A couple of months back, CDRinfo released a review investigating the capabilities of the XFX 7800 GT card. The 7800 GT became available after the 7800 GTX, as a more affordable solution for gamers who wanted to get all the benefits of a latest release card, but at a lower cost. In this review, we will be looking at the
XFX GeForce 7800 GTX Overclocked with 256MB DDR3.
||GeForce 7800 GTX
||256 MB DDR3
|| 450MHz (Factory Overclock)
||1.25GHz (Factory Overclock)
10.32 billion pixels/sec |
|Texels per Second
|Pixels per clock (peak)
||Video-in & Video-out (VIVO) with HDTV-out support
||2x S-Video cables
2x DVI adaptors
||Dual DVI Out , TV Capture , Factory overclocked the engine clock at 450MHz and memory clock at 1.25GHz (vs. standard 430MHz and 1.2GHz) , Dual VGA , SLI ready , HDTV ready
More specifically, we will be testing the XFX 7800 GTX (450/1.25) EditionVGA card. This is one of the highest stock overclocked 7800GTX cards you can find on the market. But there is also an XFX GeForce 7800 GTX version, which is stock overclocked at 490MHz Engine clock and 1.3GHz Memory clock.
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.
The combination of high-definition video processors and NVIDIA DVD decoder software delivers unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for all video content to turn your PC into a high-end home theater. (Feature requires supported video software.)
Designed to run perfectly with the next-generation PCI Express bus architecture. This new bus doubles the bandwidth of AGP 8X delivering over 4 GB/sec. in both upstream and downstream data transfers.
Enhances the performance of bleeding-edge games, like id Software's Doom 3, that feature complex scenes with multiple light sources and objects.
128-bit studio-precision computation through the entire pipeline prevents image defects due to low precision and ensures the best image quality for even the most demanding applications.
Delivers more memory bandwidth and efficiency to power the latest games and applications at blazing speeds.
Based on the OpenEXR technology from Industrial Light & Magic (http://www.openexr.com/), NVIDIA's 64-bit texture implementation delivers state-of-the-art high dynamic-range (HDR) visual effects through floating point capabilities in shading, filtering, texturing, and blending.
PureVideo's programmable technology adapts to new video encoding formats as they are developed to provide a future-proof video solution. (Feature requires supported video software.)
Smoothes video and DVD playback on progressive displays to deliver a crisp, clear picture that rivals high-end home theater systems. (Feature requires supported video software.)
Blazing-fast RAMDACs support dual QXGA displays with ultra-high, ergonomic refresh rates--up to 2048x1536@85Hz.
Able to drive the industry's largest and highest resolution flat-panel displays.
Smoothly playback all MPEG-2 and WMV video--including WMV-HD--with minimal CPU usage so the PC is free to do other work.
Provides world-class TV-out functionality up to 1080i resolution.
Ensures top-notch compatibility and performance for all DirectX® 9 applications, including Shader Model 3.0 titles.
Delivers up to 2x the shading power of previous generation products taking gaming performance to extreme levels.
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.
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.
Delivers a proven record of compatibility, reliability, and stability with the widest range of games and applications. ForceWare ensures the best out-of-box experience for every user and delivers continuous performance and feature updates over the life of NVIDIA GeForce GPUs. Includes full support for PCI Express and AGP.
The industry's fastest antialiasing delivers ultra-realistic 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.
Ensures top-notch compatibility and performance for all OpenGL applications. NVIDIA® nView® Multi-display Advanced technology provides the ultimate in viewing flexibility and control for multiple monitors.
Color temperature correction makes actors' faces appear natural, rather than washed out and pale, when playing videos on LCD and CRT displays. Display gamma correction ensures videos are not too dark, overly bright, or washed out regardless of the video format or display. (Feature requires supported video software.)
High-quality scaling and filtering technology delivers a clear, clean image at any window size, including full-screen HDTV resolutions up to 1080i.
As usual, the XFX retail box is 'X' shaped and includes all the required material. A multi-language installation guide, a user's manual, cables, drivers disc and of course, games :-)
- X2 The Threat
- Moto GP 2
The cables included in the box:
|2 S-Video cables
||2 DVI-CRT converters
On the rear of the box, you will find the serial number and the card's fan cover.
