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nVidia Geforce 6800 Ultra Reference Videocard Review

nVidia Geforce 6800 Ultra Reference Videocard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: NV40, in comparison, sports no less than 222 million transistors on IBM's 130nm process. The graphics processor wields 16 pixel-pipelines and a 256-bit memory bus populated by GDDR-3 memory modules.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Nvidia May 05 2004   Chris Angelini  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > Nvidia Geforce 6800 Ultra

Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering

The NV3x family took quite a bit of flak for its anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering quality levels. The former was simply sub-par in comparison to ATI's method, and the latter was discovered to be a mix of trilinear and bilinear filtering with no option for full-quality trilinear.

That optimized mix is still the default in nVidia's latest 61.11 drivers; however, there is now a checkbox in the driver control panel to disable the "feature." Performance will take a hit, of course, but for those concerned with the utmost in quality, it's a sacrifice worth making. Also, keep in mind that the forthcoming benchmarks in this review were all run with the Trilinear Optimizations option turned off. The option isn't available for nVidia's GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, unfortunately.

With regard to anti-aliasing, the GeForce 6800 Ultra represents nVidia's first foray into rotated grid anti-aliasing, similar to a technique ATI uses on its R300 processors. The result is a massive quality improvement over the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and near parity with the Radeon 9800 XT.

ATI has a new anti-aliasing scheme of its own that is claimed to raise the bar for visual quality without incurring a performance hit. Termed "Temporal Anti-Aliasing", the method alternates sample patterns on a per-frame basis to effectively double the number of perceived samples without having to halve performance. For example, 4x AA would look something like 8x, while a 6x sample would appear as 12x. It's something to keep in mind while deciding which card is best for your gaming requirements.

Video Processing

Past S3 and ATI products earned acclaim less for 3D alacrity (quickness) and more for video acceleration. nVidia's role in bringing cinematic entertainment to the desktop was less pronounced, at least until becoming an integral part of the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center package.

With the introduction of the NV40 GPU, nVidia is furthering its commitment to higher-quality video by incorporating a programmable video processor that may be purposed towards addressing demanding video tasks, such as decoding the latest high-definition WMV9 formats or accelerating DiVX decoding. It can also perform a number of the functions wired into previous architectures, like de-blocking, scaling, filtering, and de-interlacing. Color space conversion, gamma correction, iDCT, and motion compensation are all programmable as well.

nVidia concedes that the performance of its video processor will be dependant on the operating frequency of the NV40 GPU. Thus, it shall be interesting to see how nVidia handles a range of products based on the same architecture ranging from the mainstream to gaming enthusiast markets, all clocked at different speeds.

Overclocking the 6800 Ultra

As it stands, the GeForce 6800 Ultra may be running at its highest potential clock frequencies... Using the CoolBits registry hack, we unlocked the manual clock manipulation control panel page, which, in the 61.11 driver revision also includes an automatic overclock setting. Unfortunately, every attempt at running the 6800 Ultra faster than its stock 400/550MHz configuration resulted in a failed test. As a result, of course, we weren't able to record any numbers at higher frequencies.

We were, however, able to observe that the overclocking property page identified two settings, allowing independently configurable speeds for 2D and 3D operation. Both were locked on our reference sample, but retail boards should hopefully be more flexible.

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Contents of Article: Nvidia Geforce 6800 Ultra
 Pg 1.  nVidia Geforce 6800 Ultra Reference Videocard Review
 Pg 2.  Pixel Power and 480W too...
 Pg 3.  — Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: System Specs, 3DMark03
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: QIII Arena, IL2 Sturmovik
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: Final Fantasy, UT2004
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: Far Cry, Conclusions

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