XFX GeForce 7950GT 550M 512 MB GDDR3 Review
Nvidia recently launched a new line-up for the G71 core viz. the 7900GS,7950GT and the 7950GX2. The card in focus here is the XFX 7950GT 550 512 MB GDDR3, which is more or less based on the reference model from Nvidia, except that XFX equipped some of these cards with a passive cooling, to reduce the noise from the fans at very high speeds . Now , lets take a little look at a direct comparison :
Now , more onto the card itself ..
What can I say other than another awesome package from XFX. This doesn’t come in the more common x-shaped box , but a rather simple rectangular box. But its what on the inside that matter more doesn’t it ?? .. the package includes :
•Driver CD , along with Installation Guides , Manuals and other booklets
•Ghost Recon : Advanced Warfighter game DVD
•DVI to VGA Adaptor
•6-pin PSU Power Connector
•A seriously nice looking card
In simple words, the 7950GT is just a refreshed product of the already present G71 core’s . As u can see from the table above , this card is a slightly over clocked version of the 7900GT. The real difference comes at a point that the 7950GT is a 512 MB card , and sold as a similar price to that of a 256 MB 7900GT. That’s is indeed fascinating , as you are getting a card that’s already 100 MHz higher on the core , and 80 MHz higher on the memory than a standard 7900GT . And compared to the big daddy 7900GTX , the card should produce a lot less heat . Things I’d really like to point out here is that the card has UV reactive DVI connectors , a complete black PCB , and a (super silent) passive cooling , which does pretty good in my opinion . Anyway , some other details on the specifications :
•8 vertex shading units
•24 pixel pipelines
•512 MB 256 bit 1.4ns (8*32) GDDR3 memory
•PCI Express 16x compatibility (PCI Express compliant)
•Integrated Nvidia TV Encoder (HDTV, S-Video, Composite)
•Integrated Nvidia VIVO (S-Video, Compostie)
•Dual DVI-I connectors
•Nvidia Purevideo Technology
•DVD+HDTV decode assist upto 1920*1080p resolution
•Integrated Dual 400 MHz RAMDACs
•Two Dual Link TMDS DVI Connector
•Nvidia Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0
•Support for Microsoft Video Mixer Renderer (VMR)
•Advanced Adaptive De-Interlacing
Now don’t get angry , u see I was too eager to get this baby up and running . Anyway , I managed to sneak in these before that :
U’ve gotta admit , the card seriously looks good . Anyway , lets move into some benchmarks . I’ll use my previous 6800GS as a reference here .
AMD Athlon64 3500+ @ 2.42 GHz
Asus A8N-e nForce4 Ultra (Revision A3)
2*1 GB PC3200 DDR SDRAM @ 404 MHz (2.5,3,3,8,2T, Dual Channel)
Seagate Barracuda 2*200 GB SATA(II) 8M 7200 rpm
XFX 6800GS 256 MB GDDR3 @ 485/1100 (nv42 Revision A1)
XFX 7950GT 512 MB GDDR3 @ 550/1400 (G71 Revision A2)
F.E.A.R. Stress Test
3DMark05 was running at default settings . FEAR was benched using the built in demo , and it was running at 1280*960 , 4x AA , 16x AF , Maxed Settings with Soft Shadows . Now lets move onto a more important topic . Also , I left out 3DMark06 as it is very dual core oriented and give very low scores with single core CPU’s . I did run 3Dmark06 though , and score was around ~4800 ish though .
Now , from the reviews I read in different forums , the card seems to run pretty hot , compared to other 7950GT models with active cooling . XFX was kind enough to provide screwhole’s if u do want to put in a fan . I already had an Antec VCool pumping in air directly on the card , so I didn’t need to change anything on . I was a bit worried initially , but I am still surprised . Just look at the temperatures :
I am a bit stunned myself . The cooling seems to work perfectly , and above all , its silent . This was after a session of NFS Most Wanted , as I find NFS games to really push the temps on any card . And this was on a hot day too , and guys from kolkatta knows what I mean by “hot” day . Now , my hands were literally itching to overclock this baby . And oc I did . The max stable I reached was 630/890 !! That’s quite an improvement from stock 550/700 , specially considering the passive cooling . Though I’ll probably never use those clocks (remember the problem with earlier G71’s ?? ) . I settled for a rather modest 620/850 , compared to the auto detected 625/864 . Went through 3 hours of ATi Tool Artifact Testing , and completed it successfully . And then on to benchies . Ran 3Dmark06 to ensure that the card was not artifacting . And here are some direct comparisons between my previously overclocked 6800GS running at 520/1250 .
Ouch , just missed 10k’s by an inch . The CPU bottleneck is very obvious here , as I’ve read reviews where these cards touch the 11k’s mark with a better CPU . Around 700 marks increase in 3DMark05 can fetch u about 6-10 fps in actual games , specially depending upon the game , and what settings u play at . I’m playing all the current games at 1280*960 , with 4x AA where possible with every single detail maxed out . For older games I use 8xS , 16xS combined AA (forced via nHancer) . … The no. of frames ofcourse varies from game to game , but whatever it is , the game is always better than just playable , and that is enough for anyone with a casual gaming habit I guess . BTW , the 512 MB mem. Buffer really seems to help a lot . I often see the VRam usage peak at 496 MB , in games like Company of Heroes , GRAW etc. etc. Also , for every game , I had Transparency AA and Gamma Correct AA enabled .
This is a good buy . Specially if your budget is hovering around 20k’s INR max . The US pricing seems more mouth watering at around 299 USD . The OC seems stable and far reached , and with some good cooling u might hit clocks better than the standard 7900GTX (I already did on the memory) . Ofcourse if u can extend your budget a bit a X1900XT would definitely be a better buy if u do intend to overclock . But if you’re already on an extended budget , I’d suggest u to leave the 7900GT and go for the 7950GT . Infact , u’ll find many manufacturers offering 256 MB variants , and at a much lower price than even the 7900GT 256 MB . The card sits nicely between the 7900GT and the 7900GTX , and offers a very stable performance . And with the current drivers already updated to support this (initially they did not) , u need not worry about anything .