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BFG GeForce 6800 GT Overclocked
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Date: Jul 19, 2004
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Robert Maloney
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Introduction, Specifications & Bundle

When NVIDIA updates their product line, the GPUs usually arrive in the form of a value, midstream, and high-end variety, thus catering to all budgets or tastes.  Monetarily speaking, it works out for the most part with those in need of a simple upgrade able to get something on the cheap, while Uber-users can get a new card to brag to their friends about, both performance and price-wise.  It's been like this for quite a while, at least since the days of the GeForce 4 Ti4600/4400/4200.

In this year's offerings from NVIDIA, there are three cards, the GeForce 6800, 6800 GT, and 6800 Ultra (and even a fourth if you count the 6800 Ultra Extreme).  They're all based on the same relative architecture, the NV40, and anyone of these cards is sure to give your system a large boost in performance.  Major differences between the current GeForce 6 series of cards include the 12 pipelines on the standard GeForce 6800, instead of the 16 found on the other cards, and speed increases for the GPU and RAM for each subsequent version.  Our focus today will be on the 6800 GT from BFG Technologies.

Some of BFG's current crop of cards ship in a pre-overclocked state hence the card being named the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC.  It gives the user an extra boost in the GPU speed, putting it slightly ahead of the competition.  As always, the card comes with BFG's lifetime warranty, allaying any fears about premature breakdown due to the higher clock speed.  Let's look at the specifications of the GeForce 6 series, and the BFG 6800 GT OC in particular and see what makes this card a major contender.

  
NOTE: We did not receive a retail box for review

Specifications & Features of the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC
Not Just a GT, Not Quite an Ultra
CINEFX 3.0 SHADING ARCHITECTURE
  • Vertex Shaders
    Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Vertex Shader 3.0
    Displacement mapping
    Vertex frequency stream divider
    Infinite length vertex programs*
  • Pixel Shaders
    Support for DirectX 9.0 Pixel Shader 3.0
    Full pixel branching support
    Support for Multiple Render Targets (MRTs)
    Infinite length pixel programs*
  • Next-Generation Texture Engine
    Up to 16 textures per rendering pass
    Support for 16-bit floating point format and 32-bit floating point format
    Support for non-power of two textures
    Support for sRGB texture format for gamma textures
    DirectX and S3TC texture compression
  • Full 128-bit studio-quality floating point precision through the entire rendering pipeline with native hardware support for 32bpp, 64bpp, and 128bpp rendering modes

NVIDIA HIGH-PRECISION DYNAMIC-RANGE (HPDR) TECHNOLOGY

  • Full floating point support throughout entire pipeline
  • Floating point filtering improves the quality of images in motion
  • Floating point texturing drives new levels of clarity and image detail
  • Floating point frame buffer blending gives detail to special effects like motion blur and explosions
  • New rotated-grid anti-aliasing removes jagged edges for incredible edge quality

INTELLISAMPLE 3.0 TECHNOLOGY

  • Advanced 16x anisotropic filtering
  • Blistering-fast anti-aliasing and compression performance
  • Support for advanced lossless compression algorithms for color, texture, and z-data at even higher resolutions and frame rates
  • Fast z-clear
  • High-resolution compression technology (HCT) increases performance at higher resolutions through advances in compression technology

ADVANCED ENGINEERING

  • Over 220m transistors
  • Designed for PCI Express x16
  • Supports PCI Express high-speed interconnect (HSI) technology for bidirectional interconnect protocol conversion
  • Full support of AGP 8X including Fast Writes and sideband addressing
  • Support for the industry's fastest GDDR3 memory
  • 256-bit advanced memory interface
  • 0.13 micron process technology
  • Advanced thermal management and thermal monitoring
  • 40 mmx40 mm, BGA flip-chip package
ULTRASHADOW II TECHNOLOGY
  • Designed to enhance the performance of shadow-intensive games, like id Software's Doom III
ADVANCED VIDEO AND DISPLAY FUNCTIONALITY
  • Dedicated on-chip video processor
  • MPEG video encode and decode
  • WMV9 decode acceleration
  • Advanced adaptive de-interlacing
  • High-quality video scaling and filtering
  • Integrated NTSC/PAL TV encoder supporting resolutions up to 1024x768 without the need for panning with built-in Macrovision copy protection
  • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
  • Dual integrated 400 MHz RAMDACs for display resolutions up to and including 2048x1536 at 85Hz.
  • Dual DVO ports for interfacing to external TMDS transmitters and external TV encoders
  • Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) supports multiple video windows with full video quality and features in each window
  • VIP 1.1 interface support for video-in function
  • Full NVIDIA nView multi-display technology capability

NVIDIA DIGITAL VIBRANCE CONTROL (DVC) 3.0

  • DVC color controls
  • DVC image sharpening controls

OPERATING SYSTEMS

  • Windows XP
  • Windows ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows 9X
  • Macintosh OS, including OS X
  • Linux

API SUPPORT

  • Complete DirectX support, including the latest version of Microsoft DirectX 9.0
  • Full OpenGL, including OpenGL 1.5

* The operating system or APIs can impose limits, but the hardware does not limit shader program length.

BFG GEFORCE 6800 GT OC

  • 370 MHz Core Clock (vs. 350MHz Standard)
  • 500 MHz Core Clock (1000 MHz Effective)
  • 256 MB GDDR3 Memory
  • Dual 400 MHz RAMDACs
  • 555 million vertices/sec setup
  • 32.0GB/second memory bandwidth

 


  

As with most of BFG's bundles, there isn't much in the box other than the card itself and a few accessories.  There's little, if any, filler, focusing only on what's needed to get the card running.  That leaves us with a Quick Install manual (with a more comprehensive version in PDF format on the driver CD), a CD with ForceWare 61.21 drivers, 3D Demos, and nVDVD software.  There is also an additional game CD with demo versions of Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow, Silent Storm, and Painkiller, and finally a DVI-to-VGA connector and Power cable splitter.  Although we tend to lean towards adding a bit more to the package, keeping out the filler helps keep costs under control, and generally people won't need all of the cables and other stuff found with other manufacturer's bundles.

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The Card Itself

 

 

The BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC
Let's Take a Closer Look...

      

Typical of most GeForce cards, the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC is a bit longer than ATi's counterparts, which may or may not cause a little concern if you're thinking of installing it into a SFF (small form factor) system.  On the bright side, however, unlike the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra or 6800 Ultra, the 6800 GT models are shipping with a one piece heatsink/fan that covers almost the entire front of the card, cooling the GPU and RAM, and requiring only one slot.  The back side of the card is mostly bare - all of the RAM chips are on the front, and only a small plate rests over the back where the GPU is situated.

      

A quick look towards the end of the card shows all the differences we could find between a 12-Pipe GeForce 6800 and the BFG 6800 GT OC.  While we can count at least seven large capacitors on the reference 6800 card, the BFG 6800 GT OC has just two. However, the BFG model has a strip of MOSFETS underneath a thin heatsink (the black strip along the edge in the leftmost picture).  The main heatsink to remains the same.  It's a large aluminum block broken up by a heatpipe that curves up away from the center and then down along the right side.  This helps pull the heat away quickly from the midsection (over the GPU).

    

Finally, we saw the usual VGA, DVI, and S-Video outputs, which includes all of the kinds of connections your likely to make.  Should dual VGA monitors be in your future, the DVI-to-VGA adapter can be placed on the DVI port to allow for two 15-pin VGA ports.  Also, like the GeForce 6800, only one 4-pin MOLEX connection was required to power the card.  To allay any fears about power consumption or otherwise, BFG states that a 300W Power Supply Unit will suffice for powering the 6800 GT OC.

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Gaming & Image Quality

 

In our recent review on the Asus AX800 Pro, Marco had included a comprehensive overview of the differences in image quality between the GeForce 6800, GeForce 6800 GT, and Radeon X800.  Since nothing has changed since then, and we were using the same drivers and quality settings, we've placed them here for a quick review as well.  These screen shots were taken from AquaMark 3, using all four of the configurations we used while running our suite of benchmarks.

Screen Shot Comparisons
Whip Out The Magnifying Glass!

