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NVIDIA's GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics card

SLI sammich

NVIDIA HAS BEEN TALKING publicly about Quad SLI for half a year now, and Quad SLI configs have been shipping for a few months in a select number of ultra-high-end PCs. Today, at long last, NVIDIA is unveiling a consumer version of its Quad SLI component card, the GeForce 7950 GX2. A single GX2 plugs into one PCI Express slot, but it actually has a pair of printed circuit boards, two GPUs, and two sets of memory chips onboard. By itself, the GeForce 7950 GX2 is an SLI setup on a stick, a dual-GPU powerhouse that fits into the same space as any other high-end graphics card with a dual-slot cooler. Slide two of these puppies into a system side by side, and you have the potential for Quad SLI—but not the reality, apparently, if you're just a lowly DIYer.

Confused? So are we. But we do have a GeForce 7950 GX2 in our grubby little hands, and it's still a heckuva thing, quad SLI or no.

The card
What you see below is BFG Tech's version of the GeForce 7950 GX2.

Each of this SLI sandwich's two printed circuit boards carries a G71 graphics processor, 512MB of memory, and a low-profile cooler. That G71 GPU is the same chip that powers the rest of the GeForce 7900 series, and in this application, it's clocked at 500MHz. The memory chips run at 600MHz. That makes the GX2 roughly the equivalent of a pair of GeForce 7900 GT cards—but with slightly faster GPU clocks, slightly slower memory clocks, and double the RAM per GPU.

So, uh, yeah. Powerful.

This puppy is also revised quite a bit compared to the cards that shipped in early Quad SLI systems. At 9.5" inches, the GX2 is shorter than the earlier cards—and no longer than a Radeon X1900.

Protruding from the GX2's expansion slot cover is a pair of dual-link DVI ports and a TV-out port. These unassuming ports include something new: full HDCP support.

I know, breathtaking, hardware copy protection as a feature!

But you'll need it to plug into the latest HDTVs, so here it is. The board has a crypto ROM on it that works in concert with the GPU and an HDCP-ready playback application to make the magic happen. Then, all you have to do is plop down on the couch, rest your peg leg, and watch that new Blu-ray title with your one good eye. (Our BFG Tech review unit, however, did not ship with an HDMI plug adapter.)

NVIDIA says you can expect to cough up roughly $599 to $649 worth of pirate booty in order to purchase a GeForce 7950 GX2, and like many of its recent product introductions, this one should be followed by near-immediate availability of cards at online retailers.