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XFX GeForce 7950GT Extreme - World Exclusive!

Today we have a World Exclusive review of the brand new XFX GeForce 7950GT 512MB Extreme graphics card. Check it out!
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Sep 12 2006 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 85%Manufacturer: XFX

Introduction






Another new graphics card from the nVidia has been released onto shop shelves today and again representing the green corner is XFX with the brand new GeForce 7950GT. As if there wasn't already enough cards out there on the market to confuse us, nVidia thought they would turn around and sneak another one in there for us all.

While at first due to the naming scheme you might think that the card is a dual core solution, much like the GeForce 7950GX2, it certainly is not that. It is designed to sit above the older GeForce 7900GT as far as performance goes (which of course means it's faster then the new 7900GS that was released only last week) and as far as pricing goes, it's going up directly against ATI's new Radeon X1900XT 256MB. It comes with 512MB worth of fast GDDR-3 compared to just 256MB on the 7900GT and has its core and memory clock speeds have increased quite a healthy margin.

We will be following our normal setup with having a look at what the card has to offer and then going into our benchmark run to see just where the card sits in this very competitive high-end battle which we are experiencing at the moment.

Grab a coffee as we examine nVidia's latest GPU in this world exclusive review of the XFX GeForce 7950GT Extreme!

The Package




Using the larger box that we saw the 7950GX2 use we have a pretty standard XFX layout happening.

Big bad Mr. World is on the front of the box with a host of stickers mentioning some of the key features of the card. We can see clearly that we are dealing with the Extreme model with a 570MHz core clock speed.

It supports all our normal array of technology like SLI, HDTV and HDCP. We can also see in the top right corner that a copy of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is included and the bottom left corner also shows us a little sticker stating that this is a silent pipe card.





Turning the box over we have a picture of some of the card along with all our extended specifications which also go on to explain how some of them work. Overall a pretty nice box that gives us a good run down of what to expect once we open it up.



Once we get inside we have our normal array of goodies - some exciting others not so exciting. Cable wise we have a couple DVI to VGA connectors, S-Video cable along with a Component out adapter for making use of HDTV and of course a couple Molex to PCI Express connector for those that don't have a power supply with a native PCI Express connector.



Paperwork wise there is nothing really all that exciting about it, a quick installation guide, little booklet on there X Gear and a user manual. We also get a driver CD and of course like we mentioned on the front of the box a copy of Ghost Recon: Advanced War Fighter which is a nice addition to the package.

The Card and Overclocking


The Card

Clawing our way through to the card we found ourselves with something we haven't seen from XFX before - a high-end overclocked silent graphics card.

Looking straight at the card we have a big heatsink that covers the front of the card and two pipes that shoot out the top where the heat dissipates. The generally quality of the heatsink overall seems fairly good and looks like its going to cool the card sufficiently enough.





Like the GeForce 7900GS, the card does require a PCI Express power connector since the motherboard cannot provide enough juice. If you don't have one it's all good as there is a converter included in the package as we saw on the previous page.



The top of our card has a bracket to help prevent the card being bent in shipping and causing the SLI connector across the top to crack in any way. Not only does it look good, it actually is quite useful.



Turning the card over we have the big tail end of the Heat Pipe where all the hot air dissipates. It's your standard aluminum fin setup and while the card did get warm while running, in our opinion it isn't anything that would alarm you. We can also see the four screws where the heatsink is screwed on evenly.



Finally moving over to the I/O side of things we have a couple DVI ports (Dual Link) and an S-Video port to make use of the TV Out functionality that is on offer from the card. If you don't have a DVI monitor there is nothing to worry about as we saw that XFX have included two DVI to VGA connectors so you can get the card up and running straight away.


Clock Speeds and Overclocking

Out of the box the XFX graphics card is already overclocked.

The stock speeds for the GeForce 7950GT is 550MHz on the core and 1400MHz DDR on the memory. XFX have increased this to 570MHz on the core and 1460MHz DDR on the memory.

