The GeForce 6800 - it's here (in limited quantities), it's pretty and it's proving to be a mighty quick gaming video card when compared to its predecessors. Members of the nV News forums clearly are excited about the entire 6-series lineup, from the 128 mb non-ultra to the extremely rare 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition.
But it's the two models slotted between the non-ultra and Extreme Edition that should prove to be the most popular. The GeForce 6800 GT and Ultra both have similar feature feature sets, which you can read about in our GeForce 6800 Ultra preview. The Ultra earns its designation with higher clock speeds, two molex power connections and two DVI display connections. GT cards from most manufacturers have a standard VGA port in lieu of the second DVI and only one molex connector (and lower clock speeds of course).
NVIDIA is famous for producing video card chipsets that offer most of the peroformance of top-end cards but at lower prices. The GeForce2 MX, GeForce3 Ti200 and GeForce4 Ti4200 are three products that immediately come to mind. The 6800 GT sounds like it would be a perfect addition to this performance/value-oriented group.
The competition among the different 6800 GT manufacturers should prove to be quite interesting, with each company providing its own unique hooks in an effort to lure customers. Having gone from zero to hero in less than two years, BFG Technologies is once again ready to assert its position as one of the premier players with its 6800 GT OC.
Most enthusiasts know BFG as a company that distributes well-made video cards, backed up by customer service that has set new standards in the industry. You can call their toll-free technical support center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you end up with a defective product, you can take advantage of BFG's true lifetime warranty. Even if your particular card is no longer being made, you will receive a replacement card of equal value to what you paid for your first one. People have reported their GeForce4 Ti4200 cards being replaced with BFG's excellent GeForce FX 5900XT OC. But we should hope that no one would ever need to call technical support, and the company has solidified its reputation by engineering cards with high-quality componentry. The additional costs associated with this are why you won't find much in the way of a software bundle when you purchase a BFG card.
The Retail Package
When you get a 6800 GT OC, what you see in the picture above is what you'll get after opening the box: the card, power adapter, DVI-to-VGA adapter, quick install guide, driver CD (also has the full version of NVDVD) and a CD containing the demo versions of Painkiller, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and Silent Storm. While merely including the demos of these A-list titles seems weak, I personally don't mind, especially since adding the full versions of these games would no doubt raise the price of the card.
As far as size goes, this particular 6800 GT does not need to occupy two PCI brackets in your case. The heatsink/fan is a low-profile unit that doesn't completely obstruct the PCI slot below it. Any PCI card you might think of adding, however, would prove to be an extremely tight fit in the slot below the video card so I would strongly advise against trying to use it. But we all know that no one uses that slot anyway, right? You can also see that the 6800 GT OC is about the same size as a GeForce FX 5700 Ultra.
Now I'm not going to list all the individual hardware features and support this card offers. BFG offers a good synopsis of what you get on this page. One thing you'll notice is the core clock speed. The "OC" in the product name refers to the fact that out of the box, this card comes with a 370 MHz core, up from other 6800 GT models which come in at 350 MHz. Though that is a less than 10 percent increase in the core speed, every little bit helps. And in spite of the increased speed, you're still covered by BFG's warranty.
But it doesn't matter how this card looks on paper. We have to see how this slightly-souped-up GeForce 6800 GT does its job.