Since the release of Nvidia's 7800 and ATI's X1800 series the graphics card market has seen a deluge of product refreshes to the current generation which bring to market enhanced specifications and claims of improved performance. The product Nvidia are launching today is the 7950GT, as of 9AM PST it will be possible to buy the cards online and in some conventional stores, so lets take a look at Nvidia' reference design, and more importantly a retail branded version in the form of Palit's 7950GT 512mb.

The Palit 7950GT 512Mb

Palits Geforce 7950 GT's properties are shown above, the card uses the PCI-Express bus and runs at a full 16x. As with all recent high end Nvidia cards the TV encoder is integrated, in addition to this Nvidia believe that the majority of 7950GT's will come with HDCP support enabled.

Shown above are two versions of the 7950GT. The top left (red) card is Palit's own version and the top right (green) card is the Nvidia reference design. One of the selling points Nvidia are keen to focus on in their pre launch press information is that this card is designed to run with single slot cooling so it is interesting to see Palit opting for a dual slot cooler. Due to some PCB layout redesigning on the Palit board the memory layout is different and the card features some extra capacitors (accommodated by some extra PCB, approx 1.5cm). The memory layout changes and the redesigned cooler also combine to increase the airflow over the memory chips, however on the Palit card there is no contact between the heat sink and memory chips.

Speaking of memory chips, both the Palit and reference cards come with 512mb of Gddr3 and both cards use memory clocks of 700Mhz (1.4Ghz actual data rate) connected via  a 256bit bus. The choice of manufacturer differs with Nvidia choosing Infineon and Palit opting for Samsung. Looking at the part numbers used on each chip we can tell that the Samsung's are rated up to 800Mhz (K4J52324QC-BJ12) where as the Infineon's are rated to only 700Mhz (HYB18H512321AF-14 ) which means we have some real headroom on the Samsung's for over clocking tests later.

On the rear of the Palit card we find nothing out of the ordinary, the design looks no different to most cards other than the large heat sink connection plate which offers tool-less removal of the cooler.

Finally turning to the side of the card we find the outputs used by Palit which are TV-out (Composite and HDTV) as well as two dual-link DVI ports.

The bundled components that come with the 7950GT from Palit are almost identical to their 7900GT which we recently reviewed. Included with the card we find a video out cable, DVI>VGA connector, power connector which allows those with older PSUs to power the card via the 6-pin connector and various software including Toca3 and PowerDVD6.

Shown above is the core from our 7950 GT, it is a version of the G71 which was also used on various 7900 series models. The G71 is a 90nm chip which features 24 pixel pipelines, 8 vertex shaders, 16 ROPS and comes clocked at 550Mhz (though the vertex units are actually clocked at 570Mhz).




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