ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition Graphics Card Review

Highest performance, six operational vertex processors, efficient cooling system with a copper heatsink, beautiful appearance and generous accessories all contribute to making the V9999 Gamer Edition into a wanted product. Find out more about this excellent representative of the today’s gaming hardware in our new detailed review!

by Alexey Stepin
10/19/2004 | 12:41 PM

While NVIDIA and ATI are getting over the problem of small output of graphics processors for expensive graphics cards, their partners are releasing in-between solutions on available chips, targeting enthusiasts and gamers who want to have the highest performance in demanding applications right here and now.

 

The population of GeForce 6800 cards in the market today is very small – the GeForce 6800 Ultra, the topmost model, can hardly be observed at all. And if you do spot it in a shop, its price is likely to be much above the recommended one ($499), as it usually varies in a range of $530 to $600 and more. The junior model, GeForce 6800 GT, is met oftener. According to Pricewatch.com, its price starts at $400, just a single US dollar above the recommended price ($399). The GeForce 6800 (without any indexes) remains the most widely available today, and you can sometimes see it selling for less than $299 (NVIDIA’s recommended price). However, this card is coming with rather slow memory, clocked at 350 (700DDR), and this often leads to a paradox: despite its advanced architecture, 12 pipelines and Shader Model 3.0 support, this new-generation card sometimes turns to be slower than the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra.

ASUSTeK Computer Inc. has found a solution to this problem – though a not very original one – embodying it in the V9999 Gamer Edition graphics card. Like all products from ASUS we have had a chance to test in our labs, the V9999 Gamer Edition comes in a huge-size colorful box, ready to be placed on a shelf in a computer shop and start the fight for the attention and money of a prospective buyer. The box of the V9999 Gamer Edition is as big as the ones of ASUS’ AX800 XT, AX800 PRO and RADEON 9800 XT cards:

The box is designed similarly to the package of ASUS’ X800-based products, but blue tones are replaced with greens here, and the girl on the face side of the package has vanished to give place to a young red-haired mage. The box has ASUS’s traditional flap that covers a window through which you may take a look at the graphics card inside. The carry handle makes it easier to transport such a huge box. Inside it we found the following things:

The accessories are not as plenty as the purchaser of an AX800 XT or AX800 PRO would get, but nothing vitally important is missing, either. There’s no Molex splitter among the accessories, and this may become a problem if you’ve got no free PSU connector, but the company may be just trying to make the user attach the device to two different PSU lines as NVIDIA recommends.

The traditional orange plastic CD box contains the following:

This software pack emphasizes the gaming orientation of this product; there’re no video-editing tools here, since the card just has no video-input capabilities. If you’re an admirer of war robots of various kinds, you may like the two games on this subject: Battle Engine Aquila and Gunmetal. As for ASUS’ exclusive utilities, they remained the same since the previous products (you can refer to our ASUS V9950 Graphics Card Review, ASUS RADEON 9800 XT/TVD Review in our article called ASUS RADEON 9800 XT and LeadTek WinFast A380 TDH Ultra: The Battle for AquaMark3, or ASUS AX800 PRO/TD Review for details; the last of these reviews also describes the webcam enclosed with the V9999 Gamer Edition, with all its pros and cons).

Unlike the AX800 series and like the ASUS RADEON 9800 XT/TVD, the V9999 supports SmartCooling technology that allows controlling the rotation speed of the cooler basing on the user-defined preferences and the graphics core temperature. For an effective realization of this technology, the motor of the cooler is equipped with a tachometer with an additional output, while the standard motor of NVIDIA’s reference coolers has only two pins it receives its power through.

Closer Look

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.

Noise, Overclocking, 2D Quality

The noise the cooling system of the V9999 GE produces is about the same as with the reference GeForce 6800 Ultra when it’s working in the 3D mode. The card, however, doesn’t adjust the speed of the cooler relative to the operational mode (2D/3D), since all fan-controlling options are given to the ASUS SmartDoctor system instead of NVIDIA’s standard one. Having installed and launched it, you get an opportunity to adjust the fan speed in either the manual or automatic mode. By default, the tachometer says the fan speed is about 2700rpm. If you drop the speed to about 2300-2400rpm, the card starts making much less noise, so it’s not quite correct saying that the ASUS V9999 GE is noisy or not – you can adjust this parameter to your taste (or hearing).

