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Leadtek Winfast® PX7950 GT TDH Extreme

 

Please join with us as we review the Leadtek Winfast® PX7950 GT TDH Extreme, 512MB video card. We’ve got a much more extensive agenda than usual in mind for this product as well as two other cards in the 7900 series to compare it with. Will we still call this card “EXTREME” after a foray in our test facilities or will we refer to it with less flattering terms? Why not join us and find out!

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INTRODUCTION

We at Bjorn3dD have been an awfully exuberant lot here lately with all the product releases taking place. The leader in new products released has got to be NVIDIA®. They have in less than a three month time span released several new chipsets for motherboards, an almost entirely new 7000 series of GPUs, and who knows what else. This is a phenomenal effort by any manufacturing standard and the beautiful thing about it is the trickle-down effect it has on the entire industry from secondary manufacturers to Product Analysts like myself. There’s nothing that makes me and I’m sure most people who review products happier than being inundated with a bevy of new and wonderful products to present to our readers.

Today we’ll be concentrating on one of those products manufactured by the well know company Leadtek Research or simply Leadtek. Leadtek is one of a handful of motherboard and multimedia card manufacturers that always dare to be different. I mean “different” in the best connotation possible and purely from the standpoint that they bring exciting new products to bare for the Consumer Enthusiastt market as well as the general computer product consumer.

The product for today’s focus is a 7950GT class video card that was released on September 6, 2006 along with a number of other manufacturers. In keeping with my statement above Leadtek chose a less traveled course with their version(s) of the card, not just releasing one; but four different models to inspire and titillate the consumer. I received one of the first consumer models of the card only a week or so ago. I can’t even find it searching the Net other than on Leadtek’s website. I have a strong belief it’s one of the first versions of the card to be brought into the US. I say this because I received the 512MB version of the card in a 256MB package. A packaging error? I don’t think so, my belief is that Leadtek is just now getting the final version of this card stateside and this was checked, packaged, and sent out for me to discuss with you.

Please join with us as we review the Leadtek Winfast® PX7950 GT TDH Extreme, 512MB video card. We’ve got a much more extensive agenda than usual in mind for this product as well as two other cards in the 7900 series to compare it with. Will we still call this card “EXTREME” after a foray in our test facilities or will we refer to it with less flattering terms? Why not join us and find out!

Leadtek Research: A Brief Overview

Founded in 1986, Leadtek Research, Inc. is a research and development company that is specialized in the design and manufacture of a wide range of high performance graphics and video solutions.

Award-winning products in Leadtek’s Computer Group include the WinFast Series 3D graphics accelerators (mainstream and workstation-class), motherboards and multimedia cards. Products in its Communications Group include video telephony, surveillance and GPS solutions. Leadtek has always been focused on intensive R&D, and its ISO9001 manufacturing facility has been recognized as an industry quality leader. Leadtek is committed to a win-win strategy of identifying and meeting the needs of its users, thereby sharing a mutual success with its customers.

FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS

Features

  • HDCP Capable:  Allows playback of HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and other protected content at full HD resolutions with integrated High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) support. (Requires other compatible components that are also HDCP capable.)
  • PCI Express support:  Designed to run perfectly with the next-generation PCI Express bus architecture. This new bus doubles the bandwidth of AGP 8X delivering over 4 GB/sec in both upstream and downstream data transfers.
  • High-Speed GDDR3 Memory on Board:  Enhanced memory speed and capacity ensures more flowing video quality in latest gaming environment especially in large scale textures processing.
  • Dual Dual-Link DVI:  Support hardwares with awe-inspiring 2560-by-1600 resolution, such as the 30-inch HD LCD Display, with massive load of pixels, requires a graphics cards with dual-link DVI connectivity.
  • Dual 400MHz RAMDACs:  Blazing-fast RAMDACs support dual QXGA displayswith ultra-high, ergonomic refresh rates up to 2048×1536@85Hz.
  • Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 Support:  The standard for today’s PCs and next-generation consoles enables stunning and complex effects for cinematic realism.
  • NVIDIA® SLI™ technology:  Delivers up to 2x the performance of a single GPU configuration for unparalleled gaming experiences by allowing two graphics cards to run in parallel. The must-have feature for performance PCI Express graphics, SLI dramatically scales performance on over 60 top PC games.
  • High dynamic-range (HDR) Rendering Support:  The ultimate lighting effects bring environments to life for a truly immersive, ultra-realistic experience.
  • NVIDIA ® PureVideo ™ technology:  The combination of high-definition video processors and NVIDIA DVD decoder software deliver unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for all video content to turn your PC into a high-end home theater.( Feature requires supported video software.)
  • Integrated HDTV encoder:  Provide world-class TV-out functionality up to 1080i resolution.
  • CineFX 4.0 Engine:  Powers the next generation of cinematic realism. Full support for Microsoft® DirectX®9.0c Shader Model 3.0 enables stunning and complex special effects. Next-generation shader architecture delivers faster and smoother gameplay.
  • UltraShadow II Technology:  Enhances the performance of bleeding-edge games, like id Software’s Doom III, that feature complex scenes with multiple light sources and objects. 2nd-generation technology delivers more than 4x the shadow processing power over the previous generation.
  • 64-Bit Texture Filtering and Blending with Advanced Memory Control:  NVIDIA’s 64-bit texture implementation sets new standards for image clarity and quality through floating point capabilities in filtering and texturing.
  • NVIDIA® Intellisample™ 4.0 technology:  The industry fastest antialiasing delivers ultra realistic visuals, with no jagged edges, at lightning fast speeds. Visual quality is taken to new heights through a new rotated grid sampling pattern, advanced 128 Tap sample coverage, 16x anisotropic filtering, and support for transparent supersampling and multisampling.
  • OpenGL® 2.0 Optimizations and Support:  Full OpenGL support, including OpenGL 2.0
  • NVIDIA® ForceWare™ Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • NVIDIA® nView® multi-display technology
  • NVIDIA® Digital Vibrance Control™ 3.0 technology

NVIDIA® 7900 Series GPU/VPU Product Comparison

Leadtek® offers four models of the GeForce™ 7950 GT. The standard WinFast PX7950 GT TDH which closely parallels the NVIDIA® reference version of this card and offers it with both 256 and 512 MB of DDR3 memory. The “Extreme” version has moderately faster specifications than the NVIDIA® reference design and is also offered with 256 and 512 MB of DDR3 memory. The specifications of each of these cards are detailed in the table below:

Specifications


Leadtek® Winfast GeForce PX7950 GT TDH Model
Specification Comparison


Product


WinFast PX7950 GT TDH Extreme


WinFast PX7950 GT TDH


GPU


NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GT


NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GT


Graphics BUS


PCI Express


PCI Express


Memory size


256/512MB DDR3


256/512MB DDR3


GPU/Memory clock


600/1430MHz


550/1400MHz


Output


Dual Dual-Link DVI, HDTV


Dual Dual-Link DVI, HDTV


Memory Interface


256-bit


256-bit


Data bandwidth ( GB/sec.)


45.76


44.8


Fill Rate(billion texels/sec)


14.4


13.2


Vertices/sec (billion)


1.24


1.14


Pixels per clock (peak)


24


24


RAMDACs (MHz)


400


400


Process Technology


90nm


90nm


CineFX 4.0 Engine


Unified Driver Architecture (UDA) 4.0 Engine


Intellisample 4.0 Technology HCT


nView Multi-display Technology


Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0


Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0c Optimizations and Support


OpenGL® 2.0 Optimizations and Support

“It also supports second – generation NVIDIA SLI™ technology that allows users to combine the power of two GPUs in a single PC system to allow for superhigh – quality settings for even the most demanding games.”

“WinFast® PX7950 GT TDH series complies with many cutting-edge Xtreme-HD features. It provides dual Dual-Link DVI connectivity to support two hi-end, ultra –large, 30-inch LCD monitors at a mind bending 2560×1600 resolution. With an embedded revolutionary HDTV encoder, the WinFast® PX7950 GT TDH also supports crystal clear HDTV output up to 1080i. On top of this, it even enhances compatibility with other video standards, delivers hitherto undreamt of clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for all video content such as MPEG-2, WMV, WMV HD with NVIDIA exclusive PureVideo™ HD technology.” “What’s more, playback of HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and other protected content at full HD resolutions with integrated High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is fully supported.”

