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Old 31st March, 2006, 05:41 AM
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Xfx 7800gt Extreme Edition Review

Introduction:

With the huge range of graphics cards that are currently being marketed it is often hard to make an educated choice as to which model and brand of card will provide the best features and value for money.
For the budget user (by this I mean looking to spend £160 or less on their new card) there are several clear favourites; the Nvidia 6600/6800 range and on the ATI front we have the x800/x850/x1600 series cards all of which offer reasonable gaming power and multimedia performance without breaking the bank.
For the top-end must have it now enthusiast there usually one card that retails at a very high price and more often than not if you want the very best then this is the one that you would purchase, currently the x1900 and 7900gtx both of which are available in several highly priced flavours, alternatively you could purchase two of the above cards and using either Crossfire or SLI technology you can build a machine that looks at all games in disdain and then rips them apart with savage speed and credit card crippling fury.

If like me you are wanting good, fast paced gaming performance card that will deliver consistantly high framerates in games and still be able to put a high percentage of the eye candy on without having the bank put you on their "special" mailing list then you have two real choices, the ATI x1800 series or the 7800 family from Nvidia both of which have a similar pricing structure starting at around the £175 mark heading up to about £270 for the high-end 7800gtx cards.

Today I will be reviewing the XFX 7800GT Extreme Edition available for around £190 plus postage, I will keep it concise and to the point so that any would-be buyers can see what exactly the card can do and make a more informed decision on whether this is the card for them. I intend to use synthetic benchmarks for this review for two reasons: a) People run games at a huge variety of size, refresh and detail settings and so the results I produce won't necessarily match with the results achieved by others, and b) To be honest I dont have two days to sit through 150 time-demos.

Test System is as follows:

MOTHERBOARD: MSI K8N NEO4-F
CPU: A64 3000+ @2500MHz
RAM: 2GB CORSAIR TWINX PC4000 @250MHz
GPU: XFX 7800GT EXTREME EDITION
HDD: 120GB SEAGATE BARRACUDA 7200.7
SOUND: SB AUDIGY2 ZS, CAMBRIDGE AUDIO A5, MISSION 700s
DRIVER: 84.20 TRU MODIFIED, 6.70 NFORCE UNIFIED

All tests are conducted with no system/driver optimisation other than the ones listed above and the stated core and memory speeds. Image quality settings and ALL other options are at their default values.

The Card:

The box is the usual XFX packaging, the card is visible through a window on the rear of the box and an angry looking dog displays his teeth on the outer sleeve.


http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/1039/box0pb.jpg


Some of the claims of the packaging are a little optimistic perhaps....


http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/3987/claim1hx.jpg


Finally the card itself.....(Note the metal rim along to top edge of the board, it has some functionality in protecting the top edge of the PCB but mainly it looks very cool).


http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/2...rdfront6wy.jpg

and...

http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/3...rdangle0my.jpg


Card specification:

XFX 7800GT Extreme Edition

Core speed: 450MHz

Memory speed: 1.05GHz

Pipeline Config: 20/7

Memory type/size: DDR3/256MB

Cooler: 1-SLOT



Brief Overclocking:

For the purpose of this review I am going to use the maximum easily attainable(no soft/hard modding) overclock for my card which according to the coolbits utility was 470/1150 an increase of around 4.4% on the core and 9.5% on the memory. Do bear in mind though that at this speed the core is now running 17.5% faster than a standard 7800GT and the memory 11.5% faster.

http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/7...lbitsoc3ff.jpg


Pipeline Configuration.

This card has 20 Pixel pipelines and 7 Vertex shaders as seen below:

http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/1...nermain8jc.jpg

The other pipelines found in the 7800GTX are also present on this card but they CANNOT be unlocked though enabling hardware masked units, you can set the card to 24/8 configuration but it will not actually make any difference, it has been speculated that the extra pixel pipeline quad and shader have been lazer cut so no pipeline modding of this card is likely.

Benchmarking Results:

Im keeping this section rather brief as almost everybody knows what a benchmark is, also if you are spending a fair amount of money on a card the chances are that you are familiar with how these scores relate to real word performance.

I will be using three benchmarks to test this card, I am using no optimisations at all and image quality is set to "quality" so you can probably add 5% to these results yourself if you tweak it a little.

Aquamark: An ageing benchmark but im including it as many people will already be familiar with it.
3DMark05: In my opinion the best benchmark to get a relative performance indication in games that are currently in use.
3DMark06: Gives a good indication of how your card will stand up to games being released in the near future compared to other cards.

AQUAMARK (Stock - Overclocked)

http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/3685/aq4wn.jpg



3DMARK05 (Stock - Overclocked)

http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/8261/3d050ef.jpg



3DMARK06 (Stock - Overclocked)

http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/6980/3d064xl.jpg



Conclusion:

As you can see this card is more than capable of keeping up with the competition and will produce high frame rates(65fps and above) at 1280x1024 and below at high settings in most newer games and will run older games such as BF1942 at 1600x1200 with few problems.
Points to consider:

- If you run games at 1600x1200 and above and want to run with detailed textures you might consider a 512Mb card over this one.
- Card overclocks far beyond reference 7800GT
- Quiet single-slot cooling solution
- You will need a 6-pin PCI-E connector available and a good quality PSU.
- Also consider your case ventilation, the cooler keeps temps on this card nice and low(40c idle, 59c load) but all the heat has to go somewhere.
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Old 31st March, 2006, 09:13 AM
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Very nice of you to let us know how the card is behaving. Thanks

Self note; "must sell my card soon !"
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Old 31st March, 2006, 03:38 PM
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Old 31st March, 2006, 03:40 PM
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Awesome review, MONKEYMAN!
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Old 31st March, 2006, 08:02 PM
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Thanks for the great contrabution Monkeyman!!
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Old 31st March, 2006, 08:50 PM
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cheers
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Old 31st March, 2006, 10:45 PM
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Great work man! Im thinking about getting one of these for a PC im about to build for a friend. He wants a complete gaming machine. With a budget of $1600 AUD.
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Old 1st April, 2006, 03:48 AM
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Very nice work there Monkey!!!
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Old 1st April, 2006, 06:10 PM
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Excellent straight to the point review Monkeyman thank you very much.
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Old 7th April, 2006, 10:56 AM
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gonna try a bios flash to bump the core voltage up a touch in the next day or two, ill post up the results.
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Old 8th April, 2006, 12:24 AM
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Thank you Monkeyman
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