eVGA's 7900GT KO - 7900GT To The Max - Test Setup and 3DMark Tests

Article Index
eVGA's 7900GT KO - 7900GT To The Max
Getting Personal with the 7900GT KO
Test Setup and 3DMark Tests
Real World Gaming and Conclusion

Test Setup:

We will be using our test setup both at stock clock speeds and overclocked as well to give the 7900GT more room to move.  Stock clock speed is 20x133=2660MHz, and our overclocked speed is at 20x180=3600MHz.  The system runs stable, fairly cool and very fast at this speed.

Testing Info:

We ran our Intel 805 Pentium D at both stock speeds and overclocked on the 7900GT to help eliminate the CPU bottleneck.  We ran a series of synthetic benchmarks as well as game benchmarks to compare the two graphics cards.  The system specs never changed when testing these two cards.  The benchmark results are a direct comparison of the 7600GT CO and the 7900GT KO.  These two cards are in separate performance and price classes, but this review will help give you an idea of how much more performance you gain when you spend an extra $100 on a graphics card.

7900GT vs 7600GT Size
7900GT vs 7600GT Size

Overclocking:

The eVGA 7900GT KO is already overclocked above nVidia's reference clocks by 50MHz on the core and 180MHz on the memory.  With that in mind we really didn't expect to see a lot of improvement overall.  We use Coolbits 2.0 to allow us to change the clock speed in the nVidia Control Panel and we were off to work.  We first used the auto detect feature to see where the card would run and it replied at 565MHz on the core and 1560MHz on the memory.  Already things are looking good as those settings are 115MHz faster core clock than a standard 7900GT and 240MHz over stock memory!  We pushed things further though and ended up with a rock solid 595/1660 setup.  We ran all of our benchmarks with no artifacts or anomalies at these settings.  It was 100% rock solid.

Even at stock speeds, a 2.66GHz Dual Core processor is a bottleneck for such a fast card.  For some of the benchmarks we loosened the reigns as it were on our system and clocked our processor at 3.6GHz in order to reduce the CPU bottleneck.  You can see in some tests where this is apparent.

Synthetic Tests:

In the first series of synthetic benchmarks, we ran FutureMark 3DMark 2003, 2005 and 2006.  These benchmarks are meant to show how the two graphics cards compare in an otherwise static test environment.  RAM Timing, CPU speed, FSB, HTT and LDT bus can all affect these numbers so they are not meant to be compared outside of our test environment.  That being said, let's see how much booty the 7900GT KO kicks when compared to the 7600GT CO.

3DMark03

The 7600GT CO scores fairly well, but in our test system, the 7900GT CO outscores it by a sizeable 33% at stock clock speeds.  Once we turn up the heat on both the GPU and the CPU the distance increases to an amazing 59% performance difference!  When overclocking the 7900GT KO alone, we see a 12% performance increase over stock speeds and a difference of 6401 3DMarks over a 7600GT.

 

Let's take a look and see how the more intensive 3DMark05 shapes up on both cards.

3DMark05

3DMark 2005 shows the same obvious trend - the 7900GT KO outruns the 7600GT CO.  The difference on a 2.66GHz Dual Core system is only about 15%, but as we clock up the CPU we see that the CPU is the bottleneck in this benchmark.  Once we open up the CPU and give the 7900GT KO some room to breathe, the difference becomes night and day.  When clocking up both CPU and GPU we see a 46% difference in performance.  When we clock up both, we gain an extra 26% performance increase over stock numbers.  There lies the reason for overclocking - 26% more free performance.

Finally, we wrap up our synthetic tests with a look at the latest 3DMark benchmark.  3DMark 2006 introduces more complex lighting effects and taxes a GPU's fill rate more than ever before.  It's in high bandwidth situations like this that the 7900GT KO should really shine.

3DMark06

In this benchmark the 7600GT holds is ground with default resolution of 1280x1024, but it can no way maintain the grade set by the 7900GT KO.  Even with the CPU bottlenecking the system at stock speed, the 7900GT scores a respectable 4663 3DMarks which is a 41% lead over the 7600GT CO.  As we overclock the 7900GT the distance increases to 56%, and when we clock up the CPU as well, we see an amazing 69% lead over the 7600GT CO.  For an extra $100, you can get over 50% performance increases in 3DMark06.

Let's face it though, 3DMark isn't a game.  While having higher 3DMarks than your friends gives you bragging rights, it doesn't mean you can play games at higher resolution or with more eye candy turned on.  To wrap things up, we'll take a look at some real world games to see how this card stacks up against its little brother.