6800 No AA


6800 4X AA


6800 4X AA/8X Aniso


6800 4X AA/16X Aniso


6800GT No AA


6800GT 4X AA


6800GT 4X AA/8X Aniso


6800GT 4X AA/16X Aniso


X800 No AA

X800 4X AA

X800 4X AA/8X Aniso

X800 4X AA/16X Aniso

The screen shots above are of frame 5000 from the Aquamark 3 benchmark.  We set the resolution to 1024x768, and took these shots at the four different configurations we used for most of our testing (No AA, 4X AA, 4X AA + 8X Aniso and 4X AA + 16X Aniso).  If you open up multiple images and switch between them (pay attention to the file names in your browser's address bar to keep track of which shot you're looking at), you'll see very little variation from card to card.  However, if we zoom in a bit, some differences are revealed...

 


6800 4X AA (300%)


6800 4X AA/8X Aniso (300%)


6800 4X AA/16X Aniso (300%)


6800GT 4X AA (300%)


6800GT 4X AA/8X Aniso (300%)


6800GT 4X AA/16X Aniso (300%)


X800 4X AA (300%)

X800 4X AA/8X Aniso (300%)

X800 4X AA/16X Aniso (300%)

This group of screen shots represent a 300% zoom of the center of the full scene.  As you can see in each shot, with Anisotropic filtering enabled, much more detail is brought out in the hill at in the center.  It's nearly impossible to see any differences between the 8X and 16X aniso shots though.  And when comparing one card to another, there are virtually no differences between the three different settings on the GeForce 6800 cards, but comparing a 6800 with the AX800 Pro/TD reveals a bit more detail on the 6800s.

 


6800 4X AA (300%)


6800 4X AA/8X Aniso (300%)


6800 4X AA/16X Aniso (300%)


6800GT 4X AA Aniso (300%)


6800GT 4X AA/8X Aniso (300%)


6800GT 4X AA/16X Aniso (300%)


X800 4X AA (300%)

X800 4X AA/8X Aniso (300%)

X800 4X AA/16X Aniso (300%)

We also zoomed into a different portion of the screen to spotlight some differences in each card's anti-aliasing technique.  When we enabled 4X anti-aliasing, the antennas above the station and the edge of the track at the right are cleaned up considerably.  Once again, there were virtually no differences between the two 6800s, but the X800 Pro produced a slightly different image.  The X800 Pro seemed to do a slightly better job at cleaning the jaggies, but it's not a major difference by any means.  With both NVIDIA and ATi using adaptive trilinear filtering, and using similar anti-aliasing techniques with this generation, it's become much more difficult to say one card has better image quality than another.

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Our Test System & Final Fantasy XI

 

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: We tested the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC on an i875P based DFI LANPARTY Pro 875 motherboard, powered by an Intel Pentium 4 3.2CGHz CPU. The first thing we did when configuring this test system was enter the BIOS and load the "High Performance Defaults" setting. Then we set the memory to operate at 200MHz in dual-channel mode, with the CAS Latency and other memory timings set by the SPD, and the AGP aperture size was raised to 256MB. The hard drive was formatted, and Windows XP Professional with SP1 was installed. When the installation was complete, we installed the Intel chipset drivers and hit the Windows Update site to download and install all of the available updates. Then we installed all of the necessary drivers for the rest of our components and removed Windows Messenger from the system. Auto-Updating, System Restore and Drive Indexing were disabled, the hard drive was de-fragmented and a 768MB permanent page file was created. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance", installed the benchmarking software and ran all of the tests.

The HotHardware Test System
Intel Powered Screamer

Video Cards Compared:

Asus Radeon X800 Pro

ATi Radeon 9800 Pro
BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT
NVIDIA GeForce 6800
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra

Benchmarks Used:

Aquamark3
Comanche 4 Demo

Far Cry
Final Fantasy XI Benchmark 2
Halo v1.031
Splinter Cell - Oil Rig Demo
Unreal Tournament 2004
Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory

Common System Hardware:

DFI LanParty Pro 875 (i875P) Motherboard
Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz CPU
1024MB (512MB x2) Kingston HyperX PC3500 DDR

Integrated SoundMax audio
Western Digital 36GB "Raptor" SATA Hard Drive
Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM

 

Software / System Drivers:

Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1
DirectX 9.0b
Intel Chipset Software, v6.0.1.1002
ATi Catalyst Drivers, v4.6
NVIDIA ForceWare Drivers, v61.45

Performances Comparisons With Final Fantasy XI Benchmark 2 v1.01
A Classic Console Franchise On The PC

Final Fantasy XI
The Final Fantasy franchise is well known to console gamers, but Squaresoft has since made the jump to the PC with a MMORPG version of this classic. The Final Fantasy XI benchmark runs through multiple scenes from the game and displays a final score every time a full cycle of the demo is completed. Although the demo is meant the check an entire system's readiness to play the game, the number of frames rendered scales when different video cards are used. Lower scores indicate some frames were dropped to complete the demo in the allotted time. The scores below were taken with the demo set to its "High Resolution" option (1024x768), with anti-aliasing disabled.