“And here’s the icing on the cake. The new WinFast® PX7950 GT TDH series comes bundled with the latest and greatest gaming software — Spell Force 2: Shadow Wars, an interesting blend of multi-player real-time strategy and role-playing game play that has received raving media reviews worldwide. Not to mention inclusion of Serious Sam II – along with Power DVD software”

THE PACKAGE & ACCESSORIES

The Package

As is readily visible, the Leadtek® has chosen a middle of the road sized package to ship their WinFast PX7950 GT TDH Extreme card in. While not as well padded as some, I still believe the packaging offers its precious contents adequate protection. I really love the yellow, black, and silver-gray design of the box and feel Leadtek® has done an excellent job of informing their potential customers of the PX7950′s offerings on the package’s front and rear.


The Package … Front

The Package … Rear

Accessories

I would call Leadtek’s bundled accessories fairly generous especially for the standard WinFast PX7950 GT TDH 256/512MB packages as they sell in the $250 – $300 USD price range which is pretty much standard fare for all the manufacturers of the 7950GT card. We were unable to find the extreme versions for sale on either Price Grabber or Google. We were informed that Bjorn3d was getting one of the first extreme versions to enter the US and we only received our sample about a week ago so we’ll assume they aren’t yet plentiful on the shelves.


Bundled Accessories

Our package included:

  • WinFast PX 7950GT TDH graphic card
  • General guide
  • Quick installation guide
  • Driver & Utilities CD-ROM
  • Molex-to-PCI Express Power Cable Adapter
  • DVI to VGA converter
  • HDTV cable
  • Serious Sam II
  • SpellForce II

THE CARD

Most of the extreme Computer Enthusiast readers that we have at Bjorn3d want the fastest system they can find categorically speaking and seem somewhat impervious to the sound generated by the number of air cooling devices necessary to achieve their goal. I consider myself to be in the same category with one basic exception, I want the fastest rig I can possibly afford however I believe that a reasonably quiet solution can also be obtained. Leadtek® has opted to use the NVIDIA® “reference style” cooler on their card. While usually not the quietest cooling solution this case seems to be an exception as this card is extremely quiet and idles around 42° Celsius and at full load is less than 68° Celsius and this is a factory overclocked card! I’m impressed.

My wife, who is a professional artist, has told me to refrain from my usual descriptive expletives concerning any products’ color scheme. She feels I need a dog for the visually impaired when it comes to my perception of colors and their schemes. This hits hard but so did my friend’s comments on the “fire engine red” bedroom I had as a child, that was the last time until I after turned 21 that my parents let me make a decision involving colors. So let’s just say I like the card’s looks.


WinFast® PX7950 GT TDH Extreme … Front View

The rear of the card has very clean traces and is neatly finished without excessive solder joints. While I fully realize this is done by a machine some manufacturers do it much better than others and this card falls into that category.


WinFast® PX7950 GT TDH Extreme … Rear View

A side view of the card shows the Dual DVI connectors as well as the HDTV video output.


WinFast® PX7950 GT TDH Extreme … Side View

TESTING

Test System

  • Asus P5WDG2 WS Professional Motherboard
  • Intel E6600 Core 2 Duo (Conroe) Processor at default speed
  • Noctua NH-U12F CPU Cooler with Panaflo M1A 38mm Fan
  • 2GB of Mushkin Redline XP2-8000 DDR-2 (4-5-4-11-1T @ 2.0 volts)
  • Test Card 1:   Leadtek Winfast®PX7950 GT TDH Extreme, 512MB DDR3 running ForceWare 91.47
  • Test Card 2:   XFX® GeForce™ 7950 GT XT, 512MB DDR3 running ForceWare 91.47
  • Test Card 3:   XFX® GeForce™ 7900 GS XT, 256MB DDR3 running ForceWare 91.47
  • 2 – Seagate 750GB Barracuda ES SATA drives
  • Creative Audigy 4 Sound Card
  • Zippy PSL-6850P(G1) 850 Watt PSU
  • Pioneer 111D DVDRW
  • Lian-Li G70 Case customized by Performance PCs
  • Windows XP Pro SP2
  • Samsung Syncmaster 213T 21.3″ LCD Monitor

