Introduction and Card Layout
Asus delivers a 6800 Ultra card with a single slot cooler that may be the last, best AGP card we ever see.
Asus gets a lot of attention at PC Perspective and on other online media sites because, quite frankly, their products tend to kick ass. Not all of them, don’t get me wrong. But a lot of them. There are few companies out there like that, and Asus is one of them. In the last few years, like other tier-1 manufacturers, Asus has gone from soley motherboards to producing an entire line of products. They include networking equipment, notebooks, optical drives, servers, barebones units and of course, video cards. Most of the time, the Taiwan-based card manufacturers have provided stable, reference graphics cards that don’t offer anything new to the market, but fill a demand for them across the globe. Asus has been trying to get away from the stock video card designs, and the V9999 Ultra Deluxe is just one example of it.
Specifications (from Asus.com)
GeForce 6800Ultra Video Memory
256 MBDDR3 Engine Clock
425MHz Memory Clock
1.1GHzHz(550MHz DDR) RAMDAC
400MHz Bus Standard
AGP 8x/4X/2X Memory Interface
256-bit DDR3 Max Resolution
2048×1536 TV Output
S-VHS and Composite DVI Output
Dual DVI-I VGA Output
Dual VGA (with adaptors) Adaptor/Cable bundled
TV out adaptor
DVI-to-2nd VGA adaptor
Deus Ex: Invisible War
Battle Engine Aquila
6 in 1 Game Pack
ASUS DVD XP
ASUS Utilities & Driver
USB camera with 300K resolution
Every time I get a product box like this, I wonder if all the Taiwan companies get their box designs from the same company. I haven’t yet figured out if they are marketing it towards China or Taiwan users that I don’t understand or if their marketing teams don’t quite get the US buyer. In any event, the box isn’t what really is important. Like your mother always said, its what’s inside that counts.
Just as in the motherboard market, companies are continually trying to find ways to make their products stand out in an industry that seems bent on making every product a reference design. Software (both in-house developed and included) is one way that they have tried to differentiate themselves from the competition.
The software suite Asus includes “Dues Ex Invisible War”, “Battle Engine Aquila”, “Gun Metal” and a demo disc of 6 games. They also have some DVD software and a driver disk. To say this is a mediocre set is putting positive spin on things as the games are old and don’t exactly inspire me to buy a $500+ graphics card. Software purchases are left up to you, I am afraid.
This little guy is a webcam; included with a video card….why? Asus’ software includes a feature called GameFaceLive that allows you to use this webcam to show your face to your opponents when gaming, and for you to see theirs (assuming they have Asus products as well). The software overlays the video in your game screen so you can talk and communicate with each other while fragging. While this is a good idea in theory, and was fun to play around with, the execution depends on too many other factors to be successful. Namely, you need to have other people using this software on these cards. What would have been a good idea is to make this software audio-only, and to make it possible for you to share the software with your firends that may or may not have Asus-branded video cards. Kind of like an Xbox Live thing.
Here you can quickly see that this is no reference design video card. The cooler Asus used shares a strong resemblance to the cooler used on the 6800 GT cards, though this one has some improvements on it. This cooler has the benefit of being a one slot design, unlike the reference cooler that requires two motherboard and case slots.
The back of the card is just like any other 6800 card even down to the heatsink retention clip.
Here you can see the two DVI connectors (a single DVI-to-VGA adaptor is included in the box) as well as a TV output. You can see here that the Asus V9999 Ultra Deluxe card has a slim profile that allows it to fit in a single slot. If you have room to give the card in your case for better cooling, do so, as these chips still get very hot, no getting around that.
Even though the card is only a single slot, it still requires two Molex connectors to power the 6800 Ultra. This is one of the few drawbacks to the NVIDIA Ultra solution.
In our testing, the cooling on the single slot Asus card was adequate. I couldn’t tell a difference between the heat on the V9999 Ultra compared to a reference NVIDIA 6800 Ultra with a two-slot cooler. While this isn’t scientific testing by any means, the Asus V9999 Ultra was completely stable through our testing in a room with a very high ambient temperature (my office tends to get to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit most days), so this boades well for Asus’ cooling solution.