GeForce 6800: The wait is almost over
It has nearly been two months since NVIDIA first announced its next generation graphics core, GeForce 6800/GeForce 6800 Ultra, and a little over a month since NVIDIA’s 6800 GT plans were unveiled, with only a trickle of cards hitting retail – weeks behind ATI’s RADEON X800 PRO and behind NVIDIA’s own schedule for the 6800 parts. But fortunately for you NVIDIA enthusiasts out there we can report that the wait is nearly over, in fact we saw quite a few innovative GeForce 6800 cards at Computex in Taiwan last week.
In fact, the first retail GeForce 6800 board has arrived for review, Leadtek’s WinFast A400 TDH. Having a final, retail board in hand is definite confirmation that a tidal wave of NV40 boards is about to be unleashed on the market. Leadtek and Gainward are also in the final stages of shipping their GeForce 6800 Ultra cards to retail as well.
Personally, we think it’s exciting to see the more mainstream enthusiast-level cards released to the market first. If you recall previous next generation releases, the ultra high-end boards are typically released initially: RADEON 9700 PRO shipped months ahead of RADEON 9700, while NVIDIA’s GeForce FX 5900 Ultra just beat the 5900 to market and was released well in advance of GeForce FX 5900 XT, and on the DX8 side, GeForce4 Ti 4600 and GeForce 3 predated less expensive variants by multiple months.
Based on our talks with ATI and NVIDIA’s board partners, both companies are having a difficult time with their high-end parts, we reported on this in our Computex report last week. Apparently, yields on graphics cores aren’t the issue, at least for ATI, the bottleneck lies elsewhere. We have a strong suspicion that GDDR3 memory is the culprit.
In any case, for whatever the reason, it’s good to see the cheaper graphics cards hitting retail as few gamers can afford the stratospheric prices ATI and NVIDIA are asking for the GeForce 6800 Ultra and RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition. Often times, with a little bit of overclocking, the cheaper boards can be tuned to perform similarly to each respective company’s high-end offering. This is what we’ve set out to do for this article -- explore the performance and overclocking potential of NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800.
Since the GeForce 6800 was first announced, we were eager to see how it stacked up to NVIDIA’s other 6800 offerings, and we bet you were too. But since we have another trip up north coming this weekend, we wanted to get the piece up before departing. We’ll have the full Leadtek review up when we return next week with additional cards and performance analysis included.