NVIDIA's 6800 GS has been available for over two months now, and it seems to be doing a nice job of providing users with quality performance. Now that the holidays are over, many new 6800 GS owners have settled in and are happily putting their new card to good use with their favorite games. Both ATI and NVIDIA did a decent job of getting out some new parts in time for the Christmas rush, offering a good selection to those gamers in the market for a new card. ATI's recent X800 GTO was, and still is, a no-slouch mid-range graphics card with a decent price tag (about $150), and a nice addition to their product line.

That being said, the 6800 GS is NVIDIA's answer to the X800 GTO, and they managed to slip it onto the market just before ATI's X1600. The X1600 is still pretty new, and it looks promising, but the NVIDIA 6800 GS has already proven to be a top contender for best performance at the most reasonable price.

Today, we'll be looking at four different manufacturers' versions of the 6800 GS, and seeing what each has to offer. The cards that we have are from Leadtek, PNY Technologies, EverTop, and EVGA. We've already talked about how the 6800 GS compares to the current NVIDIA lineup, but we'll offer a recap and hopefully provide a good overview of how this and other available graphics cards rank in terms of performance in the next section. When comparing multiple cards of the same type to one another, it can be easy to lose sight of how these parts fit into the ranks of graphics cards that are available by both NVIDIA and ATI. One of our goals in this review is to shed some light on the "big picture" of graphics card performance in general, and in particular, how the 6800 GS fits into it.

Usually, after the holidays, there tends to be a lull in parts being released, but this doesn't look to be the case, as we have been hearing murmurs about something interesting coming from ATI very soon. There has been a kind of shift in ATI's schedule lately, so we may see parts trickling out from them over the next few months. NVIDIA might have some surprises for us as well, but for now, the 6800 GS has enough clout to be one of their key parts until then. This card looks like it will be a great value part for those looking to upgrade anytime soon.

General Overview
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  • DerekWilson - Sunday, January 29, 2006 - link

    Sometimes people are shocked by this, but there are people out there who are buying new computers these days. Not everyone is in the market for an upgrade. Of course, we care about the upgraders as well, but everything needs to be in its place.

    I have a feeling there's something on the horizon that will make all the agp lovers happy. But that's all I'm gonna say about that.
  • Omega215D - Saturday, January 28, 2006 - link

    The 6800 GS for AGP isn't much more than the PCIe versions and I'm curious to see if performance was similar just like the 6600GT. And to all those that just throw AGP to the curb: I still run an A64 3200+ on an MSI nForce 3 platform. Why am I going to replace it with a nForce 4 mobo when socket M2 is basically around the corner? Remember, I would have to pay $100 more to get a PCIe mobo with the GS which would cost more than just getting the AGP version.
  • mino - Saturday, January 28, 2006 - link

    when something generates a lot of heat it does NOT mean it is hot. An vice versa.

    Actually the amount of heat is clearly visible on power consumption graphs.

    The "heat" graph actually measures the efficiency of cooling solution, not the heat produced.

    Otherwise APG version seriously lacking as many have allready pointed out.
  • Larso - Sunday, January 29, 2006 - link

    Yeah. I particularly stumbled over this sentence on page 9:

    "We also wanted to see how much heat these cards generated"

    - right after the nice power consumption graph that showed exactly the same power usage, and thus they must produce exactly the same amount of heat. No way around thermodynamics.

    The sentence should have read something like: We also wanted to see how hot these cards ran. (which is how well the cooling solution is able to remove the heat)
  • Tarx - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    I have the eVGA 6800GS. What I didn't expect was just how LOUD it was.
    In 2D, originally used RivaTuner to turn down the fan to a minimum (was barely tolerable), but had to keep the loud mode for 3D. In the end bought the ArticCooler NV 5 Rev 3 without even knowing if it fits (it was either that or return the card). The AC isn't silent by any means, but much quieter and as a bonus a cooler solution. It however takes up a second slot (exhausts hot air behind the case - another nice bonus)
    Even with the card being cooler by the AC, the OC seems to be limited to the low 500s for the GPU.
    The mem on my card seems to be an exception, with no artifacts even at 1300 (650 DDR).
  • Zak - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    I would like to see how this card does DVD amd HD acceleration, for HTPC use, non gaming. I want to replace the noisy 6600GT and this could be the right card.

  • bldckstark - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    Great article AT thanks for doing the job I want to, but can't, do. You guys are a great part of the tech business and are doing the public a service, free of charge to your users. I can't ever complain about that and thank you. BUT,

    Early in the article you mention that the X1300 or the 6200 card would be plenty of power to run grannie's computer for $50 - $75. Why does the recommendation for this type of computer keep increasing? Not that long ago everyone was saying an MX200 was plenty for Mom, now we have to the latest GPU family to run Outlook? Most Intel MB reviews state that the IGP is fine for Aunt Virginia and it is free (basically). I just wonder where the cutoff is on 5th generation spreadsheet graphics rendering. Until there is some increase in graphics complexity in MS Office I can't see the need to buy anything other than an IGP board for the purposes mentioned.

    Yes, I have heard that Vista is gonna smoke the cheap cards, so maybe now is the time to increase the minimum power standard, but will it keep increasing from there? If a card can run Aero at release does the GPU recommendation ever need to be changed until Aero does?

    If I am wrong please let me know so I can track the necessary changes in the future. Uncle Delbert needs a new box so he can find out what all this Pr0n stuff is, he's been hearing about at the Sunday meetin'.

    Just trying to embarrass myself on a highly public forum, you may officially start laughing at my views now.

  • Josh Venning - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    This is a good point, actually. The kind of card that would be "good enough" for granny is a very subjective thing, and depends greatly on the person's needs. People who just used the computer to write in offive or use spreadsheets probably don't need a graphics card at all. That said, as software advances, better hardware acceleration will probably be required, but it need not be confined to the $50 to $75 price range.
  • DerekWilson - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    I basically feel the same way Josh does ... In fact, I was going to write a nice quick blurb like that, but it turned into a crazy rant that I posted in the forums.">Rant here ... check it out

    I can get a bit long winded sometimes. Mostly I'll just delete the intended comment and walk away, but I think I'll start making forum posts in the future.

    Derek Wilson
  • unclebud - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    "AGP is dead which is why it wasn't tested."

    then why aren't they giving them away free then? fraud fraud fraud on nvidia i tell everybody

    the title didn't say only "The NVIDIA 6800 GS [PCI-Express] Closer Look: EVGA, Leadtek, PNY, and Evertop"

    thanks to the authors of the article though

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