First, after this aritlce had already been tested and mostly written, both NVIDIA and ATI threw new drivers out into the field. We are aware and will begin using them in our next article due very soon. The performance gains in them should be minimal as NVIDIA’s are mostly for support of the upcoming SLI configuations as well as yet another 6 series card right around the corner.
Secondly, I much commend ATI for their improvement in the Doom 3 benchmark numbers we saw. Their drivers have continued to improve performance on this game that NVIDIA has been touting as the end-all-be-all benchmark in favor of NVIDIA. ATI still isn’t ahead of NVIDIA, and I don’t think they ever will be with this generation of cards, but their work is not going unnoticed.
When we step back and look at the benchmark results from the Asus V9999 Ultra and the reference ATI X800 XT Platinum Edition card that were the main combatants in today’s article, you can see that both cards are very capable of running today’s games to a great standard. While NVIDIA won the Doom 3 results, ATI arguably won the Far Cry benchmark and this trend is continued through out ours and other online media’s reviews as well. The flagship cards from both vendors are powerful enough to play just about any game at the top levels of detail, with the exceptions of only a few software titles.
Where the two differ however is in availability. With NVIDIA’s SLI technology right around the corner, they are telling me that their output of 6800 chips (GT and Ultras) is the highest it has ever been and they are still increasing production in preperation for the SLI onslaught. There seems to be very little difficulty finding GeForce 6800 Ultras in stock and 6800 GTs are easily found as well. On the ATI side, while the X800 Pro cards can be found from various vendors, the X800 XT Platinum Editions are limited to only one in our searches. And, even more disappointing, we are hearing from our sources (and other media seem to be as well) that ATI is on the verge of cancelling their production of the X800XT chip because of horrible yields. The redesign for their chip is already taped out and should be replacing the X800 XT’s and XT PE’s pretty soon. That means that NVIDIA will be unchallenged in the high end market while ATI reorganizes their product line. Yes, I have an XT PE card here and we will probably still use it in testing, but when it comes time for you to go buy a new card, you can’t pay for what isn’t available, right?
So in the respect, Asus has a winner on their hands with the V9999 Ultra Deluxe graphics card. Using the 6800 Ultra chipset it has a performance advantage and availability advantage over the competition. Not only that, but even when comparing the V9999 Ultra Deluxe to other 6800U cards, Asus stands very well. The clock speed on the Ultra Deluxe model is speced at a faster than standard 425 MHz core clock, which was originally what NVIDIA marketed as the “Ultra Extreme” edition of the 6800. The BFG 6800 Ultra OC is the only other card I can think of off hand to offer these same speeds.
Asus also does a great feat on their V9999 Ultra Deluxe by utilizing a single slot cooling solution instead of the standard two-slot model. This allows users to better manage their systems and maybe even include a 6800 Ultra in with their SFF machines. I say *maybe* because that depends a lot on the ability for you to properly cool and power the Ultra graphics chipset. I am really hoping Asus is able to bring that same cooling solution, or at least another single slot one, to the SLI-ready graphics cards that they are producing.
Though to many the included extras in the V9999 Ultra Deluxe kit may seem a bit hoaky, the GameFaceLive feature is a bit like adding Xbox Live! support to your PC gaming. While I agree that there is a good chance that you don’t actually want to SEE any of the gamers ugly mugs that you play against online with the included webcam, the ability to talk to them can be quite handy. Asus also touts the ability to watch TV while you game, and really, what could be better than that?
With the world of AGP not quite ready to fall by the way side, the Asus V9999 Ultra Deluxe is going to be one of, if not THE, fastest AGP graphics card to be available ever. That is quite a feat to accomplish! Gamer’s looking for the fastest graphics card to upgrade to in their current systems will find the Asus card to be amoung their top choices. Asus’ V9999 Ultra Deluxe graphics card does all the right things and as far as hardware is concerned, is about all I can ask for. Because of that, this card is going to receive the PC Perspective Editor’s Choice award, the first time it has gone to a graphics card.
Pricing may be an issue, as the scarcity of the high end cards has driven up prices at resellers, but I can assure you in a couple weeks when the flood gates open on the 6800 chips, they will go back down. (This is really the vendors faults for taking advantage of the situation, but hey, a capitalistic society does that sometimes.)
Feel free to use our PriceGrabber service to find great deals on this video card!