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Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E
Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E

January 30, 2007






TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions



It will be a small article, we'll just inform our readers about the existence of such cards. That's because GeForce 7900GS and 8800GTS cards have been reviewed already. And our today's cards are no different from the reference models.

FOXCONN is well known on the Russian market. But mostly owing to motherboards, PC cases, and various cooling systems, PSUs, etc. The company has been into video cards for a long time already, but they used to be manufactured as outsourcing only (i.e. ordered by various companies) and were never sold under its own trademark. We can say, of course, that Leadtek and TUL, directly dependent on FOXCONN, are actually selling what is manufactured at the plants of this IT giant. But these two companies are not completely absorbed, and FOXCONN can dictate its will only within certain limits. That's why Leadtek and TUL work independently to some degree.

Nevertheless, we can see the star of Leadtek paling. We'll talk about this sad issue later, when we describe cards from this company. But the fact remains, company's sales in Russia have dropped. It almost coincided with the appearance of FOXCONN products - we mean video cards, of course. So we can see a connection between these events.

So, video cards from FOXCONN. Only middle end and budget solutions offer individual designs. Expensive products, GeForce 7900 GTX and higher, are still bought from NVIDIA. They are just labeled, bundled, and packaged by FOXCONN. Interestingly, some of these cards sold by NVIDIA as ready products, not just chips or GPU+memory, are actually manufactured at FOXCONN plants. So this card may be a sterling product from this company - manufactured and sold by FOXCONN. It just passed through NVIDIA. Complete reference design, of course - no modifications.

So, let's examine two video cards: one of them represents the Mid-End segment, the second - High-End.

Video Cards



Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E
GPU: GeForce 7900 GS (G71)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders/Geometry): 450/450/450 MHz (nominal — 450/450/450 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 660 (1320) MHz (nominal — 660 (1320) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Vertex processors: 7

Pixel processors: 20

Unified processors: -

Texture processors: 20

ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 200×100×15 mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: green.

RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU.

Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware).




Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E
GPU: GeForce 8800 GTS (G80)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 513/1200 MHz (nominal — 513 (1200) MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 800 (1600) MHz (nominal — 800 (1600) MHz)

Memory bus width: 320bit

Vertex processors: -

Pixel processors: -

Unified processors: 96

Texture processors: 24

ROPs: 20

Dimensions: 220x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: black.

RAMDACs/TDMS: in a separate chip.

Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware).






Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E
The cards have 256 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips (GDDR3). 1.4 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 700 (1400) MHz.




Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E
The video card has 640 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in ten chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.2ns memory access time, which corresponds to 800 (1600) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT
Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS


Comparison with the reference design, back view
Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT
Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS


Photos are just another proof of the reference design. So there is no point in repeating ourselves. GeForce 7900GS is based on GeForce 7900GT (it just has a cut-down GPU), even their frequencies are identical. Simple design: chips are arranged in a semi-circle around the heart of the card, they are all on the front side of the PCB. The card requires external power, so it's equipped with an external power connector.

The 8800GTS-based card has a PCB with a 384-bit bus. But it actually uses only 320 bit, because two chips are missing, just empty seats. That's one of the ways to cut down a High-End solution to make it cheaper. We should talk about lines of video cards, why they are manufactured, and how. We'll do it in the next articles.

Let's return to our "muttons".

The cards have TV-Out with a unique jack. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV-set via S-Video or RCA. You can read about the TV-Out in more detail here.

Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit x85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 × 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface (both DVI jacks with Dual-Link)

What concerns MPEG2 playback features (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on all modern video cards does not exceed 25%. What concerns HDTV and other trendy video features, we are going to sort them out as soon as possible.

Now about the cooling systems. There is nothing to describe. Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E is equipped with a trite cooler that affects only the core. It's a small closed heatsink with an off-center fan that drives air through it. Efficiency of this cooler is improved by copper alloys used in the heatsink. Unlike the same device in the 7600GT, which gets very noisy during initialization, this cooler is quiet. You will hear only noise from "third-party" sources, for example from a snoring gamer asleep on the keyboard.

Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E demonstrates a more powerful and imposing device, which channels the heat from the GPU and memory chips out of a PC case. The turbine rotates rather slowly, so despite the power consumption of a lustre, the card is quiet and does not get very hot. However, you still cannot remove it from a computer right after power off - it'll burn your fingers. When I wanted to replace 8800GTS for another card at once, I had to cool it with a fan for two minutes for its temperature to get below the threshold of pain.

