Before making any final comments, I think it right to quote the prices NVIDIA and ATI recommend for their products. Of course, these are only recommendations and we know that the real level of the prices is usually determined by the market situation. After announcements and in view of a product deficit the prices may skyrocket up in no time. Anyway:
- NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra - $499;
- NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT - $399;
- NVIDIA GeForce 6800 $299.
- ATI RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition - $499;
- ATI RADEON X800 Pro - $399.
Well, the GeForce 6800 GT certainly looks more appealing with such pricing than its rival, the RADEON X800 Pro. First, even without overclocking, the GT is overall faster than the X800 Pro. Second, GeForce 6800 GT graphics cards, unlike RADEON X800 Pro-based ones, carry a healthy 16-pipelined chip, which can easily overclock to the frequencies (and, as our tests suggest, the performance!) of the top-end GeForce 6800 Ultra model and more. The weakest NV40-based model, the GeForce 6800 with 12 pipelines doesn’t face an immediate rival from ATI yet, since the 12-pipelined X800 Pro is above the GeForce 6800, in terms of both price and performance.
The conversion of the GeForce 6800 into a “full-fledged” chip, i.e. turning on its all 16 pipelines, does work, but to no practical effect: the disabled pipelines are really defective. The most unpleasant fact is that the conversion procedure is not revocable in home conditions: you can flash a BIOS from the full-featured card and get the visual artifacts in games, but you cannot bring the card back to the norm by simply flashing the old BIOS back.
The impression about the GeForce 6800 is also spoiled somewhat by the serious performance hit it suffers in the hardest display modes with full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled. In such situations, the GeForce 6800 may even lose to the top-end GPUs of the previous generation, i.e. to the GeForce 5950 Ultra and the RADEON 9800XT. But overall, this card seems to be an excellent alternative to graphics cards based on these two chips – the GeForce 6800 leaves them far behind in simpler modes. If GeForce 6800 graphics cards do start selling for about $300, products on the RADEON 9800 XT and the GeForce 5950 Ultra will have no chance in the market, considering their current pricing.
So, we’re waiting for the graphics cards to appear in shops in mass quantities!