PNY Verto 7900GS

Discussion in 'content-Hidden' started by Big B, Nov 23, 2006.

  1. Big B

    Big B HWF Godfather

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    Introduction

    While my experience with various hardware companies pales in comparison to the heavy hitters out there, I have compiled a short list of companies that I've been put off by. PNY is one of those companies, but time does pass, and I sincerely hope that they've made strides in addressing some of the issues since I last encoutered them.

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    This article is not about my personal history with PNY. It is going to take a look at their take on the GeForce 7900GS GPu. The 7900GS comes in just under the $200 mark, and it's that price point or less where most video cards are sold. While the GeForce 8800's are now available, most of us can't drop $500 on a video card. Given the close performance to the 7900GT, the 7900GS could appear to be a slight rehash of the same GPU. While that can be debated all day, the GS is coming in anywhere from $40-60, in most cases, less than the GT. As I don't have a GT available to test for myself, I'm not going to try to argue one way or the other. That's something that a consumer should read up on and decide for themself.

    Before we dive in, here's the highlight's of PNY's Verto 7900GS:

    -450MHz Core Clock
    -1.32GHz Memory Clock
    -256-bit Memory data path
    -20 pixels per clock
    -256MB GDDR3
    -PCIe x16 Interface
    -DVI x 2
    -S-Video/HD-Out

    PNY also offers a 3-year warranty, if you register the card. If not, the warranty goes for only 1 year.
    While this is certainly longer than most people will likely use the card, eVGA and XFX, for example, offer lifetime warranties, assuming one registers their card. PNY does seem a little behind the times here.

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  2. Big B

    Big B HWF Godfather

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    Card Overview

    PNY has a fairly compact box for a higher-end card like the 7900GS. The card, accessories and driver disc are shrink wrapped in a smaller bundle.

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    What's bundled with this 7900GS:

    -2x DVI to VGA adapters
    -1x S-Video cable
    -1x Component video out box
    -1x power adapter
    -1x driver/utility CD-ROM
    -1x manual

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    PNY has a miniture portfolio with the CD and manual inside, which can make it easier to keep these items together. The manual itself is well written and covers the differences between AGP, PCI and PCIe interfaces. It also covers auxillary power connections for AGP cards. The only thing I would have liked to have seen would be the coverage of a PCIe power connector. Considering this isn't PNY's first PCIe video card requiring a 6-pin PCIe connector, this is a bit of an oversight. Those who keep up with the latest and greatest shouldn't have any issues, but this could be confusing for the consumer getting their feet wet in DIY upgrades.

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    I am happy at the bundled provided. No games are included, but all the hardware accessories you could think of are. I'm happy to see two DVI to VGA adapters bundled with this card, as some companies opt to include only one. While this doesn't affect most LCD users, those with a pair of good CRT's will appreciate PNY's move on this.

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    The card itself is packaged with foam to keep it stationary, which worked quite well.

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    As you can see, PNY has gone with a bluish PCB for this card.

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    Like many video cards, particularly high-end ones, the Verto 7900GS sports dual DVI outputs and one S-Video/HD output. The S-Video or HD output depends on what connection you use, both of which are provided.

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    As with most 7900GS cards, the Verto uses a longer PCB, which is actually longer than the reference 7900GS. While I still have a GeForce Ti4600 in service, I've never had it it my main system. I found it long enough to be pretty snug to install, so if you've been used to the mid-range video cards like I have, this could come as a little shock during installation. You will also notice the single-slot copper cooler. I probably shouldn't have to mention this, but you can also see the SLI bridge connector, should you so desire.

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    The 6-pin PCIe power connector is on the back edge of the card, which is required to power this puppy.

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    PNY uses Hynix GDDR3 chips here. They are marked HY5RS573225A, and there are eight of them on the GPU side for the 256MB on the Verto 7900GS.

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    And, lastly, the back of the card. Nothing really exciting here, folks.