Benchmarks

Synthetic Benchmarks

  • 3DMark05
  • 3DMark06

Gaming Benchmarks

  • Counter-Strike: Source, Video Stress Test
  • F.E.A.R. v 1.07
  • Quake 4: ID Net Demo
  • Doom 3: Time Demo 1
  • Far Cry v 1.33
  • Serious Sam II v 2.068

Testing Methodology

In case you are wondering, I’m getting a bit disillusioned with having as many as 8-10 different views of the same product in a review. Today I’m trying a “More Meat and Less Potatoes” approach. We have a total of fourteen (14) graphs that are budding with information that I think you’ll find much more useful than three different views of the same capacitor. Sorry, I don’t mean to sound cynical as this type of review takes considerably more of a Product Analyst’s time when done to perfection than filling the review pages with images that in many cases are overkill. If you like this approach let me know, if not write Scott and tell I want a new Nikon for Christmas.

We will be testing the Leadtek Winfast® PX7950 GT TDH Extreme vs. the XFX® GeForce™ 7950 GT XT vs. the XFX® GeForce™ 7900 GS XT card. We will run the above captioned benchmarks on both systems with each GPU/VPU set at default speed. Our synthetic benchmarks 3DMark06 and 3DMark05 will be run in default mode with both set at a resolution of 1024 x 768. All other gaming tests will be run at 1280 x 1024 (1024 x 768 in F.E.A.R), and 1600 x 1200 resolutions with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering disabled. We will then run the benchmarks a second time at the same resolutions with Anti-Aliasing set to 4X and Anisotropic Filtering set to 8X. Each of the tests will be run individually and in succession three times rebooting between each attempt and an average of the three results calculated and reported. F.E.A.R. benchmarks were also run with soft shadows disabled.

Synthetic Test Results

TESTING cont.

Gaming Benchmark Results

TESTING cont.

Gaming Benchmark Results

CONCLUSION

Whew! That was one exhaustive benchmarking session, but I’m in hopes it was very beneficial and presents you with almost every possible benchmark that would be worthwhile in making your judgement(s) about this card. Let me say that from the gun when I opened this package I was impressed! No! I’m not talking color combinations either; this is one truly sweet card. It purrs like a kitten when running at its factory overclocked pace and does so staying extremely cool while being highly productive.

The benchmarks speak for themselves, the Leadtek Winfast® PX7950 GT TDH Extreme is the fastest box-stock 7950 GT that I’ve had the pleasure to review. For you extreme overclockers out there that think this factory overclock is merely a dot on the graph, this baby’s got plenty left under the hood. Product Analysts like to play as well and I’m more anal than most meaning I’m not going to say that a card has “plenty left under the hood” unless I’ve opened that hood a few times. Let’s just say that with a bit of care 7900GTX core and memory clocks are not beyond the realm of possibility. The cooling with just a little bit of help is also certainly up to the task. Be advised though that “your mileage may vary” as with any new electronics purchase.

I’m sitting here trying my hardest to try and find something wrong with the product, there’s got to be! I’ve only given one other “10″ in my life but I was in college and the moon, the night, and the ….. Well never mind you get the picture! This is one truly outstanding product and from my perspective deserves consideration by everyone out there looking for exceptional performance at a very good price! It comes with the highest recommendation possible from this Product Analyst, who did his absolute best to find something wrong with the product!

My sincerest appreciation to the wonderful folks at Leadtek for allowing me the privelege of reviewing such an awesome product!

 

 

Pros:

+  Most vibrant image rendering of any 7950GT I’ve used, seen, or reviewed
+  The price is right
+  Highly feature laden
+  High Dynamic Range Rendering (HDR) compliant
+  SLI certified
+  Shader 3.0 compliant
+  Size causes no issues with hard drives
+  Very quiet but effective cooling
+  Excellent performance
+  Nice accessory package

 

Cons:

-  It doesn’t come with a coupon for a free Thanksgiving turkey, there I found one

Final Score: 10 out of 10 and the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award.

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