PCI-E x1 Graphics Performance with Galaxy GeForce 7300GT

We check out PCI-E x1 graphics with Galaxy's GeForce 7300GT and see if there is any difference between it and x16 slots.
Shawn Baker
Published Mon, Feb 5 2007 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:26 PM CDT
Rating: 85%Manufacturer: Galaxy Technology


IntroductionPCI-E x1 has been sitting there and staring us blankly in the face for over a year now but what are we going to use it for? We have seen some RAID cards come out but they are not on the short list for everyone. We could see some sound cards that use the reduced bus speed slot this year. It would make sense that the increased bandwidth on offer from PCI Express over PCI and cards from Creative are becoming more feature-rich, we might see a use for the new slot.What about a graphics card? No...but why? The thing is that while some might think that it's pointless to have a graphics card using PCI Express x1 slot, there are a number of good reasons why it should.There are three key reasons why a PCI-E x1 graphics card can work and we'll show you why. Today we are checking out a GeForce 7300GT that utilizes DDR-3 memory and PCI-E x1 slot. We're going to have a look at what environments this could work in before we have a closer look at the card itself.While we're at it though, we will also have a look at it from a performance perspective in a low-end graphics card environment - is PCI-E x16 nothing more the marketing mumbo jumbo like AGP 4x vs. 8x (1056MB/s vs. 2112MB/s respectively) back in the day or is there actually a performance difference? Considering there is a total of 500MB/s of bandwidth (Single Data Lane - Both Directions) available on x1 slots compared to that of the huge 8000MB/s of bandwidth compared to x16 slots, it will be interesting.Let's have a look at where we think you could make use of a PCI-E x1 graphics card and if the Galaxy 7300GT is actually worth considering!

PCI-E x1 Usage

PCI-E x1 Usage Situations- Desktop Real EstateWhen looking at adding another graphics card to your system, the typical computer enthusiast thinks you do it for the additional power. Well, there is more to multiple graphics cards then pure speed. The ability that SLI gave us was that we could easily have four monitors set up and running at the same time.With old style PCI slots not only being valuable due to many devices still requiring them and PCI graphics cards not only being slow but also expensive, it would make sense that an alternative option was made available. nVidia's nForce 680i chipset from nVidia provides three x16 slots but at a very high price. The ability to go out and buy a good quality (but cheaper) Intel 965P board from manufactories like Gigabyte and ASUS means that with a trio of these GeForce 7300GT graphics cards (two utilizing the PCI-E x16 slots and one the x1 slot), we can get six monitors up and running quite cheaply. Keep in mind they won't run at x16 just because you've placed them in an x16 slot but they'll still work perfectly fine at x1 bandwidth speeds.This is perfect for people who need nothing more than huge amounts of desktop real estate - it's something that is becoming more and more common amongst heavy computer users and certain industries.- HTPCNext on the list are home theater computers. Your average home theater PC doesn't come with much expansion ability; motherboard manufactures also feel that with the integrated graphics, there is no real point or need in offering a PCI-E x16 slot - well, as far as we are concerned, that's not a problem now. So, you are having some trouble playing back 720p movies thanks to the lack of grunt on offer from the onboard video, look no further. If you get yourself a PCI-E x1 graphics card with HDCP support (unfortunately the Galaxy card lacks along with all other cards under the 7600 class range) you're going to be ready for all that next generation movie watching from HD-DVD and Blu-ray titles.- Budget Gaming RigSo you thought to yourself, "Onboard graphics is fine for me..." Time goes on and you want to start playing some of those newer games that are being released - you don't need AA or AF, 1600 x 1200 or all high detail but you would like around 30FPS, not fantastic but playable. Not thinking that it was ever going to bother you, the motherboard for your system you purchased never had a PCI-E x16 slot.Now instead of having to go out buy a new motherboard and a new graphics card, you can hunt for a PCI-E x1 graphics card that's not going to cost a fortunate and receives a decent upgrade from that shocking integrated 3D solution.As you can see, there are plenty of uses for a PCI-E x1 graphics card, if you just think outside of the performance square for a moment. Let's move on and have a closer look at the actual card on offer today from Galaxy.

Galaxy's PCI-E x1 7300GT

The PackageSitting at the lower end of the scale we have ourselves a stylish-looking box that lists the main features of the card on the front of the box - 128MB of DDR-3 memory along with HDTV and DVI. The bottom left corner also shows us that the card is PCI-E x1 and tells us know that it supports Windows Vista along with what situations a PCI-E x1 graphics card might benefit you like we have just mentioned.
Turning the box over we have a run down on some of the features that are on offer from the card and some of the key features that are on offer from the nVidia 7 series graphics card.
The package is very slim like you would expect with a lower end card. Besides the S-Video cable we have an installation guide, driver CD and Graphics by Galaxy sticker to be placed on your case. With the card being such a good option for home theater PCs, it would have been nice to see some component HDTV cables included. It would have been even nicer to see some HDMI cables but unfortunately there is no HDMI support.
The CardCard layout is very standard as you might have expected. We have a copper cooler on the front which is very quiet. We also have 128MB of DDR-3 Samsung memory and our normal bits and pieces plastid along the front.
The biggest stand out feature on the front of the card is of course the little PCI Express connector down the bottom. There is no denying that it is kind of weird to see a graphics card with the connector for the first time.
Quickly looking at the I/O side of things we have a single DVI connector (no HDCP support as mentioned) along with a VGA connector. Also included is of course the TV-Out port if you're going to a screen that doesn't support DVI or VGA. We hope that Galaxy choose to release a version that drops the DVI port and offers us HDMI as with the DDR-3 7300GT setup combined with the PCI-E x1 functionality, it would be an absolute killer HTPC card. As far as we know though, nVidia's partners are not supposed to be including HDMI on graphics cards under the GeForce 7600 series class.
Retail pricing will be around $99 USD (about $125 AUD) which puts it around the same price as a standard 7300GT DDR-3 card. We would have expected the Galaxy PCI-E x1 card to be cheaper although there is hardly any cards of this type out at the market so it would make sense that Galaxy don't need to be all that aggressive when it comes to pricing.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark05

