We know how it is. You’ve heard our warnings that Direct3D 10 is right around the corner, but your old videocard is sucking wind and there’s a pair of Benjamins burning a hole in your pocket. What’s a PC enthusiast to do?
ATI owned this price point with its X1800 GTO in our August 2006 roundup, but Nvidia counter-attacked by lopping off four pixel-shaders and one vertex shader from its GeForce 7900 core to deliver the 7900 GS.
EVGA offers several 7900 GS SKUs, including this wickedly overclocked Signature Series. EVGA gooses Nvidia’s reference-design GPU clock speed to 520MHz (up from 450MHz) and its 256MB of memory to 700MHz (up from 660MHz), thanks to the presence of a large copper heatsink and fan.
EVGA’s Signature Series is a marketing gambit that offers several concrete benefits, including access to a dedicated, 24/7 tech-support phone line and the option to trade up to a higher-end model within 90 days of your purchase (you pay the difference in retail cost). Should your card ever take a dump, EVGA promises to ship you a replacement within 24 hours.
But the program’s basic intent is to make its customers feel as though they’re members of an elite club. Signature Series cards are sold only in two-card SLI bundles—with sequential serial numbers, no less—and they arrive in a large and elaborately embossed carton.
Are these soft benefits a pile of fan-boy hooey or the coolest thing since Keds’ secret decoder rings? We’ll let you decide, but we think the Radeon X1950 Pro (reviewed on page 74) is the better value at this price point. ATI has finally fixed CrossFire, the GPU supports a higher top-end resolution, and VIVO renders it suitable for video editing.