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Nvidia releases new flagship card 7800 GTX 512

Santa Clara (CA) - Nvidia's answer to ATI's fastest X1000 graphics card comes not even a week after volume availability of the X1800 XT. The new 7800 GTX comes with increased clock speed and more memory - which is enough to reclaim the crown of the fastest desktop graphics chip.

ATI's new graphics architecture has a good shot at challenging Nvidia in high-performance desktop 3D graphics. But at least Christmas it will be Nvidia that will offer the fastest chip for 3D and gaming applications. Interestingly, a jump in clock speed and the addition of memory was enough for Nvidia to trump ATI's recently announced graphics card that has been available in volume for not even one week.

The new 7800 GTX 512 carries - as the name implies - 512 MByte instead of the regular 256 MByte of memory. The core clock was raised from 430 to 550 MHz and memory climbed from 600 to 850 MHz. While this can be considered a significant jump, Nvidia said that the 110 nm design of the 7800 has matured and allowed the company to increase speed without developing a completely new chip. The company expects many add-in card manufacturers to overclock the chip, so users should not be too surprised to see core clock speeds of up to 580 MHz.

Along with some other enhancements such as a new heatpipe system that pushes hot air out not only to one but two sides, the 7800 GTX 512 was able to outpace ATI's X1800 XT in 22 out of 24 benchmark disciplines in the test parcours of Tom's Hardware Guide.

The title of the fastest chip of course comes at a price. First, even if the card appears to be available in volume, Nvidia's suggested retail pricing of $649 is exceeded in various places with some etail outlets charging as much as $750. Higher clock speeds typically demand more power and users should expect the 7800 GTX 512 to be no exception. Nvidia says that one 512 MByte version to consume about 10 percent less power than two 256 MByte versions of the card - which translates into a power consumption of about 110 to 120 watts for the 7800 GTX 512. As a result, users thinking about upgrading their gaming rig with two 512 MByte cards most likely will also have to budget for a higher capacity power supply.