics cards, promising better performance than the standard 7800GTX reference cards. The GPU and memory clock speeds have been increased to enhance gaming and video experience.

Of course AOpen could not be left behind. The latest addition to the Aeolus product series is the 7800GTX DVDC256 VGA card. Currently, this is the most powerful card AOpen has to offer and apart from the new GeForce7 chipset, it also uses 256MB of DDR3 1.6ns video memory. The card is capable of providing 32-bit colors at 2048x1536 resolution (85Hz). Being clocked at 450MHz (GPU clock) and 1250MHz(Memory clock), it promises to achieve 8000+ 3DMark05 score.

CDRinfo.com will be testing two of these graphics beasts in SLI mode. We expect the best, from two graphic cards that are among the most powerful cards on the market at this time. So, let the games begin!

- Features & Benefits

NVIDIA SLI™ Technology
Delivers up to 2x the performance of a single GPU configuration for unparalleled gaming experiences by allowing two graphics cards to run in parallel. The must-have feature for performance PCI Express graphics, SLI dramatically scales performance on over 60 top PC games.

NVIDIA UltraShadow™ II technology
Enhances the performance of bleeding-edge games

NVIDIA® CineFX™ 4.0 engine
Delivers advanced visual effects at unimaginable speeds. Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 enables stunning and complex special effects. Next-generation shader architecture with new texture unit design streamlines texture processing for faster and smoother gameplay.

NVIDIA® Intellisample™ 4.0 technology (HCT)
The industry ' s fastest antialiasing delivers ultrarealistic visuals, with no jagged edges, at lightning fast speeds. Visual quality is taken to new heights through a new rotated grid sampling pattern, advanced 128 Tap sample coverage, 16x anisotropic filtering, and support for transparent supersampling and multisampling.

NVIDIA® nView™ multi-display technology
Provides the ultimate in viewing flexibility and control for multiple monitors

Digital Vibrance Control 3.0 Technology
Allows the user to adjust color controls digitally to compensate for the lighting conditions of their workspace, in order to achieve accurate, bright colors in all conditions.

On-Chip Video Processor
Delivers unmatched video performance, features, and quality

combination of high-definition video processor and video decode software delivers unprecedented HD video, stunning picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for all video content to turn your PC into a high-end home theater.

Microsoft ® DirectX 9, Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 support

Graphics Engine
GeForce™ 7800 GTX
Video Memory
256 MB DDR3 –1.6
Engine Clock
450 MHz
Memory Clock
1.25 GHz
Bus Standard
Memory Interface
Max Resolution
2048x1536 / 32-bit / 85Hz
VGA Output
With DVI-VGA adaptors
TV Output
Video-in & Video-out (VIVO) with HDTV-out support
DVI Output
Dual DVI-I
2nd VGA Output
Adaptor/Cable bundled
VIVO cable, 2xDVI adaptors, power cord
Software Bundled

Game CD x 2 (Second Sight, Pitfall - The Lost Expedition)
AOpen User's Guide
AOpen VGA driver disc
Ulead VideoStudio7
User-friendly interface to control VGA settings

The least that we should except is better performance than the older 6800 chipsets. However, it should be pointed out that the feature that users will enjoy the most is the Intellisample™ 4.0 technology (HCT). We ran several tests to investigate AntiAliasing on the 7800GTX chipsets, and we found that Gamma Corrected AntiAliasing and Transparency AntiAliasing, which are part of the Intellisample technology, greatly increased picture quality, without decreasing performance. You can read the full article on AntiAliasing performance of the 7800GTX chipset here.

- Packaging/Bundle

Red stylish box, showing the well known Aeolus faces. The following picture shows what you will get with the AOpen 7800GTX DVDC256 card.

As you can see, this is a complete package with all the connectors and converters needed to connect to a single monitor, or two CRT/TFT monitors, or even connect to a TV set. There are two games bundled with the cards, Second Sight and Pitfall - The Lost Expedition. You will also get Ulead Video Studio7.