Overclocking went very smoothly, as we had expected: the graphics processor could work at 430MHz – not every GeForce 6800 Ultra is stable at such a frequency. The 2ns memory followed suite, yielding 100MHz above its rated clock rate of 1000MHz – that’s a good result, too. Thus, the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition can be truly called an overclocker’s choice, considering that we reached those frequencies using just an additional 120mm low-speed fan.

The quality of the 2D image as outputted by our sample was excellent up to 1800x1400@75Hz, which was the limit of our monitor’s capabilities. So the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition receives the highest marks across all the three parameters examined in this section of the review. Let’s see if it’s as successful in game tests.

Six Vertex Processors in GeForce 6800? Sometimes?

NVIDIA officially says that there are 5 vertex pipelines in the “standard” version of the GeForce 6800 GPU. While some consider this as a disadvantage, in reality it hardly is correct. It appears, that triangle setup engine of the GeForce 6800 and GeForce 6800 Ultra is the actual bottleneck that limits geometry performance of the graphics processing units. Below you can compare the results of the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the ASUS V9999 GE in specialized benchmarks. The cards were clocked at the same frequency:

As shown, the GeForce 6800 Ultra and non-Ultra cards deliver roughly the same performance in a bit outdated benchmarks, such as 3DMark 2001 SE. Therefore, we can suspect our particular sample of the GeForce 6800 to have all the six vertex pipelines operable. However, if we consider other benchmarks, such as 3DMark03 and 3DMark05, we will certainly notice that ASUS V9999 Gamers’ Edition is behind the GeForce 6800 Ultra. This strengthens our assumption that NVIDIA’s NV40-series GPUs clearly lack clock-speed and, as a consequence, triangle setup engine performance to spread its “geometry wings” and even 5 vertex pipelines seem to be enough for the GeForce 6800 part.

Testbed and Methods

We set up our standard AMD64 platform to test the ASUS V9999 GE:

We used the following benchmarks and games:

First Person 3D Shooters:

Third Person 3D Shooters:

Simulators:

Strategy:

Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks:

Synthetic Benchmarks:

In each game we selected the maximum possible graphics quality settings, the same for products from ATI and NVIDIA. We disabled anisotropic and tri-linear filtering optimizations in the ForceWare driver settings for NVIDIA’s GPUs.

Performance in First Person 3D Shooters

Call of Duty

The performance of the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition roughly matches that of the RADEON X800 PRO. This might have been expected considering the fast memory the ASUS card is equipped with.

It’s different with full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering: the ASUS wins 1024x768 resolution, but is overtaken and left behind by the RADEON X800 PRO in 1280x1024 and 1600x1200, respectively. Well, the excellent overclockability of the V9999 Gamer Edition helps it out in this game, even though Call of Duty is not the hardest of our tests.

Doom III

As we have anticipated, the newcomer performs excellently in Doom 3 in contrast to the RADEON X800 PRO. This is no surprise considering the unique mutual understanding between the NV4x architecture and id Software’s game engine, while ATI’s OpenGL driver from the Catalyst suite is rather outdated already.

The gap between the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition and the RADEON X800 PRO is smaller in the eye candy mode (with FSAA and AF enabled), but the ASUS maintains its leadership benefiting from the UltraShadow II technology and other specifics of NVIDIA’s new-generation graphics architecture. The highest efficiency of working with the graphics memory helps the RADEON X800 here as it only loses 2-4fps to the ASUS in high resolutions. In 1600x1200 resolution with High Quality graphics quality settings and enabled FSAA and AF, GeForce 6800 demonstrated less than 1fps performance because it lacked video memory tremendously that is why we didn’t show the results for this resolution on the diagrams. It is pretty surprising but GeForce 6600 GT worked just fine in these conditions, despite the same amount of onboard graphics memory. This issue is most likely to be connected with the architectural differences between the AGP and PCI Express platforms.

The graphics cards perform overall faster on this level, as it is intended for multiplayer, is simple and without monsters. The cards with NVIDIA’s new-generation architecture show their best here, anyway. The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is just a little slower than the GeForce 6800 GT.

