Reading about exotic high-end graphics cards like the GeForce 8800 GTS and flagship GeForce 8800 GTX is always fun, but for most of us, spending $400 or more on a new graphics card is a little on the extreme side. After all, $400+ is half a rent check for many folks, and having a roof over your head is more important than gaining a few extra FPS in Company of Heroes or F.E.A.R. for a lot of people, particularly when DirectX 10 titles haven’t even shipped yet. Fortunately thanks to a string of new GPU launches from ATI and NVIDIA at the end of last year, the latest mainstream cards are more than capable of handling today’s latest games.
NVIDIA’s newest mainstream offerings are what we will be focusing on in today’s article, and while both GPUs sport new names, they’re both based on the same graphics core and basic GeForce 7900 GT reference board design.
GeForce 7900 GS
In the case of the GeForce 7900 GS, NVIDIA takes their G71 graphics core used in the high-end GeForce 7900 GTX and GeForce 7950 GX2 and deactivates one of the GPU’s six pixel shading quads, effectively disabling four pixel shaders in the process. This brings the total number of active pixel shaders in the GeForce 7900 GS down to 20; in comparison the 7900 GT and GTX feature 24 pixel shaders. NVIDIA also disables one vertex shader in the GeForce 7900 GS, leaving seven vertex shaders active (in comparison the other G71 cards feature eight vertex shaders).
Clock speeds for the GeForce 7900 GS carry over unchanged from the 7900 GT, the graphics core is clocked at 460MHz while the board’s memory runs at 660MHz (1,320MHz effective). In terms of connectivity, like the other GeForce 7900 cards the GeForce 7900 GS is outfitted with two dual-link DVI connectors but HDCP support is an optional feature – it will be up to NVIDIA’s board partners to determine which (if any) of their GeForce 7900 GS cards will offer full HDCP support. The GeForce 7900 GS carries an MSRP of $200 but already street prices have fallen below this, in fact, many of these cards can be found online for around $150 after mail-in rebate.
GeForce 7950 GT
Resting above the GeForce 7900 GS in NVIDIA’s refreshed mainstream lineup is the GeForce 7950 GT. The GeForce 7950 GT is also based on NVIDIA’s G71 graphics core, only none of its pixel or vertex shaders have been disabled.
The GeForce 7950 GT also sports a 550MHz core clock speed with 512MB of GDDR3 memory running at 700MHz (1.4GHz effective). With a 550MHz core clock speed, the GeForce 7950 GT runs a full 100MHz faster than the GeForce 7900 GT it replaces on the graphics core, and just 100MHz shy of the GeForce 7900 GTX, while its memory is 140MHz faster than the 7900 GT and 100MHz below the 7900 GTX.
The GeForce 7950 GT is also equipped with two dual-link DVI connectors and all 7950 GT cards will carry full HDCP support. Officially the GPU carries an MSRP of $300, but again, street prices are often lower than this. Some cards can be found for under $250 online after mail-in rebate.
Now that we’ve given you a general high-level overview of the new GPUs, lets go over the individual cards that are based on these GPUs themselves. We’ll go in ABC order, starting with ASUS first.