Gigabyte's GeForce 7 Series Tested

Gigabyte's range of mid to high-end GeForce 7 series cards are on the test bench today. We test in SLI and single modes.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sat, Apr 8 2006 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Manufacturer: none

Introduction







The latest line up of nVidia graphics cards have been out for a little bit now and supply is still extremely thin across the globe for the higher-end GeForce 7900 series. The other week we received a bucket load of Gigabyte cards along with a speedy AMD Athlon FX-60 processor to get the most out of the line up we have here today.

While we do have a number of different cards included in this roundup, the package is quite similar among all of them so we won't look at each box individually as we would be repeating ourselves quite a bit. We realize you're here mostly for the benchmarks, anyway.

We will follow our normal graphics card article layout even though we do have a number of cards here. So, let's not delay and have a look at what exactly we have on our hands here and what the folks at Gigabyte have managed to do with the latest range of GPU's from nVidia - GeForce 7600GT, 7900GT and 7900GTX - in single and SLI modes.

The Package(s)




First up we have the front of the boxes which all use the same image with simply a different color scheme being the difference between each. We see on the bottom our main features that are included on the card, what software is included and of course what product is inside.







The boxes for Gigabyte VGA line up have looked great and because they stand up right, they do stand out more then some of the other brands boxes.







As you can clearly see the back of the box on all three cards are exactly the same bar the name. We have our normal extended features on the back with some images to give you an idea on what they do.





Gigabyte includes a breakout like box to take care of the TV out function. One side offers your Video In puts to make use of the VIVO function available on the 7900GTX.



Moving to the other side we have the HDTV outputs otherwise more commonly known as component outputs. We also have our standard S-Video port which is found on almost all TVs over the past few years.



Gigabyte have included a full version of Serious Sam 2 and the Driver CD included in all packages are the same, as you can see it has printed 7900GTX/GT/7600GT on the CD. This helps keep overall costs down on having to print multiple covers for the disc and helps them get the product out quicker.



The 7900GT and GTX manual is the same while the 7600GT is slightly different. Most people will find that they don't look twice at the manual so if it wasn't included, we are sure it wouldn't be missed.

The Card(s)




As you can see from the bottom left we have the 7600GT moving up to the 7900GTX up the top. The length on each card differs which is good for people with Shuttle XPC's as they will have no problems at all with the 7900GT.





Both the 7600GT and 7900GT use the same cooler. While looking at it you think it is adequate for the 7600GT although you become slightly worried that it might be a bit small for the bigger and more powerful 7900GT which does pump out more heat when compared to the 7600GT.





We can also see that no memory sinks are used on both these models. This isn't really a bad thing due to DDR3 running much cooler then previous generations of DDR memory.



The 7900GTX moves to the larger cooler that we saw on the 512MB variant of the 7800GTX. Gigabyte is using the reference cooler with a sticker in the middle showing the Gigabyte logo.





Both the 7900GTX and 7900GT need an extra power connector to run at their maximum performance since the PCI Express port cannot provide enough power and as usual it is located at the top right hand corner of the card. The 7600GT on the other hand gets enough power from the PCI Express connector that it doesn't need anymore.







All cards offer SLI abilities and are located all in the same place. Thanks to Gigabyte we will be looking at all three cards in SLI today and making plenty of use of that little connecter located at the top of the card.


Some Specifics

Gigabyte's complete line up all run at stock speeds. That means the 7600GT comes clocked at 560/1400 (Core/Memory), the 7900GT comes in at 450/1320 and the GTX clocks are a healthy 650/1600.

