Final Words

These two new offerings work well to push the top end and drop into the top of the mid-range market. The 6800 Ultra Extreme will probably be out of reach, price and availability wise, for most of us. But, for those hard core gamers out there, both the Platinum Edition and the Ultra Extreme look very good depending on what kind of games are going to be pushed most often through the framebuffer.

The 6800 GT leads the X800 Pro in value more often than not. Of course, the small price difference in the market might not be much now, but honestly the GT and Pro are very comparable parts. The decision is a hard one to make. Our graphs show it, and our recommendation for the moment reflects it: when performance is on par, go with the cheaper hardware. NV40 has the added bonus of Vertex and Pixel Shader 3.0 support (already shown to help make a difference in FarCry performance) and with floating point frame buffers (which could help provide some very cool blending and HDR effects if developers support it). When everything is said and done, the 6800 GT gets our recommendation despite the close performance.

The GeForce 6800, while not the most impressive performer that we've seen, certainly improves on the performance of the 5950 Ultra and 9800 XT with a much lower cost than both. Unless an application that requires 256MBs of video RAM is key in the decision-making process, the 6800 is a better choice right now than the former top-of-the-line cards, even at their reduced prices. This price point should get even more interesting when ATI's $300 offering hits the streets.

As new technology trickles down through the mid-range and budget markets, consumers who don't care about graphics will be armed with some relatively nice hardware. We are definitely looking forward to seeing what hits at the $200 price point.

For those in the market for a card now, we will continue to try and provide the best information possible. Soon, we'll be taking a hard look at individual vendors cards. We'll be looking at things such as cooling, noise, and overclockability.

The best advice that we can give right now is to pick your card based on the games that you enjoy the most. No matter what ends up happening, there won't be any reason to be disappointed when deciding between ATI and NVIDIA this time around. It really does come down to the value of a particular card with respect to the games that any particular person plays.

Price/Performance Analysis
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  • gordon151 - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    [q]ATI Radeon X800 XT: $540
    ATI Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition: $?[/q]

    The X800 XT == X800 XT PE with respect to your prices.
    Reply
  • deathwalker - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    The use of ATI catalyst 4.X drivers has proven to be a real thorn in the side of ATI card owners(in my opinion). I have a 9700Pro and the use of any catalyst driver above 3.9 results in a 3-5% performance hit regardless of the benchmark I use for measurement. I wonder if the resulting compatibility issues resolved in the 4.X series is worth the tradeoff in performance. ATI needs to remain focused on performance issues also in there driver releases. I have been a long time ATI fan (since the release of the 8500)..but..this article clearly indicates that Nvidia is in the process of or already has put a trump card on the table with the 6800 series of VGA cards that ATI needs to respond to. Reply
  • RyanVM - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    How did the X800 XT come out ahead of the XT-PE by 10fps in the Homeworld 2 16x12 4xAA/8xAF test? Reply
  • Warder45 - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    Derek, do you really think a fall refresh line is comeing this year? The spring line has barely shown up, let alone the low end ATI cards haven't really been introduced. Seems like that would be a big waste of money for ATI and Nvidia to release refreshes before the current line has market penetration. Reply
  • Slikkster - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    All I can say is that it's about time, Nvidia, that you've closed the gap on ATI. I'm looking forward to 2 6800 UE's SLI'd on a pci express board. heheh Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    sorry, to answer the resolution and connection questions:

    Viewsonic P95f+ using analog. When necessary (with the 6800 U and 6800 UE) we used a DVI to analog adapter.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    Things would have looked different if we had gone with MSRP ... things will also look different in a couple months when the fall refresh line comes out.

    We didn't feel it was fair to use MSRP because people can't find these cards for MSRP right now. In a month or two, that may or may not be different. And in a month or two, we may take another look at performance and value.

    But, as we indicated in the article, the value graphs should really be more of a guide than a definition. If that makes any sense :-)
    Reply
  • at80eighty - Friday, July 09, 2004 - link

    gotta agree with Shinei, this bunch DEFINITELY makes me wanna shift from my trusty Ti4200 *sniff* : p ... and umm no, im no fanboy; was seriously considering the X800XT, but the tests make me think the 6800GT is worth my money...

    btw Derek...what monitor + connection were you using for these tests?

    /also - the value graphs: - great idea!...something i've come to expect from you guys now : P Keep up the good work!

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

    whoops thought I was just logging in - um - nice article.

    I've seen newegg testing the waters with 9800 Pro 256MB for $223.00. Once I could believe it was a mistake, twice tho seems like real sampling to see when they should be lowering the price. There's just so many models out there, given a 10$ spacing, it's like prices are shored up from the bottom. Anyways, picked one up, but I let them sweat for a half hour first. ;)

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

    In homeworld2 test the X800XT 1t 1600x1200 goes up in speed when you switch on 4xAA and 8xAF and beats the PE!
    Reply

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