    Now with the obligatory tour finished, the more important question is how does the Verto perform?

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  3. Big B

    Big B HWF Godfather

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    Test Setup

    The following configuration was used for testing:

    -DFI LanPartyUT NF4 Ultra-D (11/14/05 BIOS)
    -Athlon 64 3000+ (Winchester)
    -2 x 512MB Crucial Ballistix PC3200 (2-2-2-5)
    -PNY Verto GeForce 7900GS
    -Western Digital 60GB, 7200RPM PATA 2MB (OS)
    -Seagate 160GB, 7200RPM SATA, 8MB (Gaming)
    -Maxtor 40GB, 5400RPM PATA 2MB (Storage)
    -Pioneer DVR-109 16x DVD-RW
    -Samsung SW252 52x CD-RW
    -CMD 649 PCI IDE (Western Digital, Maxtor)
    -Philips Dynamic Edge sound card
    -Enermax EG-565P-VE 535W power supply
    -Thermaltake SilentBoost K8
    -Windows XP Professional SP2
    -Forceware driver 93.71
    -nForce 4 driver 6.86

    Testing used the following games:

    -Half-Life 2: Lost Coast demo
    -F.E.A.R. retail v1.08
    -Quake 4 retail v1.2
    -Prey retail v1.1

    Each result was an average of three passes at the setting. This is to make sure there are no large fluctuations in passes and that there are no external issues interfering with testing.

    Half-Life 2: Lost Coast

    While not the newest game out there, it's HDR does add something to the flexible Source engine. Valve released the Lost Coast demo to showcase HDR. For this test, I used the built-in Video Stress Test feature.

    In-game settings:
    Models: High
    Texture: High
    Shader: High
    Water Reflection: Reflect World
    Shadow: High
    Anisotropic Filtering: Trilinear
    HDR: Bloom
    V-sync: Disabled

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    You might be expecting a little better performance in the Lost Coast test, but a quick check around the internet will show this is a pretty brutal benchmark. I did experience a couple of blue screens during testing of this benchmark, so it's possible the 93.71 drivers and the Lost Coast demo are butting heads. I would've set HDR at Full, but then the game was virtually un-playable at these settings, even at a 1024x768 resolution. Another oddity was the beach sand displayed as purple at the start of the benchmark with HDR enabled. Given that I didn't experience this with tests in the other games used, I'm inclined to think this was a driver issue. While I've still included these results, but you may want to take these ones with a grain of salt.

    Attached Files:

  4. Big B

    Big B HWF Godfather

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    Benchmarking, Cont.

    F.E.A.R.

    F.E.A.R. is one of the most intense FPS games on the market right now, both in terms of graphics and gameplay. The built-in benchmark was used to obtain results.

    In-game settings:

    Graphics
    Light Detail: Maximum
    Enable Shadows: On
    Shadow Detail: Maximum
    Soft Shadows: Off
    Texture Filtering: Trilinear
    Shaders: Maximum

    Effects
    Effects Detail: Maximum
    Model Decals: Maximum
    Water Resolution: Maximum
    Reflection and Display: Maximum
    Volumetric Lights: On
    Volumetric Light Density: Maximum

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    Unlike the Lost Coast demo, F.E.A.R. shows a much more distinct line between the 1024x768 and 1600x1200 resolutions. Gameplay was a little rougher at 1600x1200, but dropping some of of the graphics and effects settings down a tad or having a faster processor should smooth it out. In any case, 1600x1200 gaming is definitely possible with the Verto 7900GS.


    Quake 4

    Based on the Doom 3 engine, Quake 4 puts you behind the gun of a Marine in a war against the brutal Strogg aliens. Using Hardware OC's Quake 4 benchmarking tool, I tested with the iD Nettime demo.

    In-game settings:

    Quality: High
    Anisotropic Filtering: 2x

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    Seeing the results barely move is a good indication of CPU limitation. A more distinct difference should start to show with a faster CPU. Even so, users hoping to upgrade to a faster CPU will still see some benefits with the 7900GS. Gameplay was extremely smooth on either resolution, and this is with a paltry Athlon64 3000+.