Test System SetupProcessor(s): Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 3150MHz (350MHz FSB 1:1)Motherboard(s): ASUS P5B Deluxe (Supplied by ASUS)Memory: 2 X 1GB G.Skill HZ PC8000 @ 350MHz 4-4-4-12 (Supplied by Bronet)Hard Disk(s): Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM SATA 2 Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2Drivers: nVidia ForceWare 93.71 and DX9cWe didn't want to focus too much time on the performance aspects of the Galaxy graphics card. Although, since we have a regular Palit 7300GT DDR-3 that utilizes the full speed x16 slot, we thought that it was a good opportunity to find out if there is actually any difference between PCI-E x1 and PCI-E x16 bus speeds. As discussed in the introduction, there is a total of 500MB/s of bandwidth (Single Data Lane - Both Directions) available on x1 slots compared to 8000MB/s of bandwidth compared to x16 slots, so the results should be interesting.It's not a perfect world, so our testing couldn't be entirely spot on. The Palit 7300GT comes with a slightly higher memory clock speed of 600MHz vs. 500MHz on the Galaxy 7300GT. It shouldn't make a huge amount of difference but it's something to keep in mind while looking at the benchmark results.We are running a cut down version of our benchmarks while still covering simulation and real-world environments. We will actually be using the same layout as the Catalyst line up minus the inclusion of our High Quality tests which utilize AA and AF. These types of tests are really too much for this level of low-end graphics cards and it's pointless including those types of tests.Let's get started now!3DMark05Version and / or Patch Used: Build 130Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: It Here
3DMark05 is now the second latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and above.For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.
Even though both models carry DDR-3 memory (albeit Galaxy a little slower) and utilize the same core, the PCI-E x1 version really does sit a way behind, even more so at the higher resolution, which is important to keep in mind. It's at the higher resolutions that more bandwidth is required as more stress is placed on the 3D side of the system.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: 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 performance of the Galaxy 7300GT was miserable with it not even being able to run 1600 x 1200. As it turns out, the PCI-E x1 slot really must limit the card's GPU and memory potential.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)

Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from SteamTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy It Here
By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Lost Coast 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 Lost Coast 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.
We can see that you could venture into some HL2 game play at the lower resolution, especially if you drop the settings but it's not going to do anything when you turn HDR on.

Benchmarks - PREY

PREYVersion and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: HardwareOC Custom BenchmarkDeveloper Homepage: Product Homepage: http://www.prey.comBuy It Here
PREY is one of the newest games to be added to our benchmark line-up. It is based off the Doom 3 engine and offers stunning graphics passing what we've seen in Quake 4 and does put quite a lot of strain on our test systems.
Offering roughly 25% performance of the PCI-E x16 variant, we can see that we aren't going to be moving very fast in PREY at all.

Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R.Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: Product Homepage: 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.
Leaving with F.E.A.R. and with some level of tweaking at the lower resolution, you should be able to attain a playable game experience but only just.

Benchmarks - Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsIt's clear that you're not going to be breaking any new 3DMark records with Galaxy's GeForce 7300GT. While we didn't want to put too much emphasis on straight out performance of the card, I expected it to perform slightly better than it did. Even though the PCI-E x16 card we were comparing against had a higher memory clock speed, we didn't expect to see so much difference in performance between both slots. Since it's been years since we have really used a motherboard with onboard graphics, we can't really give a 100% straight out answer on if it's a better option. We would think so mainly due to the fact that not only do you gain your memory back that the onboard video is using but also taking load off other parts of the system.We would really love to see a HDMI variant of the card, preferably low profile as well. This would be an absolutely killer option (and if it had these features, it would have got a higher rating and better award) for anyone wanting to build a good home theater PC with some basic gaming ability. If Galaxy doesn't do it, we hope that a manufacturer out there reading decides to as this type of market segment would really benefit from such a graphics card.In all the Galaxy GeForce 7300GT 128MB DDR-3 PCI-E x1 graphics card is a great option for those who don't have a motherboard with PCI-E x16 slots and want to add a third or even a forth monitor to their system without spending loads of cash. It's also a great option for someone who has built a low-end system or a HTPC and wants to upgrade their 3D graphics performances a little and not break the bank while doing it. There really are a number of great uses for the product that lets it be such a perfect option in a number of different environments. You just have to understand that you're not going to be playing upcoming games like Crysis at 2560 x 1600.- ProsGreat options for many categoriesSomething which finally makes full use of PCI-E x1Great onboard video upgrade option for users with no PCI-E x16 slotEasy to setup, just like a normal graphics cardAffordably add more monitors to your system- ConsSmall packageLacks HDCP supportLow profile would have been even nicerRating - 8.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Best Features Award!

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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.

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