The Albatron GeForce 7300GT cards overclocked slightly better than most 7300GT cards I have tested before, and although this can vary among boards, it shows the effectiveness of the passive cooling solution used in this card.
As a consequence the overclocked performance was impressive enough, and the Quake 4, Far Cry and F.E.A.R tests showed interesting results. For this short summary let’s also forget about the non-overclocked results, as we already know where the 7300GT stands. The Quake 4 performance using just a single overclocked 7300GT was quite impressive, with an average frame rate of 59fps at 1280x1024. Adding another overclocked 7300GT to the equation boosted performance significantly, increasing the average frame rate at 1280x1024 to 100fps, making it considerably faster than the GeForce 7600GT.
Shortly after testing using Quake 4 it was time to give them a run in Far Cry, which is a much older game but even by today’s standards, still looks quite good. This time 1600x1200 was a better resolution to focus on and here the SLI overclocked 7300GT cards were 80% faster than a single overclocked 7300GT. This was a spectacular gain and allowed the SLI 7300GT cards to outperform the single 7600GT once again.
Then there is F.E.A.R, a game that the 7300GT really struggles with, and even through overclocking, was only playable at 1024x768. However, when in SLI mode the overclocked 7300GT cards let loose. Hitting an average frame rate of 76fps made them 75% faster than the single overclocked 7300GT. Furthermore, at all three resolutions the overclocked SLI 7300GT cards were faster than the single 7600GT card. So there you have it; Quake 4 favored the overclocked SLI 7300GT cards by 7%, Far Cry 16% and F.E.A.R 11%.
Drawing a final conclusion on what to buy will depend on your current system and the possible upgrade paths you can take. Obviously this article targets gamers on a budget, otherwise there would be no reason why SLI should appeal to you. So having that said, even if you consider yourself a casual gamer, and you are building a new system from scratch, we must recommend a motherboard that supports either SLI or ATI's Crossfire. NVIDIA's implemention of dual graphics cards (SLI) is more mature nowadays, and applies to the cards we tested here, so we are going with that, not to mention motherboards supporting the standard can be had for less than $90.
Throughout the benchmark results it was shown that the GeForce 7300GT despite of being a budget videocard can still run games at playable framerates, especially when overclocked. So those seeking a bargain and wishing to play games such as World of Warcraft, F.E.A.R, Quake 4, Far Cry and even older games such as UT2004, will be extremely pleased with what the GeForce 7300GT can offer them for under $100. At that price point and with the advantage of a completely silent videocard, it's an attractive offering if you don't want to spend the big bucks today.
Furthermore, it was made completely clear by our benchmarks that two GeForce 7300GT running in SLI can effectively increase framerates by over 70% in many cases, which makes this a viable opportunity for those wanting to upgrade today or tomorrow. Even the non-overclocked single GeForce 7600GT had a hard time competing with the two 7300s.
However, if you are wanting to buy a videocard now, and you can afford a GeForce 7600GT, we would recommend this over the two 7300s, for very logical reasons. A single GeForce 7600GT can be had for about $170, which is more or less the price of two 7300GTs. Despite of the marginal performance advantage of the SLI cards, buying a single 7600GT coupled with a SLI motherboard means you could buy a second videocard later (and cheaper), once again giving you room for increased gaming performance. And while GeForce 7600GTs do not have the fame of being great overclockers (so don't expect gains out of it as seen on the 7300GT), manufacturers are finally offering silent, passively cooled models, just expect to pay a premium of $20-30.
Bottom line is, running two GeForce 7300GTs on SLI is better suited as an upgrade path rather than a destination, since a single GeForce 7600GT can offer roughly the same value with the option to upgrade in the future. But if you are in the market for a sub $100 card, you couldn't go wrong with the GeForce 7300GT.
Later this week, we will be taking a more in-depth look to the sub $100 videocard market, with major players put head to head, namely the ATI Radeon X1300 Pro, Radeon X1600 Pro and of course, the GeForce 7300GT.
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