Introduction

The past couple months have been very exciting, entertaining, and interesting as far as consumer level computer graphics cards go. Everyone was blown away when NVIDIA essentially doubled performance of their previous generation in their new top of the line 6800 Ultra. Shortly thereafter, we had the pleasure of discovering that this generation of graphics cards would see two GPU makers on equal footing for the first time since hardware acceleration was introduced. Each IHV has strong points and weak points, but the overall picture is surprisingly balanced.

Ever since our initial X800 review went to press, we've been promising a look at NVIDIA's "6850", which actually turned out to be a 6800 Ultra Extreme. So, why did it take so long? NVIDIA's reference 6800 Ultra Extreme was essentially DOA: drivers wouldn't install on the card, though we could boot standard VGA. It's been a long road, but since then, we've gotten a hold of eVGA's 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition.

Though 6800 non-ultras have been in the Press' hands for a while, some might wonder why we haven't yet covered it. Our NVIDIA reference card wouldn't even boot, but luckily, LeadTek was gracious enough to lend us a 6800 card for the purposes of this review. We haven't had any problems with our vendor cards, and we don't think there's any reason to worry about NVIDIA cards because of this one issue. Nevertheless, it's still worth mentioning.

So, now we have 3 real flavors of NV40, plus one overclocked (less available) version, and 2 flavors of R420, plus one overclocked version (which is suppose to be as available as the XT, but we'll have to wait and see what happens there).

It's difficult to tell whether the sheer number of options available will be helpful to consumers, or just plain confusing. And pricing is still going to be a difficulty. The real factor that will determine whether or not to buy the card will be price/performance. Though prices right now may be highly dependant on availability, we'll review some price/performance numbers in our conclusion to see where things stand. Hopefully, this review will help to show the full picture of the AGP 8x playing field, and help take some of the pain out of the decision-making process.

But first, we need to take a look at the two cards with which we will be using.

The Cards
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  • Drayvn - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    Actually i just found it for $530 over here in the UK Reply
  • Drayvn - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    In England the price of the XT-PE is about $565 and u could probably find it lower, at around $550 to $540... Reply
  • Noli - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    Guys if you don't like the value information 'overkill', er... just don't hover your mouse over the graphs?
    Actually my beef is slightly different which is why do anandtech log the fps/$ ?? There may be a good reason but am not sure what it is...
    Reply
  • Marsumane - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    Something that I dont think is quite right is that they are doing these benchmarks to determine the value of a card. If you use SM2.0 for the 6800 series and the X800 series you will not be seeing the entire value of purchasing a 6800 based graphics card. SM3.0 IS A FACTOR IN VALUE! Reply
  • DarkKnight - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    I completely agree with #18, just too much value information for me. In the end of an article just give a graph of the overall value, something like they do at THG. Reply
  • DarkKnight - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • ZobarStyl - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    I love my LeadTek 4200, and the 6800nu is right up my alley...not like I need 256 for anything I do anyway. Great article, now I'm sure that once the gouging stops if I can find one for 250 it's mine. And ATi fanboys please stop posting their prices like they are wrong, everyone is overcharging right now...and the XTPE does not equal the XT #17...if the PE costs the same as the XT, who the hell will buy the XT when the PE is clocked higher stock and performs better?

    Hell at my local Best Buy the Pro (yes, the Pro) is proudly sold for 499.99; so much for the MSRP...
    Reply
  • rjm55 - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    #18 - I infer that you meant "I am not implying . . ." in your comment.

    Derek - The "value" thing is a good idea, but using it in every graph is really more information than any of us need - which makes it more confusing than it needs to be. Not many are interested in comparing bucks per frame in Eve at 1600x1200 to bucks per frame in Halo, for example. What's in the article about value is geeky overkill, when what I want to know is true overall value, or bang for the buck.

    Maybe you can settle on a bench ot two to best illustrate value instead of making it so complicated you have to run a computer analysis to figure it out.
    Reply
  • binger - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    nice article, but too bad you didn't touch the issues of heat and noise. for me, those factors are far more decisive than, say, a 10$ price premium or a performance difference of a couple of fps.
    Reply
  • deathwalker - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    An after thought to my original post on this review...there seems to be a great deal of emphasis put on 1600 X 1200 performance in these reviews..I know there are still a great number of gamers out there still using CRT moniotors..but..with the growing popularity of LCD monitors this 1600 X 1200 performance range is unobtainable for most LCD owners as most 17" and 19" LCD monitors operate with 1280 X 1024 as the optimal native setting. I am not infering though that 1600 X 1200 is not revelant in this testing process...it's just an observation. Reply

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