Today marks yet another important day in graphics history. Single and dual-slot PCIe motherboards can take advantage of a dual GPU solution from Nvidia. The Triple X version of the GeForce 7950 that we had in for testing - the XFX 579MXXX GeForce 7950GX2 - will debut on the street for $649. Two scaled down versions will enter at $599 and $629. Considering that the price for getting two GeForce 7900GTX graphics cards and enabling SLI is about $960 ($480 per card), plus the cost of an SLI motherboard, this makes the GeForce 7950GX2 a welcome solution for those with limited graphics budgets.
We are pleased that Nvidia made considerable changes to the layout of the boards in order to accommodate more system form factors, as well as an enhanced cooling design. All of the capacitors are out of reach from things that could bump them off if the system needs to be moved, as is the situation for LAN partygoers. We will have to wait to see how the lack of the second SLI bridge connection will limit performance when Nvidia enables Quad SLI with the GeForce 7950GX2.
The new control panel and the release 90 drivers ran flawlessly, which was welcome, since we practically did beta testing on the Quad series drivers. Both those new to Nvidia hardware, and those familiar with it, will come to find the new layout user-friendly and just as easy to tweak as the older control panel was.
If you are looking for a solid performer for all applications in a single PCI Express solution, the GeForce 7950GX2 will give you high frame rates across the board and sustain higher frame rates as you increase image resolutions and settings. We feel that it is worth the $650 that one would have to shell out for extreme graphics capability. It will save gamers money in the long run compared to dual GeForce 7900GTX cards in SLI mode, or two Radeon X1900XTX cards using CrossFire.
As with Quad SLI, we do not see high volume sales in the future for Nvidia, but this could let people upgrade to a dual GPU platform more easily, as they would not have to change to an SLI motherboard. We obviously don't feel this is for every gamer out there, but there is a place for the GeForce 7950GX2.
During the coming weeks we will have a full lineup of all of the 7000 series cards to help Nvidia fans sort out their purchasing decisions. We will also do the same for ATI fans. We have heard rumors of a dual GPU solution from ATI but cannot confirm these at present. For the time being there is a new sheriff in town: the GeForce 7950GX2.