    Prey

    Another Doom 3 engine game featuring aliens. This time, they've come to Earth, only to find they've messed with the wrong Cherokee. Hardware OC's Prey benchmarking tool was used with the Guru3D-6 demo.

    In-game settings:

    Use Shader Programs: Yes
    Shader Detail: Highest
    Enable Specular: Yes
    Enable Bump Maps: Yes
    Vsync: Off
    High Quality Specular: Yes
    Sharpen Bumpmaps: Yes
    Use Glow: Yes
    High Particle Detail: Yes
    High Quality Skinning: Yes
    Anisotropic Filtering: 2x

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    While based on the same engine, there's a very distinct difference between resolutions in Prey. Even with the detail levels cranked up, Tommy's bloody wrench will run smoothly at a 1600x1200 resolution. The game looks pretty good with medium detail settings, but it's fun to play at that resolution.

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  5. Big B

    Big B HWF Godfather

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    Overclocking

    I used the Coolbits 2 registry hack to enable overclocking in the nVidia driver control panel. To test stability, I primarily used 3DMark 06 and gaming at 1600x1200 with details cranked up. The core did a 553MHz OC from the stock 450MHz, so a healthy 100MHz+ isn't too shabby. The RAM, however, was less than impressive, moving only 30MHz from the stock 1.32GHz. What I found the most odd about this is that I didn't experience artifacting, but anything past 1.35GHz would result in a crash. I'm not entirely sure where the problem lies, be it my system, the voltage on the Verto's RAM, tight timings, a combination, or something outside of that. Now, PNY didn't advertise this card as an overclocking monster, so it's hard to ding them for this issue.

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    Summary

    Like most 7900GS cards, the Verto comes in under the $200 mark, in line with most 7900GS cards. PNY does list this card for $229.99 on their website, which is disappointing given the 3-year warranty, while the likes of XFX, BFG, and eVGA all offer lifetime warranties at a lower MSRP than PNY. Now, 3 years is a long time to have the same video card in a system, so it's certainly adequate. The sticking point is the higher MSRP and less of a warranty. My only other real gripe with the card is the length. PNY opted for a longer PCB, and I'm not sure why. There's no custom cooling or unique layout that would require the longer PCB.

    Now that I've pointed out the flaws, I also need to point out where PNY got it right. It's commonly overlooked, but the manual is quite thorough in covering connectors and installation of the card. The cooling fan is quiet, and no louder than the eVGA GeForce 6600GT in use beforehand. Those looking for a blue PCB should take note of PNY simply for this reason, despite how trivial it may be to some. PNY includes two DVI to CRT adapters, something not all dual-DVI or 7900GS cards include. Lastly, I appreciated the internal packaging. While nothing extravagant, PNY did make sure the product was secure for transportation.


    Conclusion

    nVidia's 7900GS sports the power of a $600 beast for under $200. While PNY hasn't done anything extravagant with their take on this GPU, it's pretty easy to find, given that the brand is sold at the likes of Best Buy. While it's MSRP leaves a little to be desired, the performance and stability don't. I've been wary of PNY for awhile, but it looks like the company has addressed some quality control issues. Is this the best 7900GS? No. Is this the fastest 7900GS? No. Does it work? Yes.
    Is it stable? Yes. Those of you looking for a video card upgrade in the form of a GeForce 7600GT or Radeon X1650XT should consider a 7900GS. Best Buy has already had a sale with these cards for $149.99 recently. Even then, given the retail prices of 7600GT's and the wide availability of PNY video cards, at the very least, the verto 7900GS should be on your short list. It may not be the card to get in light of the recent GeForce 8800GTX, but if you're hunting for a new video card, PNY's Verto GeForce 7900GS should at least be a consideration.

    Final Score: 4 out of 5 stars

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