2. A Closer Look

AOpen uses the stock cooling system that nVidia suggests for their reference boards. With this cooling solution, the cards will operate at 50°C in idle state and will rise up to 74°C at full load. The card gets pretty hot to touch, even in idle state. However, these high temperatures should not be of concern, since the chipsets can operate up to 115°C without risk or damage to the cards, even during overclocking.

On the back of the card, you can see only the metallic fan holder. The cooling system also covers the memory modules (8x32MB GDD3).

Although there are better cooling systems sold separately, there is a major advantage with the stock cooling solution that might prove to be handy for some users. It occupies only one PCI slot. Especially when you intend to use two cards in SLI mode and air flow is important, this might save you from a lot of trouble.

The metal fins are covered with the stylish red Aeolus logo. By removing this cover, you will see the fins that are used to transfer heat away from the board.

The device driver also provides control over the rotation speed of the fan. The card is very quiet in idle state and gets louder when running a game test, where more GPU power is needed. In any case, the cards together produced less noise than the two 6800Ultras (SLI mode) we tested some months ago.

Removing the cooling system will void your warranty, so we strongly advise against it. Instead, we provide you with some pictures taken of the GPU chipset, located below the fan.

The card is considerably longer than the 6800 cards. Even the AOpen 6800Ultra VGA card is smaller then the new 7800GTX. So, you should make some space in you PC case.

You can also download schematic diagrams that show the GPU architecture, single vertex shader pipeline, and single pixel shader pipeline.

3. Test System

Benchmarking Software
Codecreatures Benchmark Pro
AquaMark3 v3.0
Farcry v1.3
Doom 3
Thief 3
Ground Control II
Colin McRae '05

It should be pointed out that we also ran some tests with an AMD 3800+ to see the differences in performance. From 11,062 3DMarks, we got 10,498 3DMarks with the 3500+ CPU.

Using an AMD3800+

Using an AMD3500+

For comparison reasons, we will be posting the results of the two AOpen Aeolus 7800GTX-SLIs along with the AOpen Aeolus 6800 Ultra, the ASUS N7800 GTX TOP and Sapphire X850XT graphics cards. All cards are considered Heavy Duty, sufficient for most 3D tasks.

We also tried the driver version 77.77 provided by AOpen, and the latest 78.01 drivers provided by nVidia. We observed no differences between these two drivers, so we decided to go with the 78.01 nVidia driver.

4. 3DMark05

With 3DMark05, Futuremark continues the tradition in its benchmarking software by providing a state-of-the-art Microsoft ® DirectX ® 9 3D performance benchmark.
3DMark05 is an all new 3DMark version making the most of Microsoft's DirectX 9. The previous version 3DMark03, did a nice introduction into this level of technology. However 3DMark03 used DirectX 9 specific features in a limited manner, because fully supporting hardware was rare at the time of its launch. In contrast, 3DMark05 requires DirectX 9 hardware with full support for at least Shader Model 2, and takes shader usage to never before seen levels.
Just like its predecessors, 3DMark05's point system is set so that at the moment of release, the high-end VGA cards available in stores can only score around 5000 3DMarks, whereas the worst card that meets the programs requirements yields a score of 1000.

Game Test 1 -Return to Proxycon

Click to enlargeBeing the sequel to the "Battle of Proxycon" from 3DMark03, in "Return to Proxycon" we're once again set in space and the battle continues as space pirates invade a cargo ship in order to take control of its valuable cargo.

This test, tries to simulate a future first-person shooter game with all the high details that entails. The dynamic shadows, high-detailed environment and advanced lighting techniques ensure that under normal circumstances, no recent card can run it with decent frame rates.


Game Test 2 - Firefly Forest

Click to enlargeA forest gets filled with magic fireflies in the night. The moon is nearly full, illuminating the forest with a bluish faint light. The magic fireflies have flickering bright green lights that playfully move around the forest.

This scene is a nice example of a smaller scale outdoor scene with rich vegetation. Immediate visibility is not so far, and there is a skybox surrounding the whole scene.

A large number of trees with their branches swinging separately, and dense vegetation being dynamically distributed according to the camera movements, make this test the most demanding of the three.

