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ASUS EN7900GS TOP Graphics Card Review
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Introduction

Like processors, GPUs of the same series are generally made from the same line. The different models you see in stores actually come off the same platter. These chips are tested and binned into different speed grades, for sale at different prices. But unlike processors, GPUs can be further binned according to their "defects".

When a GPU die is not fully functional after the fabrication process, manufacturers can often disable the non-functional sections. This allows them to salvage their imperfectly-fabricated GPUs and turn them into functional chips. Of course, this salvaged GPU will be slower due to the lower number of working pixel shaders or other components of the die that may have to be disabled.

These GPUs are sold as fully-functional GPUs, albeit at lower prices due to their lower specifications. Of course, this is not always the case. Market forces play a part in the creation of cheaper, crippled parts. In fact, many perfectly-functional GPUs are deliberately crippled in the same way to obtain lower-performance parts when the demand for such parts exceed supply.

One of such GPUs is the NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS. While based on the same G71 core as the GeForce 7900 GT and the GeForce 7900 GTX, it has fewer functional pixel and vertex shaders. You can think of it as a slightly crippled version of the GeForce 7900 GT.

But what happens when you put a graphics card based on a downgraded GPU like the GeForce 7900 GS on steroids? That's what we will find out today when we review the ASUS EN7900GS TOP. ASUS took the cheap GeForce 7900 GS and turned it into Hercules. Take a look at this comparison and you will see why.

NVIDIA
GeForce 7900 GT
ASUS
EN7900GS TOP
NVIDIA
GeForce 7900 GS
NVIDIA
GeForce 7800 GS
Manufacturing
Process
0.09 Micron
0.09 Micron
0.09 Micron
0.11 Micron
Transistor
Count
278 Million
278 Million
278 Million
302 Million
DirectX
Support
9.0c
9.0c
9.0c
9.0
Interface
PCI Express X16
PCI Express X16
PCI Express X16
AGP / PCIe X16
Vertex
Shaders
8
7
7
6
Vertex Shader
Version
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
Pixel Shaders
24
20
20
16
Pixel Shader
Version
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
Textures Per Clock
24
20
20
16
ROPs
16
16
16
16
Core Speed
450 MHz
590 MHz
450 MHz
375 MHz
Fill Rate
10800 MTexels/s
11800 MTexels/s
9000 MTexels/s
6000 MTexels/s
Memory Bus
Width
256-bits
256-bits
256-bits
256-bits
Memory
Type
GDDR3
GDDR3
GDDR3
GDDR3
Memory Speed
660 MHz
720 MHz
660 MHz
500 MHz
Memory
Bandwidth
42.20 GB/s
46.08 GB/s
42.20 GB/s
32.00 GB/s

The NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS improved upon its predecessor, the 7800 GS by offering a 50% higher fill rate and almost 32% more memory bandwidth. But that wasn't enough for ASUS. They boosted the GeForce 7900 GS' core speed from 450MHz to a staggering 590MHz and increased the memory speed to 720MHz (1.4GHz DDR).

Thanks to the higher clock speeds, the ASUS EN7900GS TOP had over 30% more fill rate and over 9% more memory bandwidth than what it was originally rated for. In fact, it had a higher fill rate than the standard NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT, even though it had four fewer pixel shaders. It is indeed a GeForce 7900 GS on steroids.

 

The Package

The ASUS EN7900GS TOP came in a large cardboard box with an archer girl adorning the front. If you buy this card, you may just win her heart... or at least that's the idea. More notable is the relatively small chart at the upper right corner which claims that this overclocked variant is 20% faster than the regular GeForce 7900 GS.

If you need more information, then flip the box over to the back. Here, you can read about the key features of the GeForce 7900 GS card as well as exclusive ASUS-only features found in this card.

The box is pretty big for what it contains. Inside the box, you will find :

  • One ASUS EN7900GS TOP graphics card
  • One DVI-to-VGA converter
  • One HDTV-out cable
  • One power cable splitter
  • One faux leather CD case
  • Two CDs

It is a pretty spartan bundle, but then again, what else do you really need? All the necessary accessories are already in the package. Any other bundled accessories would be merely superfluous additions to the package.



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