Powercolor X1800 GTO and MSI 7600 GT Reviewed

Videocards/VGA Reviews by geoffrey @ 2006-07-28

How high can you turn up the resolution and detail with these mid-range VGA cards? We evaluate their performance in six different games to give you the answer. Read on to find out how much *oomph* you can get for your money. The Powercolor X1800 GTO and MSI NX7600GT-T2D256EZ (the one with passive cooling) are tested.

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Test setup & benchmark methodology

Test setup

Geoffreys' AMD Test Setup
CPUAMD Atlon64 FX57 @ 2.9GHz
MainbordDFI Lanparty nf4 Ultra-D
Memory2x512MB Twinmoss SpeedPremium
  • OCZ Powerstream 600W PSU
  • Maxtor 80Gb PATA HDD
  • Lian-Li PC61 case
  • 17'' LG Studioworks 700s CRT

  • The CPU was running near 2,9GHz by setting the multiplier to 13 and HTT to 223. The memory was running @ 223MHz with 2-2-2-5 timings.
  • ForceWare 84.21 drivers for the 7600GT
  • Catalyst 6.5 drivers for the X1800GTO

    Benchmark methodology

    All tests were done with a 17inch CRT monitor with maximum resolution of 1280*1024. For mid-range VGA cards this resolution can be quite stressful in newer games especially when higher quality settings are enabled like anti aliasing and anisotropic filtering.

    These resolutions and IQ were tested:

  • 1024*768 2xAA/4xAF
  • 1024*768 4xAA/8xAF
  • 1280*1024 2xAA/4xAF
  • 1280*1024 4xAA/8xAF

    FRAPS was used to measure the FPS during repeated manual run-throughs of a certain part of the game tested, the minimum, maximum and average values were recorded.

  • Quake 4
  • Serious Sam 2
  • Call of Duty 2
  • F.E.A.R.
  • Far Cry
  • Battlefield 2

    Most games allowed resolutions to be set to 1280x1024, but with F.E.A.R. and Battlefield 2 we ran into troubles, through the menus you can only set 1280x960, it?s requirements to manipulate the these games? .ini configuration files to be able to set 1280x1024, unfortunately we only discovered this after the X1800GTO and 7600GT were tested and send back to their original owners. For these two games we?ve tested at 1280x960, performance at 1280x1024 will be slightly lower overall since there?s once a 6,6% increase in overall resolution.

    Odd results with 7600GT

    After finishing the tests with the X1800GTO it was send back to Powercolor, and we continued our testing with the 7600GT, the games benchmarks were all done, the data analyzed, a conclusion written and then we ran Futuremark?s 3DMark benchmark on the last day before the 7600GT had to be returned.

    We repeated each 3DMark test several times and noticed something weird, 3DMark05 returned a score of 59xx something which is normal, but after the 3rd repeated test the score started to go down, in the end the card couldn?t get a score higher than 50xx, it seems the 7600GT was speed throttling due to the high temperature of the core. We used rivatuner to try to track the speed of the Core and Memory MHZ but couldn?t see any changes when the scores were lowered. The GPU temperature hovered around 80?C which was still well below NVIDIA?s alarm 115?C value.

    We contacted MSI who did some in house tests and they confirmed our findings. They put the passively cooled 7600GT in a compact case and ran several loops of 3DMark and these were the obtained scores: 5654, 5712, 5696, 3754 and 1834. The GPU temperature according to driver was ~100?C. They are looking into the cause of the speed throttling, once we receive more info we will update this section.

    Impact on test results

    Unfortunately we only noticed the odd results with the 7600GT after all testing was done and we ran out of time with the test samples. Comparing the X1800GTO vs 7600GT results we previously obtained in mid-range VGA card roundup showed us that the X1800GTO was slightly slower in most benchmarks except for one or two. In our tests results obtained today we saw the 7600GT trailing the X1800GTO in almost every test, the direct result of the speed throttling which happened with the passive MSI 7600GT due to higher GPU temperatures.

    So when you look at the test results on the following pages, please keep in mind that the 7600GT is running below specifications! You will see if the X1800GTO can give you high enough FPS in different games at different resolutions and quality settings, we go more in detail that in the Mid-Range roundup, with a wider variety of games and resolutions. On with the show ->
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