Issues and Conclusion
There were a couple of issue that came up during our testing that I wanted to point out. The first appears to be a simple driver bug on the Catalyst 4.7 suite that makes 4xAA something to watch out for when playing a game. Several times during testing, I found the performance of the ATI card to be astounding, but after further investigation I saw that the image quality was horrible as the antialiasing was not being enabled. This only occured at the 1600×1200 resolution setting and only at seemingly random times. To fix it, I would simply exit the game, go into the driver control panel, un-enable and then re-enable the AA settings and it worked just fine for a seemingly random amount of time before I would have to go through the process again. Just a warning for all you gamers to be careful and maybe stay with the 4.6 Cats for a bit longer.
Although this may not be a new issue to many of you, as my graphics testing was still maturing, I found it kind of annoying that Far Cry didn’t cooperate with the NVIDIA 61.45 drivers and allow you to set the AA level in the driver control panel. Instead you were forced to use the “high quality” option in the Far Cry game video options that brings about doubts as to what is actually going on behind the scenes there.
The eVGA e-GeForce 6800 GT video card is proving that NVIDIA’s technology in there 6800 series of graphics cards is ready to compete with ATI’s X800 line. The 6800 GT has seen some nice performance gains in the last few driver revisions we have seen and the 61.45 driver we have been testing for a few weeks is no different. I am glad to see NVIDIA has finally released a driver to the public with DirectX 9.0c support and SM3.0 support, in their 61.77 release.
The performance of eVGA’s 6800 GT card is right on par with the reference NVIDIA 6800 GT card, as we would expect, as it runs at the same frequencies by default. In Painkiller, the eVGA card and the X800 Pro card were showing very similar performance and though the X800 Pro did win on the 1600×1200 test with 4xAA and 8xAF enabled, it was by a small margin and the X800 Pro actually had a lower minimum FPS in any event.
In Unreal Tournament 2004, the 6800 GT didn’t fare as well. With AA and AF enabled, the X800 Pro was always the big leader in that benchmark. Without the 4xAA and 8xAF, the cards performed nearly identically, but the horsepower of the X800 Pro just out ran the 6800 GT otherwise. Our Battlefield: Vietnam results showed a similar pattern to the UT2K4 tests, but the gap between the 6800 GT and the X800 Pro were much smaller even with 4xAA and 8xAF enabled. At 1600×1200, the difference was less than 2 FPS on average — nothing when it comes to actual gameplaying experience in most cases.
Far Cry was a mixed bag for the eVGA card and the 6800 GT in general. Of the four maps we tested, I would give a “win” to the 6800 GT in two of them, one to the ATI X800 Pro and a toss up on the last. The NVIDIA cards seemed to do best when the action was indoor and the ATI cards were slightly better when the action was outside. With AA and AF enbaled, the ATI X800 Pro did exhibit a slightly better performance in gaming experience than the 6800 GT cards, but just barely.
The image quality comparisons that I ran showed there to be little or no difference between the ATI and NVIDIA-based graphics cards. Where once NVIDIA would have had the worst IQ, their drivers have made big advancements and the eVGA 6800 GT card is, of course, one of the benefitor’s of this. And with the difference being that much smaller during an up close analysis of screenshots, I am sure that you won’t be able to find a difference during actual game play.
The overclocking of the eVGA 6800 GT card was very impressive. Getting a core frequency of 420 MHz (that’s 70 MHz faster) and a memory clock of 1.12 GHz (that’s 120 MHz faster) put the GT past the clock rate of the 6800 Ultra cards that default at 420 MHz / 1.1 GHz settings. All that for $100 less in MSRP; of course, we can’t guarantee you’ll get the same results we did with your card, the majority of GT cards are showing good overclocks just like this one. Check out our forums for what other users are doing with their products.
The price of the eVGA 6800 GT is supposed to be around $399; the same as the ATI X800 Pro. With the cards in high demand and in short supply, they are currently going for slightly more than that at some online retailers, such as we see here on the PC Perspective Pricegrabber service. They currently have the card for as low as $426. Other 6800 GT cards are selling for more than that, so with the added benefit of being able to manually overclock your eVGA e-GeForce 6800 GT to beyond stock speeds, it looks like the best deal in the GT realm right now. Comparing the GT pricing to that of the X800 Pro, the most comparable card from the ATI line, we see the pricing is nearly the same as the eVGA e-GeForce 6800 GT card. With comparable performance and comparable pricing, the eVGA card is looking better and better. Did I mention Far Cry was included in the box?
Though the eVGA e-GeForce 6800 GT is the first 6800-series retail card we have reviewed, I am very impressed by it. The performance is high enough to play any game out there (and even Doom3) at acceptable framerates and image qualities. With the ability to overclock the GPU and memory beyond that of the 6800 Ultra card with stock cooling, the eVGA e-GeForce 6800 GT is a gamer’s dream come true combining outstanding performance and exceptional value. Not to mention that you can actually find these cards for sale, unlike their 6800 Ultra cousins for the time being.
Overall, if you are looking for a graphics card upgrade, preparing for both the current generation of games and the coming Doom3 and Hal-life 2 releases, I can fully recommend the eVGA e-GeForce 6800 GT as a fantastic option for you.
Check out some prices on the eVGA e-GeForce 6800 GT!