 


Starting off with the Final Fantasy Benchmark, we've got the next-generation cards from both ATi and NVIDIA performing at close to identical levels.  While the "older" GFFX 5950 Ultra fell sharply off of the pace, the equally dated Radeon 9800XT still managed to put up good numbers, eclipsing the newer GeForce 6800 standard model.  However, the GT model, with its 4 additional pipelines and increased GPU and memory speeds went beyond the 9800XT, with BFG's overclocked model gaining an additional 29 points over the non-overclocked card.  In this benchmark, even with slightly less memory bandwidth, the Asus Radeon X800 Pro took the top spot, outperforming the BFG GF 6800 GT by about 1.5%.

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Halo

 

Benchmarks With Halo
Halo - All Patched & Ready To Go!

Halo
For many gamers, the release of Halo marked the end of a long wait, since it was originally released as an Xbox exclusive a few years back. No additional patches or tweaks are needed to benchmark with Halo, as Gearbox has included all of the necessary information in their README file. The Halo benchmark runs through four of the cut-scenes from the game, after which the average frame rate is recorded. We patched the game using the latest v1.04 patch and ran this benchmark twice, once at 1024x768 and then again at 1280x1024. Anti-aliasing doesn't work properly with Halo at the moment, so all of the test below were run with anti-aliasing disabled.

 

While we may have thought we had some smooth game play and frame rates with previous ATi and NVIDIA offerings, the performance there was nothing compared to what we saw with both the Radeon X800 Pro and GeForce 6800.  Whereas the previous cards were hovering around 50fps at 1024x768 and only 40fps at 1280x768, we were able to get better than 70 frames per second, and almost 80fps with the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC at 1024x768!  At the higher resolution, the 6800GT and 6800 GT OC lost only a handful of frames compared to the standard GeForce 6800 and Radeon X800 Pro.  The extra bandwidth, fillrate and shader performance afforded to the GT model really come into effect at the higher resolutions.  Also, at this resolution, we see that the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC was able to almost double the output of the previous NVIDIA champion, the GFFX 5950 Ultra.

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Splinter Cell

 

Performances Comparisons With Splinter Cell
Stealthy Combat

Splinter Cell
Splinter Cell's version 1.2 patch includes three pre-recorded demos and incorporates a previously unavailable benchmarking tool. The demos included with the patch are somewhat limited by CPU performance, however, so we opted for the custom Oil Rig demo created by the folks at Beyond 3D to test with this game. Beyond 3D's demo removes two CPU intensive routines while increasing dependence on Pixel Shader performance. Shaders are used to render realistic looking ocean water surrounding an Oil Rig in the demo, as well as simulating a night vision effect for a brief period. Also note that anti-aliasing doesn't work with Splinter Cell. Due to this fact, we do not have any AA scores listed in the graphs below.

 

 

While we've been itching to start playing the sequel, Pandora Tomorrow, the first Splinter Cell was well known for bringing video cards to their knees. That may come to an end with the release of the next-gen cards.  While the 5950 Ultra mustered up 36.5 fps, the 6800 nearly doubled its output, able to generate just over 67 fps.  The GT models fared even better, with BFG's overclocked version topping out at 83.29fps at 1024x768, a whopping 128% increase in performance over the 5950 Ultra, and 13% better than it's current rival, the Radeon X800 Pro.  We saw the same deltas in the second test at 1600x1200 as well.  Without any other graphical optimizations, we were able to sustain close to 60 frames per second in Splinter Cell, even at 1600x1200 using the GeForce 6800 GT cards.

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Tomb Raider: AOD

 

Head-to-Head Performance With Tomb Raider: AOD
The Anti-Greatest!

