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PNY Verto GeForce 7900 GS review: PNY Verto GeForce 7900 GS

Featuring Nvidia's latest midrange GPU, the $200 PNY Verto GeForce 7900 GS offers a strong bang for the buck compared to its ATI rival. We recommend it if you are looking to play 3D games on an LCD monitor, aren't too concerned about sky-high frame rates, and won't be bothered if a next-gen replacement emerges in the coming months.

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Rich Brown
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Rich Brown

Executive Editor / Reviews - Home and Wellness

Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.

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5 min read

First, the specs. The GeForce 7900 GS comes in with a 450MHz core clock and a 1.36GHz memory clock. Compare that to the Radeon X1800 GTO's 500MHz core and 1GHz memory, and, while the architectures aren't like comparing apples to apples, the two cards are relatively similar. Both are single-slot designs, meaning that each will take up the space of only one internal expansion slot, and both come with 256MB of DDR3 memory. Like most cards these days, the GeForce 7900 GS does require a direct connection to your PC's power supply, and PNY was kind enough to include the appropriate cables in its package. It also included various video adapters, including a VGA-to-DVI adapter (the card has two DVI outputs and a component-video plug).

7.3

PNY Verto GeForce 7900 GS

The Good

Faster than the more expensive card in this segment from ATI; not too expensive.

The Bad

Might become obsolete in a few months.

The Bottom Line

Featuring Nvidia's latest midrange GPU, the $200 PNY Verto GeForce 7900 GS offers a strong bang for the buck compared to its ATI rival. We recommend it if you are looking to play 3D games on an LCD monitor, aren't too concerned about sky-high frame rates, and won't be bothered if a next-gen replacement emerges in the coming months.
Back in June, we advised against purchasing Nvidia's latest, greatest high-end graphics card, the , because next-gen 3D cards from both Nvidia and ATI were allegedly coming out before the end of the year; we couldn't justify a $600 card knowing that it would be obsolete in six months. And it was too bad, because other than the timing of its release, we really liked the card. Fortunately, we don't have that same reservation about the midrange Nvidia GeForce 7900 GS chip, provided to us by PNY in its 256MB Verto GeForce 7900 GS card. The reason is because the $229 recommended price has dropped as low as $199 at various retailers, so even if Nvidia does unveil a comparably priced 3D card with its next-gen tech before the end of the year, the financial stakes aren't as significant. If you buy this card now, you'll get a slim, easy-to-install 3D card that provides totally acceptable 3D frame rates for at least a year or so, we suspect. And ATI doesn't have a great option here, because its comparable Radeon X1800 GTO costs about $75 more.

While the packaging and the specs are relatively straightforward, the price-performance ratio is what really makes the Verto GeForce 7900 GS a strong 3D card. (Thanks to Sarju Shah at GameSpot for running these tests for us. You should also check out the 3D card roundup that he and James Yu published this month. It's a massive undertaking, and they've done a superlative job of encapsulating the current state of the 3D card market.) Consider, for roughly $200 to $225, the PNY Verto GeForce 7900 GS will give you smooth, stable 3D performance at 1,280x1,024, the most common native resolution of a modern LCD. It dips significantly only below 60 frames per second on the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, arguably the most demanding 3D game on the market right now. True, the Radeon X1800 GTO is a bit faster on Quake 4, and roughly the same on Oblivion, but as we mentioned earlier, that card will run you about $75 or more, or at least $50 more than the Verto card.

3DMark 06
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 (high quality, 16X anisotropic filtering)  
1,280x1,024 (high quality, 16X anisotropic filtering)  

Oblivion
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,280x1,024  
1,024x768  

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.

Test bed:
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

7.3

PNY Verto GeForce 7900 GS

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8
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