It took a few generations of videocards for gamers to
open up to the idea of running two videocards together. Now that SLI is firmly
established nVIDIA has taken the next logical step to populate the world of
single PCI Express x16 slot motherboard with SLI capable hardware.
The nVidia GeForce 7950GX2 brings SLI/dual GPU power to
every PCI Express motherboard and with appropriate hardware can allow for quad
GPU rendering on every other SLI-capable motherboard. Let it never be said that
nvidia failed to capitalize a market segment! We're just waiting for the day SLI
GPUs in camera phones emerge...
Videocard GPU and computer microprocessor developments
have many parallels, and the way videocards are advancing, it's only a matter of
time before nVIDIA and ATi hit a similar manufacturing problem as CPU
manufacturers faced. Namely the limits of power demand and heat output.
The Intel Tejas was cancelled because it emitted 150W
heat, and sooner or later nvidia is going to come face to face with a GPU which
is just too hot to be a realistic option. The average high end Geforce puts out
about 80W power, and if we consider a 1-2W per memory BGA-DRAM it's easy to see
why thermal manufacturers and even memory companies like Corsair are investing in
videocard cooling solutions and all but side-stepping CPU heatsinks.
In any case, dual GPU videocards do as dual CPU cores
do. The MSI NX7950GX2-T2D1GE videocard is as sweet as it gets
in the PCI Express formfactor, and as a flagship product from MSI this is
certainly the must have item right now. With two GeForce 7950GX2 cores running
in SLI and 1GB of memory, there is nothing else on the market that is as
impressive when the gaming software is able to take advantage of its
capabilities. If you're a hardcore gamer and your favorite game titles are SLI
compatible this is the penultimate videocard. As PCSTATS demonstrated in the
benchmarks, if the game is unable to take advantage of SLI, one graphics core
will just remain idle and in effect the Geforce 7950GX2 is no more powerful than
a single Geforce 7900GTX.
With a retail price of $640 CDN ($567 US, £303GBP) only
serious gamers need apply, and on top of that you'd better have a killer gaming
rig that's able to keep up with the MSI NX7950GX2-T2D1GE! The GeForce 7900
series GPU's already generate a lot of heat and good system airflow is
definitely important with this card. It's normal for core temperatures to run
60C+ so don't be alarmed if you monitor core temperatures.
The performance of the MSI
NX7950GX2-T2D1GE is certainly interesting. In SLI compatible applications, the
NX7950GX2-T2D1GE is simply a monster and FEAR illustrates that point very well.
With all advanced features turned on the MSI NX7950GX2-T2D1GE is twice as fast
as a GeForce 7900GTX! With high settings in Doom 3 and Quake 4 the MSI
NX7950GX2-T2D1GE also leads the way.
In terms of overclocking the MSI NX7950GX2-T2D1GE did an
excellent job hitting a very sweet 640 MHz core (up from 500 MHz stock) and 1480
MHz memory (1200 MHz stock). Of course seeing as how the MSI NX7950GX2-T2D1GE is
already system limited, overclocking only really boosted extreme game settings
like when Shader Model 3.0 is enabled in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and FEAR
with Soft Shadows enabled. Looks like the AMD Athlon64 4000+ doesn't have enough
power to push this videocard to the max.... Intel's Core 2 Duo might be a different
The MSI NX7950GX2-T2D1GE is definitely very fast. If
you're in the market for a bleeding edge system there are no other alternatives.
I'll say it again though... it pays to do your research and make sure the games
you intend to play are SLI compatible. If they're not, you are better served by
a single high end videocard like the Geforce 7900GTX. If your games are SLI
ready (like in FEAR, Splinter Cell and Quake 4), your system will smoke the
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