Now that we have covered the card's specifications and features, let's move on to the next page and have a closer look...
2. A Closer Look
The XFX 7800 GTX is SLI enabled, which means that if you add a second card, it can work in SLI mode, giving theoretically, twice the performance.
|Click on the image for a larger photograph
|Click on the image for a larger photograph
According to XFX, the specific cooling system is twice as quiet and cool as the competition's.
|Closer look at the card's fan...
The XFX 7800 GTX offers dual DVI-I connections and an S-Video in/out connection...
There's also a a PCI-E power connector (photo below).
The next page gives details of our testbed system.
3. Test System
For our review, we used the following components:
- Processor: AMD64 3500+ NewCastle (939 socket)
- Case: Antec 1080AMG
- Motherboard: A8N-SLI Deluxe
- Memory: 2x512MB Corsair XMS TWINX1024-3200XL Memory
- Hard Disk Drive: WD800JD 80GB 7200RPM
- DVD Burner: Pioneer DVR-A08XLA
- Power Supply: EzCool 550Watt
- OS: Microsoft WindowsXP Pro SP2
- DirectX: v9.0c
- Nvidia ForceWare: 81.98
At first, when we started the PC, the temperature was close to 49°C. After some time, without doing anything, the temperature increased to 51°C, which is close to the typical temperature that we had seen on other cards, even when running everyday applications under Windows. During the 3DMark05 benchmarks, the temperature climbed up to 69°C, with the default clock speeds of 450/1250.
When we overclocked the card at speeds of 480/1320, the temperature during 3D Mark05 climbed up to 74°C, which we think is too high for such a small increase. The cooling system that XFX declares to be 2x cooler than its competitors, is not evident here, since we have seen lower temperatures from other card's, especially ones that were equipped with an NV Silencer from Arctic-Cooling.
Software that we used:
- Codecreatures Benchmark Pro
- AquaMark3 v3.0
- Half Life 2
- Quake 4
- Ground Control II
- Need For Speed: Most Wanted
For comparison, we will be posting the results of the XFX 7800 GTX along with the results of the Club3D X1800XT and XFX 7800 GT.
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 DirectX9. The previous version 3DMark03, did a nice introduction into this level of technology. However, 3DMark03 used DirectX9 specific features in a limited manner, because fully supporting hardware was rare at the time of its launch. In contrast, 3DMark05 requires DirectX9 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
Being 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
A 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
A 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.
According to 3DMark05, the reported framerates for the XFX 7800 GTX are lower than the Club 3D X1800XT. Also, it is rather interesting to see that the XFX 7800 GT had a higher framerate in the 3rd test, than the XFX 7800 GTX.
3DMarks on 3DMark05 are now calculated by the following formula:
(Game Test 1 * Game Test 2 * Game Test 3)^0.33 * 250
This is basically the geometric mean of the total frames in each game multiplied by 250. This means that all game tests are now equal.
Since the 7800 GTX had a lower framerate in two of the tests, it's not surprising that it had a slightly lower score than the X1800XT.
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.
In contrast to the 3D Mark05 benchmark, in 3D Mark03 the reported FPS are higher than the XFX 7800 GTX in almost all cases.
- 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.
In the final score, the XFX 7800 GT and Club 3D X1800XT posted similar performance with very little difference in score between them, while the 7800 GTX left them behind, with almost 1000 points difference...
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.
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 XFX 7800 series cards performed much better in this benchmark than the X1800XT card.
7. Aquamark - 3DMark01
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.
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.
Here also, as in the previous benchmark on the preceding page, we find the 7800 cards doing well and the X1800 lagging behind.
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.
OK, this doesn't make any sense :-). In the previous series of benchmarks (3DMark03, Codecreatures and Aquamark 3), we saw the XFX 7800 GTX first in almost all cases and now with this benchmark, the XFX 7800GT comes out on top. Maybe this is what happens when you mix old benchmarking software with new cards.
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.
Since the game is very CPU dependent, it is better to ignore results taken at resolutions of 800x600 and 1024x768. The true value of a VGA card is best seen at higher resolutions with HL2. That is, at 1280x1024 and at 1600x1200. It is interesting that the 7800 GT card produced similar performance to the 7800 GTX.