When full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are enabled simultaneously, the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is ahead still. Due to the simplicity of the level, the RADEON X800 PRO can’t close the gap as it did in the eye candy mode on the Hellhole map.

Unreal Tournament 2004

The diagrams we got on the Torlan level of Unreal Tournament 2004 bring no surprises as all the participating graphics cards, except the GeForce 6600 GT, get the same results, limited by the performance of the central processor of the system.

Full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering being enabled, any differences between the participants are only apparent since 1280x1024 resolution, which indicates the bottlenecking effect of the CPU. The RADEON X800 PRO is somewhat better than the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition, which in its turn looks preferable to the original GeForce 6800. The diagram suggests that the original card design certainly lacks fast memory.

The Metallurgy level is less complex as concerns the CPU load, so we see the graphics cards perform diversely in the highest resolution of the pure speed mode already. The ASUS is capable of challenging the RADEON X800 PRO here, but not due to its fast memory – the original GeForce 6800 with slow memory is only 6-7fps back. It’s a negligible lag, considering the absolute speeds are higher than a hundred frames per second. So why such results? Because it is the vertex processors of the graphics card that bear the main load on this game level. The ASUS and the RADEON X800 PRO have 6 such pipelines each, and the GeForce 6800 sample we’ve got seems to have 6 vertex pipelines, too, and this explain the small difference in the results (as you remember, off-the-shelf GeForce 6800 graphics cards have 5 vertex processors only).

The simplicity of the Metallurgy level helps the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition to leave the RADEON X800 PRO farther behind than on the Torlan level with its complex textures and open environments. Note the big difference between the GeForce 6800 and the ASUS, which once again emphasizes the importance of fast memory when the card’s performing anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering.

Far Cry

There are probably even more pixel shaders in Far Cry than in Halo; moreover, these shaders are very sophisticated, and the game itself boasts high-resolution and beautiful textures and not-very-simple geometry. All these things taken together can load any graphics card to the full. We tested the RADEON X800 PRO in the Shader Model 2.0b mode, while the graphics cards with NVIDIA’s GPUs were using Shader Model 3.0. Thus, we made use of the innovations implemented in both competing architectures (R420 and NV40).

The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition does well in this test, although it is slower than the RADEON X800 PRO which is capable of fast processing of complex shaders. Note that the difference between the ASUS and the GeForce 6800 is again negligibly small, since it is the GPU clock rate that mostly determines the results here, as the speed of pixel shaders depends on the graphics core frequency.

The influence of fast memory on the performance becomes stronger in the eye candy mode. The RADEON X800 feels at ease in such modes, and almost overtakes the 16-pipelined GeForce 6800 GT. The V9999 Gamer Edition takes the third place. Our overclocking of the ASUS card brings the biggest reward in 1024x768 (in higher resolutions, it is the memory subsystem speed that determines the result).

It’s practically the same on the Research level as on the Pier one – thanks to its ability to effectively process complex computations-rich pixel shaders, the RADEON X800 is 8-12fps faster than the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition. Overclocking helps the ASUS card to make the gap as small as 2-6fps.

The gap between the two rivals (ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition and RADEON X800 PRO) is diminishing to become the smallest in the highest resolution. Since the graphics memory speed is most important for this operational mode, the results of the overclocked ASUS look natural enough.

Halo: Combat Evolved

Halo is all brimming with pixel shaders, but is using rather simple textures (this shooter comes to the PC from the Xbox console where the amount of graphics memory is limited and complex textures just cannot be stored). Due to these reasons the GeForce 6800 and the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition deliver about the same speed. Higher GPU clock rates are most rewarding in this game – just take a look at the results of the overclocked ASUS. All in all, the graphics card from ASUS is about as fast as the RADEON X800 PRO in this test.

Painkiller

Effectively executing pixel shaders and complex geometry, the RADEON X800 PRO is considerably faster than the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition in this game. This is not crucial, though, as the ASUS V9999 notches a result of 180fps in the highest resolution, which is more than enough to play any game. This game also shows the effect of fast memory on performance in high resolutions.

When anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are enabled, the memory speed starts to matter even more. The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition sports GDDR3 memory clocked at 500 (1000DDR) MHz, which allows it going on at the same pace with the RADEON X800 PRO.

Counter Strike: Source Beta

The beta version of Counter-Strike: Source is based on the same engine as the long-awaited Half-Life 2 shooter will have. The engine requires fast execution of pixel shaders, as the diagrams confirm. The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition and the RADEON X800 PRO have about the same speed, but with a certain advantage on the latter’s side. This small gap is bridged by overclocking.

The RADEON X800 PRO has a more substantial advantage over the V9999 Gamer Edition in the eye candy mode. The reason is the same: such eye-pleasing features as full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering put a heavy load on the graphics memory, while the RADEON architecture features a most efficient use of the memory bandwidth.

The second demo record agrees with the first one – the difference between the ASUS and the RADEON X800 PRO is small but still exists, and it’s possible to eliminate it by overclocking the ASUS card.

The RADEON X800 PRO is once again faster than the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition with enabled FSAA and anisotropic filtering.

Highly Anticipated DirectX 9 Game 1

The first beta version of this upcoming next-generation game runs faster on the ASUS card, although the advantage over the main rival is no more than three frames per second, and only in 1600x1200 resolution. The scene we are using for testing purposes is action-heavy, so it is the central processor of the system rather than the graphics card that becomes the performance bottleneck.

The Under Two level is free from any CPU-imposed limits, or this performance ceiling may be just higher, so the results are more representative. The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition delivers the performance of the RADEON X800 PRO here, leaving it behind at overclocking, although only by 7-10fps (when the absolute speeds are about 80-100fps depending on the resolution).

Highly Anticipated DirectX 9 Game 2

The second game we’re expecting to arrive soon – its beta version we use for benchmarking purposes, to be exact – features complex geometry, but doesn’t use any pixel shaders. It generally prefers graphics cards with NVIDIA’s architecture. Why? NVIDIA’s vertex processors feature certain optimizations to efficiently run older games that use fixed T&L functions. Right now, the demo version of this DirectX 9 game uses the old T&L-based mechanism of processing geometry – that’s why NVIDIA’s GPUs are the best here.

In the eye candy mode, the ASUS V9999 starts out as confidently as it has done in the pure speed mode. The RADEON X800 PRO, however, is getting closer to it in high resolutions, being more suited for operational modes with enabled FSAA and AF.

It’s similar on the Escape Run level, but the RADEON X800 PRO is closely following the V9999 Gamer Edition here. In fact, the gap between them is really wide in 1600x1200 resolution only.

Unlike on the Danger level, the RADEON X800 PRO wins all resolutions of the eye candy mode, although the difference between it and the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is actually small in 1600x1200.

Performance in Third Person 3D Shooters

Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow

This game was also ported from a game console, so it’s not rich in textures, but compensates it with an abundance of pixel shaders. That’s why the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is slightly slower than the RADEON X800 PRO in this test. The advantage of the ATI card is small, however, and can be easily eliminated by overclocking the ASUS.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

In this game the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition feels more confident, as shader-based effects are not very complex here. The advantage of the ASUS over the RADEON X800 PRO is small – 4-10fps at a high overall performance level. Overclocking leads to a nice speed boost, meaning that the GPU clock rate is important for this game.

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition runs this game at about the same speed as the RADEON X800 PRO does, but comes ahead in 1600x1200, probably due to its fast memory. This is an indirect confirmation of the GeForce 6800’s results in the same resolution.

Performance in Simulators

IL-2 Sturmovik: Aces in the Sky

The ASUS card has excellent results in this flight simulator, which is fond of high fill rates and fast pixel shader execution. The increased GPU and, especially, memory clock rates allow the V9999 Gamer Edition to reach the level of the RADEON X800 PRO and higher. Overclocking gives another boost to the V9999 Gamer Edition, by which it overtakes the GeForce 6800 GT, save for 1600x1200 resolution where the memory performance and the 16 pixel pipelines of the latter card say their word.

