The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition leaves a nice impression with its very looks. See for yourself:
The blue of the PCB combines with the silvery of the cooling system most effectively in this card – the appearance of this device deserves our praises!
The card is even more interesting from the technical point of view, though. It is a variant of the GeForce 6800, but is based on a slightly redesigned PCB from the GeForce 6800 Ultra:
The right parts of the PCBs are identical to the smallest detail, and they both have two Molex power connectors. Minor discrepancies are visible in the left parts: the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition doesn’t have an additional TMDS transmitter because it has the traditional pair of outputs (D-Sub and DVI-I) rather than two DVI-I ports like the GeForce 6800 Ultra has. The location and the type of the cooler’s connector are also original on the ASUS card due to the above-mentioned support of SmartCooling technology. The GeForce 6800 Ultra has a hole in this place. At the back side of the PCB, the GeForce 6800 Ultra has a TMDS transmitter from Silicon Image, while the ASUS V9999 GE has a chip marked as “F75375S” to control the fan speed instead. Otherwise, the cards are absolutely identical.
The two external TMDS transmitters in the reference GeForce 6800 Ultra design require one comment. We guess that these two chips work in parallel in this reference card in order to output a digital signal in the QUXGA resolution (3200x2400) through the DVI interface. This may be an interesting option for a professional product, but useless for a gaming one, so the ASUS V9999 GE uses the integrated transmitter, which is quite enough for home applications.
The cooling system of the V9999 GE is unique, too. It is something like a hybrid of the systems of the GeForce 6800 and the 6800 Ultra with some improvements on the ASUS part. The needled plate on the memory chips is practically the same as the one on the GeForce 6800 Ultra, while the blower and its casing are low-profile, like with the GeForce 6800. The main difference, however, is under the system’s casing – the ribbed plate that transfers heat off the GPU die is made of copper here, rather than of aluminum, as usual. The use of copper allows improving the cooling of the GPU, but requires better airflow, since copper has 1.5 times better heat conductivity but 2.3 times worse heat capacity than aluminum.
The casing of the cooling system, embellished with the ASUS logo, and the blower diverge from the standard in cooling design. First of all, the casing is made of blue translucent rather than purely black plastic. Second, the blower with transparent blades is highlighted with bright blue. Third, the output nozzle of the casing that directs air to the memory heatsink is equipped with a row of blue LEDs, too, which transform this computer device into something truly enchanting to see. This enchantment may work hard on modders and owners of windowed system cases; other people will probably remain unaffected, but anyway it’s nice to see a company putting effort into developing not just a high-quality but also beautiful computer device.
Let’s now go over to the technical characteristics of the V9999 Gamer Edition. As you know, the original GeForce 6800 clocks the graphics memory at 350 (700DDR) MHz, and this greatly impedes it in high resolutions and/or with full-screen anti-aliasing. ASUS solved this problem in the simplest, but not the cheapest way: the needle heatsink of the V9999 GE covers eight chips of GDDR3 memory from Samsung with an access time of 2.0ns. The memory amounts to 256MB in total, like in the top-end members of the 6800 family (for comparison: the standard GeForce 6800 comes with 128MB of DDR SDRAM). The memory on the V9999 GE is clocked at its rated frequency, 500 (1000DDR) MHz. The core clock rate is also slightly pulled up – 350MHz instead of the original 325MHz. Overall, the V9999 GE from ASUS resembles the GeForce 6800 GT – in the design of the PCB and cooling system as well as in the clock rates of the GPU and memory. The fundamental difference between the two is in the number of pixel pipelines: all 16 pipelines are working in the GeForce 6800 GT, while the ASUS V9999 GE has only 12 pipelines enabled. ASUS claims their version of the GeForce 6800 is more than 25% faster than the original, and we’re going to check this out in our today’s test session.