Performance: There is no doubting that the GeForce 7950 GX2 is the fastest video card on the market today that fits into a single PCI-Express x16 interconnect, and it holds that crown by a good distance in the majority of titles. In fact, probably the only title where the GeForce 7950 GX2 loses out to competing solutions is not because it lacks speed, but because it lacks forward looking features like support for 16-bit floating point High Dynamic Range Lighting in conjunction with a multisample Anti Aliasing pattern.

The GeForce 7950 GX2 outperformed a pair of BFG Tech GeForce 7900 GT OC video cards in SLI, too. A pair of these cards is going to set you back around the same price, if not a tad more.

Featureset: If you haven't had the chance to play The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and are considering buying a new video card to play the game the choice will depend on your preference for Anti Aliasing, or not as the case may be. A lot of gamers cannot live without Anti Aliasing - if you're one of those people and want to play Oblivion with HDR turned on (we recommend you do turn it on, by the way), we'd recommend looking at ATI's current flagship card.

ATI is keen to point out the advantages of running HDR and AA. However, Oblivion is currently the only major game that ATI can do that NVIDIA can't - Tomb Raider and the Source engine are both supported by NVIDIA, whilst Ghost Recon doesn't work on either.

It is good to see that NVIDIA has finally released a high-end video card with the included crypto-ROM codes for HDCP compliancy - a requirement for content protected BluRay and HD DVD media. We are under the impression that NVIDIA's partners are also rolling out HDCP compliant versions of lower GeForce 7-series SKUs in readiness for the big industry push towards the world of High Definition content - there will be more announcements following later this week, too.

Noise: While mentioning the Radeon X1900XTX and Oblivion, it's worth mentioning that the XTX does get rather loud when playing Oblivion - if you do choose to go down this route, we would definitely recommend changing the cooling solution for something a little easier on the ears. In contrast, the GeForce 7950 GX2 whispers along without causing headaches. This is interesting, because the GeForce 7900 GT uses the same fan, but it always operates at 100%, making it louder.

NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2 Final Thoughts...

Quad-SLI: Until NVIDIA releases Quad SLI drivers on its home page, a pair of these cards simply will not work together with the currently available drivers. We are told that Quad SLI drivers will arrive 'sooner than we think', though, as NVIDIA is very keen to push Quad SLI into the channel as soon as possible. Hopefully that holds up to be the case, and Quad SLI make a move into the channel pretty quickly. We're pleased that NVIDIA is taking its time over Quad drivers, rather than rushing them out and landing paying customers with major issues, as they did with 7900 GX2.

Profiles: The card uses SLI (or multi-GPU) profiles in order to achieve its performance, so new games may come with poor performance in a worst-case scenario. This could happen if NVIDIA hasn't worked closely with the developer in order to get SLI support embedded in the game from the outset, and/or if its driver team is late getting a driver with a multi-GPU performance profile for the newly released title(s) out in time for when such titles are available for purchase. Whilst NVIDIA is generally fairly on top of things, we have seen major problems occasionally in the past, such as with Tomb Raider: Legend, where performance was atrocious for a week after the game's release.

Multi-display: One final point to consider is whether or not you use more than two displays - anyone using dual monitors with this card is left with having to switch between card modes every time they want to switch between gaming and 2D work. This is a problem with all current multi-GPU solutions although not with single cards, which the 7950 wants so desperately to be. It would be good to see the driver detect whether the machine is running in 2D or 3D mode (with the option to force a setting as you can now) and dynamically change the cards' operating mode.

Value:

We had a quick shop around for GeForce 7950 GX2s at popular online retailers and found plenty of stock available. The best prices seem to be around the £410 mark, including VAT. Both Scan and Overclockers UK are stocking the Gainward and Leadtek 7950 GX2s at just over £411 including VAT, while Ebuyer has the best UK price at the moment, with Point of View's 7950 GX2 selling for £408 including VAT.

That's already cheaper (quieter, and faster) than a pair of BFG Tech GeForce 7900 GT OCs. Meanwhile, GeForce 7900 GTXs seem to sell for anywhere between £320 and £350, depending on the brand you choose to purchase. The Radeon X1900XTXs appear to sell for anywhere between £310 and £340 - roughly the same price as the GeForce 7900 GTX.

Final Thoughts...

NVIDIA's GeForce 7950 GX2 appears to have launched with a bang, it is quick, quiet and it is the fastest 'single-card' available, even if we're stretching the definition of single-card.

On the whole, we're pretty impressed with the way this video card has turned out and is worth some serious consideration if you were already looking at GeForce 7900 GT SLI, GeForce 7900 GTX and Radeon X1900XTX as potential video card upgrades. We'll be having a look at a selection of partner boards in the near future.
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