(Longer bars indicate better performance)
We've accompanied recent high-end ATI and Nvidia reviews with two refrains that still hold true for this card, but less so. First, ATI boasts superior image quality because its cards support both antialiasing and high dynamic range lighting effects simultaneously (Nvidia's cards let you do one or the other but not both at the same time). You run both effects simultaneously in only a handful of games via an unofficial, internally developed ATI driver patch called the Chuck patch. We hoped that ATI would have incorporated the Chuck patch capabilities in the regular driver download by now, but it hasn't, likely due to the fact that support for it in various games is still spotty. We don't think this issue matters that much in a midrange card because the performance hit you'd take with the Chuck patch enabled would really hurt your frame rates. Second, ATI technically may have better image quality in certain games, but Nvidia's SLI support is a much easier way to enable dual graphics cards than ATI's CrossFire. This is still true today, but we don't recommend splurging for two $200 to $225 cards right now. That feels like an awful lot of money to spend before a next-gen technology looms on the near horizon--reportedly before the end of the year. Still, if you're impatient for faster performance, a pair of GeForce 7900 GS cards did outperform a single $450 ATI Radeon X1950 XT on GameSpot's higher-resolution tests (not shown), so it's not a bad option if you're anxious.
As for PNY's specific contributions to the package, we've already mentioned the collection of adapters you get. There are no free games in the box, which always lets us down a little. On PNY's Web site, you'll find an outdated FAQ and other not-so-useful info, but there are plenty of resources available from Nvidia's own Web site and elsewhere around the Web, so you should be able to answer most questions with a little research. PNY's default warranty protects the card for one year, but you get two more years of coverage if you register on its Web site. PNY also maintains a toll-free technical support phone number (9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday), which you can find on an orange piece of paper inserted into the packaging.
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62; Asus A8RMVP-Deluxe motherboard; 1GB Corsair XMS 3200XL DDR SDRAM; 160GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive; ATI Catalyst beta version 6.8_8.282.1 graphics driver software; Nvidia ForceWare 91.31 graphics driver software
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