With 4xAA and 8xAF turned on, the dust settles and it is clear who's the best. 128fps at a resolution of 1600X1200, is quite impressive from the 7800 GTX, while 138fps at 1280x1024 is also quite good.
9. 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.
As it happened in "Half Life 2", so here too we find both XFX 7800 series cards surging ahead, especially at the higher resolutions. In fact, resolution doesn't have much of an impact as both 7800 cards maintain a constant frame rate.
With AA and AF enabled though, all cards lose sum punch, but the 7800 GTX still outperforms both the other cards.
10. Quake 4
In a desperate war for Earth's survival, against an unrelenting alien enemy, the only way to defeat them is to become one of them. Armed with advanced weaponry and vehicles and aided by an elite squad of marines, you take the battle to the heart of the Strogg home planet and become Earth's only hope for victory.
Quake 4 is a First Person Shooter developed by Ravensoft, based on the Doom 3 engine, and the graphics and gameplay certainly reflect that fact. For those who really hated the one-way corridors of Doom 3, new outdoor areas have been added to the game. The feeling however, still remains the same as these areas are quite small-scale, contrary to what other games have to offer.
- Benchmark Settings
As Quake 4 includes no default benchmark, we decided to go with another publicly available demo to measure performance. What we chose is a demo from HWSpirit, which involves a small outdoor scene followed by a long indoor combat. As preloading the stage once again failed miserably and the average framerate varied a lot, we ran it twice every time we restarted the game and measured only the second run.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance with and without Anti-aliasing.
Quake4 uses the Doom3 engine and since Doom3 likes nVidia cards, we expected to see the 7800GTX card in first place. But the X1800XT manages to provide a steady framerate throughout and is only slightly slower than the 7800 GT.
Things are a little bit different with AA and AF enabled. The X1800XT card reported similar performance with the 7800 GTX at 1600x1200 resolution.
11. Need For Speed - Most Wanted
Wake up to the smell of burnt rubber as the thrill of illicit street racing permeates into the air.
Combining illicit street racing and tuner customization with the intensity of strategic police pursuit that surpasses any Hollywood-style chase scene, Need for Speed Most Wanted will be on every gamer's 'must-have' list this holiday season. Out-race rivals, evade cops and exploit hundreds of miles of open road as gamers make their way up the Blacklist.
To become the most wanted racer, players must build up their street cred and Rap Sheet with gripping, white knuckle, head-to-head races with the top drivers on the streets, as well as pull daring, evasive moves to out-run and out-fox the cops that patrol the open road. Players can manage their heat or utilize a number of strategic tactics to keep the cops off their tails as they leave their rivals behind to suck their exhaust fumes.
- Benchmark Settings
NFS Most Wanted does not include a default benchmark. To measure the card's performance, we've chosen to record the framerate at the start of a circuit race with end-game cars. The starting point tends to be one of the most graphically demanding sections because of the smoke created by spinning wheels added to the rest of the game's visual effects. If a card can pass this stage with an acceptable framerate, it is a guarantee that it will face no problems with the rest of the game.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance at the lowest and highest possible settings.
Once again, with NFS, the 7800 GTX continues to hold the lead. The interesting thing is that both the 7800 GTX and X1800XT both remain steady in their framerate, regardless of resolution with the X1800XT being slower by around 6 fps.
Again, both the 7800GTX and X1800XT are fairly steady and at the higher resolutions, there is very little between them.
You aren't a soldier. You are a weapon. A paramilitary force infiltrates a multi billion dollar aerospace compound taking hostages, but issuing no demands.
The government responds by sending in its best special operations teams, only to have them obliterated. Live footage of the massacre is cut short by an unexpected wave of destruction that leaves military leaders stunned and in disbelief.
First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.) is one of the new-generation FPS. The graphics are really stunning, the plot behind the whole shooting successfully keeps it interesting and even the A.I. seems to work well.
F.E.A.R. offers a lot to the First Person Shooter world. The graphics are very clear with excellent textures, great new effects that will stress your graphics card and rag-doll physics that are waiting to be exploited as you progress through the game.
