Today we take a look at MSI’s readily available NV40 part, the GeForce 6800 standard. Running on 12 pixel pipelines and DDR1 memory, does the card have enough power to keep up with cards like the Radeon X800 Pro and the GeForce 6800GT? Come and take a look.
As many of you know, a trend common in both NVIDIA and ATI’s past few generations of graphics processors has been to market their product families to a wide assortment of price points. The two companies have decided to blur the distance between their mid-ranged and high-end cards by offering toned down versions of their high end graphics processors at cheaper prices.
This idea has really been around for the past few years, but only lately have we seen its presence in the retail markets. ATI and NVIDIA both use third-party fabs to produce their graphics processors, and with fabrication of complex products like GPU’s, yields can often be a problem, particularly when dealing with flagship models. For example, many of you have noticed that the GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics cards have been pretty hard to come by as of late, all the while GeForce 6800GT graphics cards are available at many retailers across the globe. Is it the extra $ 100 that’s keeping the GeForce 6800 Ultra from being readily available in the market?
Although retailers might be hesitant to sell $ 500 graphics cards in the current market, we’ve heard that the reason behind the GeForce 6800 Ultra’s lack of availability is really because of poor yields at TSMC. That basically just means that NVIDIA is having trouble producing the chip that powers the GeForce 6800 Ultra, but is having an easier time making graphics processors that wont scale as high as the 6800 Ultra spec requires, and therefore producing more GeForce 6800GT’s.
This leads us to introduce a new graphics card that we’ll be reviewing today, the MSI GeForce 6800. Notice that this card is not the 6800GT or Ultra, but rather it is standard 6800 model. The GeForce 6800 is the easiest NV40 based GPU to produce and therefore costs less, priced at just under the $ 300 mark at most online retailers.
So what’s the difference between the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the GeForce 6800? There are two main differences, one of which is the 12 pixel pipelines that power the GeForce 6800. The 6800GT and 6800 Ultra both run on a 16 pixel pipeline architecture (like the Radeon X800XT), and a 12 pixel pipeline part was a cost effective solution for NVIDIA since the company could disable defective pipelines in GPU’s that would normally have been scrapped, putting money in NVIDIA’s pocket for a product that just a few years ago would have never seen the light of day. The other feature of the standard GeForce 6800 model that sets it apart from the GT and Ultra models is the card’s use of DDR1 memory.
DDR1 memory is of course readily available and has been commonly used in video cards for over three years now, so prices are definitely favorable for the video card manufacturers. We’ll be taking a look at the MSI GeForce 6800, one of the first GeForce 6800 video cards to hit the market. We’ll be comparing it to other NV40 and R420 based graphics cards and running the card through our new Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 Stress Test benchmarks.
NVIDIA GeForce 6800
Direct X 3D Hardware
Full Direct X 9 support
DVI / S-Video/ VGA
2048×1536 @ 85Hz
•MSI Games Collection
•MSI 3D Desktop
•MSI Media Center Deluxe II
•Adobe Photoshop Album & 3D-Album
•Restore IT & VirtualDrive Professional
•InterVideo WinDVD 5.1 & WinDVD Creator Plus
•Prince of Persia – Sands of Time
•Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow
•URU – Ages Beyond Myst
•DVI to VGA Adapter
•S-Video to RCA Adapter
As you can see from the list above, MSI has gone all out with their GeForce 6800 bundle. They’ve included three great new games with their card as well as a handful of great software titles for all the media editing and content creation many users will be looking to do. Over the past few years, MSI has really listened to customer demands for better overall bundles with their products, and as we see here today, have created one of the best video card bundles in the entire graphics card industry.