The eight Hynix memory modules are completely bare, allowing us to see that they are regular GDDR SDRAM modules with a 3.6ns rating, so their nominal speed is 275MHz DDR. This is an effective speed of 550MHz, so it’s no coincidence that the Leadtek runs at a stock core speed of 300MHz and a memory speed of 550MHz.
Out of the box the Leadtek has the sort of performance that other £99 graphics cards can only dream about. Cast your eye over our test results and you’ll see that frame rates in AquaMark3, Tomb Raider AOD, Halo and Unreal are all quite playable, even with the resolution cranked up to 1,024 x 768 or 1,280 x 1,024. When we plugged the Leadtek into our Intel 925X test rig with a 3.4GHz Prescott with the Forceware 66.32 drivers that Leadtek supplies, we were quite happy with the results we saw in 3DMark05 and Doom3 on stock timings.
We’d be stretching it if we said that a frame rate of 45.7fps in Doom3 at 1,024 x 768 on High Quality settings was excellent, however it is very acceptable from a graphics card at this price point, and visual quality is good with this baby GeForce 6800.
Leadtek includes the WinFox II utility in the package, along with full copies of Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, a Leadtek branded copy of WinDVD 5.0 and Muvee, so it was quite simple to overclock the Leadtek. After a little trial and error we raised the core speed to 400MHz and the memory to 720MHz, which is just over 30 per cent in both cases.
The result – not surprisingly – was a 30 per cent rise in our test result scores, although the overclocked graphics card froze during the Doom3 demo with FSAA enabled at high resolution. On standard timings we only saw a 10.8fps frame rate on these settings, so presumably the overclocked result would have been 14fps which is unplayable, and we can safely ignore it.
While the results of our overclocking were significant, you shouldn’t get too carried away by that impressive-sounding 30 per cent figure. In Doom3 with settings of either 1,024 x 768 and FSAA 4x or 1,600 x 1,200 with no FSAA the overclocking means a frame rate of 32fps, rather than 24fps.
Overclocking raises the speed from a rate at which it is effectively unplayable to a speed that is just about acceptable, but as ever you have to test your settings and adjust them until you’re happy with the results.
Our single biggest issue with this graphics card is that Leadtek plays a movie during driver installation which advertises Leadtek products, and although this is a minor quibble, it annoyed us nonetheless.
For less than £100 this is an impressive DirectX 9 graphics card, and with a healthy dose of overclocking the Leadtek manages to play the latest games very capably. If you’re building a PCI Express system on a tight budget, it’s definitely worth considering.