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XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition Review - Page 2 of 5

SPECIFICATIONS

The specifications of the GeForce 6800 GS are closer to the GeForce 6800 GT. The GeForce 6800 GS has fewer pixel pipelines and vertex processors than the GeForce 6800 GT, but it matches and exceeds the GeForce 6800 GT in memory bandwidth and geometry processing, which can be partially attributed to the increased core clock speed (425MHz vs. 350MHz).

Special note should be made of the core and memory clock speeds of the XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition - a 12% increase (425MHz vs. 485MHz) in the core speed and a 10% increase (1000MHz vs. 1100MHz) in the memory speed. XFX is certainly giving serious consideration to the gamer!

The chart below outlines the specifications of the GeForce 6800 Series, including XFX's two new offerings.

GeForce 6800 Series Specifications

The maximum power draw of a single GeForce 6800 GS is 75W. A 350W power supply is recommended for systems with a single card and at least a 420W power supply for systems with an SLI configuration.

FEATURES

The following items summarize the key features of the GeForce 6800 GS.

  • Microsoft DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3.0 Support
  • PCI-Express Certified
  • High-Speed GDDR3 Memory Interface
  • 256-Bit Memory Interface with Advanced Memory Control
  • 64-Bit Floating Point Texture Filtering and Blending
  • NVIDIA SLI Multi-GPU Ready
  • Superscalar Architecture
  • NVIDIA CineFX 3.0 Engine
  • NVIDIA PureVideo Technology*
  • NVIDIA Ultrashadow II Technology
  • Full-Speed 32-Bit Color Precision
  • NVIDIA Intellisample 3.0 Technology
  • NVIDIA ForceWare Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • NVIDIA nView Multi-Display Technology
  • NVIDIA Digital Vibrance Control 3.0 Technology
  • OpenGL 2.0 Optimizations and Support
  • Dual 400 MHz RAMDACs
  • Dual Single-Link DVI Support

NVIDIA has also been focused on improving high definition video playback, which is provided by their PureVideo Technology.

  • Adaptable Programmable Video Processor*
  • High-Definition MPEG-2 and WMV Hardware Acceleration*
  • Advanced Motion Adaptive De-Interlacing*
  • Video Scaling and Filtering
  • Video Color Correction*
  • Integrated HDTV Encoder
* Feature requires supported video software.

TEST SYSTEM

System Specifications

  • AMD Athlon 64 3700+ (San Diego) 939 Processor
  • EVGA 133-K8-NF41 Motherboard
  • Patriot PC3200 XBL Memory - 2x 512MB DIMMs
  • Western Digital WD1600JB IDE HDD (1), 7200 RPM, 8.9ms Avg Seek, 8MB Buffer, PATA
  • Enermax 600W Noisetaker Power Supply Model EG701AX-VE (W) (24P)
  • ViewSonic P225f 22" CRT Monitor
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS PCI-Express Graphics Card - 256MB - 425MHz/1.0GHz - overclocked at 485MHz/1.1GHz for SLI
  • XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition PCI-Express Graphics Card - 256MB - 485MHz/1.1GHz
  • NVIDIA ForceWare Graphics Driver WHQL Version 81.95
  • NVIDIA nForce4 AMD Driver Package Version 6.53.02
  • Vsync Disabled / 99Hz @ 1600x1200 Refresh Rate / 84Hz at 1920x1440 / 79Hz at 2048x1536
  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 / DirectX 9.0c

Synthetic Benchmarks

  • AquaMark3 - v1.0
  • 3DMark03 Pro - v3.6.0
  • 3DMark2005 Pro - v1.2.0

Game Benchmarks

  • F.E.A.R. - v1.02
  • Battlefield 2 - v1.12
  • Chronicles of Riddick, EFBB - v1.1
  • Far Cry - v1.31
  • Doom 3 - v1.0

Notes

  • Fraps was used to collect frame rate data in some benchmarks.
  • The driver image setting was set to high quality (trilinear optimization OFF, anisotropic mip filter optimization OFF, anisotropic sample optimization ON).

OVERCLOCKING

I overclocked the XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition to 534MHz on the core and 1.20GHz on the memory without any signs of heat buildup or stability problems. However, since I was going to check out SLI compatibility with a NVIDIA reference sample, I decided to limit the overclock to what the reference design card could achieve and maintain. So, taking a deep breath I started to test the overclock potential of the reference card.

Overclocking

I began the familiar ordeal of increasing clock speeds and testing for stability. I was impressed as the card reached 510MHz on the core and 1.12GHz on the memory without any indication of overheating or instability. The potential was there to run the reference card at the default clock speeds of the XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition in an SLI configuration.

SLI COMPATIBILITY

The next step was to find out if the cards were compatible in SLI and could run together at 485MHz/1.10GHz. After installing the cards and ensuring all power connections were tight I turned on the power and booted the system. Everything went smoothly with the system recognizing both cards in device manager. Entering the ForceWare driver control panel I made the required adjustments for SLI operation and rebooted.

XFX vs. Reference GeForce 6800 GS

Upong rebooting, I entering the driver control panel and selected the "Clock Frequency Settings" applet to check the default settings. I was a little dismayed as the settings were those of the reference card (425MHz/1.00GHz). Not to be deterred, I set overclocking to manual and ran the "Optimal Clock Frequencies" test, which returned a setting of 466MHz/1.08GHz. I tested the setting in both Aquamark3 and 3DMark05. Both benchmarks ran flawlessly and without a whimper from the cards so I decided to undertake some serious gaming with F.E.A.R.

XFX vs. Reference GeForce 6800 GS

Almost immediately I noticed some odd artifacts and found that the problem was coming from a program I had running in the background. I had not taken the time to do a fresh install of Windows XP before starting this review and the drive I was using was over 50% of capacity with various programs, photos, and videos. After closing the program I went for about an hour of gaming. Not experiencing any problems, I decided to try the cards out in Far Cry. The cards went through three maps with no problems.

Mixed GeForce 6800 GS in SLI Configuration

The stiffening bar is evident in this photo.
Two XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition cards would look much nicer.

Now back to the control panel to increase the clocks a bit more. To get to the point, I stopped at 510MHz/1.12GHz, which was the same overclock I had achieved with the reference card. I backed off the overclock and set the clocks for this review at 485MHz/1.10GHz, which is the same as the default settings of the XFX 6800 GS XXX Edition. It should be noted that there appeared to be more headroom for clocking higher, but with stock cooling I decided to stop and not press my luck any further.

Note that the overclock results I achieved may or may not be valid for another XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition as there are variances in the clock capabilities of both core and memory chips. This bares repeating XFX's claim - "During selection of the components, the absolute top is being separated from the masses, including the GPU's. During the production, only the best yield [top 10%] is selected to go forward into the XXX production."

(Note: The best solution here is to just buy two XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition cards to have an overclocked setup running at 485MHz/1.10GHz. But for the sake of determining how compatible two GeForce 6800 GS cards from different sources are, the mismatched pair was used. So, this review is "tweaked" for those of you that may already have one GeForce 6800 GS graphics card and are contemplating the purchase of another card to run in SLI.)

...and with that out of the way, on to the benchmarks!

Next Page: Synthetic Benchmark Results

Last Updated on January 16, 2006


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