Gainward PowerPack! Ultra/2100 Geforce 6800 Golden Sample 128MB Review - Page
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By John Grabski - September 27, 2004
COMMENTS ON OVERCLOCKING
I picked two tests for each game, one a moderate setting, and one an extreme.
Overclocking obviously helped this card out by quite a bit in most of the
benchmarks ran. Most dramatic are the improvements seen in Battlefield: Vietnam,
taking the card up to a completely acceptable 48 fps at 1600x1200, 2xAA/16xAF...
and since BF:V takes such a big hit from 4xAA, the improvement is definitely
welcome. The synthetic benchmarks also show the decent improvements to be had
from overclocking. Temperatures only rose a degree or two, usually maxing out at
57 for only a brief moment.
COMMENTS ON THE CARD COMPARISON
If you have a 5800, 5800 Ultra, 5900XT/SE, NU, Ultra or 5950, an upgrade to a
6800 would definitely be noticeable, and would cause goose bumps of gaming joy.
Of course, those goose bumps might not be quite as prominent as those you would
get from a 6800GT or 6800 Ultra, but with the $100 or $200 you save by getting
the non-Ultra, you could buy an extra air conditioner, which would bring you
right back up to GT/Ultra level goose bumps. All kidding aside, the Gainward
card thoroughly trashed the 5800 Ultra, showing that memory bandwidth is not as
crucial to this new architecture as the new and efficient core. I'd like to (for
sentimentality's sake) say that the 5800U approached the 6800 in non-AA/AF
situations due to driver improvements, but... no. The Gainward PowerPack!
Ultra/2100 Golden Sample simply runs circles around the previous generation, for
a fair price.
A Glimpse Into My World
Enthusiasts expected an across-the-board improvement over the nv3x series, and
they got it. The 6800 Non-Ultra outperforms the previous generation of video
cards quite comfortably, and despite the "slow" memory, it can handle AA and AF
very capably. The lack of a vertex unit and rendering quad really doesn't kill
this card's performance as much as one would think, its overclocking performance
is great, it runs cool, the cooling solution is well-thought-out and quiet, and
the newer Forceware drivers provide awesome performance. The software bundle is
what one can expect for this great of a card priced at only $299 (basically just
the bare essentials) This card is definitely worth the money. My sincere thanks
go to Charlotte Su at Gainward for providing this review sample.
Oh, wait, there's another version of this card?
Well into my review, Charlotte sent me a single-slot PowerPack! Ultra/2100
Golden Sample Single Slot card to check out, which will be provided to the
American market, which seems to enjoy single slot cards more. Using the same
exact PCB, this card however uses a copper cooler similar to nVidia's reference
design. Though quieter and less space-consuming, the card ran hotter (55 in 2d
mode, 55-57 in 3d, 56-59 when overclocked), and did not overclock quite as well
(390/840, 10mhz less for core and memory than the 2-Slot version). However, the
card looks great, performs similarly, comes with the same accessory and software
bundle, and takes up less space. This is the Gainward Golden Sample that will be
available to the American market, and despite the hotter temperatures and such,
it will still be a great deal to any prospective money-conscious enthusiast.