Thanks to our new friends at GIGABYTE we are today going to be looking at their GeForce 7600GS graphics card.
The meat of any gamers’ system is going to be the graphics processing capability and if you’re a serious gamer you know that all to well. However not all of us have pockets deeps enough that allow us to go out and buy a £400 graphics board. With PCI Express as the new standard for all major graphics board manufacturers it seems some of them have totally ditched their AGP boards. However, despite the introduction of PCI Express there are still many gamers with AGP boards and it is for this reason some manufactures show they still care for those users. Likewise we will be taking a look at one of these AGP boards.
GIGABYTE is well known mainly for its quality motherboards but they also produce top end graphics cards. Since we’re looking at an AGP card it’s a budget card. Question is; does it pack enough punch to make it through some of today’s games?
“GIGABYTE, one of the most well-known IT brands in the industry, started as a motherboard technology research laboratory with the passion of a few young engineers two decades ago. With the vision and insights to the market, GIGABYTE has become one of the worlds largest motherboard manufacturers. On top of motherboards and graphics accelerators, GIGABYTE has further expanded its product portfolio to include notebook and desktop PCs, digital home entertainment appliances, networking servers, communications, mobile and handheld devices. GIGABYTE has risen from an eight-man office to a world-class enterprise in the IT industry.”
- Chipset: NVIDIA GeForce 7600GS + HSI
- Memory: 256MB
- Memory Bus: 128 bit
- Memory Type: DDRII 16Mx16
- PCB Form: ATX
- Bus Type: AGP
- Bus Speed: 8x
- D-SUB: Y (By Adapter)
- TV-OUT: Yes
- DVI Port: Y (DVI-I)
- VIVO: No
- Multi View: Yes
Around £80 it seems like quite a promising card. Not a bad price tag at all but then remember you’re only getting a 128 bit memory bus so even though the chipset is provided with 256MB of DDR II ram it’s not going to be incredibly fast. Let’s not forget this is a budget card however.
The package is fairly basic with no included game. You are supplied with a DVI to VGA adapter for those with non digital capable displays. The drivers and software are provided on the included CD. You are also provided with the adapter for HDTV connectivity since the card supports high definition output.
A custom passive heatsink is equipped on the 7600GS, totally different to the reference design, GIGABYTE have decided to stick on a huge copper heatsink. Naturally this is going to be a silent card when in use due to there being no fans at all.
Testing & Performance
To test this budget card we’re going to use a mediocre system, specs below:
AMD Athlon 64 3000+ @ 2.3GHZ
GIGABYTE K8N Pro
1GB Kingston PC-3200 DDR RAM
1 x 80GB Seagate IDE HDD 7200RPM
Creative SoundBlaster Live! 24 External
Windows XP Professional Edition
Core clock: 400mhz
Memory clock: 400mhz
Unreal Tournament 2004
Unfortunately we couldn’t go above 1024 in the test for UT2004 due to the game not supporting our widescreen monitor resolution, however, the above results should clarify that even with 4xAA this low cost solution can still provide exceptionally playable frame rates.
Nose dives from the results found in the previous benchmarks are not a surprise here. Far Cry even today is still a very demanding game. It’s pointless to even try switching anti-aliasing on as the results above clearly show the card just about manages to pull through at 1024 x 768. This is not an entirely bad result if you consider maximum details were selected for this the test including ultra high detail for water. At least the game is still playable. It averaged around 44 frames per second @ 1280 x 768 which is quite impressive for this card.
Halo Custom Edition
Halo CE does not support forced anti-aliasing so we had to leave the option to “application controlled” for these tests. Although quite dated, it is still a very popular game indeed as far as multiplayer experience is concerned. With top detail levels selected this game can looks fabulous. The above benchmark was conducted whilst playing on the map “Timberland” which contains many objects that fill the large landscape quite densely. An average frame rate of 114 @ 1280 x 768 is very pleasing indeed. These results indicate how easily the card handles older games with less effects as opposed to Far Cry which requires a good DX9 card for all the advanced shaders.
It’s good to know a low cost solution is still available even for users whom still own an AGP board. If you’re looking for a budget card with average performance and aren’t into overclocking and getting the best frame rates possible then the GIGABYTE 7600GS is for you. It’s a simple no fuss card and the basic package shows this. While you won’t be able to play today’s games in all their glory you can still at least run them and that’s what matters. For under £100 it certainly isn’t disappointing and to think it managed Far Cry with maxed out details @ 1280 x 768 is quite impressive. This card is definitely good value for money and the heatsink GIGABYTE have fitted to the board is of quite generous build quality and does the job well.