Our test system is based on an Intel Core 2 Duo with Intel 975x “bad axe” motherboard, 2Gb of system memory, a fast Western Digital Raptor hard drive and fresh install of Windows XP SP2. While Windows Vista has been released earlier this year, and it features DX10, we’re waiting for games to actually make good use of the new DX10 features to make it worth switching operation system, as well as SP1 to work out the kinks in the system. With OEM’s asking Microsoft to keep XP around a bit longer it seems we’re not the only ones finding a lack of reasons to “upgrade” to a new OS. Our tests were done with the latest NVIDIA Forcedrivers available at the time of writing. For the 7300 GT cards it was 94.24, for the 8500 GT it was 158.22.
The enclosure used for our test in an Antec Performance One P182B
which focuses on silence with large 120mm fans and anti vibration and noise blocking features.
Intel Test Setup
|CPU ||Intel Core 2 E6400 @ 2.8Ghz (from CSMSA)|
|Cooling ||Coolermaster Hyper TX|
|Mainboard ||Intel 975X Bad Axe (Modded by Piotke)|
|Memory ||2 * 1Gb PC6400 OCZ|
|Other ||Antec Performance One P182B Case|
Antec TruePower Trio! 650W
Western Digital 74Gb Raptor SATA HDD
While mid/high end cards can easily run the latest games at comfortable resolutions and details, the quest for image quality/performance balance is tougher with low end cards. While the maximum resolution we can test at is 1600x1200, we never surpassed 1280x1024 as performance dropped to <10fps which is unbearable and nauseating for most. we tested a mix of game genres to see how the cards would do. keep in mind that we’re stressing them with latest games out there, older will allow higher resolutions more detail.RPG/Hack&Slash: TES: Oblivion
Racing: Colin McRae DIRT
FPS: Rainbow Six Las Vegas
RTS: Supreme Commander
None of the games tested were playable with Anti Aliasing enabled, unless we lowered resolutions to 640x480 (and lower?), not a good trade of.
Overclocking the 8500 GT and 7300 GT
Equipped with a rather small stock heatsink the PNY was still able to impress us overclocking wise. While the DDR2 memory was not very lenient, the GPU/Shader clocks were able to rise quite a bit.
As with its big brother, the 8800, the 8500 GT has separate GPU clocks and Shader clocks, those two clock speeds are linked, increasing the GPU will result in a higher Shader clock too. As with the 8800 GPU clock speed could only be increased in steps, settings a certain GPU clock in Rivatuner would not always correspond to the real time clock speed. In the table below we recorded the steps of the real time clock as we started overclocking. The clock speed of 450Mhz on the GPU core was very conservative.
No we did not reach 837Mhz on the GPU core, but did discover a consistency in GPU clock increases, it went up by 27Mhz jumps, the Shader clocks followed at 54Mhz per step. With more advanced cooling and voltage modifications we’re sure the GPU core will be highly overclockable. With the stock cooling we still obtained a very respectable GPU speed of 702Mhz (1404Mhz Shader), that’s a 56% increase! The DDR2 memory chips maxed out at 470Mhz, a ~17% increase, not that impressive.
The PNY 7300 GT with 256Mb DDR2 had the same memory overclocking issue, at 350Mhz it maxed out, from the stock 333Mhz that a ~5% increase. The GPU did much better, and with more accurate control (no 27Mhz jumps in GPU core speed here) we ended up with a stable speed of 510Mhz (a ~46% OC!) on the GPU, and this with a passive cooled heatsink!
The Zotac 7300 GT with its 128Mb DDR3 memory delivered some impressive numbers, the GPU stock speed at 500Mhz matches the PNY overclock, without any modifications the GPU could be overclocked to 666Mhz (an evil 33% OC) but with voltage modifications and more advanced air cooling we’ve seen them soar as high as 1000Mhz, which is a 100% OC on the core! The DDR3 memory did not disappoint either, running at 750Mhz stock, we got it up to 954Mhz (+26%).
PNY 8500 GT stock 450/400 (900 Shader) --> 702/470 (1404 Shader) // GPU: +56% / MEM: +16%
PNY 7300 GT stock 350/333 --> 510/350 // GPU: +46% / MEM: +5%
Zotac 7300 GT stock 500/750 --> 666/954 // GPU: +33% / MEM: +26%
We ran all benchmarks with the video cards at standard as well as overclocked speeds to see how much more performance we could extract. Let’s start by seeing how they did in the synthetic benchmarks from Futuremark ->