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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [11.04.06]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte

 

Enjoy the Silence

Everyone is understandably excited about the release of nvidia's DX10-capable G80 cards. After all, they quite simply destroy everything else on the market, including pairs of cards in SLI or CrossFire.

But what if you don't have $500-700 to spend on a video card?

What if you don't even want to spend $250?

You still have options. On the ATI side, that's currently the brand-new x1650 XT which is just starting to show up in stores, and can be found in the $200 range. On the nvidia side, the best sub-$250 card happens to be the 7600 GT released this past spring.

Gigabyte's solution is of particular interest to us, because it's a fanless, silent solution:

The Gigabyte GV-NX76T256D-RH is fanless, however it requires 2 slots. So depending on your motherboard layout you might lost a PCI slot (bad), PCI-E x1 slot (not so bad) or you can't use it at all (really bad). It should work for most people though, except in special SFF cases.

Before we explore this particular card, let's have a look at how it compares to its main competition:

The Specs
  Core Clock Pixels per Clock Fill Rate MPixels/s Textures per Clock Fill Rate MTexels/s Memory Clock Memory Bus Width Memory Bandwidth
nvidia GeForce 7600 GT 560 MHz 8 4480 12 6720 1.4 GHz 128 22.4 GB/s
ATI Radeon X1650 XT 575 MHz 8 4600 8 4600 1.35 GHz 128 21.6 GB/s

As you can see, the 7600 GT compares pretty well to the X1650 XT on paper. They both push the same amount of pixels, but with 2 extra textures per clock, the 7600 GT has an overall fill rate advantage once textures are added to the mix.

So they are extremely close on paper; let's see what 3DMark's capability tests tell us:

3DMark 06 gives us almost exactly what we expect from these cards based on their specifications on paper.

Even though the Radeon can push more pixels with a higher clock speed on paper, 3DMark 06 tells a slightly different story. It appears that the 7600 GT's architecture is more efficient, which isn't surprizing considering that nvidia shortened the pixel pipelines for the 90nm G71.

So even though it is over 8 months old, the 7600 GT stands up quite well to ATI's newest low-to-mid-range solution. Now let's have a look at Gigabyte's intriguing solution itself...

Next Page: (Silence is Golden)