Game Test 3 - Canyon Flight

Click to enlargeA Jules Verne type airship flies through a canyon guarded by a dangerous sea monster. The airmen defend their ship using heavy cannons, but these seem to have no effect on the huge sea monster. Finally the crew manages a narrow escape using the "last resort" afterburners of the airship.

This scene is fairly complex with large areas of water reflecting the high canyon walls. The water actually is one of the key points of interest in this scene. The water not only does realistic looking reflections and refractions, it has a depth fog, making the sea monster swimming under the airship actually look deep down in the water. The air in this scene also uses a volumetric fog, making distant cliffs of the canyon really look far away.


You may notice that the difference in the first and the second games is not significant. The second game is the most demanding. The overall framerate was the highest that we have ever had with any VGA card we have tested. In the third game, the 7800GTX SLI starts to show the difference, double the performance of an X850XT.

Final Score

 3DMarks on 3DMark05 are now calculated by the following formula:

(Game Test 1 * Game Test 2 * Game Test 3)^0.33 * 250

That's basically the geometric mean of the total frames in each game multiplied by 250. This means that all game tests are now equal.

Exactly as we expected. The highest score of all and the 10,000 barrier is easily broken. It should be reminded that the two 6800Ultras cards in SLI mode, only when overclocked could barely get past 10,000 3DMarks, but nothing even close to 10,559 marks.

5. 3DMark03

3D Mark is a widely used and accepted benchmark that stresses the DirectX performance of a VGA card. A very strong point of 3DMark is that it's VGA card measuring is does not require any CPU power. So the resulting fps are a good reference a VGA card's rendering performance. For testing the performance of each card we used the 4 game benchmarks 3DMark has.

3Dmark03 also includes sound and CPU tests as well as some other feature tests.

- Game Test 1 - Wings of Fury (DX7)

This test is a combat flight simulator written for older hardware (DirectX 7). Particles are used a lot in this test - smoke and vapor trails, flak and gunfire, and explosions are produced using point sprites and quads.

- Game Test 2 - Battle of Proxycon (DX8)

This test is a simulation of first person shooter game types. 1.1 and 1.4 Vertex shaders are widely used since all character models are skinned using vertex shaders.This makes this test a good vertex shader comparison for VGA cards.

- Game Test 3 - Trolls' Lair (DX8)

This test should be the favorite of all RPG lovers. It is a cut scene of a female warrior facing two malicious trolls. Again the same vertex and pixel processing is used as in game test 2.

This test also uses post-processing effects, such as Depth of Field and Bloom effects which are widely used in today's game cut scene sequences.

- Game Test 4 - Mother Nature (DX9)

Mother nature represents the level of effects and realism that are possible using 2.0 vertex and pixel shaders, plus some other features that DirectX 9 offers.

Someone might think, how can a single 7800GTX VGA card be better than two 7800GTX cards? The answer is simple, it cannot. Don't let the results of the first game confuse you, but instead look at the whole picture. You should always have in mind that the Wings of Fury is made for older hardware (DirectX7) and since the load balancing is controlled by the nVidia drivers, some elements might be processed by the same card, while the second card takes over easier elements to process.

- 3DMark Official score

If you test your machine with 3DMark, you can post the results at 3DMark's online result browser. For more information visit futuremark.com.

No other card can compete with the two AOpen 7800GTX-SLI cards. With this high 27,058 score, you are certain that no game will stand in your way. You can run anything, no matter how demanding it might be.

6. Codecreatures

CodeCreatures is a synthetic 3D benchmark that is a good reference for VGA performance comparison. This is a high-end 3D benchmark that also requires DirectX 8 hardware, making a good tool for measuring the potential of DirectX 8 game performance.

The Codecreatures benchmark is written with Microsoft's DirectX 8.1 API and incorporates the use of Vertex and PixelShaders popular on next generation 3D accelerators.

The benchmark plays a photo-realistic nature scene and calculates the performance of the graphics adapter by measuring the fps that it can display at 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions.

As the tests continued, the behaviour of these cards under high GPU load becomes clearer. It looks like the driver device chooses not to push the cards to their limits, if there is no need to. This is why we get small performance differences at lower resolutions. As resolutions get higher, all other cards report lower framerates, while the two 7800GTX maintain high framerates. In fact, there is no difference in framerate for the twin 7800GTX cards regardless of resolution.