While the clock speeds on the 7900GT are lower then the 7600GT, the amount of pipelines come into play. Both the 7900GT and GT come in with a large 24 pipelines which is the same as we saw on the 7800GTX and 7800GTX 512MB - the 7800GT which was the entry level high-end card only had 20 pipelines. The 7600GT comes in at 12 which is 1/2 of what the 7900 cards offer meaning that while the clocks are higher then the 7900GT, it isn't as fast.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark03


Test System Setup

Processor(s): AMD Athlon FX-60
Motherboard(s): nVidia nForce 4 X16
Memory: 2 X 1GB Corsair PC3500LL PRO DDR (Supplied by Corsair Micro)
Hard Disk(s): WD Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
Drivers: nVidia ForceWare 84.21 and DX9c


Gigabyte has been kind enough to lend us an AMD Athlon FX-60 for the few days of testing. While we would have liked to also include the 7800GTX/GT and 6600GT, it was a choice of either including these and using our Athlon X2 3800+ or use the FX-60 and only test the new cards due to the limited time we had with the cards and processor.

We have used our normal array of benchmarks which help us cover all areas including DirectX, OpenGL, real world and synthetic environments.

Let's get started!


3DMark03

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 360
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/
Buy It Here




By combining full DX8 and partial DX9 support with completely new tests and graphics over the previous version, 3DMark03 continues the legacy of being the industry standard 3D benchmark.

Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.




When we move to the higher resolution the single 7900GT out performs SLI 7600GT and the single 7900GTX out performs SLI 7900GT.

Benchmarks - 3DMark05


3DMark05

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 120
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/
Buy It Here




3DMark05 is the latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and higher.

For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.




Unlike 3DMark03, the SLI card out performance the next step up single card. The 7600GT in SLI really shows excellent performance here with it really out performing the single 7900GT.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 102
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here




3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.




3DMark06 shows us a similar picture to 05 with the SLI 7600GT beating the single 7900GT and SLI 7900GT beating a single 7900GTX. You can clearly see that the SLI 7900GTX is in a league of its own.

Benchmarks - Far Cry


Far Cry

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.3
Timedemo or Level Used: PC Games Hardware Demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://www.farcrygame.com
Buy It Here




There is no denying that Far Cry is currently one of the most graphic intensive games on the market, utilizing PS2.0 technology (the latest versions support Shader Model 3.0 with DX9c) and offering an exceptional visual experience there is no denying that even some of the faster graphics cards struggle.




Far Cry doesn't support SLI very well at all, as you can see the single cards consistently out performance the SLI version. The lower resolution shows us hitting a CPU limitation but the higher resolution shows a difference.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2


Half Life 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here




By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

We benchmark Half Life 2 with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.




Half Life 2 SLI results are also a bit tipsy as well. Like Far Cry, the lower resolution is maxing out with the processor but when we push the resolution up to 1600 x 1200 the board is separated with the 7900GT and GTX showing a big jump over the 7600GT.

Benchmarks - Doom 3


Doom 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.com
Buy It Here




Doom 3 is the latest game to hit our test lab and is one of the most intensive games to dates. With our own custom time demo we are able to give a realistic rating on what kind of FPS you will be achieving.

For more information on benchmarking Doom 3 we recommend you check out our extensive article regarding it here.




The lower resolution shows no performance for SLI with it in fact being slower but when you move to the higher resolution you can see SLI does offer a performance increase but nothing you would get excited about.

Benchmarks - Quake 4


Quake 4

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.quake4game.com
Buy It Here




Quake 4 is one of the latest new games to be added to our benchmark suite. It is based off the popular Doom 3 engine and as a result uses many of the features seen in Doom. However, Quake 4 graphics are more intensive than Doom 3 and should put more strain on different parts of the system.




Quake 4 like Doom 3 sees SLI is slightly slower at the lower resolution but when moving to 1600 x 1200 where the power is actually needed SLI beats a single card solution by over 20% on the higher end cards.

Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.


F.E.A.R.

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.vugames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/
Buy It Here




F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror...and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.






SLI 7600GT onwards offers a playable setup with a single 7600GT offering a minimum FPS of 21 which is fairly low and will irritate most gamers.

Moving to the higher resolution with all our settings maxed out still only the 7900GTX offers a playable setup with the minimum FPS being to low on the other setups.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

In our High Quality tests we bump the Antialiasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) up causing the card(s) to be put under more load.