Using Coolbits and the "Detect Optimum Frequencies" feature we were able to then achieve a further 11MHz on the core bringing it to 581MHz and the memory was also increased to 1522MHz DDR.

While these aren't huge overclocks, we will see what happens and how it affects the scores on the following pages.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark05


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 3430MHz (381MHz FSB with 4:5 memory)
Motherboard(s): DFI Infinity 975X (Supplied by Bronet)
Memory: 2 X 1GB G.Skill HZ PC8000 @ 476MHz 4-4-4-12 (Supplied by Bronet)
Hard Disk(s): Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM SATA 2
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2
Drivers: nVidia ForceWare 91.47 and DX9c


Running the same benchmark suite as we have over the past few reviews we continue to have a look at all the main technology that is included in our games today like HDR, Direct3D, OpenGL, AA and AF.

Throwing both the new GeForce 7900GS in and the 7900GT we can see where they sit with the 7950GT. We then ran our overclocked 7950GT through the whole suite to see where it sits.

Unfortunately we were only sent a single 7950GT, so we could not provide you with SLI results at this stage.


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 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.




As we expected we have our reverse stairway effect. The 7900GT sits clearly between the two new cards from nVidia. The overclock gives us a nice little bump at both resolutions as well.

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.




Moving to the more intensive 3DMark06 we can see that the same results with again the overclocking giving us a nice little increase.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)


Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
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, 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.






While the jump in our normal Lost Coast benchmarks are pretty steady when we move to the HDR tests we can see that the 7900GS sits a bit further back at both resolutions. Mind you none of the cards struggle to offer a playable gaming experience.

Benchmarks - PREY


PREY

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Hardware OC Demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.humanhead.com
Product Homepage: http://www.prey.com
Buy 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.




The performance at 1024 x 769 sees the 7900GT and 7950GT sit very close together. It is not till we move to the higher resolution where more strain is placed on the card that it clearly takes the lead again.

Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.


F.E.A.R.

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
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.






F.E.A.R. at the lower resolution sees the 7950GT have a good jump on the 7900GT and 7900GS. While they are more even at the average, it is interesting to see the large difference at the minimum which is very important.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.




When we move to our HQ tests we see again that the 7900GS lags behind.




Turning on the AA in Lost Coast we see that the 7950GT overclocked offers a playable setup while the others would be slightly arguable. Some would say you want to see an average of 50 others would say 30.




The 7900GT and 7950GS clearly fly ahead of the 7900GS when we turn on AA and AF in PREY.

Final Thoughts




nVidia's brand spanking new GeForce 7950GT is a good graphics card - it's really what the older 7900GT should have been in the first place. A 512MB good performing but not ultra expensive graphics card!

The 7950GT is going to appeal to a few people. Those that want a 512MB graphics card and those people who are willing to spend an extra few dollars to venture into something a bit faster then the 7900GT but not break the bank like the 7900GTX.

While the overclocking wasn't as pleasing as the 7900GS, it will be interesting if this is due to the heat pipe technology that XFX have opted to use instead of a standard fan/cooler combination. The clock speeds are already quite high and fairly impressive, so that may be all we can expect out of the 7950GT - we will test more cards soon and find out and report back to you.

It was good to see that XFX have also chosen to include a full version copy of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfare which is a fantastic game and quite taxing on the system - so you should be able to get some real use out of your new graphics card out of the box.

All in all the new nVidia GeForce 7950GT is a good graphics card but it seems to be a bit of a stop gap measure. While ATI have released a new card (X1900XT 256MB) that is slightly faster, nVidia are saying we are happy with our top-end but want to bring some more competitive pricing in the high-end market - hence the release of the 7900GS and 7950GT.


- Pros
Good Performance
Bundle including full version game
HDCP
Silent cooler
Stock available now
Mild overclocking

- Cons
Nothing to get too excited about but nothing to complain about

Rating - 8.5 out of 10

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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.

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.
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