Tomb Raider: AOD
Although Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness won't be winning any "Game of the Year" awards, it is one of the more advanced DirectX games currently available. We've recorded a custom demo of Lara jogging through an indoor garden area in the "Prague3" map. When using the Pixel Shader 2.0 code path, this area of the game utilizes a DOF (depth of field) blurring effect to enhance the sense of depth and size. We ran our custom demo at a resolution of 1024x768 and then again at 1600x1200, using both the Pixel Shader 1.4 and 2.0 code paths (with and without 4x anti-aliasing in the PS 2.0 tests).

 

 

We've got a lot going on in these graphs, so let's get right to it.  Using the older Pixel Shader 1.4 technology, it seems that all of the cards in the pool were able to produce relatively the same output at 1024x768; less than four frames per second separate the leader (the GeForce 6800 model outperformed the 6800 GTs) from the bottom card.  Using Pixel Shader 2.0 code, however, we saw a sharp decline with the older cards, especially with the GFFX 5950 Ultra, whose frame rates were nearly halved.  The GeForce 6800 cards, as well as the Radeon X800 Pro, were only slightly affected, each losing about ten frames or so.  Furthermore, applying 4X Anti-Aliasing again resulted in minor performance loss for most of these cards, although the GeForce 6800 stumbled a bit, slipping down to "only" 65.78 fps.

At 1600x1200, we saw much more separation between the cards across the board.  At this resolution, the GeForce 6800 found it hard to keep up with its more powerful cousin, the 6800GT, and the Radeon X800 Pro.  In fact, the Radeon X800 Pro climbed into the second position over all when using the PS 1.4 path, falling in right behind the overclocked 6800 GT.  If not for the pre-overclocked state that BFG provided, the X800 Pro would be tops here.  Using PS 2.0 shader paths put the GeForce 6800 cards back on top, however, with even the standard 6800 model outperforming the X800 Pro with 4x AA applied.  Obviously, NVIDIA has put some serious effort into correcting past problems with PS 2.0 (and hopefully PS 3.0) in both their hardware and drivers.

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Comanche 4

 

Performance Comparisons With Novalogic's Comanche 4
Combat Helicopter Sim

Comanche 4
To give you sim fans a small taste of what these cards can do, we used Novalogic's combat helicopter simulator Comanche 4 for our next batch of DirectX tests. Comanche 4 uses DX8 class pixel and vertex shaders to produce some of the realistic visuals used throughout the game. Unlike some of the previous tests though, this benchmark is heavily influenced by CPU and system memory performance, especially at lower resolutions. However, when the resolution is raised and anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are enabled, the current crop of 3D accelerators tend to slow down quite a bit.

 

 

The initial results at 1024x768 pretty much showcase our point on how CPU-limited this benchmark really is.  We can clearly see how the frame rates are held in check by the CPU over the GPU when we see less than a single frame and a half was lost from the BFG 6800 GT OC with 4xAA and 16x Anisotropic Filtering enabled.  Thus, it's probably safe to say that with older DX based games, there will be little if any problem playing the game with the image quality settings maxed out.  Of course, we could really say that about all of the cards at this resolution, as only the Radeon 9800XT seemed to lose some steam at 4xAA with Aniso, dropping about 10 frames in this test.

We've got some larger drop offs at 1600x1200 that will hopefully point out relative strengths and weaknesses a little better.  All of the GeForce cards start out above the Radeons - even the 5950 Ultra is outpacing the X800 Pro here.  4XAA take a bite out of the frame rates, however, most notably on the GeForce 6800, the 5950 Ultra, and the Radeon 9800XT.  This is further compounded by the addition of Anisotropic Filtering, limiting the frame rates down to around 40 fps and below.  The other three cards are much less affected, dropping only a few frames with each optimization.  Overall, the Radeon X800 Pro lost just over 10 fps, a performance drop of about 17% while the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC lost a total of 15 frames, equating to just over 23%.

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Aquamark 3

 

Performance Comparisons With Aquamark 3
DX8 and DX9 Shaders

Aquamark 3
Aquamark 3 comes to us by way of Massive Development. Massive's release of the original Aquanox in 1999 wasn't very well received by the gaming community, but it was one of the first games to implement DX8 class shaders, which led to the creation of Aquamark 2 - a benchmark previously used by many analysts. Since the Aquamark benchmarks are based on an actual game engine, they must support old and new video cards alike. Thus, the latest version of Aquamark, Aquamark 3, utilizes not only DirectX 9 class shaders, but DirectX 8 and DirectX 7 as well. We ran this benchmark at resolutions of 1024x768 and 1600x1200 with no anti-aliasing, with 4x AA, with 4X AA and 8X anisotropic filtering and lastly with 4X AA and 16X aniso.

