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7950GX2 Quad SLI vs Dual 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX

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August 2, 2006 12:53:43 AM

So,

I was one of th e(un)lukcy folks who ordered a Dell XPS700 in late June. I prob wont see the machine until October now but I got a call from Dell today about changes to the config since I ordered.

I originally asked for the:
Dual 1GB NVIDIA GeForceTM 7950GX2
Which per Dell's website includes:
2X Two NVIDIA GeForce 7950

They told me this config is on indefinite hold - Ive heard nVidia is having trouble getting the drivers stable for this which is why Dell wont put it in their production machines just yet.

So.............
Now the only video option for the XPS 700 is the:
Dual 512MB NVIDIA GeForceTM 7900 GTX
Which per Dells website includes:
NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX

Now Im a bit bummed at not getting the Quad SLI but Dell is throwing in a Core 2 Duo 6600 processor instead.

But my real questions are:
A Dual 7900 GTX is an SLI config correct?

If for some dumb reason in the future could I swap out for 7950's? Its a BTX motherboard with 1 kilowatt power supply if that means anything.

Am I really missing out on performance by getting the 7900 GTX config since I wont be running stuff at super high resolutions(Im getting a 20" flat panel with the system)?

I havent kept up with the video world so I am lost with whether or not Im getting a 1980 engine for my 2006 PC :) 

Thanks in advance.
August 4, 2006 1:26:06 AM

Firstly, I assume you know that LCDs always look their finest when running at their native resolution.

20 inches is a whole lot of size, my man. In your case I think you will see the advantages of any kind of SLi setup faster than the rest of us will. As you will no doubt find from experience, gaming at your native resolution is the best way to go and because your native res. is higher than that of most people you'll be asking more of your GPU(s), therefore as graphics become more complex (as time goes on) you'll be asking exponentially more from your GPUs as they have to pump out significantly more pixels per second.

I would say that if gaming is your thing then a faster processor is not what's going to make your gaming life better. You're going to receive a PC with 2 7900GTX cards and within 15-18 months you'll want to upgrade to keep up. You haven't even received this PC yet and as every day passes it's getting more and more outdated. This is a fact you need to remind the suppliers of, that they need to compensate you for.

I would say that, in terms of PC enjoyment, losing out on your 7950s should merit you receiving a 2nd 20" screen, not a processor upgrade which they currently probably have by the stockload. A mid-range CPUs do not equate to 2 top dog GPUs, not in terms of what you'll get in gaming performance, not financially and Windows REALLY won't go any faster, not unless video encoding really IS your thing...baby (sorry, I was thinking of that Austen Powers bit with the vacuum pump).

Ta-ra for now.
August 4, 2006 1:35:32 AM

Thanks for your input - I do burn family videos so that is part of the equation. I try to buy high end pcs and hold on to them for 3-4 years. My current rig is a P4 3.0 HT w/256meg AGP4x card (GeFore 5000 series). It originally came with a 128meg 4400 series card - i wouldnt have updated it execpt the cheap PC I got for my kids needed some better so I upgraded my card and gave them my old one.

So,
Dual 7900 GTX's - think that will hold me for 3 years? I play Quake 4, Doom 3, Star Wars Battlefront (kids love it) and prob will get more FPS's in the future (Im an Id fan :)  )

Or
Should I cancel the PC and wait 6 months for the 7950's to stablize and get out in the mainstream. Ive got a nice 18 month free financing on this rig which may or may not be availalbe on this high end system in the future.

Anyhow - any thoughts appreciated.
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August 4, 2006 2:37:43 AM

If they've kept you waiting and have been changing what they've promised you then they're not reliable. Get the hell out of the deal and get your money back.

I don't think 2 7900GTX cards will hold you for 3 or 4 years, in fact I don't think any current graphics solution will. At present both graphics manufacturers are planning on releasing some new hardware in a little while.

I'm not a fan of big-budget PCs. You can't beat PCs for first-person shooters, I agree. Perhaps you might want to consider going for a mid-to-high range PC that will last you for now. Go for intel's new Core 2 Duo platform - it's new so the chips will be available for it for a good long time yet and they'll continue to get faster.

I don't know if your current PC is a LGA775 - based system or not. Find out about your motherboard and how much more you can get out of that. Some LGA775 motherboards can handle Intel's new chips, after a BIOS update, but that's easy.

These next few months will be a really crappy time to buy any serious equipment as new technology and software are just around the corner and will bring about a big price drop, should you be buying a whole system's worth of parts.

