Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 review:

Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2

On most of the charts, the GeForce 7950 GX2 hangs so close to a pair of GeForce 7900 GTX cards that the performance is basically the same. That's especially impressive given that two 7900 GTX cards will run you about $1,000. ATI's Radeon X1900 XT running in CrossFire mode wins by 500 points or so on 3DMark, but that too is an expensive setup, going for roughly $950. ATI still wins for 3D image quality, since on some games you can turn on more image quality features at the same time. But from a sheer dollars-per-frame-rate point of view, if Nvidia had released the $600 GeForce 7950 GX2 even three months ago, we might have called it the best deal we'd ever seen.

Half-Life 2: Lost Coast demo, 4X antialiasing, 16X anisotropic filtering (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,440 (4X antialiasing, 16X anisotropic filtering)  

Quake 4 Timedemo 5, High Quality mode (4X antialiasing, 8X anisotropic filtering) (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
High Quality mode, 4X antialiasing, 8X anisotropic filtering  

If you're wondering about whether you can build your own GeForce Quad SLI PC now that the 7950 GX2 seemingly makes it look easy, the answer is not yet. The 7950 GX2 is Quad-capable, but like the first generation GeForce 7900 GX2 boards, Nvidia will keep Quad SLI system-builder only for now. From what we understand, Nvidia is waiting to get the drivers ready and is making sure the retail motherboards are all up to snuff. Along with the press review material, Nvidia sent us a list of motherboards and the BIOS updates we'd need to make for each of them to get Quad SLI to work. We imagine that Nvidia wants to wait for the motherboard compatibility issues to work themselves out before flipping the DIY switch.

We should add that with the GeForce 7950 GX2, Nvidia has put its ForceWare Release 90 drivers up for download on its Web site. With that driver set, you get Nvidia's new Control Panel, which gives you a more user-friendly interface for managing your display and 3D settings, similar to ATI's Catalyst Control Center software, released last year. Nvidia also claims its new software improves various video image-quality tweaks. Our resident home-theater PC guru, Dan Ackerman, is going to tackle that next week. Since the video improvements apply to all of Nvidia's 3D cards, and we don't expect many people will buy a GeForce 7950 GX2 for home theater needs, we will discuss the video improvements in their own article.

ATI test bed (ATI Catalyst 6.5 drivers)
AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU, Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe motherboard, 2GB (1GB x 2) Corsair XMS Memory, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 Serial ATA hard drive, Windows XP Professional SP2.

Nvidia test bed (ForceWare version 84.21 driver, ForceWare 91.29 driver for 7950 GX2):
AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU, Asus A8N32 SLI Deluxe motherboard, 2GB (1GB x 2) Corsair XMS Memory, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 Serial ATA hard drive, Windows XP Professional SP2.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

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