Bundle

Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E; Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E
Both cards have identical bundles. User manual, CD with drivers, DVI-to-d-Sub and S-Video-to-RCA adapters, composite output adapter, external power splitter, and a bonus - a nice joystick made by FOXCONN.




Packages

Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E

It's a large glossy package with a cardboard box inside. The card and bundled components are well secured inside, so dangling is out of the question. What's the meaning of these snail-like patterns? Perhaps, these are FOXCONN's tentacles, which ensnare more and more IT sectors.




Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E

No jacket here, the box itself is painted with bright colors. Stylish design. The box differs significantly from the previous model. All bundled components are thoroughly arranged into sections. The video card is secured not to dangle inside.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Intel Core2 Duo (775 Socket) based computer
    • CPU: Intel Core2 Duo Extreme X6800 (2930 MHz) (L2=4096K)
    • Motherboard: EVGA nForce 680i SLI on NVIDIA nForce 680i
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM Corsair 1142MHz (CAS (tCL)=5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=5; Row Precharge (tRP)=5; tRAS=15)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA
    • PSU: Tagan 1100-U95 (1100W).

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitor: Dell 3007WFP (30").
  • Drivers: ATI CATALYST 6.12; NVIDIA Drivers 96.97.

VSync is disabled.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (with/without HDR), maximum settings.

  • Call Of Juarez (Techland/Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (HDR), demo (demo Tests were run with maximum quality. The batch file is included.

  • FarCry 1.4 (beta) (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0b/3.0 (with/without HDR), 3 demos from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings. We used HDRRendering=1 for HDR tests

  • PREY 1.01 (3D Realms Entertainment / Human Head Studios / 2K Games) — OpenGL, shaders 2.x, demo003 (40MB!). Tests were run with maximum quality. The batch file is included.

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, trilinear filtering.

  • Serious Sam II 1.068 (Croteam/2K Games) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (with/without HDR), batch file to start the test. It's the standard demo0002 that comes with the game. Tests settings — maximum.

    We express our thanks to our reader, Vozniuk Valery AKA Px, for his batch file for this game.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.08 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

  • Company Of Heroes (Relic Entertainment/THQ) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0, startup batch file. When you start the game, you should go to options, choose the graphics section, and press the test button. Tests were run with maximum quality.

  • 3DMark06 1.02 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0c, multitexturing, test settings — trilinear,



Video cards' performance

You may download the results in Excel format (Office 2003) archived in RAR 3.0 or ZIP.





Conclusions

Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E is a usual representative of the numerous 7900GS family. Yep, we are inclined to say it at first glance, because the card offers no interesting features. But let's not forget that (1) the bundle includes a good joystick; (2) the price for this card is generally a tad lower than the average (we mean FOXCONN products). So you might have safely considered this device as one of your choices for your PC. But for RADEON X1950 PRO - a better choice, if their prices are identical. It offers anisotropy of higher quality, HDR+AA (this combo can be used in such cards). Besides, performance of AMD products slumps less, when you enable HDR. The choice is up to our readers.

Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E - we can actually say the same words about the lack of interesting features, except for the bundle. But there are some nuances here: AMD hasn't offered a worthy competitor to this card yet. So the GTS card is very good in its price segment, it lacks drawbacks of the previous NVIDIA series. But there are still some problems with drivers. NVIDIA should be ashamed of selling cards at crazy prices. And there are still some gripes and artifacts in new games (all forums are trumpeting it!) We understand that MS Windows Vista requires updated drivers, but WinXP users shouldn't be abandoned!

Let's hope that the situation will change for the better in the nearest future. Users do not buy such products for three-six months. They buy them for long. So it's very important to supply them with bug-free software as soon as possible.

Both cards worked well, we had no gripes with them. A piece of advice to FOXCONN - bundles are important, but the company should also add proprietary features. FOXCONN is a large and wealthy company after all. It can afford modding, adding illumination to a cooler, or even replacing it with a more interesting, efficient, and quiet solution. Especially it concerns the 7900GS. Saving money and launching a usual reference card without any customizations is very strange. Or bundles should be enlarged. Along with the joystick, the company might have added various presents. Let's hope that the new cards will change this situation.

And the choice is up to our readers, as always. We can only inform you about this or that product. But we do not give direct instructions which products to choose.

You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.










Our Excellent Package award






is given to...

  • Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB PCI-E
  • Foxconn GeForce 7900 GS 256MB PCI-E





ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference

NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900 Reference




We express our thanks to
FOXCONN Russia
for the provided video cards




PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by TAGAN




                               The Dell 3007WFP monitor for the testbeds was kindly provided by NVIDIA









Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

January 29, 2007


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