Albatron and ASUS GeForce 6800 Ultra Vendor Reviewby Derek Wilson on July 18, 2004 1:00 AM EST
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IntroductionWe've already taken an extensive look at the newest line of cards from both ATI and NVIDIA, but there are still pieces of the puzzle missing. We are delving further into how the current climate impacts the end users with a series of vendor card reviews.
The playing field is very exciting this time around, as both the main players in the GPU market have very competitive products with compelling attributes. With the new architectures essentially doubling the previous generation's top-of-the-line performance, the entire spectrum of products is awesome.
As has been the case with the graphics market, every product launch is full of surprises and intrigue, and this go-round is not an exception. One of the more interesting oddities that we've seen is almost a return to the TNT2 days with NVIDIA vendors clocking their chips at all kinds of different and interesting speeds. This trend essentially started with NVIDIA's announcement that vendors would be releasing cards that ran with 450+ MHz core clocks and 1.1+ GHz memory data rates.
For whatever reason, we are seeing vendor defined clock speeds trickle down from the loosely defined Ultra Extreme line of cards to the Ultras. Previously, only overclockers, hardcore enthusiasts and those looking for a specific bundle needed to really worry about which vendor's card to purchase. Now, the choice could possibly matter to everyone.
The Ultra Extreme is generally accepted as a response to NVIDIA's misjudgment of ATI's performance, but there are plenty of reasons why we may be seeing the current trend in factory overclocking. NVIDIA wants desperately to reclaim its top position in the graphics market and they may have encouraged vendors to raise the clock speed in order to give buyers more incentive to choose their parts over ATI solutions. Perhaps vendors just realized that factory overclocks are an excellent way to differentiate themselves (and possibly sell product for a small premium over retail). Maybe NV40 GPUs are just inherently very overclockable and vendors found that they could squeeze something for nothing out of NVIDIA GPUs.
Whatever the reason for the fluctuations in clock speed among vendors, we see it as a welcome change to the market. Higher performance, more competition, and real choice for consumers always get good marks in our books.
Today, we are taking a look at two GeForce 6800 Ultra cards that bend the rules a little on the NVIDIA reference.