VGA Charts VIII: PCI Express Winter 2005

Comparing The Candidates

There are two real highlights among our candidates in this line-up, namely ATI's flagship model, the Radeon X1800 XT with 512 MB of RAM and NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX, represented by the ASUS GeForce 7800 GTX Extreme. Although the ASUS card is more expensive than the stock version, this is justified by its much higher clock speeds. Interestingly, it still only requires air cooling.

How THG Tests

All tests were run with the common screen resolution of 1024x768 and 1280x1024 (17" & 19" TFT displays). To push the high-end cards to their limits, we also included additional benchmark runs at 1600x1200. The tests at the 1024 resolution were run in three variations with:

  • neither full-scene anti-aliasing (FSAA) nor anisotropic filtering (AF) enabled;
  • 2x FSAA and 4x AF;
  • 4x FSAA and 8x AF.

All tests at 1280 and 1600 were always conducted with 4x FSAA and 8x AF enabled. Crashes or failures to complete a certain test automatically resulted in a score of 0 frames per second (fps).

The highest quality possible was selected from within the driver menus for all benchmarks, and all negative optimizations were disabled. Additionally, V-sync was disabled. For NVIDIA cards, the settings for FSAA and anisotropic filtering were selected directly with the driver menus. For the ATI cards, we adjusted the settings through the application. If certain settings were not offered directly in the game's menu, they were instead forced through the driver.

Our test bed platform consisted of an ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard based on the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 chipset. The processor of choice was an Athlon 64 FX-57 running at 2800 MHz. To let the system spread its wings, we gave it 2048 MB of DDR RAM, comprising two matching sticks of Corsair's CMX1024-3500LLPro memory.