Introduction

We'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.

The Cards
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  • ReapeRalex - Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - link

    I come here first whenever I'm the market for new toys, good site :)

    Could you include Doom3 in the benchmarks for these reviews? Apperantly Doom3 can push overclocked cards over the edge that might otherwise appear stable. Lets face it Doom3 and Half Life 2 will the be main game on peoples minds who are looking to upgrade to these new cards (I just hope a Half Life 2 benchmark is available soon so I can make an informed decision on which card to get :) ).

    Anyway, great site, always informative and well written :)
    Reply
  • mjz5 - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - link

    good review DerekWilson.. and true, we don't need to see 100s of different games benchmarked, this article was created to illustrate the difference between the and only the two makers. Reply
  • pookie69 - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - link

    Nice article. Simple and straight to the point.

    Just one thing - the noise tests - i think it would be a good idea to perform two sets of tests, one with the cards under load, one when they are both idle. It would be interesting to see exactly how much the noise of some of these cards jumps up by (or not) during gaming.

    :)
    Reply
  • shuttleboi - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - link

    Can you please provide heat and noise measurements for other cards as well, particularly the ATI x800 cards? Reply
  • Chapbass - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - link

    "Interestingly, the Albatron had its core temperature warning level set at 125 degrees Celsius, while the ASUS was up at 135."

    Something might be telling me the whole 125 degrees celcius might be a mistake?

    but...ya never know...

    : )
    Reply
  • retrospooty - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - link

    DOOM 3 BABY !!! :D Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - link

    We didn't really need to go heavy on the game tests in order to illustrate how these cards perform in relation to the stock 6800U and 6800UE which have been put through an exhaustive analysis already.

    But we really want to bring you guys the info you want to see. If these game tests aren't sufficient, we can add a game and/or change the lineup. We don't want to be too heavy on the game tests, but we do want the games we tests to be relevant.

    Just let us know what you want, and we'll get it into our upcoming reviews.

    Thanks for the feedback!
    Reply
  • Pollock - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - link

    And Aquamark isn't technically a game, even if it's based on one...that kind got me, too. Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Sunday, July 18, 2004 - link

    Wow... only 2 game tests? Reply

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