IntroductionThe race to produce the fastest graphics card on the planet has returned with full force, ever since the release of the ATI Radeon X1800 XT and subsequent counter-punch from NVIDIA in the shape of their own GeForce 7800 GTX 512.
Whispers abound of a 700MHz X1800 XT to perpetuate the game but, with NVIDIA's AIB partners forging ahead with even faster GTX 512s, the game seems hard for ATI to win, at least at 700MHz. We saw one such faster GTX 512 example, clocked at 580/865, a couple of days ago. The saucily-named XFX GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB DDR3 XXX Edition provided a small, yet measurable, performance increases versus the NVIDIA reference hardware, and in SLI the performance available is simply massive.
XFX lose the fastest-clocked GTX 512 competition, though. EVGA submitted a final engineering sample of their e-GeForce 7800 GTX BlackPearl 512MB a few days ago. Clocked out-of-the-box at 600/900, the watercooled graphics board also challenges for the title of world's most expensive consumer VGA board, tipping the money scales at a scary $1000. We shudder to think of the converted UK price, fully expecting it to be in the high £600 range, closing in rapidly on £700.
For the money you get the board and all the watercooling hardware - from radiator to reservoir and tubing inbetween - required to run the card at 600/900 in 24/7 safety. Indeed, the sample provided was validated to run at 612/905 using the standard air cooler, so some of the appeal switches to getting those clocks in silence, as the watercooling affords you.
We'll cover all that in our full review. Until then, a quick preview of the hardware and a look at the performance of it running at 600/900, and also overclocked to the maximum stable speeds we were able to obtain.