Leadtek WinFast PX7950 GT TDH Extreme

Review

posted 10/30/2006 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
How many iterations of G71 can one company put out? Well NVIDIA's seeking out one more before the fabled G80 is released. This time out, we got Leadtek's implementation of the GeForce 7950 GT but as with most of our Leadtek reviews on the site we aren't going to review the normal card. Nope, as we have the Leadtek WinFast PX7950 GT TDH Extreme on board with 256MB of memory. This PCI Express card looks to give you some top level performance without being priced in the enthusiast level.


Positioned at about the top level for the mainstream folks, the WinFast PX7950 GT TDH Extreme sports a GPU clock speed of 600MHz while the memory runs at 1430MHz. A default NVIDIA configuration sits at 550MHz for the GPU and 1400MHz for the memory so you get a little bit more out of this card like all of the Extreme line. The card has 24 pixelshaders and 8 vertex shaders among other features in the card. All the features that are touted in the G71 line are here and the only differences between this card and the high end enthusiasts model are the clock speeds. The card can come in 256MB and 512MB configurations but we have the 256MB one for review. The GPU is built on a 90 nanometer process.

A few things available on this card I've touched on as they are also featured in the WinFast PX7900 GS GT TDH Extreme. First off, the card features the nice variable speed fan that keeps the card cool and quiet. The fan does spin up when 3D operations are in play but it's still pretty quiet and definitely a vast improvement over the past Leadtek cards I reviewed. No longer does my computer sound like it's in a wind tunnel even when idle. Another feature that will make HTPC folks happy is the inclusion of HDCP into the card. When viewing high definition content through a digital connection, you'll need a display device and a card that's HDCP capable. NVIDIA and Leadtek have done their part to include it on the card so those wanting a high end video card in their HTPC system should check out this card.

Physically, the card isn't too long compared to some of the ones I've been reviewing lately. It's the reference design with the variable speed fan containing Leadtek's branding covering most of the front. It uses the traditional green PCB so nothing fancy in terms of color here. An SLI link sits at the top where it always does to allow for dual card support. An external power source is needed as the card sports a six pin power connector. If you don't have one on your power supply, Leadtek has included an adapter that takes two Molex connections and combines them into one six pin power connector. The card takes up one slot so that should make those with limited space very happy. The design though means the warm air is recycled inside the case rather than being exhausted out the back.

Dual DVI links encompass the digital connections for the card. A maximum resolution of 2560x1600 is available for both single and dual monitors.  If you still need to connect to an older VGA connection, adapters are included in the card. TV out is supported via a pigtail that Leadtek has included in the package. Component connections and a S-Video out round out the ways you can connect this card to a display source.

Software bundled with the Leadtek WinFast PX7950 GT TDH Extreme are two games: Serious Sam II and Spell Force 2: Shadow Wars. They're two good games for their time but nothing really spectacular. A more up to date bundle of games would've been nice but that could've raise the price on an already competitively priced card. To play DVDs, a copy of PowerDVD 6 with 2.1 sound support is included.

Price wise, the card comes in at $329 as you're paying for a little more for the overclock that comes standard on this card. This price is pretty much the upper echelon for a top level mainstream card as you're getting close to the enthusiast pricing level if you go any higher. That's not too shabby and you are paying for a guaranteed overclock out of the box. There's also a 2 year warranty so if anything should go wrong in that time frame you can contact Leadtek for support.

For testing, we used NVIDIA's 91.47 drivers and ran it through four games as well as 3DMark06. We also tested at two AA and AF settings of 4xAA with 8xAF and 8xAA with 16xAF. We didn't have any ATI cards on hand that was comparable to the PX7950 GT TDH Extreme at the time so we'll throw in the PX7900 GS TDH Extreme and see how it does for about $100 more.

Our test setup included:
  • AMD64 X2 3800+
  • ECS KA3 MVP Extreme
  • 2 GIG Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 (2 sticks of 1GB each)
  • Seagate 160GIG 7200RPM HDD
  • Windows XP w/ Service Pack 2


First up is Futuremark's 3D Mark 06.


3DMark06

3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today. We tested at the standard 1280x1024 resolution.



Quake 4

Quake 4 is Raven Software's true sequel to the id classic. The game uses an improved Doom 3 engine for some great graphics. For the test we ran a demo featuring a few enemies and some squad mates. We set the graphics qualities at maximum and ran it on three different resolutions.








Fear

One of the surprise hits out of Monolith was F.E.A.R. This supernatural FPS looks incredible and really pushes a video card to its limits. For the benchmark, we ran three resolutions using the in game benchmark with all the settings set at max.







Half-Life 2
Valve's game uses their own Source engine to produce some impressive results especially giving us such features as HDR and some great physics. The Lost Coast demo was used in the benchmark with all settings set at maximum. Three resolutions were selected for this test as well.








Prey
Prey has been in development for many years but the folks at Human Head finally released the game this year. The game utilizes the Doom 3 engine like Quake 4 and features the really cool Portal technology to garner some interesting game play aspects. All settings were set to maximum and three resolutions were chosen for the test.







To test out how much of a performance decrease we get when turning on such features as anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, we ran the same benchmarks at both 4xAA 8xAF and 8xAA 16xAF. Here are the results for the 4xAA 8xAF tests:









And here are the results for 8xAA 16xAF.









As you can see the card does run pretty fast even against the speedy WinFast PX7900 GS TDH Extreme from Leadtek. That card's already a great value and so is the WinFast PX7950 GS TDH Extreme. You get an overclock on the card out of the box and if you put two of these together you'll get a pretty solid and fast machine. The bundle isn't anything to write home about and the card doesn't have any changes over a reference design but Leadtek has produced a very good solid card.

I've been running this card in my main machine for the past month and it's been great. I didn't run into any issues with stability and the thing flies. Overall, Leadtek has great pricing on their cards and I've never had any problems with them. If you're looking for a good fast card around the $300 price range then you should consiuder the WinFast PX7950 GS TDH Extreme when shopping around.

I'd like to thank Leadtek for providing the sample and to Crucial for coming in in a pinch with some memory. Check out their Ballistix memory we used as it's quality stuff.




A-
It's a fast card and while you are paying close to enthusiast price you'll be getting some great performance.