If you're currently using an AGP-based system then there are cards out there that will easily play all the most recent FPS games. If you're already using PCI express then a low-end 7900 card such as the 7900GTs or a 7600GT will do you just fine for a good little while.

If I could urge you to do one thing then it's to get the most out of what you already have by getting a nice graphics card in there. Older Pentium 4 chips are dropping in price and could help you out a bit too. Perhaps you could buy some really good RAM for your current system as that'll boost the system's performance as a whole, by lowering timings the system will run nicely in Windows. Just hold on until November and spend a reasonable amount on what you have, in 6 months time you'll have an even better 'spare' PC and a better idea of what early 2007 will require of us as 'minimum spec'.

Your money is hard-earned, you would definitely regret blowing a load of it on something that is only good for this generation of games.
August 4, 2006 1:16:28 PM

Im thinking you are right Andy - By October I would imagine the rig Im buying now will not be a top spec. Dell is new to this game and they have screwed up with the XPS700 launch.

Next year will prob be a better time to sink my $$ into a rig with Vista being the default OS. Might be time to look into another gig of RAM for my current setup.

I dont want to get into CPU swaps or anything since pulling boards is about as far as I go :)  - I dont think I have a PCIe bus - Just AGP 4x (8x came out shortly after I got this :(  )

Is there an easy way for me to tell what kind of PCI connectors I have?
August 4, 2006 2:05:52 PM

Just cancelled the XPS700 and ordered a 1 gig memory upgrade for my PC :) 

Seems like with DX10 around the corner and Vista right now is not a good time to pump alot of cash into a high end system. This time next year probably :) 
August 5, 2006 2:10:46 PM

1) Extra RAM is ALWAYS a good thing, not only will it improve your game load times but it'll increase Windows' overall performance.

2) How much RAM will you have in your system once you've added 1Gb? If you'll have 2Gb then consider turning off Windows' page file - you'll reclaim at least a Gb of HDD space and the lack of swapping will mean that you're removing a system bottleneck.

3) If you've got an AGP 4x slot then I think an nVidia 7800 card would not be happy in there. The 7600 series of GPUs are becoming available for AGP users, they're amazing value for money and will run all new games. Email nVidia and ask them if it'll work in your slot. If it won't then get a 6800-based card off eBay.

4) ATi make an x1600 card for AGP but the x1600 cards are rubbish, you'll regret buying one.

5) Your PCI slots are all standard PCI, not PCI express. If you don't have a PCIe graphics card it's almost 100% likely that all your PCI slots are normal PCI as well. I wouldn't worry about this, there are next to no cards available for PCIe x1 slots.

6) I believe Rivatuner will tell you all about your current graphics card, if it's an nVidia. That way you can tell if it's an AGP one or a PCIe one.
August 5, 2006 2:54:34 PM

I'd hold out for DX10 video cards, rather than buying two graphics cards which will soon be old technology. In the meantime, the RAM upgrade for your computer will help a lot, and you could get that refurb X800XL from ATI, which will be a huge upgrade from your GeforceFX (the whole FX series sucked).
August 5, 2006 8:19:00 PM

Yup - Memory will take me to 2gb - I always thought increasing the Page file would help performance - seems like XP uses this as a crutch too many times :) 

I dont have any PCIe - So its normal PCI in my system :( 

I am currently using a GeForce 5500 w/256meg ram. Hopefully by April/May of next year the next crop of DX10 and Vista will be out and Ill dig into a new system and not get a video card today ;) 
August 11, 2006 2:42:37 AM

Nvidia has recently released the new Quad SLI beta drivers which are suppose to be a great deal better than the previous ones, but it's really up to you. At a resolution of 1920x1200 or higher will be the best place for Quad SLI, and anything lower won't really need that.(Although with Quad SLI you could run all of your games at your native resolution with 8x antialiasing :D )
August 13, 2006 4:34:31 PM

Minor update on my situation.

Upgrading to 2 gig of memory WinXP decided to tank and become unrepairable (never seen that before in my life)

So,
Decided to invest in a 320gig HD, 2 1gig DDR chips for 2gig RAM and a GeForce 6200OC ($49.99 :)  )

So for $400 i did a few major ugprades which should hold me for awhile. I wouldve looked into a better Video card except my motherboard is a 4x and the 6600 indicated an 8x slot was required where the 6200 indicated 4x/8x - For $49.99 I couldnt pass that up since the 6600 was $150.

After some fun rebuilding my machine is running quite nicely now :) 

Thanks for all the suggestions.
September 19, 2006 1:45:20 PM

How do you find out what your "native resolution" is?

Sorry, :p  thx
!