The fun in 3D-chip land never stops:, when we check the most recent market shares nVidia is still slightly on top of their main rival, buy ATI will not give up though. With their newest card, the Radeon X1950XTX, they have shown that they can price their products as agressive as nVidia can. As this game will not stop anytime soon, both companies can only do one thing; offer better performance than the competitor at a lower price. Today it is nVidia's turn, and they introduce the GeForce 7900GS to the public. This card was already availble for OEM system builders, like Dell, but was not available as a retail product in normale computer shops. The new card is meant to offer high end performance for a mid-range price, something that it seems to do very well. The card is a member of the 7900 family, but the price in stores will most likely not exceed $200.
The GeForce 7900 GS uses the same 90nm G71 chip as its bigger brothers, the GeForce 7900 GT and GTX, and the clock frequences are exactly the same as that of the 7900GT at 450MHz for the GPU and 660MHz for the memory. The actual performace of the 7900GS will be slightly lower than that of the other cards, as nVidia has disabled some vertex and pixel shaders. The 7900GS has a total of 7 vertex shaders and 20 pixel pipelines, where as the GT has 8 vertex shaders and 24 pixel pipelines.
We expect that the first 7900GS cards on the market will be based on nVidia's reference design, with 256MB 1.4ns GDDR3, two DVI ports (one dual-link) and a TV-out. The dual link DVI port will enable the card to connect to 30 inch and higher TFT's. The reference design does have space for an HDCP chip, but we have not heard that any nVidia partner is actually planning on using this possibility. As all other 7900 cards the GS also sports an external powerconnector, the card uses 82 watts of power, which is just above the rated 75 watts that a PCI-Express port can supply. The 7900GS is SLI enabled, so that connector can also be found on the PCB.
The table below shows the new 7900GS in comparison with the 7900GT and the 7900GTX.
For our test we have used GeForce 7900GS cards from Point-of-View, XFX en Sparkle. We will look at these cards and their differences more in-depth in a second article.