- Benchmark Settings
F.E.A.R. allows you to test the video settings with a mini-benchmark involving a lot of weapon firing, explosions and several other effects. After the benchmark is run, you're presented with a screen showing your minimum, average and maximum framerates and also percentages of how often the framerate was below 25fps, between 25 and 40, and finally above 40. For presentation reasons, we're just sticking to the minimum and average framerates.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance with high and highest details.
In F.E.A.R., with High Settings at 1280x1024 resolution, the XFX 7800 GT reported the highest minimum fps and it is quite strange that the 7800 GTX card had the lowest framerate at this resolution, although at 1600x1200, the 7800 GTX is on the top again. With average fps for 1280x1024 and High Settings, we notice that there is very little between the three cards.
With Highest Settings in place, F.E.A.R. seems to prefer the ATI based Club 3D X1800XT card. Not only does it produce the highest framerate at all resolutions, but by quite a margin as well.
No matter your graphics card, there comes a time in your computer's life when it can no longer cope with the latest technological demands the ever so popular games impose. This is one of the main reasons for overclocking your graphics card. Gamers are always looking forward to a little extra boost in terms of framerate. Even though most of the time the boost is far from noticeable, overclocking remains the last resort when you can't afford to buy a brand new VGA card.
The XFX 7800 GTX comes already overclocked. The default running frequencies for the 7800 GTX series cards are 430MHz core clock and 1.2GHz memory clock. But the default core and memory clock for the XFX 7800 GTX Edition are set at 450MHz and 1.25GHz respectively.
We ran some tests to see how far we can go with this card and we managed to get a stable system running at 480MHz core and 1.32GHz memory clocks. This might not seem like much, considering the default frequencies for this card (450MHz/1.25GHz), but they are significant when we look at nVidia's suggested clock frequencies.
When running games at the stock clock frequencies, the card registered 69°C, while when overclocked, with no artifacts or screen distortions of any kind, the temperature level rose to 74°C. Maybe you don't need to worry about temperatures when overclocking the XFX 7800 GTX, but as we said earlier, we think that operating at this temperature is pushing it a little, especially for such a small increase in clock speeds. Unfortunately, we saw no affects of the cooling system that XFX declares is 2x cooler than its competitors. If this was indeed the case, overclocking this already overclocked card may have produced better results.
Nevertheless, let's see if we have achieved any increase in performance.
There was a maximum difference of 5 fps with F.E.A.R and only 1 fps with NFS: MW at high resolutions.
If you are a hardcore gamer and want to have the best VGA card available, well, the XFX 7800 GTX is a candidate. On the one hand, the 7800 GTX can play all the games currently out there, at the maximum resolution and of course, with all the latest effects turned on. On the other, the stock cooling system that XFX 7800 GTX has used is not the coolest out there, and certainly does not provide the performance that XFX claims. But it isn't a problem, since the card can handle high temperatures.
The package was complete. We received the version which offered FarCry, The Threat and Moto GP2, though the latest package also includes the well known Call of Duty 2.
The performance that we saw from the XFX 7800 GTX depended on the game, though in most cases it was better than the X1800XT, so you should have no problems playing at high resolutions with AA and AF enabled. The exception here was F.E.A.R., which at 1600x1200 resolution and with maximum graphics effects, the card reported quite low fps, but we believe that this is something that could be fixed in the future, either with a patch for F.E.A.R or with a new forceware driver from nVidia.
The card comes already overclocked with, 450MHz for the Core and 1.25GHz for the Memory Clock, instead of the default 420MHz and 1.2GHz. While you can push the card even further, don't expect a great improvement. We overclocked the card to 480/1320, and we got higher 3DMark scores (+322 marks in 3D Mark05 and +751 in 3D Mark03). In real games however, the best you can get is between 2 to 5 fps with AA and AF disabled. But we believe that any overclocking will reduce the longevity of the card and therefore isn't recommended.
At the time of this review, the XFX 7800 GTX was priced at $463 at newegg.com, which is quite reasonable for such a high performing card.
- Good performance in almost all tests
- Low noise levels
- Great nVidia features for unique image quality
- Very good retail package (Call of Duty 2)
- Average cooling system
|Value for money: