Uber-high-resolution gaming on today's GPUs

G70's ace in the hole?

WHEN WE SET OUT TO review the new GeForce 7800 GTX graphics card, we faced a somewhat unusual conundrum. How could we push the performance limits of this impressively fast new card with today's games? More acutely, how could we test the limits of two of them working together in SLI mode? This is a graphics solution so powerful, the vast majority of games available today just don't present much of a challenge for it.

We coped by doing most of our testing with 4X antialiasing and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled at resolutions as high as most monitors would take us: 1600x1200. That approach gave us a decent idea what kind of comparative performance to expect from the GeForce 7800 GTX, but it didn't entirely harness the power of two of them in SLI, as we learned when we drove a pair of 'em with the brand-new Athlon 64 FX-57 after the fact.

Some of our readers requested a different approach, asking us to test the cards at ultra-high resolutions, including the big kahuna, 2048x1536. We're obliging sorts of fellows, so we set out to locate and purchase a monitor capable of running at this almost otherworldly screen resolution. A hundred bucks and a brush with a hernia later, an enormous 22" aperture grill monitor sits atop the Damage Labs test bench, causing it to bow slightly downward. (OK, so I had to place the monitor over two support legs, so the end of the table didn't snap off.)

Turns out the performance numbers for the GeForce 7800 GTX look spectacular—so spectacular, in fact, that it prompted us to investigate a little further. What we found is that there are some very good reasons for the GeForce 7800 GTX's relatively strong performance at very high resolutions, reasons that go beyond the card's additional pixel shading power and memory bandwidth.

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