There are a few things every hard core gamer should do. Make a
trip to E3, beta test software, play every game in a franchise, camp
out for a game of hardware release, and own a high end video card.
Buying one of these cards is a rather unique experience. It means
you are hard core, it means that you have spent more on one part of
your computer than some people spend on groceries for a month.
For around the same amount you could purchase a brand new Xbox 360
premium edition and the Xbox 360 will be able to play all the newest
games for at least four years while you’ll be lucky to max out games
out games on your PC for the next year and a half if you are
lucky. If there’s anything that depreciates faster than cars it
would have to be video cards.
While the most hardcore will flock to the flagship 7800 GTX, those with
some financial constraints may want to look at the slightly slower,
7800 GT bundle. Besides the slower memory speed (500MHz vs. 600
MHz) and core speed (400 MHz vs. 430 MHz) the GT also sports one less
Vertex unit and 4 less fragment units. A lot of purists will
still gravitate towards the more expensive board but given the marginal
difference in speeds you’re almost better of investing the difference
in a mutual fund and then cashing it out in a year or two for the next
generation of card.
Enter the XFX 7800 GT OC
from XFX a company that I really have
not had a lot of experience with in the past. John had good
things to say about them so I felt that I could entrust my ducats to
buying one of their cards (John rarely steers me wrong except when he
tries to brainwash me with all of that buy AMD crap). I do have
to give credit to XFX for delivering their product in a cool box as you
get a nice big X shaped box. Actually getting to the card is a
bit tricky as there are boxes within boxes to open before you can
actually get your hands on the card. The process was very similar
to those old stacked dolls that my sister played with as a child.
A good box is a nice thing (especially when you’ve made this kind of
investment) but at the same time you really don’t want to frustrate
people with elaborate packaging.
The card itself is fairly stock and comes on your old school standard
green PCB. The cooler is also a fairly stock fan/heat sink
combination. The standard SLI bridge sits at the top of the card,
taunting you with the promise of increased performance for only another
$390 plus shipping. The card is also frickin’ huge, especially
compared to the X700 Pro I had in the case before.
After taking this picture, the 7800GT at the X700 and crapped out two SLI capable 6800's
Installing the card was easy, I just un-installed the ATI drivers from
the system. Popped open the case, extracted the old card and put
the new card in place. Powered on the system and then installed
the new drivers. Easy as knife killing a sniper looking the wrong
way. The included driver disc was actually the latest version of
the Nvidia drivers 77.77) which was pretty impressive.
Then it was on to the big test, how well would the card handle
Battlefield 2. My old card did an OK job at a low resolution but
now it was time to crank it all the way up and experience the
difference. Immediately I noticed the huge difference in how the
game looked and played with no chop. I couldn’t find a decent
benchmark for Battlefield 2 but the difference in gameplay was
amazing. I would like to have added that it increased my skillz
somewhat but it really didn’t so if you suck before you get a new
graphic card, you’re going to suck afterwards but you’ll be able to see
your own blood spurts in a much higher resolution.A review of a graphics card wouldn’t be complete
without some benchmarks and graphs so here they are.
The card was tested on this system:
Intel Pentium 4 630
Abit AG8 motherboard
2 sticks of 512MBof Kingston HyperX PC4000 DDR RAM
Windows XP SP2
77.77 version of the NVIDIA drivers
You really can’t argue with the performance of the XFX as the card
handles about everything you can throw at it right now and probably for
the next year and beyond. You’d almost expect a card with this
kind of performance to have a loud fan and make a lot of noise but with
just the stock cooler and fan you’d barely know the card was in the
My only real complaint with the XFX 7800 GT
is the bundle.
The bundled games are great and do a great job of showing off what the
card can do but it would have been nice for XFX to include something a
little more useful than 3DEdit for video capture. I really
shouldn’t complain as the card sells for a lot less than competing
products but it’s something that stuck in my craw. This isn’t a
big deal for most gamers but if you want to use the multimedia
capabilities of the card you’re going to have to shell out some more
credits for a decent multimedia capture software.
All in all I really love this card and you can beat the bang for the
buck for a card that will probably be able to handle every game you can
throw at it for the next year. Right as I was wrapping up this
review the Call of Duty 2
demo came out and I was able to play
that at a full 1680 X 1050 resolution with max details and 4X AA
without dropping a single frame. I’m sure that the card will be
able to handle the retain version of that, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
and hopefully Unreal Tournament: 2007
All in all I’m very happy with the performance of the card and can’t
recommend it enough as one of those purchases that you’ll only make
once or twice in your lifetime.