NVIDIA 7900 GT VGA Card Roundup

Videocards/VGA Reviews by jmke @ 2006-07-23

We compare four 7900 GT video cards ranging from the price competitive Club 3D to the outrageously overclocked EVGA version; between those two extremes there are interesting products from Sparkle and MSI which also sport factory overclocked speeds. Read on to find out how they perform in games, how high they overclock and if their cooling is effective and quiet.

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RMA and Conclusion

7900 series ?factory overclocked? issues?

In May 2006 HardOCP published an article titled ?GeForce 7900 Inferno ? Burn Baby Burn? which discussed the experience end users were having with their factory overclocked 7900 video cards. It seemed that a larger than normal percentage was failing and dying for ?no apparent? reason. One of the most noticeable signs was artifacts appearing in the ?Deep Freeze? benchmark run in 3DMark06, followed by random graphical glitches in games and finally the video card completely failing to display any image.

EVGA is hard at work to provide the best possible service for the end user, no matter what the issue. They have released new information about product updates which help to eradicate the chance of failure on their 7900 product line. It seems though that the product failure is not directly related to the higher factory overclocks as these "artifacting" problems can pop up on any 7900 card out there, which leads us to believe there might have been a problem with the reference design. The RMA percentage for EVGA is slightly higher than previous generation products but still nothing too worrying.

EVGA has done a product update for their 7900 series in the US, more info on this can be found here at their support forums

Some end users have already profited from this new update and they send out their faulty product and got a new card back the next day. This is one user?s comment:
?..Ran a few runs of 3DM06 Deep Freeze at stock speeds and it seems to be working great?..Also, EVGA slipped in card for a free download copy of HL2:Episode 1 with a license.

So do these factory overclocked units exhibit a higher failure rate than those running at reference clocks speeds? No hard proof can be found to validate that statement. EVGA has been quite open about their RMA figures and while they may have spiked back in May, the current return rate now is back to normal for a high end video card series. Other manufacturers are more tight lipped about exact numbers but we?ll try to investigate and get back to you with more numbers;

Conclusive Thoughts

The 7900 GT is a very capable GPU which will give you the needed frame rate to enjoy the latest games at high(er) detail, but which one will suite you best? The standard clock speeds of the 7900 GT are surely enough for it to be quick, Club 3D which runs at reference speeds offers you a solid product at a good price. Yet for a mere ?10 more you can get a factory overclocked MSI NX7900GT-VT2D256 which gives you a small to average boost in most games, the extra price is not exaggerated to get the guaranteed higher clock speeds.

The Sparkle Calibre and EVGA 7900 GT KO Superclocked are on the other end of the price scale, the EVGA costs ?100 more than the Club 3D but comes with clock speeds which put it in well ahead performance wise. If you are looking for a guaranteed high overclocking VGA card, this card from EVGA surely fits the bill.

The Sparkle Calibre with its modest overclock doesn?t quite validate its higher asking price, the extra 256Mb memory didn?t really pay off in performance, making it an unnecessary cost for the whole. On the plus side it was the only product in the roundup which guaranteed silence even at 100% fan speed, which is certainly commendable.

We hope we have highlighted the better and worse sides of each product tested today so you can make an informative decision if you decide to upgrade to the 7900 GT series.

We like to thank Ilona from MSI, Aline from EVGA and Yuri from Forcom (Sparkle) for lending the products for test.

Questions/Comments: forum thread

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