What I have here is an NVIDIA reference GeForce FX 6800 with 128MB of RAM.
It arrived at my office with some additional cardboard and plastic, but those items aren't relevant to this article. The card has an attractive picture on the fan, which is somewhat visible through the side of my case and provides a touch of eye-candy.
GeForce 6800 Front
I installed ForceWare beta driver 61.45 with Shader Model 3.0. The GeForce 6800 had stock settings of 325MHz core and 700MHz memory. A 3DMark03 score of 8257. Hmm, I wonder if the smudged magic marker scribble on the back of the card slowed it down? Or perhaps, sped it up?
GeForce 6800 Back
I like tinkering with my hardware and I upped the clocks to 350MHz core and
800MHz memory. I set antialiasing to 4X and anisotropic filtering to 8X. These settings were used for all of the games I played in this article. No other hardware on my machine was overclocked.
Abit NF7-S v2.0 Motherboard
Athlon XP "Barton" 2800+ CPU
512MB RAM - 2x256MB Winbond BH5
160GB Maxtor Ultra ATA-133 7200RPM
Antec True330 Power Supply
Windows XP Professional SP2 RC2 w/DirectX9.0c
My system also has a case and some optical drives, as well as a 19-inch NEC FE991SB monitor.
Far Cry is the latest and greatest first person shooter from Crytek and contains the most stunning outdoor environments I have ever seen in a game. The water is remarkable and the dense foliage is simply amazing. Being able to crank up the settings so everything looks this good? Priceless.
Tropical Paradise With A Firearm
I must say that I haven't felt this immersed in a game in quite some time. The physics are brilliant. Player models fall with awesome ragdoll effects. You can even shoot at a dead body on the ground and it reacts. For instance, shoot the foot and the leg moves around.
Check Out The Zoom
I also get to eradicate biologically enhanced primates, which look like monkeys with shark teeth. I have to be on guard because I'm a tasty morsel to them. The invisible guys, who don't turn visible until you hit them, are pretty wild too.
Look At The Dead Guys!
When I started playing Far Cry, I enabled the very high graphics setting, but gameplay was sluggish as frame rates were averaging around 20-25 frames per second. Lowering the particles, special effects, and textures to high quality increased the frame rate to 40-45 fps.
The Far Cry version 1.2 patch, which features Shader Model 3.0 code paths to render certain effects, also improved performance. Here are a few benchmark results from the included demos in the 1.2 patch.
The style of the game, coupled with the performance offered by the GeForce 6800, make this combination a must-have.
Tropical Paradise With A Firearm And Shader Model 3.0
UNREAL TOURNAMENT 2004
For those of you who haven't played UT2004, it's basically a sci-fi based, multi-player first person shooter. The new gameplay modes and vehicles add interest and are entertaining. And the GeForce 6800 allows you to experience the high quality features of Epic's Unreal 2 graphics engine.
I played solo so I could examine the textures and foliage, which is amazing on the Idona map.
Foliage Is A Funny Word
I absolutely loved the textures on the Inferno map, but that's because I've always been drawn to Elvis (I meant evil, but Elvis was typed by my fingers, so I decided to leave it).
Level of Elvis Picture 1
I'm a huge fan of Unreal Tournament and with the image quality and performance I am getting with the GeForce 6800, I'll be playing UT2004 more often.
Level of Elvis Take 2
I downloaded the demo of Chrome and gave it a whirl. I played for about 20 minutes to get a feel of how the GeForce 6800 would perform, which offered frame rates of around 40 with the settings I used.
The gameplay in Chrome seems to be more of a single player/computer team oriented experience. I usually don't play these types of games, but Chrome didn't bother me too much. Well, except for the guy who kept stopping and demanding that I stay close to him.
Hey, Quit Running Away!
Overall, the graphics in Chrome are very good, while the story, at least in the early going, was lacking. These screenshots show how rich the
demo's textures were on the outdoor scenes I played.
Morrowind is a great role-playing game that I continue to play for hours at a time. I started a new character and cranked the graphics settings up, which included real-time shadows and 100% visibility. I was somewhat disappointed with the outdoor framerate, but Morrowind performance is heavily dependent on processor performance. I dropped the resolution down to 1024x768 to get in the 40fps range while outdoors.
Hello! Are You Busy Tonight?
The vast number of quests you can take on, or ignore, in Morrowind keeps me coming back for more. I try to take on different tasks. This time it's the Fighter's Guild or Mage Guild quests. Next time the Thieves Guild or the Morag Tong. Heck, I might even get in on some of the Vampire Quests this time.
Wonderful Weather We're Having
NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 simply rocks. That's a pretty easy conclusion to come to, but for a non-ultra card, the GeForce FX 6800 is a way to get
some great framerates for minimal scratch. Plus you get the added bonus of being able to overclock.
Mix this card with some games like Far Cry, UT2004, or Call of Duty, which I didn't get to in this review, and you've got some eye-popping, jaw-dropping
hours of fun ahead. I hope you'll excuse me as I'm headed back to the beach to enjoy myself in my nice red shirt.