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Imagination Technologies

Geforce 6800 - the next generation

NVIDIA received a lot of criticism for the arithmetic efficiency of the former NV3x product line. In that sense NV had to catch-up in relative terms with the competition in that department and all indications so far point to the direction that they’ve succeeded with NV40.

SM3.0 support can so far only be tested with Far Cry’s (not yet officially released) 1.2 patch, which for the time being is just a performance optimisation. It’s my understanding though that those optimisations could have been easily expanded from Cry Tek to NV3x/R4xx based accelerators too, in order to correct the engine’s own shortcomings. Sadly enough there’s no other SM3.0 capable application/benchmark available right now and thus I’ll withhold for the time being any relative comment concerning it’s usefulness; debates about inflection/deflection points when it comes to having either SM2.0+ or SM3.0 support at this point of time have been endless in public forums and the pro/contra arguments are fairly known. What I can say though is that there’s no such thing as supporting a feature too early for a developer or ISV for future projects and I have severe doubts that any IHV will be able to escape SM3.0 (+) support in the foreseeable future.

Overall my experience with the 6800 was more than just pleasant. One quite annoying spot was in Asbestos/UT2k4 were I could notice some weird moiré patterns on floor textures, for which I can only guess that the application might pick up the wrong LOD value (DefaultTexMipBias=-0.500000). Setting it to 1.0 might eliminate the moiré pattern, yet blurs the scenery way too much. It occurred with both former and current ForceWare drivers, I reinstalled the game just to make sure that there’s nothing awkward stuck in there, but to no avail. It doesn’t matter whether I use the in game AF/trilinear or the driver control panel settings, whether any kind of optimization on or off the problem persists. I can’t say whether it’s the applications or driver’s fault, yet it’s highly annoying and I hope it will get fixed soon enough. A shot to illustrate what it looks like:

I couldn’t notice in any other game/application anything similar.

Other than that the driver offers a very extensive palette of various settings where the user can enable/disable or even optimize features, as his heart desires. I couldn’t find one setting or change in settings so far that didn’t work, as it should; nor did I have to result to any system reboots in order to enable a specific setting.

The list of games/demos I’ve tried so far is a bit longer than mentioned in this review, but (with the exception of PowerVR’s SM3.0 based Cloth demo, which refused to even initialize) I didn’t have any compatibility problems at all, other than the ones mentioned.

I can most certainly welcome the Supersampling support via the hybrid AA modes (despite their limited usability), as the high quality texture filtering setting (as I’ve said before) in the driver control panel. Arithmetic efficiency does no longer leave any headroom for complaints and the stencil OP performance is outstanding.

I did try to overclock the card via the driver’s self detecting frequency feature, yet testing even with a just 355MHz clock speed in a subtropical climate during one of the extreme heat waves and without any additional cooling aids for the GPU, turned out to be a rather bad idea. It’s not that it wasn’t impossible to game or benchmark with higher core/ram frequencies, it’s just that a couple of crashes are already enough for me to not include any results to this review. Default frequencies didn’t give me any trouble whatsoever and that with a broken Air-Con and room temperatures up to 32C.

The GeForce 6800 is very worthy lower end representative of NVIDIA’s new high end line of products and it’s not very hard to guess how much more performance a user will get with a 6800GT or even 6800Ultra, especially in very high resolutions with AA/AF enabled.

There aren’t any real comparisons in this review and thus any recommendations on whether to upgrade or not would be out of place. For me the user should purchase what he thinks will cover his needs most and that irrelevant of brand or IHV. This project was merely an attempt to collect some of my impressions, nothing more or nothing less. Corrections, remarks, question etc are of course all welcome.

Last I would like to thank Loewe for hosting this review, the time and efforts he made for the last refinements of it, Demirug’s and Zeckensack’s precious contributions/observations and of course quite a few others that would like to remain anonymous.


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 Geforce 6800 - the next genera...
 17 Seiten
 verfasst von Ailuros
 Donnerstag - 26.08.2004 - 18:20 Uhr
[1]  Introduction & Systemsetup
[2]  Antialiasing & Anisotropic Filt...
[3]  2. Anisotropic filtering
[4]  Synthetic Applications
[5]  F1 2002
[6]  Rallisport Challenge
[7]  Serious Sam: The Second Encount...
[8]  Need For Speed: Underground
[9]  Unreal Tournament 2004
[10]  Far Cry
[11]  Hybrid Super-/Multisampling Mod...
[12]  Hybrid Super-/Multisampling Mod...
[13]  2D, DVD / VIDEO Playback
[14]  Summary
[15]  Softmode
[16]  doom3
[17]  DVD