Graphics Cards Guide

NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2 1GB review

NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2 1GB

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The Duo that wants to be Single

The Duo that wants to be Single

As if dual graphics card SLI systems weren't fast enough, at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in January, NVIDIA proudly displayed their Quad SLI system developed with Dell. Comprising of four customized GeForce 7800 GTX boards (built in a pair) and dual SLI bridges, it was the fastest bad-ass system around for the elite gamers. And later during CeBIT when the GeForce 7900 series were launched, NVIDIA and Dell had a renewed system based on two GeForce 7900 GX2 cards (which essentially had four GeForce 7900 GTX class boards). Though the idea of quad SLI keeps recurring during every major graphics chip upgrade, it's not going to be mainstream anytime soon (or even never at all) and we are all more than aware of that; even NVIDIA. Requiring a special network of components to get it going such as customized motherboard BIOS, top of the line CPUs, an expansive system to accommodate the extremely lengthy PCB boards of the Quad SLI cards and of course top-notch ventilation, Quad SLI was the strictly the realm of customized OEM systems.

However during the course of designing the Quad SLI ecosystem, NVIDIA has gained valuable knowledge in streamlining them and with that, today NVIDIA presents us the GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics card. Basically sandwiching dual PCB boards (each with a G71 GPU) in the same manner as seen in the Quad SLI systems, the difference is that the GeForce 7950 GX2 occupies a significantly smaller real-estate space. In fact it is no larger than the GeForce 7900 GTX in size and length. However, within that volume, you get a pair of GeForce 7950 GX2 GPUs that operate at 500MHz clock speed each and are equipped with a total of 1GB DDR3 frame buffer (512MB per card) running at 1.2GHz DDR.

The GeForce 7900 GTX graphics card was already a very speedy unit and well worth the dreams of being the ultimate Christmas present for many of us. However, it was not the fastest overall card in the market and neither was the competitor's unit. To ensure NVIDIA reclaimed the title of having the single fastest graphics card in a physically acceptable profile no larger than the existing GeForce 7900 GTX, NVIDIA tried their hand at a duo-card solution and thus the GeForce 7950 GX2 was born. Two slim-profile cards were put together and an internal SLI connector linked both boards for a permanent multi-GPU setup. However only one of them had the PCIe x16 interface to communicate with the motherboard while the other had the display output options; thus the so-called 'single graphics card' moniker. Rather amusing if you ask our opinion, but nevertheless, it was well put together.

The primary specifications of the core and memory clock speeds are closest to that of a GeForce 7900 GT and with a pair of cards in the GeForce 7950 GX2 configuration, we expect it to at least equal a GeForce 7900 GT in SLI. Below we detail the GeForce 7950 GX2 specifications and pit it against several comparable graphics cards that would be of major interest to our readers. Read on for a little more information on the overall build of the card before we bring on our benchmark segment.

High-End Graphics Cards Compared
Model NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT 256MB ATI Radeon X1900 XTX 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB
Core Code G71 G71 G71 R580 R580
Transistor Count 2 x 278 million 278 million 278 million 384 million 384 million
Manufacturing Process (microns) 0.09 0.09 0.09 0.09 0.09
Core Clock 500MHz 650MHz 450MHz 650MHz 625MHz
Vertex Shaders 2 x 8 8 8 8 8
Rendering (Pixel) Pipelines 2 x 24 24 24 16 16
Pixel Shader Processors 2 x 24 24 24 48 48
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) 2 x 24 24 24 16 16
Raster Operator units (ROP) 2 x 16 16 16 16 16
Memory Clock 1200MHz DDR3 1600MHz DDR3 1320MHz DDR3 1550MHz DDR3 1450MHz DDR3
DDR Memory Bus 2 x 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 76.8GB/s 51.2GB/s 42.4GB/s 49.6GB/s 46.4GB/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
Multi GPU Technology Yes (SLI) Yes (SLI) Yes (SLI) Yes (CrossFire) Yes (CrossFire)
DVI Output Support 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link
HDCP Output Capable? Yes No - vendor dependent No - vendor dependent No - vendor dependent No - vendor dependent
Street Price ~ US$599 - US$649 ~ US$499 - US$550 ~ US$279 - 299 ~ US$469 - US$579 ~ US$450