XFX 7950GX2 570M XXX Edition Video Card

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Conclusion

Overall we’ve seen great performance out of the XFX 7950GX2. It does in fact provide the fastest performance of any single card on the market today. But, this begs the question….can this really be called a single card? After all it is two video cards literally screwed together, communicating via on-board PCI-E bridge, connected to the motherboard by a single PCI-E slot. I don’t think there is a correct answer other than to say that the XFX GeForce 7950GX2 XXX is smoking fast.

That brings us to the question, does the performance justify the price. At $600 for the standard 7950GX2 this is far from mainstream, but does qualify as a good deal when considering an SLI/CrossFire solution.

In terms of power consumption I was very happy to see that the overclocked XFX GeForce 7950GX2 consumed 117W less power than the our pair of GeForce 7800GTX 512 cards running SLI.  Not only was the 7950GX2 faster in a number of benchmarks over the 7800′s they also used less power! Now that is something you don’t see everyday when it comes to computer hardware! 

Our biggest concern is the heat that the 7950GX2 produces. You do not want to install this beast into a computer with inadequate cooling. As we noted, even at idle speeds the card was very warm and caused other components in our system to run at temperatures much higher than with a true “single” video card. The fan on our DFI NF4 SLI motherboard was in a full on blitz the entire time the 7950GX2 was installed, even with the 100% fan speed threshold set at 45c.

Fan noise was not an issue at all. It was only under heavy loads that we even heard the pair of heatsinks doing anything, and compared to the DFI chipset fan were in-audible. This pair runs quieter than a 7900 GT, but not quite as quiet as a 7900 GTX and of course much quieter than an X1900XT at full song. Overall I was impressed that such small cooling could keep a beast like this running with the highest end video card solutions on the market.

Something that can’t go overlooked is the future of this card. NVIDIA is promising us that Quad SLI is coming to the add in board market. While a few will be able to afford the $1200 entry price, it’s hard to ignore the possibilities that a system like that creates. Those with 30″ screens and money to spare will be able to justify purchasing such a system, but for anything less it’s extreme overkill.

Brian’s thoughts:

At first I was a little skeptical of how well this card would perform. The first thing that I noticed was just how much heat this thing makes but how the heatsink and fan make very little noise. After running through a few benchmarks it was clear that the XFX 7950GX2 was a seriously fast card. What impressed me the most was just how well this card scaled with resolution. It seems as though the on-board communications removes a large bottleneck somewhere in the system and is something that I’ll be investigating in my next article.

    Overall there were only a few minor quibbles in the time I spent with the card.

  • In X3: Reunion we saw flickering textures for a few seconds that quickly went away. Each time we ran the test the flickering was there but not for a consistent amount of time, so it’s not an overheating issue.
  • Enabling SLI requires a reboot with the only set of drivers that work on this card. NVIDIA is aware of the problem and is trying to sort it out.
  • Currently there is no “view load balancing” option to set in the control panel for this card.

Just 3 months ago this level of SLI performance would have cost you at least $1300, which is what a pair of 7800GTX 512 were priced at. Today you can have even better performance than that for less than the price of a single 7800GTX 512…truly impressive! What’s more is that you no longer need an SLI motherboard to get the full performance of two video cards. NVIDIA has raised the bar in this area and we’ll have to see if ATI can match them.

In today’s world the only two solutions faster are the X1900 CrossFire and NVIDIA’s own 7900 GTX SLI, both of which will cost you at least $900 without a CrossFire/SLI capable motherboard. The 7950GX2 gives you nearly the same performance for hundreds less and gives you an upgrade path which neither of those two can ever offer.

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Legit Bottom Line: For anyone looking at a dual video card solution, the XFX 7950GX2 XXX is the way to go. If ever you could call a $650 video card a good bang for the buck, this is it.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to join our free forums and post your thoughts.  While you are in the forums be sure to stop by and sign up for the June 2006 contest where we are giving away some of Kingston’s Low Latency PC2-6400 memory from their popular HyperX series!

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