Graphics Cards Guide

NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS 256MB review

NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS 256MB (PCIe)

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When One Becomes Two

When One Becomes Two

Just like day turning into night, it was all too predictable that NVIDIA has prepared a response to ATI's recent attempt to streamline its product lineup into a leaner and more price competitive bunch. A new ATI flagship, the single-GPU Radeon X1950 XTX, and additions to the mid and lower end graphics segment with the new Radeon X1650 PRO and X1300 XT are just some of the recent announcements. Of course, many of these measures are simply cosmetic or minor tweaks to clock speeds and product names while retaining the same core. More changes are expected as ATI continues to fine-tune its products and improve its fortunes, which frankly, has not been too rosy in the discrete segment.

Since the enthusiasts have gotten wind of the ATI revamp months before it actually happened late last month, you can bet that NVIDIA knows all about it. With its GeForce 7950 GX2 still mostly on top of the new Radeon X1950 XTX due to its two graphics cores in SLI, NVIDIA probably does not need reinforcements in that elite category. Even the new mid-range Radeon X1650 PRO may find the DDR3 versions of the GeForce 7300 GT a serious competitor. Hence, NVIDIA has chosen to preempt the upcoming changes expected from ATI. Details are still fuzzy about the developments over at ATI (we are hearing rumors of a possible Radeon X1900 PRO and Radeon X1650 XT) but we do know something about NVIDIA's plans and so far they seem to be focused on the high-end.

The crux of this plan seems to be the 'diversification' of the current GeForce 7900 GT, which is just doing what graphics chipmakers do best - recycling and cannibalizing their older products. Springing forth from the loins of the GeForce 7900 GT will be the GeForce 7950 GT and the GeForce 7900 GS. If you have been paying attention to NVIDIA's naming conventions, you would also know that the GeForce 7900 GS is the lesser of the two 'new' cards.

Apparently, the GeForce 7950 GT will be an enhanced version of the original GeForce 7900 GT, with higher clock speeds and a larger frame buffer of 512MB. Meanwhile, the card that we will be concentrating on today, the GeForce 7900 GS will naturally be a slightly 'crippled' version of the GeForce 7900 GT, with one less vertex processor and only 20 instead of 24 pixel processors (one less operating quad). In fact, the GeForce 7900 GS is actually not that new, since OEMs like Dell has already been selling a version of it for a while now with their systems. However, that version came with slightly different clock speeds from the eventual retail edition that's just been released. So how does this new retail edition GeForce 7900 GS stack up against the competition?

GPUs Comparison
Model NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT 256MB ATI Radeon X1900 GT 256MB ATI Radeon X1800 GTO 256MB
Core Code G71 G71 G73 R580 R520
Transistor Count 278 million 278 million 177 million 384 million 321 million
Manufacturing Process (microns) 0.09 0.09 0.09 0.09 0.09
Core Clock 450MHz 450MHz 560 MHz 575MHz 500MHz
Vertex Shaders 7 8 5 8 8
Rendering (Pixel) Pipelines 20 24 12 12 12
Pixel Shader Processors 20 24 12 36 12
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) 20 24 8 12 12
Raster Operator units (ROP) 16 16 16 12 12
Memory Clock 1320MHz DDR3 1320MHz DDR3 1400MHz DDR3 1200MHz DDR3 1000MHz DDR3
DDR Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 42.2GB/s 42.2GB/s 22.4GB/s 38.4GB/s 32.0GB/s
Ring Bus Memory Controller NIL NIL NIL 512-bit (for memory reads only) 512-bit (for memory reads only)
PCI Express Interface x16 x16 x16 x16 x16
Molex Power Connectors Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Street Price US$199 (Launch Price) US$269 - 289 US$150 - 180 US$249+ US$199+
Other Information
  • SLI Ready
  • SLI Ready
  • SLI Ready
  • CrossFire Ready
  • CrossFire Ready