MSI – NX7800GTX review

hugely fast Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX card
Photo of MSI – NX7800GTX
£399

When nVidia launched its new graphics core, the G70, at a huge shindig in Paris complete with motorbikes and go-go dancers, everybody settled down for a long wait for the cards. After all, that’s what usually happens when either of the big two graphics companies launches a high-end card.

But no. Nvidia promised that cards would be available the day after the launch, and Lo! they weren’t. But they were available very soon afterwards. So after that surprise, surely ATI would come along and rain on Nvidia’s parade? No; we are still waiting for ATI’s response, the R520 core.

Back to the G70, which builds on the important features found in the previous NV40 core (the GeForce 6800) such as Shader Model 3.0, SLI support and so on, and adds some important and powerful architecture changes.

While the NV40 was built on a 130nm process and featured 222 million transistors, the G70 is built on a 110nm process with the transistor count rising to a colossal 302 million. The number of pixel pipelines has risen from 16 to 24, with two more vertex units (8 as against 6 in the NV40) and it has the latest version 4.0 of the CineFX architecture. Speed-wise the core runs at 430MHz while the GDDR3 Samsung memory speeds along at 600MHz DDR (an effective 1.2GHz) via a 256-bit memory bus.

The first reference design to use the new core is the GeForce 7800GTX and one of the first cards to hit the shelves is this one from MSI. Apart from the MSI decal on the cooler, the NX7800GTX is identical to Nvidia’s reference cards, right down to the core and clock speeds. The cooler itself is a single slot solution made from aluminium and covers most of the top of the board. Something to be aware of if you are thinking about adding one to a system in a smallish case is that 7800GTX isn’t a small card; it’s longer than either the 6800Ultra or 6800GT.

In terms of performance the NX7800GTX leaves both the 6800Ultra and ATI’s X850XT Platinum edition standing; at a resolution of 1,024 by 768 the NX7800GTX recorded a 3DM05 score of 7,495, as opposed to 5,752 for MSI’s own 6800Ultra and 6,187 for a reference X850TX PE. When it came to a real game, the NX7800GTX produced a score of 110fps when benched with Doom 3, compared to 94 and 90fps for the 6800Ultra and X850XT PE respectively.

The box contains some useful items; a 6-pin to 4-pin power cable should your power supply not have one, an S-Video cable (which by way of a change is a useful length), a cable splitter that gives S-Video in/out, Composite in/out and component out, two DVI/VGA adapters, the usual MSI driver CD with its host of utilities and a copy of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.

Company: MSI

Contact: 020 8813 6688


Verdict
If you are a hardcore gamer then Nvidia's GeForce 7800GTX is a must-have, and unlike previous high-end cards there are now quite a few to choose from. MSI's NX7800GTX offers a reasonable bundle and a top game to entice you.