When NVIDIA first launched the GeForce 7800 GTX on June 22nd, their official clock speed was 430MHz core and 1200MHz memory. Since then, a number of partners have released cards featuring enhanced clock speeds. Gainward are perhaps the most famous for this approach, with their Golden Sample series of cards dating back as far as GeForce 2 days.
In August, we reviewed Gainward's GeForce 7800 GTX Golden Sample, clocked at 470/1300MHz, finding it to be an excellent product for the money. As far as GeForce 7800 GTX's go, there isn't really a bad choice out there, providing the price is right. Today we're having a look at two GeForce 7800 GTX's that take the core speed on a step further from the Gainward Golden Sample's already impressive 470MHz up to 490MHz.
This time around, more than ever before, NVIDIA's board partners have been able to increase the clock speeds of their GeForce 7800 GTX's quite considerably. We've already seen Gainward's Golden Sample at 470MHz, and now we've got Leadtek and XFX pushing 490MHz out with good yields, after spending time discussing the quantity of higher-clocked products that they're shipping in comparison to their first implementations much lower clock speeds.
On the 5th October, the Radeon X1800XT was announced but it will not ship until some time next month. At this moment in time, we are not sure whether board partners will stray much from the reference design in terms of clock speeds, but we are expecting it to be a fast card. However, since the launch of GeForce 7800 GTX, the price of retail cards have come down considerably from the original $599 (£450 in the UK) MSRP. The MSRP is still the same as it was, but the street price is some 20% lower than what it was originally selling at. You can now pick up a branded 7800 GTX at the default 430/1200MHz clocks at anything from £330.
As such, both board partners have significantly reduced the quantity of lower-speed GTX's and are spending time focusing on selling their flagship cards - this has resulted in the price of the faster cards coming down quite a bit over the last few months. So, even if the Radeon X1800XT is faster than the fastest GeForce 7800 GTX's out there, the GeForce 7800 GTX will have an advantage on price unless ATI can ship, in volume, at a competitive price from day one.
This is possibly the first GeForce 7800 GTX where we've seen the board partner stray from the standard cooling solution. Having said that, board partners haven't really needed to stray from the reference cooler because it has proven to be a very quiet, efficient, and single slot cooling solution that has worked exceedingly well thus far. The cooler that Leadtek have used is the same cooler that can be found on NVIDIA's workstation version of the GeForce 7800 GTX, the Quadro FX 4500.
It is a dual slot heatpipe cooler with a copper base. There is a large slow-spinning 92mm fan directly above the core, with four heatpipes dissipating the heat in to two fin arrangements. The fan blows air across the fins in both directions, so air moves out of the case, and also in to the case at the same time. There's still the black power regulator cooler underneath the monstrous heatsink. The heatsink will not suit everyone, but seeing as the GeForce 6800 Ultra and ATI's Radeon X850XT and Radeon X1800XT all have dual slot coolers, it shouldn't be much of an issue. During our time with the card running, we did not witness any instances where the fan increased its speed and it was as quiet as the standard GeForce 7800 GTX cooler.
Leadtek have chosen not to use the plastic cross plate behind the GPU, but there is still the familiar aluminium heatspreader covering the four BGA memory chips on the reverse of the card. Physically, making exceptions for the dual slot cooler, double PCI bracket and the lack of a plastic cross plate behind the GPU, Leadtek's GeForce 7800 GTX Extreme Edition does not move away from the reference design all that far.
However, Leadtek have given this card a significant clock speed ramp in order to fit under the Extreme moniker. They are shipping with impressive clock speeds of 490/1250MHz, and the efficient dual slot cooler should allow for a lot more than 490MHz too if you're looking to overclock this card even further.
The backplate has the familiar dual DVI with a single dual-link DVI transmitter for supporting high-resolution displays along with a VIVO port. The bundle includes two DVI-to-VGA adapters for those of us that are still using dual analogue monitors. There are also a selection of connections for the VIVO port, including YPbPr (RGB) out connections and both Composite In/Out and S-Video In/Out connectors. There's also a single 6-pin PCI-Express power adapter to round off the selection of connectors and cables included.
The bundle has two games included: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. Along with this there is a driver CD, VideoStudio 8 SE, Cool 3D - a 3D graphics program, and DVD MovieFactory 3 SE from Ulead. On the whole, the bundle is good and there's enough software for you to get the most out of your video card purchase.