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    Biostar GeForce 7900 GT 256MB Review
    By Vince Freeman :  July 25, 2006

    Introduction

    The high-end of the video card market is usually where hardware enthusiasts go for their performance fix, seemingly with very little budgetary restraint. Obviously, cost does enter into the equation, but when you're paying over $450 for a GeForce 7900 GTX or Radeon X1900 XTX, or even upwards of $600 for a GeForce 7950 GX2, performance is certainly the determining factor. The NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT offers a slightly different take on the high-end video card, and while it can certainly pump out the framerates, its sub-$300 price tag is a bit easier to swallow. This combination of performance and value is rare to find in the high-end segment, and as such, the GeForce 7900 GT is a very popular model.

    Biostar provides a full line of NVIDIA-based video cards, from top to bottom, and has become a key NVIDIA graphics supplier. Biostar's core values are to provide excellent customer service, high quality products, flexibility in meeting their customers' needs and offering aggressive pricing. In this review, we are checking out the Biostar GeForce 7900 GT 256MB card, and seeing exactly how it ranks against a set of comparable mainstream and high-end alternatives.

    The Biostar GeForce 7900 GT 256MB Card

    The Biostar GeForce 7900 GT is a high-end graphics card that utilizes the powerful GeForce 7900 GT graphic processing unit. It features 24 pixel pipelines, 24 pixel shader processors, 24 texture units, and 8 vertex pipelines. The memory architecture is a 256-bit path to 256MB of GDDR3 memory. The GeForce 7900 GT is basically a core-optimized GeForce 7800 GTX that has been shrunk from 110nm to 90nm. These optimizations also mean that a GeForce 7900 GT is theoretically faster than a GeForce 7800 GTX at the same clock speed, even though the base specifications are equal.

    NVIDIA has made sure that the GeForce 7900 GT will be faster, and has increased the core clock from 430 MHz for the GeForce 7800 GTX to 450 MHz, and the memory clock from 1.2 GHz to 1.32 GHz. This results in fill rates of 10.8 GTexel/s and 10.8 GPixels/s, and a memory bandwidth of 42.2 GB/s, all of which are slightly higher than the GeForce 7800 GTX. These specifications place the GeForce 7900 GT right near the top of the single card/GPU performance ladder, with only the Radeon X1900 XTX and GeForce 7900 GTX placing higher.

    The Biostar GeForce 7900 GT 256MB card supports the PCI Express x16 interface, and sticks to the default NVIDIA clock speeds of 450 MHz core and 1.32 GHz memory. The card is single-slot design and features a surprisingly small copper heatsink-fan, which is similar to the cooling of the GeForce 7600 GT. This is an obvious benefit of the 90nm die shrink, and the card runs amazingly cool for its high-end gaming performance. But unlike the GeForce 7600 GT, the GeForce 7900 GT does require an external power connector. The card's backplate features dual DVI-I outputs and an S-Video port for TV and HDTV output.

    Biostar has assembled a fairly standard retail bundle, including a 98-page, multilingual user manual, a dual Molex PCIe power connector, an HDTV breakout box, a DVI-to-VGA dongle, a driver/utilities CD, and a Trackmania Nation game. Biostar also includes a Turboclock utility for overclocking, as well as saving and loading OC profiles, and this offers the same basic functionality (and core/memory speed ranges) as the standard NVIDIA drivers.

    Like all GeForce 7 Series cards, the GeForce 7900 GT supports the latest Shader Model 3.0, and a variety of NVIDIA features and options. These include the CineFX 4.0 engine, IntelliSample 4.0, UltraShadow II, NVIDIA PureVideo, NVIDIA Digital Vibrance Control 3.0, NVIDIA SLI, and nView, among others.

    To give a better idea of the architecture of the various mainstream and high-end cards we see competing directly against the Biostar GeForce 7900 GT, here is a small chart outlining the key architectural features of each GPU:

    Graphics Processor Pixel Pipes Pixel Shaders Texture Units Vertex Shaders ROPs
    Radeon X1600 XT 4 12 4 5 4
    GeForce 7600 GT 12 12 12 5 8
    GeForce 6800 GS 12 12 12 5 8
    GeForce 6800 Ultra 16 16 16 6 16
    Radeon X1800 GTO 12 12 12 8 8
    Radeon X1800 XL 16 16 16 8 16
    GeForce 7800 GT 20 20 20 7 16
    GeForce 7800 GTX 24 24 24 8 16
    GeForce 7900 GT 24 24 24 8 16

    Keep in mind that as many graphics designs have taken a more modular view of the architecture, so too does the entire picture of the GPU need to be taken into consideration. No more is performance relegated to the number of pixel pipelines or texel processing, but pixel and vertex shaders need to be taken into account, as does the number of ROPs (or Render Output units). Of course, the best performance metric is real-world testing, and we've assembled a wide range of game benchmarks in the next section.


  • Page 1 The Biostar GeForce 7900 GT 256MB Card
    Page 2 Test Setup and Benchmark Software
    Page 3 Quake 3 and Halo: Combat Evolved Performance
    Page 4 Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004 Performance
    Page 5 DOOM 3 and Half-Life 2 Performance
    Page 6 FarCry and Quake 4 Performance
    Page 7 Chronicles of Riddick and F.E.A.R. Performance
    Page 8 3DMark06 Advanced Standard & Feature Performance
    Page 9 Benchmark Analysis, Overclocking, Value, and Conclusion


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