 

 

Aquamark 3's blending of DX9, DX8, and DX7 shaders seems to favor the GeForce 6800 cards, as they finished a dominant 1-2-3 at 1024x768, and just missed doing the same at 1600x1200.  BFG's GT model earned top honors, at least initially, where it trounced the Radeon X800 Pro by nearly 14.5%.  This scenario rapidly changed once we got to applying AA and Aniso, however.  While the GeForce 6800GTs were holding a comfortable lead in the beginning, the Radeon X800 Pro closed the gap somewhat at 4xAA, and then took the lead completely when Anisotropic Filtering was enabled.  The same pattern continued at 1600x1200 as well.  With the 5950 Ultra and 9800XT firmly left in the dust (followed closely by the GeForce 6800), the two 6800 GTs easily outperformed the X800 Pro again until we enabled AA and Aniso.  All three cards were running almost equal at 4xAA, but the X800 Pro really showed the other two cards up when Aniso was applied.

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Unreal Tournament 2004

 

Head-to-Head Performance With Unreal Tournament 2004
Epic's Next Smash Hit!

Unreal Tournament 2K4
Epic's "Unreal" games have been wildly popular, ever since the original Unreal was released in the late '90s. Unreal, Unreal Tournament, and then Unreal Tournament 2003, rapidly became some of our favorites, for both benchmarking, and for killing a few hours when our schedules allowed it! Epic recently released the latest addition to the franchise, Unreal Tournament 2004. We used the demo version of the game to benchmark these cards at resolutions of 1024x768 and 1600x1200, without any anti-aliasing, with 4x AA, with 4X AA and 8X anisotropic filtering and lastly with 4X AA and 16X aniso.

 

 

Much like we have seen in our earlier testing, we've got some strong first impressions from the GeForce 6800 suite of cards, snapping up the first three spots at 1024x768 with or without 4XAA.  That all changes the moment we also added Anisotropic filtering, which set these cards back by a considerable amount.  While the Radeon X800 Pro lost just over a frame per second with 8x Aniso, the GeForce 6800 GTs lost almost 25% of the original frame rates, putting them more on par with the 9800XT than the X800 Pro.  The results at 1600x1200 were even more pronounced.  Here, at least, the X800 Pro's performance began to falter somewhat, from an original score of 74.91 fps down to 51.56 at 4xAA + Aniso.  The GeForce 6800 GTs really choked on the larger, more complex textures, losing a more than half of their frame rates from the first test to the last.  

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Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

 

Benchmarks / Comparisons With Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Q3 Engine Based Freebie

Wolfenstein: ET
We also ran through a batch of timedemos with the OpenGL game Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Wolfenstein: ET is a free, standalone multiplayer game that is based on the excellent Return to Castle Wolfenstein, that was released a few years back. It uses a heavily modified version of the Quake 3 engine, which makes it a very easy to use benchmarking tool. We created our own custom demo and used the built-in timedemo feature to check each card's frame-rate. The tests below were run at 1024x768 and again at 1600x1200, without anti-aliasing, with 4X AA, with 4X AA and 8X aniso and lastly with 4X AA and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.

 

 

With Wolfenstein: ET we saw just a nibble taken out when going to 4xAA, even with the 5950 Ultra, which still managed to outrun the Radeon X800 Pro.  In a contrast to some of our other benchmarks, the GeForce 6800 cards handled the addition of Anisotropic Filtering techniques much better here, usually only dropping a few additional frames per second, even at 16x Aniso.  The BFG GF 6800 GT OC only lost a total of 6.5 frames from the no AA test to the 4xAA + 16x Aniso, a delta of only 5% which is hardly noticeable.  To be fair, the Radeon X800 Pro also handled these configurations, but with a total loss of about 10%.  We couldn't get any numbers for the Radeons at 1600x1200 once 4xAA was enabled, so we couldn't make any comparisons here.  The BFG 6800 GT OC card came out on top of all of the GeForce cards here, as expected.  In fact, we were still able to just about reach 70 fps at 1600x1200 with all of the settings maxed out.  This was a huge improvement over the 5950 Ultra, since even without any AA or Ansio we were only able to get as high as 75.6 fps.

