Gigabyte GeForce 7950 GT

Does Gigabyte's GeForce 7950 GT equipped GV-NX795T512H-RH 512 MB have the right stuff to deliver the deadly blow to ATI's RADEON X1900 XT 256 MB powerhouse? Will the extra 256MB of memory help?

Gigabyte

Gigabyte is a company that is familiar to most PC hardware enthusiasts. They were founded in 1986 by a team of eight electronics engineers. At first, they specialized only in motherboard design. In a few short years, they expanded their product lineup to include graphics cards, notebooks, communications equipment, network servers, computer chassis', and cooling devices. Soon, they plan to add desktop computers, mobile phones, and desktop peripherals such as LCD displays and input devices, among others.

Gigabyte manufactures a dazzling array of high-end computer equipment, including the excellent GA-965P-DS3 motherboard, which is quite popular with the overclocking fanatics.

The Gigabyte video card we are evaluating in this article is the GV-NX795T512H-RH video card, which features the NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GT GPU.

NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GT

NVIDIA announced the GeForce 7950 GT GPU on September 6th, 2006. Eight days later, they launched it, and gamers could go and actually buy the video cards. The GeForce 7950 GT occupies the lowest slot of the enthusiast class of video cards, targeted right around the $300 USD mark, it is intended to replace the GeForce 7900 GT (though the 7900 GT still has some fight left in it). The GPU itself is the very same 90nm G71 silicon that you would find in the GeForce 7900 GTX and GeForce 7900 GT. It has 24 pixel shader units, 8 vertex shader units, and 16 raster operators (ROPs), just like its GeForce 7900 series brethren.

In order to strike the correct price point, the GeForce 7950 GT ships with a slower GPU and memory clock speed than the GeForce 7900 GTX, but higher than the GeForce 7900 GT. NVIDIA recommends a GPU clock speed of 550 MHz, and a memory speed of 1.4 GHz DDR (700 MHz actual), and they recommend 512 MB of GDDR3 be equipped on GeForce 7950 GT video cards (though there are some such video cards that have only 256 MB). The Gigabyte GV-NX795T512H-RH comes with the GPU clocked at 550 MHz, and the memory clocked at 1.4 GHz, which means this video card is not overclocked from the factory.

The Gigabyte GV-NX795T512H-RH

Article Image Article Image Article Image

The box is big, and the front makes it abundantly clear that this video card comes with Sid Meier's Civilization IV. The box measures 13" tall, by 10.5" wide, by 3" thick. The front of the box conveys all of the necessary information, including the make, model, the memory amount (512 MB), and the interface type (PCI-Express). The back of the box contains very little useful information. The most prominent feature is the image of the sphinx/statue of liberty hybrid monument, and a description of Civilization IV. On the inside, we find the box to be very organized, and the video card tightly secured in white plastic foam, underneath the included manual and discs.

Article Image Article Image Article Image Article Image

The Gigabyte GeForce 7950 GT is equipped with the Zalman VF700-AlCu cooler. With that cooling device in place, we immediately expect this video card to be nearly silent, and to run cool. Due to the nature of the heat-sink, the memory chips are left to the elements. Without a doubt, they are likely to receive some cooling from the fan as the air brushes past them after picking up some heat from the heat-sink. Serious overclockers may want to consider installing ramsinks.

The next noticeable feature of the Gigabyte GV-NX795T512H-RH video card is the inclusion of plastic caps on the external connectors, and the SLI bridge connector. The caps are there to keep the connectors clean and safe when not in use. [H]Consumer's recent evaluation of the Digital Storm Twister computer system showed these caps in place on it's Gigabyte video card (a GeForce 7900 GT) as well. Kudos to Gigabyte for going the extra mile to protect their video cards.

Uniquely the GV-NX795T512H-RH has a 4-pin Molex power connector, rather than the now common 6-pin auxiliary power connector. Users whose power supplies boast dedicated power rails for the PCI-Express power cables will not be able to utilize that feature with this video card without an adaptor. You will have to use a free Molex power connector with this video card, preferably dedicated without any other devices on the line.

Article Image Article Image Article Image Article Image Article Image

For output support, the GV-NX795T512H-RH offers up a pair of Dual-Link DVI connectors, as well as the standard NVIDIA HDTV output connector. The back of this video card is relatively featureless and contains mostly power regulation circuitry.

The memory on the Gigabyte GV-NX795T512H-RH is made by Qimonda, formerly the volatile memory division of Infineon. The GDDR3 memory chips used are model HYB18H512321AF-14. It is a 1.4 nanosecond SDRAM, operating on 2.0 volts, with a maximum theoretical speed of 700 MHz (1.4 GHz DDR), as rated by the manufacturer.

This video card's bundle is slim. It comes with the requisite HDTV output dongle, a pair of DVI to VGA adaptors, a short installation guide, and two software discs. Predictably enough, one of the software discs is the full version of Civilization IV, on DVD. The other is a driver CD, which also includes the seemingly standard CyberLink PowerDVD, version 6.

Pricing, Availability, and Comparison

The Gigabyte GV-NX795T512H-RH is a new video card, and as such, there are not very many retailers currently carrying it. The MSRP comes in at $299.99 USD. ZipZoomFly lists the video card for $312.99 USD, but it is on backorder status.

For comparison, we are evaluating the GV-NX795T512H-RH against the ATI RADEON X1900 XT 256 MB, which goes for $269.99 USD at Newegg. That video card too, is on backorder status.

That is a ~$43 USD difference, which is enough to make or break a sale in any market segment.