NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX, 7900 GT and 7600 GT Review
The 7600 GT and System Setup
7600 GT — G73
NVIDIA has yet release a real mainstream part based on the G70 architecture and was content to rehash some die shrunk, and low cost, GeForce 6-series cores in order to keep the performance crowns at those levels. This time around though, NVIDIA is throwing a bone to those of us with less than platinum level credit cards.
What you are looking at here is almost exactly half of a G71. It has 5 vertex pipes, 12 pixel pipes and 8 ROPs. The ROPs on the G73, known as the 7600 GT from now on, support only 8 pixels of color and shading per clock, just as with the 7800 series. The 7600 GT is of course manufactured on the same 90nm process technology and sports a light 178 million transistors. The power levels of the 7600 GT are rated at between 60 and 70 watts.
The GeForce 6600 GT was one of NVIDIA's most successful GPUs in recent history as it combined a great performing part with low cost to appeal to the widest audience possible. The 7600 GT is again reaching for that goal. It has a core clock of 560 MHz, more than 100 MHz faster than the 7900 GT, and a 128-bit memory bus with 256 MB of GDDR3 running at 700 MHz, 100 MHz faster than the 7900 GT clocks. The vertex core runs at the same 560 MHz as the pixel processing core in this case.
Though the architectures are different between the 7900 GT and the 7600 GT, it is interesting to see the speeds on the G73 so much higher than that on the 7900. Obviously doubling the number of pixel shaders, etc puts a hurtin' on the frequency cap of the G71.
The 7600 GT has a single dual-link DVI slot (sorry, only one 30' LCD for you!) and will fall into the $179-229 price segment. Apparently there will be some 128 MB configurations of this card selling for slightly less as well.
The 7600 GT shares the same single slot cooler that the 7900 GT uses, though it has a noticeably faster spinning speed to it that makes a much higher pitched sound when in full swing, making it the most annoying of the three we tested, ironically enough.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, all of these cards can run SLI. Duh.
Based on the pricing information that NVIDIA gave us ($499-649?!?) it looks like NVIDIA is trying avoid another fiasco like we saw when the 7800 GTX 512 was first launched. Back then NVIDIA claimed the MSRP should be around $599 on the cards, though when found online they were significantly higher, resulting in backlash from the community. By giving their AIC vendors some more wiggle room, NVIDIA reserves the right to say 'I told you so.'
With six video card configurations to test upon returning home (three cards plus SLI) I had a lot of time in front of the monitor in front of me. When coming up with the direct comparisons to actually graph together, I grouped them by pricing as closely as I could without knowing exact sale prices on the G71 and G73 parts. Here is what I cam up with:
7900 GTX vs. 7800 GTX 512 vs. X1900 XTX
7900 GTX vs. 7900 GTX SLI vs. X1900 XT CrossFire
7900 GT vs. 7900 GT SLI vs. X1800 XL
7600 GT vs. 7600 GT SLI vs. 6800 GS
In our benchmarks sections you will see a total of four separate graphs for each test. The first is the most obvious: testing the new NVIDIA flagship against the current ATI flagship and the previous NVIDIA flagship. The second test looks at how 7900 GTX scales in SLI and compares the results to the fastest CrossFire configuration available. Third, we look at the 7900 GT in single and dual card mode compared to the similarly priced (around $350) X1800 XL from ATI. Finally, we benchmark the 7600 GT in single and dual card mode against the 6800 GS which was the previous budget-esque card from NVIDIA that wowed us.
Just to note, in the 7600 GT benchmarks, I simply didn't include the X1600 XT results because the test bed for that card hadn't been updated fully, and in all honestly, the X1600 XT simply gets smacked around. There you have it.
Also, when I get back from my current trip to SFO for the Intel Developer Forum we'll have several retail cards on this generation to test and it looks like many vendors will be selling overclocked cards once again, so performance will increase even more over the results seen here.
GPU Test System Setup
NVIDIA 7900 GTX (650/800)
Athlon 64 FX-55
ATI CrossFire Reference Board
2 x 512 MB Corsair 3200XL
Sound Blaster Audigy 2
Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300 GB
Windows XP Professional SP1