-Codecreatures number

The codecreatures number is the resulting score of the total benchmarking process and is basically the geometric mean of the three frame rates multiplied by 100.

The Codecreature number is the best way to observe the differences in performance, and as expected, the AOpen 7800GTX SLI had no rival.

7. Aquamark/3DMark 2001

Since the majority of today's applications and games are compatible with DirectX 9, the need of benchmark applications that use DX 9 has been brought up. The benchmark uses the 3D engine (Krass engine) of the Aquanox game.


Aquamark Triscore

The Aquamark Triscore comprises 3 values: the overall system performance, the performance of the graphics system and the CPU performance. Keep in mind that this is not the total result of the tests, but the result of the whole benchmark process including all 9 chapters.


3DMark 2001

is the predecessor to 3DMark03. It's mainly a directx8.1 benchmark and the score depends a lot on the CPU power of your computer. However for reference use only we decided it'd be best to just leave it in our benchmark list so you can compare the next generation cards with the possibly outdated you have at home.

Again here, the two 7800GTX prove the fastest among the cards in this comparison.

8. Half Life 2

Half life 2 is no doubt the most anticipated pc game of all times.

Characters - Advanced facial animation system delivers the most sophisticated in-game characters ever seen. With 40 distinct facial "muscles," human characters convey the full array of human emotion, and respond to the player with fluidity and intelligence.

Physics - From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy.

Graphics - Source's shader-based renderer, like the one used at Pixar to create movies such as Toy Story® and Monster's, Inc.®, creates the most beautiful and realistic environments ever seen in a video game.

AI - Neither friends nor enemies charge blindly into the fray. They can assess threats, navigate tricky terrain, and fashion weapons from whatever is at hand.

To measure performance we used the Video Stress Test(VST) that is available in the CounterStrike:Source beta available through Steam. We set all the details to the highest level and each time changed the resolution from 800x600 up to 1600x1200.

The improved gaming engine of Half Life 2 is known to generate high framerates, even with low-end graphics cards. This is well observed here, since all cards reported similar performance. However, the superiority of the AOpen 7800GTX SLI is shown as we move to the higher resolutions...

... and with AA and AF set at 4x and 8x respectively, this superiority is even more evident. All cards reported lower framerates, while the AOpen 7800GTX SLI remained at the same level.

9. Doom 3

A massive demonic invasion has overwhelmed the Union Aerospace Corporations? (UAC) Mars Research Facility leaving only chaos and horror in its wake. As one of the few survivors, you struggle with shock and fear as you fight your way to Hell and back, in an epic clash against pure evil.

Activision made it's miracle again with Doom 3 which is said to be the best-looking game ever, thanks to the brand-new OpenGL graphics engine used to generate its convincingly lifelike, densely atmospheric, and surprisingly expansive environments. If you are a fan of the previous Doom games then you will get many flashbacks with this revision, since you will find reimagined versions of almost every monster from both Doom and Doom II.

To measure performance on the game we used the timedemo demo1 command from the console (Alt+Ctrl+~).
Enabling the high quality setting and executing the timedemo demo1 command twice for each resolution, we witnessed the following:

First, without the Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering settings enabled, we got the following results:

There are two things that should be pointed out with Doom3. First of all, the game "prefers" nVidia cards, and this is why we got such low framerates at higher resolutions with the Sapphire X850XT card. The second thing that should be pointed out is that the game itself can only provide a maximum of 110fps in the demo run. This means the we have reached the game limits with the nVidia cards and this is why all nVidia based cards reported similar performance at all resolutions.

With 4x Anti-Aliasing and 8x Anisotropic Filtering settings enabled, it is easier to see how the two 7800GTX cards stand apart from the others, since they managed to go as high as 89fps at 1600x1200, while the ASUS N7800GTX TOP that came second, managed to get 60fps at the same resolution.

10. FarCry

You are Jack Carver running your own boat charter business in beautiful Micronesia. With a past best left behind you, you'll be focusing on your present assignment: escorting an ambitious journalist named Valerie Cortez to the Island of Cabatu. It seems like a piece of cake, but you'll soon learn: paradise can be hell.

Farcry is an awesome First Person Shooter (FPS) based on a last generation 3D engine named as CryEngine. Real-time editing, bump-mapping, static lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features that the CryEngine offers.

A great advantage and strong point of the CryEngine is its physics system which supports character inverse kinematics, vehicles, rigid bodies, liquid, rag doll, cloth and body effects. All physics seem to be very realistic and you never get bored when facing enemies, since character models have multiple animations that blend in believable ways.

With an integrated shader system and a massive terrain which maximizes the view distance to 2km, these features make Farcry a perfect action game and also a referable benchmark to speak of.

- Benchmark Settings

For this game we recorded a custom demo from the start of the Rebellion stage. We chose an indoor scene in order to avoid getting the CPU bound effect. This will result in slightly higher results since it is also less GPU intensive, but we can't afford being stuck at 40-50 fps because of our CPU.

The latest patch (1.3) was used for our tests which updates the game's graphics engine to use the 3.0 Shader model. This option is only supported for the 6800 series.

The resolutions we ran the demo under, are the following:1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200.

No matter the resolution and no matter the Anti-Aliasing or Anisotropic Filtering setting, the two 7800GTX reported framerates higher than 160fps in all cases. Only at 1600x1200 screen resolution and with 4x Anti-Aliasing and 8x Anisotropic Filtering on, the framerate dropped to 152fps.

11. Thief 3

Instead of Deus Ex from now on we'll be testing our cards using Thief 3. It's based on the same engine but it's much less GPU intensive and playable by more VGA cards than Deus.

The game makes severe use of Pixel Shader 1.1 instructions, the bloom effect and stencil shadows to achieve a wonderful result in your screen.

In the game you play the part of Master Thief Garrett who is back to rule out any evil forces using his unique stealth abilities. Deadly Shadows shows what stealth gameplay is all about. This game really gives you the feel of sneaking around and holding your breath when stuck in a sticky situation.

Since there is no official benchmark for the game, we'll do our tests using a GPU intensive scene from the tutorial-level which we believe that represents the average fps you'll get when playing the game.

Thief 3 is a torture test for graphics cards. All lower class cards fail to provide stable performance in this benchmark when selecting full details from the settings menu.

94fps in Thief3? Only in our wildest dreams. As you can see, the AOpen 7800GTX SLI made our dreams come true.

If you enable AA and AF filtering up to 4X and 8X respectively, at 800x600 and 1024x768 resolutions, you will notice no differences in framerate. However, the framerate drops at higher resolutions, but again, the 7800GTX SLI is the winner.

12. Colin McRae 2005

For all you racing fans out there, this test is for you and will represent the Racing game category in our benchmarks.

From the graphics point of view the first thing you'll notice in the game is the excellent amount detail of your racing car. High resolution textures on the car and lighting make it quite impressive. All the eye candy such as the sun reflection in the virtual camera are still the same as the older CM versions but motion blur has been added when your card hits something hard which will happen most often if you're new to the racing simulation world.

To measure performance on the game we used fraps to get the average fps of the whole 8th stage of UK which is actually the only stage you get to play on the demo.

All 7800GTX based cards in this test performed well. You can choose any resolution you like, since you will not see any difference in performance.

Awesome performance for the AOpen 7800GTX in SLI mode. With advanced filtering enabled, 4xAA and 8xAF, the framerates at 1600X1200 are extremely high, while this time the difference between single 7800GTX and dual is 18fps.

13. Ground Control II

Ground Control 2 is an action-oriented game of tactics and warfare. As Captain Jacob Angelus of the Northern Star Alliance, you will command squads of infantry, artillery, and air power against the might of the Empire of Terra. Base building and resource-collecting are replaced with unit control and combat tactics where your knowledge of the battlefield maneuvers will make the difference in your fight against a ruthless enemy. Position your troops on hilltops for better aim or inside buildings and forests for protection as you'll need to use every inch of terrain to your advantage.