This usually helps us remove the CPU limitation. We are using 8 x AA and 16 x AF. Since we are using such high-end cards our AA and AF tests while not only being bumped up in quality are moving to 1600 x 1200 to remove the processor limitation as much as possible.




Our AA and AF tests show us a similar picture with SLI 7600GT beating a single 7900GT and SLI 7900GT performing very close to a single 7900GTX. SLI 7900GTX clearly stands out though with a huge score.




3DMark06 paints the same picture as our benchmark above except the fact that the scores are lower due to it being 3DMark06.




While our non AA and AF tests did not like SLI all that much, you can clearly see when we start running a high resolution and bump the AA and AF right up, SLI begins to show its benefits.




Doom 3 again like Half Life 2 sees some serious performance increases for SLI when we bump up the AA / AF and resolution.

Benchmarks - CPU Overclocking


CPU Overclocking

Even with the power of the AMD Athlon X2 and Intel Extreme Edition processors, we still find ourselves hitting a CPU limitation in a lot of our benchmarks. That is, the graphics cards have more performance to give but the processor is letting the team down.

By overclocking the processor we can see what kind of a performance increase we get. When something isn't CPU limited the performance increase isn't all that major but when we do have a CPU bottleneck, every MHz extra we can get can show us an excellent jump in performance.

The Athlon FX-60 was increased from 2.6GHz to 2.9GHz with a slight increase in the front side bus utilizing the stock X2 heatsink fan.




While we easily got the processor up to 2.9GHz, you can see that it gives a very little performance increase in 3DMark03.




3DMark05 which is more intensive then 03 begins to see a greater increase in performance when comparing the stock speed and the overclocked speed.




With 06 again being an intensive benchmark it really sees a bump in performance for both the low and high resolution when it comes to overclocking the processor.




Finally we leave with a real world benchmark and the CPU overclock giving us a serious performance increase.

Final Thoughts




There is no denying that the GeForce 7900GTX is the fastest card in this article but we could have told you that without any benchmarks. What is interesting though is the performance that the 7600GT offers. This really is an untapped card it would seem as speaking to a few suppliers around Australia, the sales on the 7600GT aren't too good. The main reason seems to be the lack of awareness. The 7600GT is a great performing card and in SLI offers some serious performance.

A common question that people ask and I find myself answering is, "What should I get... SLI 7600 or a single 7900GT?" In the past I would have jumped at saying go with the higher clocked single card, then later on upgrade to another but with the cycles coming around so quickly, those people are owning one card then finding its time they can afford another and there is a new variant. So, they sell the single card and buy a new single card. If you can afford two 7900GT's do that, if you can afford two 7600GT's do that, if you can afford one 7900GT now and think it will be 2 or 3 weeks before you get another one, that is a good option but if you think its going to get dragged on longer, have a serious look at the SLI 7600GT setup especially if you already have an SLI motherboard.

The inclusion of Serious Sam 2 is excellent as while it's not the most realistic game its quite intensive so you can make use of that new card and it's easy to get into.



While we would have liked to include more cards in the results and tested the overclocked processor on multiple cards, we were running out of time with it and the cards as we have prepared for another article using the FX-60 which we think is interesting and our readers will enjoy.

While we don't try to push the "I" word on TweakTown a lot because we speak as a team here, it's easier to put the top performing cards into perspective from my own personal use.

I personally use a Radeon X1900XTX because it is better at what I play, predominately Battlefield 2 yet the biggest problem with it is the noise output - it is just way too loud and you really have to crank up the speakers or use headphones to get over it. The 7900GTX I feel is the better card, it performs similar and better depending what games you're playing. The 7900GT which compared to the X1900XT is a single slot solution as opposed to a dual slot and is just an overall better card.

Gigabyte has got a mean lineup here and word on the street is that the 7900 series are what the masses want and all for good reason. If you can get a hold of a Gigabyte GeForce 7900 or two 7600 graphics cards, we say go for it!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

Newsletter Subscription

Similar Content

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
Newsletter Subscription
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles