With only four days given to complete a preview of the GeForce 6800 Ultra, my primary objective was to compare game performance to the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra. There were a number of new games such as Battlefield Vietnam, FarCry, and Unreal Tournament 2004 that I had planned on testing, but were set aside since I was not familiar with benchmarking them. Therefore, I relied on games that I've successfully benchmarked in past reviews, although the flight sim Lock On: Modern Air Combat makes a debut.
The second objective was to examine image quality, which I partially succeeded in accomplishing for antialiasing. However, more work needs to be done in this area. I shifted my attention to texture filtering and spent a great deal of time conducting benchmarks with various games using combinations of the new settings that are unique to the GeForce 6800 Ultra. Some of the benchmark results were omitted from the preview upon learning that another reviewer reported a discrepancy in configuring the Quality vs. High Quality image setting. The benchmark results I obtained showed no difference in performance between the two settings. However, the results do indicate that the trilinear optimizations feature was functioning.
Other areas that I worked on, but were not ready for publishing, include measuring GPU temperature under varied conditions, examining the performance of DirectX 9 synthetic benchmarks, and covering new features of the GeForce 6800 Ultra. Since this preview contains no conclusion at this time, I will provide you with my findings based on the testing I have done with the GeForce 6800 Ultra thus far:
Not only does the GeForce 6800 Ultra outperform the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra by 100% in the games that were tested in this preview, it does so with improved antialiasing image quality and 16X anisotropic filtering. System-crippling games like Halo: Combat Evolved increased from 28 to 64fps at 1600x1200 using the pixel shader 2.0 path and the flight sim Lock On: Modern Air Combat increased from 21 to 44fps with in-game high quality settings at 1024x768. Frame rates even doubled in NVIDIA's popular Dawn demo.
The GeForce 6800 Ultra is so powerful that NVIDIA claims that games that may not have been CPU limited can become CPU limited. Therefore, it is essential that the GeForce 6800 Ultra be matched with the fastest processor you can afford. Another worthwhile upgrade would be investing in a good quality 21-inch monitor because you'll be able to use the insane resolutions of 1920x1440 and 2048x1536 with antialasing and anisotropic filtering enabled to play certain games.
NVIDIA provided the following performance metrics that the GeForce 6800 Ultra has over the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra.
4X Floating-Point Shader Power
4X Shadow Processing Power
4X Occlusion Culling Efficiency
2X Vertex Processing Power
~2X Frame Buffer Bandwidth
TEST SYSTEM CONFIGURATION
Due to the importance of the power supply to the operation of the GeForce 6800 Ultra, I've listed all of the hardware from my test system. Next to each device is the maximum potential wattage it can consume, which was derived from the Power Supply Wattage Calculator at JS Custom PCs.