The Card & Some Screen Shots
With all of the different video card models coming from NVIDIA and ATi based on the same base architectures lately, it may be a bit difficult to figure out exactly where each card fits in the grand scheme of things. To help explain exactly where each card stands, based solely on theoretical peak fillrates and memory bandwidth figures, we've put together a simple chart that should help clear things up...
As you can see, the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition, which is what the eVGA card we're looking at today is based upon, is right up there at the top of the list in both categories. Only the ATi Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition has a higher fillrate and nothing touches the EE when is comes to peak memory bandwidth.
The eVGA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition doesn't stray from NVIDIA's reference design, save for the custom fan guard sporting the likeness of the smooth Dr. Timbury! Dr. Timbury first made an appearance at the NV40 launch in a demo that spotlighted the NV40's HDR (High Dynamic Range) rendering capabilities. The eVGA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition's cooling solution is a two-slot design; the model we have here does in fact encroach on the first PCI slot. The blower and shroud are designed to pull air in through the front, and blow it across the heatsinks mounted over the GPU and RAM. When operating at full speed, we found the fan to be somewhat loud, so don't consider this card if you're trying to build a silent gaming PC. Underneath the cooler, you'll find a 16-Pipe NV40 core clocked at 450MHz and 256MB of Samsung GDDR3 RAM clocked at a healthy 1.2GHz (600MHz DDR). The card has Dual-DVI outputs and a video-out connector, and like all other GeForce 6800 Ultra's two Molex power connectors, preferably from two separate PSU lines, are required.
We've done a few direct comparisons between ATi's and NViDIA's in-game image quality recently (see: here and here), so we won't be doing yet another side-by-side comparison here. If you read those past comparisons, what you'll find is that ATi and NVIDIA are on equal ground at the moment. The consensus is that ATi still has slightly better image quality when using anti-aliasing, but NVIDIA's anisotropic filtering is superior. Turn them both on together and it is difficult to tell the two apart, especially when images are whizzing by in a fast paced game.
What we have for you here is a sampling of images from the incredibly cool Doom 3. We jumped through a few different levels while gaming with the eVGA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition running the game at the "High-Quality" setting at a resolution of 1024x768 with 4X AA and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled. Take a look at the detail in these images, especially in the faces, and you'll have a good idea of what a high-end gaming card like this one can do, all the while keeping the frame rates at playable levels.