XFX GF 8800GTX XXX Overclocked Video Card Review :: 2006 - The Graphics card year in Review

01-02-2007 · Category: Hardware - Video Cards

By Benjamin Sun
XFX GF 8800GTX XXX Overclocked Video Card Review 3/4 view of 8800GTX

3/4 view of 8800GTX

I thought I would start off this review a slightly different way, as this is the first review of 2007 for Motherboards.org I thought I would look at the past year in video cards as a look at what happened. The first significant graphics card event was the showcase of the Quad-SLI 7800GTX by Dell at CES 2006. This preceded the 7950 GX2 by a good 6 months and brought the idea of four card gaming platforms to the PC.

The second significant launch was the GeForce 7300GS for the mainstream market, bringing the features of the GeForce 7800 series to the $99 market on January 18th of 2006. The 7300GS is the successor to the 6200 series cards of 2005, and nearly doubled performance versus that particular mainstream card.

Not to be outdone by NVIDIA, ATI released their X1900XTX on January 24th 2006. The X1900XTX cards had 48 Pixel Shader Processors, 16 ROPs, and 8 Vertex Shader Processors and brought ATI into the limelight after their lackluster X1800 launch the previous year due to delays in the product. The X1900XTX was a good match to NVIDIA's 7800GTX of the time.

The month of February of 2006 saw the announcement of the last major AGP card from NVIDIA, the 7800GS AGP card for $299. This card offered a 375MHz core clock speed and 38.4GB/second of memory bandwidth and brought GeForce 7 features and performance to the AGP marketplace that was looking bare due to the move to PCI Express in 2004.

March of 2006 saw a flurry of announcements from NVIDIA including the GeForce 7900GTX, the replacement for the 7800GTX, the 7900GT, the replacement for the 7800GT and the GeForce 7600GT, the mid-range GPU replacing the popular GeForce 6600GT card at the $199 price point.

The graphics card industry was relatively quiet until the release of the GeForce 7950 GX2 to retail in June 2006. This brought the idea of two graphics card on one PCB and in fact the idea of four graphics chips in combination to improve performance and image quality to the PCI Express platform. ATI moved their graphics cards to DDR4 in July with the launch of the X1950XTX family.

But the biggest graphics card news of 2006 was the acquisition of ATI by AMD Technologies in July. AMD announced the merger shortly after they released their Socket AM2 platform. The merger left NVIDIA as the biggest independent graphics supplier in the world. It will lead to the Fusion of the GPU and CPU in 2008. It should be interesting to see how the long-term plans for ATI discrete graphics will change with the merger.

On November 8th 2006, NVIDIA announced their latest generation architecture, the GeForce 8800 with the GeForce 8800GTX and GeForce 8800GTS to retail. This architecture is the first DirectX 10 graphics card. Today the choice between graphics cards is clear to my mind, you either buy a mid-range card or buy the high-end 8800, as the difference in performance and features of the last generation and the 8800 is so great that it makes it hard to recommend the older generation cards.