The high end graphics arena has shown some very impressive cards in the past few years (well, after the 5800 that is) but huge leaps in performance have started to give way to supporting more features. That changed with the 7800GTX which offered a big increase in performance as it's most shining feature. Now while the 7800GTX is without a doubt a great card, it is a lot of cash to lay down. Luckily, the 7800GTX has a smaller brother in the 7800GT, a card which offers a nice performance increase without asking for your first born (second born is usually easier to get hold of anyway, since the first born is usually a nice child sent to confuse parents into thinking they like children, the second child showing you how wrong that is).
We’ve looked at hardware at Viperlair before and will be doing so again in this review of their offering.
The packaging design that Club-3D uses is not the usual fare you see from other game directed hardware; Club-3D have opted for a more reserved exclusive look which is still bold enough to stand out without getting in your face like a bad night club flyer. The rear of the box gives you all of the pertinent information on the hardware and inside everything is nicely packed.
Included with the card are two DVI-VGA adapters (for the two DVI ports on the card), 4 CD’s - Club-3D’s driver install CD, Colin McRae Rally 05, WWF Panda Junior in Africa, Cyberlink programs including PowerDVD - an HDTV VIVO dongle and a 4pin Molex to 6pin VGA power adapter. The overall package isn’t extensive, but it is very complete. It’s nice to see two DVI-VGA adapters with a card that has two DVI ports, but I would have liked to have seen a better choice for displaying your graphics power than the demo’s on the Club-3D Driver CD or the two games included. Still, it’s the card that most buyers are interested in.
The card itself follows the reference design with only the label on the HSF making a change. A green PCB is not going to stand out among the sea of colourful cards you can get, but this is reflected in the price. At the rear of the card are the multitude of capacitors and diodes used for regulating power. Speaking of which, this is a hungry item, and can consume around 100w fully loaded.
Of course the Club-3D 7800GT is SLI capable which should make for a very nice gaming system. The rear of the card is completely uneventful, with the full 256MB being on the front side of the card under the HSF. The IO plate features two DVI ports with a VIVO din style port center.
One thing that should be apparent is that this is a single slot solution, and what this will do for temperatures we shall see during testing.
Albatron PX925X Pro, Intel Pentium 4 520 (3.2GHz), 2 x 512MB Kingston HyperX PC2-5400 (4-4-4-12), 2x 80GB Maxtor 7200 SATA's, Windows XP w/SP2
We'll be using FRAPS to record framerates in all our tests, playing the game as anybody would (trying to stay alive), firing weapons, dodging attacks and so on. Unlike our past video game tests, all benchmarks will be done with the audio "on", as we're trying to illustrate real gaming experiences, and I doubt any of our readers mute the audio during gameplay. A 6800GT will be used to compare the previous generation with this one and a Dell Ultrasharp 2005FPW 20" Widescreen LCD will be used for display (hence the widescreen resolutions chosen for some games).
Test Software will be:
Doom 3 - Making good use of the BFG, rocket launcher and plasma gun (the most graphically intense weapons), we'll be kicking ass on the Caverns Area 1 level, specifically the part right after reaching the bottom in the cargo lift.
Half Life 2: Lost Coast – A short 10 minute game demo utilizing HDR in the Source engine, Lost Coast requires you to have a recent card to see all the visual goodness. Starting at the bottom of the stairs, we worked our way up to the chapel above, shooting the combine on the way and admiring the view.
F.E.A.R. – Certainly not the prettiest game in the bunch used here, but if you want a good scare then this game can provide it. The lighting and shadows (if you have a machine capable of it) all add to the atmosphere. We ran around part of interval 03, after escaping the fire in the warehouse.
Battlefield 2 - We tested the gameplay on the Songhua Stalemate map with 15 bots. This map features a lot of greenery and water areas, as well as lots of hills and buildings which makes the fighting tight and the views expansive, all of which gives your graphics card a challenge.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted – NFS: MW features a lot of particle effects and reflective surfaces, along with an HDR filtering effect that provides some very nice visuals. We tricked an RX-8 and went for a blast around town avoiding the traffic and police.
The driver settings were manually configured for AntiAliasing and Anisotropic Filtering (on or off), and set to "Quality". All games were set to their highest playable game settings for best possible image quality unless otherwise stated.