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XFX GeForce 6800

CCL Computers supplied us with the cheapest 6800 in this round-up, and the XFX GeForce 6800 just sneaks in under £200. The X-shaped packaging is ridiculously over the top, making claims of ‘Extreme Overclocking’ ‘Ludicrously Fast Memory’ and ‘Ultra Cooling’. In fact the XFX has just the sort of heatsink/fan that you’d expect to see on a Ti4800SE and the memory chips are completely bare, so it is hard to see how XFX can justify the ‘Ultra Cooling’ claim. Still, it makes it easy to read the codes on the memory chips, and we can confirm that they are Hynix HY5DU283222A F-28 chips. That means they are rated at 2.8ns, which gives an effective speed of 714MHz, so the standard memory speed of 750MHz is quite ambitious without any form of cooling, considering that the Galaxy, Leadtek and MSI all run their memory at 700MHz.

In our first batch of tests that extra 50MHz of memory speed helped the XFX to hold its own against the other cards, but when it came to overclocking it all got a bit weird. XFX supplied Coolbits as its overclocking utility but when we ran it the clock speeds didn’t change at all, however the scores rose in both Doom3 and 3DMark05. That suggests that the speeds did indeed rise but for some reason the drivers didn’t report the true speeds correctly.

Installing the Beta 65.73 drivers had a very similar effect to the other cards, but when we ran Coolbits on top of these drivers the XFX improved by a smaller margin than the other cards managed. In that sense the XFX was plainly the slowest card in the round-up, so we’re none too impressed about those claims of ‘Extreme Overclocking’ and ‘Ludicrously Fast Memory’. Incidentally the XFX weighs 240g, which shows that the copper heatsinks that are used on the other cards actually weigh more than the graphics card itself.

In its favour the XFX is the only card to have dual DVI-I outputs, rather than one DVI and one VGA like usual, and this is a feature that we’d like to see on more graphics cards. Then again we’d be happy to see the back of CRT monitors and a wholesale shift to large, flat TFT displays. Of course that means that XFX supplies two DVI adapters, as well as a reasonable length of S-Video cable, and there’s also a small stack of CDs in the package too, supplying full versions of X2 The Threat, Commandos 3 Destination Berlin and Moto GP2.

We can see how the casual browser on the high street could be seduced by this graphics card, and in particular by the striking packaging. It’s doubtless an effective marketing tool but the XFX isn’t of much interest as it has no potential for overclocking and that is a major liability when so many other graphics cards will give you a performance boost free of charge.

Verdict

The claims on the XFX box proved to be totally unfounded, as every other card on test overclocked better. Despite the low price, the XFX just doesn’t offer the same quality package as the other cards.

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