The V9999 Gamer Edition looks well in the eye candy mode, too. It’s faster than the RADEON X800 PRO in all resolutions, including 1600x1200, losing only to the 16-pipelined GeForce 6800 GT. Note that GPU overclocking is less rewarding here, as it is the memory subsystem that bears the main load in this test, and we could only overclock the memory subsystem of the ASUS card by 100MHz above the nominal frequency.

Lock On

Lock On is rather a hard game, although there are few pixel shaders in it. This time the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition has a weighty advantage over the RADEON X800 PRO, mostly due to the architecture rather than to the memory speed, since there’s no difference between the ASUS and the original GeForce 6800, and overclocking is of little effect. We should note a certain waywardness of the game as it doesn’t allow setting itself up similarly for different platforms – see the results of the GeForce 6600 GT tested on a platform with a Pentium 4 560 and a PCI Express bus.

It’s all vice versa in the eye candy mode where the RADEON X800 PRO comes ahead due to the traditional reason – an efficient operation of its graphics memory. The availability of 16 pixel pipelines is important for this mode, too, as the results of the GeForce 6800 GT suggest – it is closely following the RADEON X800 PRO.

Colin McRae Rally 04

A higher pixel shader processing speed helps the RADEON X800 PRO to become the leader in this shaders-heavy auto simulator, but the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition gets really close to it in high resolutions – the gap is only 9fps in 1600x1200, while the absolute speeds are higher than 100fps.

FSAA and anisotropic filtering enabled, the RADEON X800 PRO is superior (ATI Technologies’ exclusive techniques for an efficient use of the available memory bandwidth help a lot in the eye candy mode, as usual). Anyway, the ASUS turns in a nice result, especially at overclocking. This suggests that the game is sensitive to the speed of execution of pixel shaders, which depends directly on the GPU clock rate.

Performance in Strategy Games

Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour

This RTS game prefers graphics cards which efficiently work with the memory and are capable of processing pixel shaders effectively. The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is slower than the RADEON X800 PRO in this game; the gap is the biggest in 1600x1200 resolution. Overclocking brings in some profit, confirming the sensitivity of this game to the speed of execution of pixel shaders.

The RADEON X800 PRO is faster than the ASUS in the eye candy mode. The gap grows wider in the highest resolution.

Perimeter

Here’s an excellent result – the new product from ASUS is as fast as the RADEON X800 PRO in this hardest game. ASUS’ exclusive variant of the GeForce 6800 evidently enjoys having fast memory. The effect from overclocking is rather big in this game, although all the cards are rather slow, due to the exceptional requirements this strategy game puts on the graphics card.

When full-screen anti-aliasing and aniso-filtering are enabled, the V9999 Gamer Edition gets about the same results as the RADEON X800 PRO does, but the latter is still ahead due to its higher suitability to such hard operational modes.

Performance in Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks

Half-Life 2 Stress Test

This test in fact serves to benchmark the shader pixel performance. The RADEON X800 family GPUs are faster than the GeForce 6800 series chips at executing pixel shaders, so the results are natural. The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is but slightly slower than the RADEON X800 Pro, though – about 6-10fps with overall high absolute fps rates. This suggests that the ASUS card excellently handles this shaders-rich test. Overclocking the ASUS card produces a small effect – no wonder, considering the specifics of this test. (One comment: the test doesn’t use Shader Model 3.0, but will probably do in the future, allowing the NV4x architecture to show better results).

The RADEON X800 PRO comes ahead in the eye candy mode, once again confirming its suitability to hard operational modes. Its advantage over the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is the biggest in 1024x768 resolution.

Aquamark3

There are few sophisticated shaders in Aquamark3, but the scene geometry is complex and the overdraw coefficient is high. Thanks to its fast memory, the ASUS goes neck and neck with the RADEON X800 PRO in the pure speed mode. Overclocking pushes the V9999 Gamer Edition to the level of the 16-pipelined GeForce 6800 GT.

After we have enabled full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, the situation becomes more favorable for the RADEON X800 PRO. The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition falls far behind the competitor. Overclocking puts the ASUS card higher than the GeForce 6800 GT in the results table.

