The Gainward 7950GT "Golden Sample" is one of the fastest 7xxx series graphics cards on the market, and Gainwards card doesn't dissapoint!
It runs on a PCI-e connector, however as it draws more power than the slot can provide it needs an extra power connector on the side. This is NOT compatible with an AGP board, and does need a beefy power supply (i recommend 400+ watts).
The card has a dual slot cooler - that is to say that it takes up the width of one slot, and then the fan on the card takes up the space of another slot. The fan is quiet and looks sleek, however the card has a black piece of metal on top to make it look sleek and i've found that while this has no affect on temperatures, it's not helping the airflow and does nothing but take up unnecessary room in my case, however it was easy to remove with a screwdriver.
a 7950GT is in effect just a 7900GT, however it has a faster clock speed (the "reference design" that nVidia make say the 7900GT is 450 MHz on the core while the 7950GT is 550 MHz), and to facilitate this the voltage is raised on the core (from 1.2v to 1.35v). As such it runs ever so slightly hotter than a 7900GT, however i never found mine to break 65° while gaming, which is a fine temperature for this card.
This card is a "Golden Sample" which means it's Pre-overclocked, and rather than the default 550 MHz it comes at 580 MHz. Gainward are unique as most companies just load a different BIOS onto the card to overclock it and sell it at a premium - Gainwards "Golden Sample" line are hand-picked for overclocking, and while 99.9% of 7950GT's will do the 580 MHz this card can do, this card will sail onto 630 MHz when overclocked. It will also, if "volt modded" (this voids the warranty, and you do need to know what your doing and have better-than-standard cooling) break 700 MHz. The memory is also very overclockable, as i've found that from it's default 1.5 GHz it will go to 1.7 GHz quite happily.
This card will churn out great frame rates at 1680*1050, which is the resolution of my 22" monitor, for example in BF2 (Battlefield 2) it can play with all options set to max, and still do 40 FPS + all the time.
This card is fast - it can pull over 5,000 in 3DMark06 when matched with an Intel Core 2 Duo or an AMD 64 - but its nothing "special". At the same time, the 7900GTO is slightly cheaper, but slower clock speeds, but this could easily be fixed with some overclocking, and is a better overclocker than this.
Bottom line - Great card, but if your comfortable with overclocking a 7900GTO would be better.
I bought this card to replace a somewhat slow Radeon X1900GT, a month ago.
First, I thought that I should get a 8800GTS 320mb. But then I realized, that this is the first generation DX10 cards. There soon will be better DX10 cards out I recon. And playing games on high resoloution / quality settings in DX10, could give the 320mb memory a mayor performance penalty.
A Radeon X1950XT (The card that the 7950GT competes with) Whas a bit too expensive in my eyes.
Especially, as I probably will get Windows Vista and a direct x10 videocard in the end of the year or so. And also upgrade my monitor.
Besides, The 7950GT beats the X1900XT in some tests.
Another demand I had, whas that the VGA cooler on the card should be as quiet as possible at load.
And there are'nt that many GF 7950GT with active cooling that is quiet. It's pretty much just Gigabyte and this Gainward card. And then the Gainward is noticeable cheaper. Also, the fact that the Gainward GS 7950GT is factory overclocked, does'nt make things worse lol.
I have a decently fast PC. A 480W powersupply, An AMD64 3200+ Clawhammer s. 754 (overclocked 500MHz) cpu, on a Epox 8NPA + SLI motherboard and 2 gigabyte of Corsair XMS, Pc 3200 DDR RAM.
And I get very good performance in demanding games such as:
BF2, Far Cry, F.E.A.R., Medieval Total War II, Oblivion, Prey, Quake 4, and Titan Quest, with the Gainward 7950GT. Much better than with the X1900GT I would like to add. Better image quallity too.
This, at 1280 X 1024 monitor resoloution. My LCD monitor can't support higher resoloutions unfortunatly.
But with 8 X Anti Alizing and 8 X Anisotrophic filtering I have good framerates in any of those games with all the "eye candy" enabled.
That's more than I could say about the X1900GT card.
The noise from the VGA cooler is surprisingly low, even at full speed. Not more than a thad bit higher than my previous Zalman VF 900 VGA cooler at low setting. And that is if I listen closely to it with the case side panel off. Great job Gainward! And I have never seen this card pass the 70C + Hardly ever pass 64C with more than 1 or 2 C + actually (in 22C + room temp). And that is good for such a high performance card like this.
And better than the Nvidia, stock cooling soloution for the 7950GT.
Also, my case only have 2 X 120mm fans, set at low speed (under 1000 RPM) And the powersupply is quiet.
So both noise and temperature vice, this card performs very well.
So, if you does'nt have any intensions to get a Direct X10 videocard in the near future?
Then I heartly recommend the Gainward Bliss GS 7950GT!
If you want something noticeable better? But much more exspensive. Then you have to get a Geforce 8800GTS 640mb videocard.