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FarCry

 

Benchmarks and Comparisons With Far Cry
DX9 effects galore.

Far Cry
It almost goes without saying that Far Cry is easily one of the most impressive game and game engines to be released on the PC to date.  While we peer at leaked versions of Doom 3 and video clips of Half Life 2, Far Cry gives us a taste of what is to come in next generation 3D Gaming on the PC.  We benchmarked the graphics cards in our test, with a custom recorded demo run taken in the "Catacombs" area checkpoint, at various resolutions without AA or Aniso Filtering enabled and then with 4X AA and 8X Aniso.

 

Our final benchmark, Far Cry, was easily one of the most grueling that we've used in this review.  While the graphics are simply gorgeous, it's hard to appreciate them fully without a high-end card.  The two GeForce 6800 GT cards were right there at the top, with the BFG's higher speeds allowing it to gain almost an additional frame over the stock card.  The standard 6800 model was squeezed in the middle of the Radeon X800 Pro and 9800XT.  While we saw some small initial losses when 4xAA was applied, but we once again got a real blowout when applying Aniso.  The Radeon X800 Pro, and even the 9800XT, both handled Anisotropic Filtering much better by comparison.  This continued at 1600x1200, as well, where the 6800 GTs took the early lead, but then fell behind in the later tests.

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Overclocking

 

Overclocking the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC
Zoom! Zoom!

It might seem odd to think about overlocking the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC, since the card ships already overclocked.  However, the .13 micron process used for the GPU core is the same used in the GeForce 6800 Ultra, which is clocked as high as 450MHz, so we knew we would have some headroom .  BFG doesn't provide any fancy way to overclock its hardware, therefore we were left with using the widely available Coolbits Registry hack to raise the GPU and memory speeds.  We found we were able to get as high as 435MHz on the GPU and 553MHz (1106MHz effective) for the memory.  That's an impressive 65MHz increase for the GPU over the 370MHz speed that the BFG GF 6800 GT OC ships with, which was already 20 MHz over the standard version.

 

We went back and re-tested two of our benchmarks using the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC, but now clocked at 435/553 MHz, so we could see what kind of gains we would get from these higher speeds.  As you can see in the two graphs above, the gains were quite substantial.  In Aquamark 3, we saw a 17% increase in performance and there was just shy of a 9% jump in the Comanche 4 Demo.  The scores we achieved were some of the best we had seen, but one thing we should point out is that even though we got the large increase in Aquamark 3, the final score was just a shade higher than that of the non-overclocked Radeon X800 Pro.  Still, we were quite impressed with the performance boosts we received when overlocking the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC.

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Benchmark Analysis & Conclusion

 

Performance Summary:  The GeForce 6800 as a whole surpasses the previous NVIDIA line of cards, hands down.  Using the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, the top dog in the FX line, as a point of comparison, we have the standard GeForce 6800 outperforming it in each and every benchmark.  The GeForce 6800 GT improved upon these scores even further, especially when 4xAA and Anisotropic Filtering techniques were added to the benchmark routines.  The GT's higher clock speeds, more RAM, and 4 extra pipelines made all the difference when pitting the 6800 versus the Radeon X800 Pro.  Whereas the 6800 was usually slotted behind the X800 Pro, the 6800 GT was on the other side, leading by some decent margins.  And, of course, the BFG 6800 GT OC led the entire suite of cards, benefited by the extra 20MHz on the GPU speed.

The BFG 6800 GT OC is a great card on all accounts.  As we mentioned earlier, it was mostly a clean sweep in the benchmarks - able to outperform a stock 6800 GT as well as the competition, the Radeon X800 Pro in most situations.  The OC line of cards that BFG is providing are a boon to users who are unfamiliar or concerned with overclocking their hardware, and since its backed by a lifetime warranty there's really no downside.  We also saw that we were able to overclock this card even further, as high as 435MHz, increasing the performance and value of the card even more, and surpassing the core clock speed of the GeForce 6800 Ultra.  While the price may be a little high for most buyers (currently listed at about $399), the performance boost over the current generations of cards should be well worth the purchase.

We give the BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC a '9' on the Hot Hardware Heat Meter:

 

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  • Excellent Performance in most benchmarks
  • Clocked higher than standard 6800 GT
  • Lifetime warranty

 

  • A little pricey
  • The bundle is lacking

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