Performance in Synthetic Benchmarks

Futuremark 3DMark03 build 340

ASUS’ card has scored only about 300 points less than the RADEON X800 PRO. When working at the overclocked frequencies, it even beats the RADEON, in spite of having only 12 pixel pipelines. Let’s now go through the tests one by one:

The first gaming test, simple and using DirectX 7 only, is for the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition to win. The RADEON X800 PRO is a little behind the ASUS, but falls farther back in higher resolutions.

The V9999 Gamer Edition is losing to its competitor in the eye candy mode until 1600x1200 resolution. The first gaming test of 3DMark03 is not very interesting anymore due to its simplicity and lack of modern graphics effects. Let’s see what we have in the other tests.

There’re no sensations in the second test – the ASUS V9999 is slightly better than the RADEON X800 PRO, but its advantage is really negligible. Let us remind you that the second and third game tests of 3DMark03 use rendering algorithms, which are favorable for NVIDIA’s GPUs with their efficient Z-buffer.

The situation changes in the eye candy mode – the above-mentioned suitability of the GeForce 6800 architecture to the conditions of the second and third game tests of 3DMark03 shows itself, and the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is ahead of its competitor.

The overall situation of the third game test usually repeats that of the second. This occurs in this case, too.

The same is true for the eye candy mode, but the RADEON X800 PRO loses less to the ASUS than in the previous test.

The fourth game test prefers graphics cards that can efficiently process complex version 2.0 pixel shaders, filled with math1ematical calculations. Processors from ATI Technologies have always been such, and the diagram above is yet another confirmation – the ASUS can’t help losing to its rival.

It is absolutely the same in the eye candy mode.

The ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition belongs to the GeForce 6800 family, and this determines its results in 3DMark03. In three tests out of four ASUS’ graphics card is either as fast as the RADEON X800 PRO or better. In the fourth test with its complex pixel shaders the V9999 Gamer Edition lost to the same-class GPU from ATI Technologies – that’s normal, too.

Conclusion

ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition graphics card left a wholly positive impression – we just couldn’t find any defect in it, however negligible. It seems like the manufacturer gave thought to every small detail, forgetting nothing, which is a rare thing. Highest performance, six operational vertex processors, efficient cooling system with a copper heatsink, beautiful appearance and generous accessories all contribute to making the V9999 Gamer Edition into a wanted product. The device is free from the main disadvantage of the original GeForce 6800 design – slow memory. Having a higher-clocked memory, the ASUS card scored well in our tests, quite comparably to the most dangerous rival, the RADEON X800 PRO. Look at the following diagrams:

The graphics card from ASUS has truly excellent results in some games, like in the super-popular Doom 3 shooter. The simpler and sometimes more efficient RADEON X800 architecture was, however, better in applications filled with complex pixel shaders: Far Cry, Halo: Combat Evolved and Colin McRae Rally 04, as well as in Half-Life 2 Stress Test and in the famous Mother Nature test from the Futuremark 3DMark03 suite.

In the eye candy mode (with enabled 4x full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering of the maximum quality) the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition had good results, too, although mostly not as high as those of the RADEON X800 PRO which is better suited to such operational modes. However, we can’t call this an utter defeat like it was with the ordinary GeForce 6800, which was hamstringed by its slow 350 (700DDR) MHz memory.

Thus, the single but fundamental disadvantage of the ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition is its price. According to Pricewatch.com, this gorgeous graphics card will cost you something like $410-420. The ordinary GeForce 6800 GT – with all sixteen pixel pipelines in operation – is priced at the same level. For comparison: the ordinary GeForce 6800 costs from $269 to $355. That’s cheaper, of course, but ASUS’ product is kind of unique, and you always have to pay more for things exclusive.

Thus, people who are targeting the $270-350 price range won’t afford the V9999 Gamer Edition, while those who are considering top-end NV40-based products will probably look at the GeForce 6800 GT. As for the RADEON X800 PRO, it costs $380 and more, according to Pricewatch.com.

The V9999 Gamer Edition graphics card might be the choice of people who need a high-performance new-generation device with a compact, efficient and low-noise cooling system and a set of gorgeous accessories. Modders might also want to pay attention to this product – it looks really cool. On the other hand, if you prefer efficiency to effective looks, you may want to consider the humbler-looking GeForce 6800 GT first.

Highs:

Lows: