NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 Ultra - NV40 Debuts

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NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 Ultra - Page 4

The GeForce 6800 Ultra
NVIDIA's NV40 Debuts...

By, Marco Chiappetta
April 14, 2004


We tested the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra, and the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and ATi Radeon 9800 XT, on an i875P based DFI LANPARTY Pro875B 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 loaded the "High Performance Defaults". 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 then we set the AGP aperture size to 256MB. The hard drive was then 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 altogether.  Auto-Updating, System Restore, and Drive Indexing were then 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.  Throughout our testing, NVIDIA's and ATi's drivers were configured for maximum visual quality.  Their respective "Fastest" or "Performance" modes were not used.

HotHardware's Test Setup
Intel Powered - 3.2GHz System

Processor -

Mainboard -

Video Cards -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drive -

Optical Drive -

Other -


Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz

i875P "Canterwood" Chipset
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
ATi Radeon 9800 XT

1024MB Kingston HyperX PC3500
Integrated C-Media Audio
Western Digital "Raptor"
36GB - 10,000RPM - SATA
Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM

3.5" Floppy Drive


Operating System -

Chipset Drivers -

DirectX -

Video Drivers -


Windows XP Professional SP1 (Fully Patched)

Intel INF v5.1.1.1002

DirectX 9.0b

NVIDIA Forceware v60.72
ATI Catalyst v4.4

Performance Comparisons With ShaderMark v2.0 (Build 1e)
Strict High Level Shading Language

ShaderMark v2.0

For most of our recent reviews, we've stuck to using games, or benchmarks based on actual game engines,  to test video cards.  The problem with using this approach, is that some advanced 3D features may not be fully tested, because game engines sometimes tend to lack the newest features available with cutting edge graphics hardware.  In an effort to reveal raw shader performance, which is nearly impossible to do with the games on the market today, we've incorporated ToMMTi-System's ShaderMark v2.0 into our benchmarking suite.  ShaderMark is a Direct 9.0 pixel shader benchmark that exclusively uses code written in Microsoft?s High Level Shading Language (HLSL).

Detailed ShaderMark v2.0 Results

ShaderMark v2.0 attempts to run 22 different shaders of varying complexity, hence the extremely large graph above.  Please note that some of the shaders would not run on the NVIDIA powered cards, because floating point texture shaders aren't supported yet in NVIDIA's Forceware driver package.  For the visual learners reading this, it's clear that the GeForce 6800 Ultra offers massive performance improvements for shaders written in HLSL.  The Radeon 9800 XT significantly outperformed the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, but the GeForce 6800 Ultra was simply in a league of its own.  The table to the left is the exact ShaderMark v2.0 performance breakdown between the three cards tested here.  When compared to NVIDIA's previous flagship part, the GeForce 6800 Ultra outperformed it by a minimum of 347.8% and by as much 520%.  The ATi Radeon 9800 XT fared much better, but it too wasn't even competitive.  The GeForce 6800 Ultra's performance advantages over the 9800 XT ranged from a minimum of 47% to a maximum of 194.1%.  It seems NVIDIA took the NV3x's shortcomings to heart and made enormous strides with the NV40.  Its shader performance in vastly improved.

Aquamark 3 & Halo  

Tags:  Nvidia, GeForce, Ultra, force, 680, ULT, BU, id

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