For our benchmarks, we used the highest possible settings on the first mission of the single player game and moved around the camera to get an average frame rate using fraps.

Ground Control II offers really impressive graphics without requiring much GPU power. Click on the picture above to view a screenshot from the game. Check out these excellent water effects!

Again, it looks like Ground Control 2 is not a threat to the 7800GTX SLI. Same framerate at all resolutions.

Even with AA and AF enabled, there was still no change in framerate, no matter the resolution we used. Excellent performance.

14. Overclocking

No matter your graphics card, there comes a time in your computer's life when it can no longer cope with the latest technology the ever so popular games use. This is one of the main reasons for overclocking your graphics card. Gamers are always looking forward for a little extra boost in terms of framerate. Even though most of the times the boost is far from noticeable, overclocking remains the last resort when you can't afford to buy a brand new VGA card.

nVidia states that the stock core and memory clocks are 430MHz and 1200MHz respectively. The AOpen Aeolus 7800GTX comes clocked at 450MHz (core clock) and 1250MHz (memory clock). This leaves less room to further overclock these VGA cards. Also keeping in mind that there is no advanced cooling system used here and that the cards are operating in SLI mode, these are two more factors that might hamper overclocking attempts on these cards. In general, we were not expecting much...

But AOpen proved us wrong. We managed to operate the cards at 499MHz (core clock) and 1390MHz (memory clock). After running several 3DMark05 benchmarks, we observed no artifacts during the tests, resulting in a stable running environment.

However, overclocking these cards will increase their operating temperature. After a single run of 3DMark05, we reached 73°C, but with the core threshold being at 115°C, there should be no danger of damaging the cards. The only thing you should be wary of... is not to touch them. They get so hot that you can even cook an egg on them when playing F.E.A.R.!

Let us see what effect overclocking has on performance:

As already written, Doom3 and Half Life 2 have reached their practical limits in framerate. This means that overclocked or not, we cannot get more frames/sec. With 3DMark05, we observed an insignificant difference, but with FarCry and 3DMark03 we show a major boost in performance. There is no need to overclock these cards, at least not for now, since there is no game that is a challenge to them.

15. Conclusion

The high-end AOpen 7800GTX DVDC256 card is the best solution AOpen has to offer for great gaming performance and picture quality. The card comes with all you will need to get your VGA board working on any CRT/TFT monitor, or even on your TV set. In the retail package you will also find two games that take advantage of the advanced features on these cards, producing excellent video quality. If all these could be achieved with only one AOpen 7800GTX card, imagine what you can do with two of them in SLI mode!

In all our test runs, there was no competitor that could match the performance of the 7800GTX SLI cards. This was the first time that we saw the 3DMark05 10,000 barrier broken so easily, without the need to overclock. A great set of features, and especially IntelliSample 4.0 technology, will produce more vivid pictures, making gaming more realistic. It was also the first time that we saw Doom3 reaching its limit, reporting 110fps in the demo run.

However, the device drivers keep the card on a leash at times, when there is no demand for high GPU power. When testing these cards, there were occasions where we had low, perhaps even misleading results at low screen resolutions, indicating lower framerates than the other cards. The advantage of this behaviour is that you get as much power as is required, which also helps keep noise levels down, since the fans spin at lower rotation speeds. On the other hand, the cards can get pretty noisy at higher resolutions, with higher graphics demands, but in any case, still quieter than the older 6800Ultras.

Usually, performance is proportional to temperature, and the Aeolus 7800GTX DVDC256 is no exception. The cards can get really hot, even to the touch. But don't think that temperature will keep these cards from overclocking. We managed to go as high as 499MHz for the core clock, and 1390MHz for the memory clock.

The target group of these AOpen 7800GTX DVDC256 cards is PC enthusiasts who will pay any price for the best system they can have. And they will surely get that with these cards. One of these graphic boards costs approximately US$560.

- Awesome performance in all tests
- Relatively low noise levels
- Great nVidia features for unique image quality
- Very good retail package
- Require only one PCI slot
- S.L.I.

- High price, aimed at PC enthusiasts
- Average but adequate cooling system


Value for money:

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