Power Consumption and Conclusions
While we assumed we would see the 7950 GX2 being the highest power consuming single graphics card, I was surprised to see that the two 7900 GT OC cards in SLI configuration actually drew less power than the single GX2 card. I really expected the GX2 to be outperforming the 7900 GTs while using less power simply because it would have less overhead. Obviously, that is not the case, and may explain why we aren’t seeing anything near GTX clocks in NVIDIA first multi-GPU card.
NVIDIA’s 7950 GX2 graphics card is simply a one-of-a-kind in the enthusiast gaming market, at least for the time being. It takes on the best video cards from ATI and even NVIDIA, and has a field day with them.
The BFG 7950 GX2 simply outperforms every other video card we have tested, period. Without any overclocking over the reference speeds, this card is just plain fast and was able to beat both the 7900 GTX and the X1900 XTX in every benchmark we threw at it. Coupling two GPUs in multi-GPU rendering with 1GB of total frame buffer memory, the GX2 makes the most of NVIDIA technology to bring a best-in-class offering to the table. If you want the fastest single graphics card (“single interface card” would be more precise) on the market, then this is going to be it for some time.
That being said, if you want the fastest overall graphics system, you’ll want to look at either a pair of 7900 GTXs in SLI mode or a pair of X1900 XTXs in CrossFire mode. Currently, both of those configurations would be able to outperform our 7950 GX2 card, though I didn’t show that in any of the benchmarks here. Wait, wait; it gets better. If you really want the best overall graphics system, then you need TWO of the 7950 GX2 cards in Quad SLI mode. You can either shell out for a Dell or Alienware or you can wait until NVIDIA brings out the enthusiast model for Quad SLI in the near future.
GX2 != SLI ??
This is really only a slight annoyance, but don’t get caught calling what the 7950 GX2 does as ‘SLI,’ as you’ll be promptly corrected that it is in fact ‘multi-GPU rendering on a card.’ Um, okay.
This is the real holy grail of these new 7950 GX2 cards. We have seen dual-GPU graphics cards from Gigabyte and Asus in recent years without the need for an NVIDIA reference design, so the GX2 in and of itself isn’t incredibly new technology. What the Taiwanese engineers were unable to do was get two of their cards to work in SLI mode to have quad-GPU rendering, which is what NVIDIA is hoping catches on.
While I am of course incredibly excited about the upcoming Quad SLI systems, we have to remind everyone that though current dual graphics card, single GPU SLI performance improvements can be very high (on the order of 90% in some rare cases), the law of diminishing returns will mean that Quad SLI probably won’t see another 90% improvement over standard SLI. As you increase the resolution and detail (with a 30′ 2560×1600 monitor perhaps), we’ll see more gains from Quad SLI than at lower resolutions, but games are just becoming too CPU-bound for the wild improvements to continue.
We’ll let you know more when we have the technology in our hands finally.
Pricing and Availability
This is supposedly another hard launch for NVIDIA, so you should be able to find several 7950 GX2 cards on the market at e-tailers like Newegg and ZipZoomFly today or tomorrow. NVIDIA did pull the NDA in a day for the start of Computex, so a couple of days of lee-way are in order for the vendors on a schedule.
I have spoken with several vendors and manufacturers and they are saying the $599 price mark should actually be hit by at least one of the initial card brands to start. If that does indeed turn out to be the case, I hate to admit it, but the 7950 GX2 might actually be a ‘good deal’ if you are hardcore gamer and enthusiast. Yes, yes, I know $600 is expensive for a graphics card, but considering how much the original X850 and 7800 GTX 512 cards went for, $600 is a steal. (Well, okay, that is stretching it.)
The good part about the 7950 GX2 video card is that it uses the same GPUs as the 7900 GT and GTX. This means that yields, production and inventory shouldn’t be an issue really at all, as we have seen the availability of the 7900 cards remain strong since just a couple of weeks after their release. As long as NVIDIA estimates correctly the demand for the GX2, part supply should be in the hat.
While I mentioned in this review that all the board vendors will be releasing basically identical GX2 cards today, we still have no problems recommending the BFG model to our readers. BFG was the first to offer a lifetime warranty with their products as well as 24/7 technical support via the telephone; none of this email support only crap. BFG has been a supporter of the gaming community since its inception and was even the winner of our most recent Reader’s Choice Award for Best Graphics Card Manufacturer.
The BFG GeForce 7950 GX2 is without a doubt the fastest graphics card on the market today. NVIDIA did their homework on the development of their second multi-GPU reference design, fixing the issues of PCB size and power usage that arose in the first iteration. We can’t wait for Quad SLI to hit its stride, but the GX2 is more than enough to hold us over.
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the NVIDIA 7950 GX2, and anything else you may want to buy!