Both NVIDIA and ATI seem to have made a pact to confuse us all with an ever-increasing supply of overly similar model names and versions, and the MSI GeForce 7900GTO is no exception. This card has been slightly tweaked and fits into a lower price point. It's great for gamers who want a powerful card, but not have to spend enthusiast dollars.
MSI's GeForce 7900GTO is not the cheapest, but it's far from the most expensive, meaning that in the mid-term users can upgrade again for all the benefits of DirectX 10 and the latest architectural changes from the newest chips, without blowing their budget.
However, at the time of writing, this card's popularity had already taken its toll and stocks were very low.
It is a fine example of a card revamped to suit a cheaper budget. In appearance, it's exactly the same as the 7900GTX, utilising the same cooler and an identical board layout. In our tests we left the 7900GTO at the manufacturer default speed and pitted it against its proposed doppelganger, the 7900GTX. In 3DMark 2006 at a resolution of 1280 x 1024 the difference in scores were negligible.
In FEAR's benchmark with maximum quality settings, including 16x anisotropic filtering, 4x antialiasing (AA) and a resolution of 1280 x 960, the 7900GTX scored an average of 64 frames per second (fps), while the 7900GTO pulled off an average of 58fps. In Quake 4: at a resolution of 1280 x 1024 we saw a more significant difference. We tested both cards on high settings with 4x AA, the 7900GTX scored 74.7fps, while the 7900GTO only achieved 61.6fps.
Verdict: As long as the budget allows for it at all, this is one of the best value cards around. At the default settings, it runs just a tad slower than the almost renowned 7900GTX and consensus suggests that it has some overclocking leeway as well.