Issues and Conclusion
We really only saw a couple of issues during our testing of these graphics card. They came in the form of minor bugs on the Catalyst 4.9 drivers that should be easily fixed in the next release from ATI or in a hot fix. Having Painkiller not do 4xAA and 8xAF in 1600×1200 resolution and having BF:Vietnam ONLY doing 4xAA and 8xAF at the same resolution is a bit odd, but most bugs are. Using the previous benchmark runs we can hypothosize what would have occurred at the 1600×1200 resolution on those two games, but in reality, they didn’t affect the out come of the review very much.
The other issue is mainly a political one in the fact that ATI still isn’t giving the users the options to turn off their AA and AF optimizations in their driver. NVIDIA started doing this after a lot of community back lash, but ATI seems to be immune from the pressure. Though our tests would still have been done with the optimizations enabled, just like they were on the new NVIDIA 65.76 drivers, we would like to see the option there for enthusiast purist that want only the original from the game developer.
The Chaintech AA6800 video card did very well in our suite of benchmarks, able to prove that the 10% overclock in core speed and memory speed over the reference design is indeed a valuable addition. On our Doom 3 test, once we were pushing the high resolutions and with AA and AF enabled, the AA6800 was as much as 7.5% faster than the stock 6800 card and was still faster than the $100 more expensive X800 Pro card from ATI.
In City of Heroes, the AA6800 saw a gain at 1280 and above resolutions, and came in as much as 25% faster than the reference 6800 card on the 1600×1200 4x8x test. Even without the eye candy enabled, the overclocked 6800 was still about 15% faster at 1600×1200, which is quite impressive. Far Cry saw benefits right from the start with a 10% gain or so over the stock 6800 at just the 1024×768 resolution and a similar lead was seen in the majority of those benchmarks.
Painkiller showed a very small advantage to the AA6800 card over the stock 6800, but even then that had to be at high resolutions to see any noticeable difference. Different game engines will see difference advantages to overclocking the 6800 architecture it would seem. Battlefield: Vietnam saw a good improvement, on the other hand, by 8% or so at the highest resolution and 6% at the lower resolution making for a slightly improved gaming experience throughout. Finally, on UT2004, the gains were a bit smaller and didn’t become very noticeable until the 1600×1200 resolution where the AA6800 outpaced the reference card by about 9% in average framerate.
The image quality tests again showed that both NVIDIA and ATI have taken the time to do it right this time around with not a lot of quality differing between the NVIDIA and ATI cards in our tests. While in Doom 3, NVIDIA may have had a slight advantage, the Far Cry results were pretty much identical with an ever so slight nod towards ATI’s filtering. Either way and in either game, the IQ’s are competitive enough to not affect gameplay adversely.
The ATI X800 Pro finds itself in a curious position after looking at these benchmarks. The NVIDIA 6800 card was very competitive with it on the majority of our tests so the $100 price difference in favor of NVIDIA is a bit of an issue here. Make no mistake, the X800 Pro is faster on average and by a larger margin on both UT with AA and AF enabled, as well as Far Cry, but the fact that the 6800, stock and overclocked, is able to make a competition out of it is interesting. The X800 Pro’s real price-based competition lies in the 6800 GT model, not in the 6800 card and ATI has no competition for the $299 price point out yet.
Where the Chaintech AA6800 card shines is in the fact that you get the added value of a 10% overclock at no extra cost and without worrying about a warranty. Though they aren’t the first company to offer this option, it is good to see more manufacturers taking stances like this and trying to get the best performing part out to the customer with as little hassle as possible. No doubt this card could be overclocked a bit higher than the 10% we are seeing here, but how much so depends on luck of the draw, so Chaintech chose to take the safer way out this time around.
The Chaintech Apogee AA6800 card is selling for under $300 now at both Newegg and ZipZoomFly, so the card itself is under the stock NVIDIA MSRP. Getting a 10% overclock for less than nothing is always a good thing! Though the 6800 card from NVIDIA finds itself in a tight spot with the 6800 GT above it and the new 6600 GT below it (though not offered in AGP form yet), the 6800 performs well enough to justify the price that it is set at. The AA6800 is able to play all the latest games at great resolutions and image quality settings, without breaking the bank. If can’t afford the $400-500 cards and you still want the latest NVIDIA features on an AGP slot, then the Chaintech AA6800 card is definitely a good option to consider.
Check out some prices on the Chaintech AA6800!
Check out some more prices on the Chaintech AA6800!