Power Consumption and Conclusions
Let’s see how much power this new 7800 GS part is actually using up during idle and load.
Our reference power usage is actually higher than the overclocked XFX results, but I don’t know why for sure yet. Either way, the X850 XT PE is pulling a modest 21 watts more juice at load than the XFX XT model of the 7800 GS.
Even though I might be eating my words again later, let’s just go ahead and assume this is the last AGP flagship update that we will ever see from NVIDIA or ATI. How does that leave the platform for any gamers still using it?
Performance and Features
To be completely honest with you, I assumed coming into this article that the NVIDIA 7800 GS would just run all over the 1+ year old ATI X850 XT PE card. That didn’t really happen at all. In some tests like Half-Life 2 and FEAR, the ATI card outperformed even the overclocked XFX 7800 GS XT card and left the NVIDIA reference clocked card well behind. I am a bit curious as to why NVIDIA would have allowed that to happen.
The raw architecture of the 7800 GS has 50% fewer pixel shaders than the 7800 GTX, 33% fewer vertex shaders and only half as many ROPs. When you look at it in that perspective, it is easy to see why the 7800 GS falls short on the raw performance numbers as we saw in some benchmarks and synthetic tests. That being said though, in some games the 7800 GS was able to dominate like Call of Duty 2 and HL2: Lost Coast, which are more indicative of future titles than the ones that ATI was able to pull ahead in.
We also need to take into consideration the fact that the 7800 GS supports SM3.0 while the X850 does not; and that feature will definitely mean MORE to gamers in the coming months as more SM3.0 titles are released.
AGP’s Last Leg
If this is AGP’s last installment, it was good to go out with a bang. It wasn’t a really loud bang, but you know, it counts. The development of the HSI bridge is what allowed this GPU to hit the AGP market, where as ATI’s insistance on using PCIe-native GPUs will make a new competing AGP part a bigger hassle for them.
For user’s who have AGP systems and were thinking about getting a new video card and NOT upgrading their boards to support PCI Express, the 7800 GS is really the only option I would recommend. It is better performing (majority of the time, on newer games), has a better feature set (with SM3.0) and costs less than the X850 XT PE. That’s a killer combo.
Pricing and Availability
While the 7800 GS is being announed today, it won’t go on sale “officially” until Monday the 6th at online retailers. Apparently Best Buy is going to have some in their stores on Sunday as well, so you might want to check out the ad or stop in the store to see. And since you were able to find the BFG-branded 7800 GS cards this week in CompUSA stores, we can go ahead and call this another successful hard launch from NVIDIA and I expect there to be no problems with availability for the forseeable future.
Pricing looks to be a high point for NVIDA on this as well. The MSRP of the XFX 7800 GS XT model we reviewed here is supposed to be around $349, so you can expect to pay that at brick-and-morter stores. However, I was told that for e-tailers on Monday you should expect lower prices; something around $299 looks to be about right.
That’s not exactly dirt-cheap, so why is that a high point? Because the ATI X850 XT PE that has similar performance levels can’t be found for less than $400 at the time of this writing.
An upgrade for AGP users was desperately needed for gamers looking for top performance and all the latest features without having to move to another platform. The 6800 GTs and 6800 Ultras had pretty much dried up in the market so we had a suspicion something like this was coming. While not the knock-out performance leader, the 7800 GS has more to offer than any other ATI AGP offering and should serve the AGP market well for the future and to the end of its life cycle.
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the NVIDIA 7800 GS, and anything else you may want to buy!