Nice ... really really nice ! So let's break it down. NVIDIA just introduced yet another graphics card into the gaming arena. Now quite honestly ... there are too many models available in the market, it's getting too confusing for the consumers and hey .. next week we'll see another new model. But you know what .. I forgive NVIDIA this one as I think it's flabbergasting set of performance and features that NVIDIA is offering for merely 200-220 bucks. And I don't understand what it is, but everytime I think about the GS that song "You can't touch this" from MC Hammer comes to mind.
It's a series 7 product so you'll receive all the coolest features this entire family has. I've discussed them many times and will not do so again in each and every conclusion. But next to gaming think of bits and pieces in the form of Dual-Link DVI, PureVideo, HDTV connectivity; all the good stuff.
The NVIDIA reference card. So by positioning this product at give or take 200 USD/EUR NVIDIA brings in a low ranging high-end product into the shops. And that means a lot of people will be able to afford it. The 7900 GS cards are going to offer a mountain of bang for your bucks. Any game to date will play fine at resolutions up-to 1920x1200 and you can even enable a nice selection of image quality settings. Hey you know what I always say .. if it's pretty for the eyes it must be blonde .. oh wait that was something else.
Hammer Time - Dum-dum-dum-dum ... dum-dum-dum-dum .. My my my my XFX card ... was screaming so fast it made saying Oh my Lord .. thank you for blessing it ... with a mind to game and the hype to tweak .. and let them know .. as such .. as this is a card that, uh, you must touch [end stupidity]
*coughs* Okay, so the GeForce 7900 GS Extreme card was showing leading performance compared to the reference model and Sparkle 7900 GS. In terms of the generic gaming "experience" it's relatively small, think 5% better performance. But overclocked .. sheesjh ... it's a friggin monster ! The card itself behaved beautifully. We had no weird computer issues, lockups or anything whatsoever. Admittedly the bundle is a little sober .. but the card design makes up for that tremendously. I mean that's one hot looking imp for sure and then there's that massive overclock we achieved. This "Extreme" edition is going to be more expensive though. I have contacted XFX and it'll cost you roughly 239 EUR. This card does come with a 2 year warranty and what an absolutely lovely videocard it is.
Sparkle then, we did a review on their Calibre series yesterday and yet again they surprise me .. despite the really good software bundle they are offering a product that obviously competes very well with the standard reference based GS cards, it's just slightly slower to the XFX xard due to the reference clocks compared to the "Extreme" model from XFX. You need to manually overclock it to achieve the default XFX results and you can do so as cooling is sufficient and exactly the same memory is on that card. Hey, you are a guru .. so you most certainly know how to do that.
The one other hint I'd like to give Sparkle is something very small yet very important. The packaging design. It's way too Asian .. the blue design and a Manga kinda figure with an axe .. meeh .. that's not appealing to the European and American consumer, the cultural difference is too big I guess. The weird thing is, with Sparkle's Calibre line of products, they do the opposite as that's a great looking design from A to Z. Sparkle will offer you one par reference design performance, and even comes with a full game. It's 40 bucks cheaper then the XFX Extreme card. So you honestly can't loose on that either. The Sparkle cards we tested in SLI and I must state that performance is extremely good. Again, no stability issues or anything else here. I'm happy to say that in 2006 SLI is a very mature technology as throughout this review is almost doubled all scores compared to a single GS.
Quite honestly there's absolutely nothing negative to report on both these cards. Great performance, good quality components, nice bundle. For the 199 EUR you need to pay for this card you'll get awesome performance and thus a great gaming experience. Mind you that prices will definitely go down in the upcoming weeks and months to come.
So in conclusion it simply boils down to something very simple. For roughly 199 - 219 EUR you can get an excellent performing card in your gaming rig which will allow you to play all the latest games available in some pretty dandy resolutions with some spiffy image quality settings, throw in another 30-40 bucks and you can tweak the the hell out of the XFX card which seems to be adrift like madman on XTC.
Both manufacturers will receive an editor's choice award. XFX for that awesome designed card and high clocks, Sparkle for a really cool product in combo with a really good bundle at this price level. You can pick up or order both products in the stores .. today.
The GeForce 7900 GS series at this price level is something you can't go wrong with. Well guys and gals, we'll see you again next week same time and same channel for our GeForce 7950 GT reviews.
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