NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX 512 graphics processor

An Ultra by any other name...
— 8:00 AM on November 14, 2005

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE as a writer, you have to dig deep into the imagery file in order to do a subject justice. Such is the case with the GeForce 7800 GTX 512, an amped-up version of NVIDIA's top-end GPU that's much more than just a familiar product with additional memory. Let's see what I have in here.

Car analogy? Check.

Veiled profanity? Check.

Pro wrestling terms? Check.

Edgy pop-cultural reference? Check.

Looks like we're all set.

This new 512MB version of the GeForce 7800 GTX, you see, doesn't run at the 430MHz GPU and 1.2GHz memory clocks that the standard version does. Oh, no. This card is intended to compete with—nay, embarrass—ATI's ultra-high-end Radeon X1800 XT, the recently crowned king of single-card graphics performance. NVIDIA's not calling it an Ultra, but they might as well be, with clock speeds of 550MHz for the GPU and 1.7GHz for the memory. That, my friend, is fast. We're talking about 13.2 gigatexels per second of fill rate and over 54GB per second of memory bandwidth. Those towering specifications could allow this Bugatti Veyron of the graphics world to lay the freaking smack down on the Radeon X1800 XT. And the prospect of running a couple of these monsters in SLI captures the geek's imagination like a wayward pair of Carolina Panthers cheerleaders.

We have, of course, subjected the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 to a grueling battery of performance tests using the latest games at a range of resolutions, including the sick and disturbing 2048x1536, just because we could. Can NVIDIA's new $649 beast show up ATI's Radeon X1800 XT? Will a pair of these in running in tandem cause the lights to dim in Damage Labs? We're about to find out.

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