Power Consumption and Final Thoughts
Testing power consumption was done by testing idle power at the desktop and testing load while running 3DMark06 at 2560×1600.
The power numbers indicate that the 7950 GT GPU is much more conservative on power than the X1900 XT 256MB card. ATI’s GPU is definitely a power hungry chip, as we have seen on many other product reviews. So while the ATI GPU does take some performance wins from the 7950 GT card in our benchmarks and gaming tests, we can see here that the performance per watt on the 7950 GT is most likely better than on the ATI card. Does that matter to you at all? If not, then performance is king, right?
Both the XFX GeForce 7950 GT 570M and the BFG Tech 7950 GT OC cards turned out to be great performing graphics cards for the $299 price segment that they will be starting in. Definitely a step above the performance of the 7900 GS that we reviewed last week, the GeForce 7950 GT GPU takes the best features of the 7900-series of cards and takes them into a new price segment. You get all 24 pixel pipes with this one as well as the 512MB of on-board frame buffer that can make a big difference with the NVIDIA GPU technology.
Both the XFX and BFG model we tested here were fantastic performers. Choosing one is basically a question of which type of cooling solution you require; if you are a quiet-freak or you are interested in passive cooling as many components in your system as possible, then the XFX GeForce 7950 GT 570M Extreme is your best choice. User’s that don’t mind an active fan-based cooling solution will find the BFG GeForce 7950 GT OC to offer the same or better performance. Also note that the BFG card is a single slot card, while the XFX cards passive cooler requires room behind the video card for the heat pipe fins that rest on the back. If you think your system might have problems with that, the BFG model will easily fit the bill.
What really impressed me though in all the testing and gaming I did this week, was how well the ATI X1900 XT 256MB card performed. Even with half of the memory, the ATI card was able to take the win in many of our games, even at the very high resolutions of 1920×1200 and 2560×1600. The advanced programmable memory controller, and the ability to tweak memory settings through driver updates on a per-title basis, looks to be helping ATI keep up in performance in areas where it might have faltered. Now we can only hope the cards show up on the market.
If there is a point that NVIDIA can count on, no matter the results on the single card testing, it’s in their SLI technology. Setting up two of the BFG 7950 GT OC cards in SLI mode was nothing short of impressive. The high ratios of scaling in many titles is pushing the boundaries of theoretical maximums: at 2560×1600 the SLI configuration was more than 90% faster than the single card! Not only that, but the ease of which SLI is enabled, installed and maintained definitely puts ATI in a box with their CrossFire technology.
It’s a quick decision here: if you are looking at dual-card goodness with cards of this price level, then the GeForce 7950 GT is the card to get!
Pricing and Availability
As of this morning, NVIDIA had informed us that the GeForce 7950 GT cards would be widely available today at e-tailers. The expected prices range from $289-$339 depending on the vendor, the manufacturer and any rebates you might run into. The $299 price segment has traditionally been one of the most popular — it’s where technology and value can walk hand in hand. I’ll update this section as the day progresses to point out actual prices and availability across the web.
The XFX model (PV-T71J-YHE9 specifically) is going to have a market price of $329, thanks to the overclocked core speeds and the modified passive cooling solution used on it. XFX will have another model for sale, using the same passive cooler, running at stock speeds for the MSRP of $299. When we find these in stock, we’ll provide some links for you!
The BFG 7950 GT OC cards might not show up until tomorrow I am told, but they might be for sale today if you look hard enough. I don’t have any specific price information from BFG on their cards, but you can expect about the same pricing scheme as XFX above.
Update 9/24/06 @ 12:20pm: Newegg now has these 7950 GT cards for sale! The BFG 7950 GT OC model is priced at $309 and runs at the 565/1.43 clock speeds that our review sample tested at. The passively cooled XFX model is also for sale for $319 (now showing up as out of stock) and runs at 550/1.40, reference clock speeds. Also, there is an EVGA model for sale for $309 at 560/1.45 clock speeds. If more show up, I’ll let you know!
Update 9/15/06 @ 2:25pm: The 7950 GT cards are now showing up on our pricing engine: XFX overclocked passive card, XFX stock speeds with passive cooling, BFG Tech overclocked card and an EVGA overclocked model are all available.
What I haven’t been able to find anywhere, is a 256MB X1900 XT card for $279 as advertised; and these cards were supposed to be available on the 4th of September according to ATI. A quick search in our pricing database show no results for the X1900 XT 256MB cards. So while I was impressed with the performance of the X1900 XT, a lack of availability kind of washes it all out the door… NVIDIA continues with their ability to offer products at launch; something ATI has yet to prove itself on.
NVIDIA has introduced a great new sub-$300 graphics card with the 7950 GT that brings all of the features of the 7900-series to a lower price point while maintaining high performance levels. With 512MB of memory, the full 24 pixel pipes of the G71 core and fairly fast clock speeds, the 7950 GT will satisify nearly any gamer. Pairing up a couple of the 7950 GTs presents an even more impressive view of these cards and their performance, showing an extremely high scaling ability that ATI’s CrossFire just can’t match. The XFX GeForce 7950 GT 570M Extreme is a unique contender with its passive cooling design and the BFG GeForce 7950 GT OC brings solid performance and stability with overclocked core speeds. Both would make excellent choices for a potential 7950 GT buyer.
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