Summary & Conclusion
Benchmark Summary: When using the SM 3.0 path, the 12-pipe GeForce 6800 ($299) was able to outperform a 12-pipe Radeon X800 Pro ($399) in only two, lower-resolution tests with AA and Anisotropic filtering disabled. When AA and Aniso were enabled, the X800 Pro outpaced the 6800 across the board. The similarly priced GeForce 6800 GT ($399), however, beat the Radeon X800 Pro in all of the default tests, as well as when 4X AA was enabled. It was only when anti-aliasing and Anisotropic filtering were enabled concurrently that the X800 Pro was able to score a few victories over the GT.
The FarCry v1.2 patch is somewhat of a milestone for NVIDIA. When DirectX 9.0c "ships", FarCry, when patched to v1.2, will be the first readily available game to take advantage of the GeForce 6 series Shader Model 3.0 capabilities. And although image quality is generally unaffected by the SM 3.0 in FarCry, the performance gains associated with using the SM 3.0 path are significant. If the types of performance gains we've seen here today are typical, more game developers may begin to use SM 3.0 to give their projects a boost. If this happens quickly, NVIDIA's GeForce 6 series may overtake ATi's X800's in more and more games, putting NVIDIA in a much more comfortable position.