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nVidia GeForce 6800 GS Reference Card

Aside from clock speeds the other benefit of the reduced micron process is that it saves costs. Smaller chips means that you get more on a wafer and as there’s no longer any AGP to PCI Express bridge the transistor count is reduced further. These cost savings are past on to the board partner who pass them on to the customer, which is why the GS retail price is able to come in at less than that of the GT. Everyone’s a winner!

Power draw is also reduced, with nVidia stating that only a 300W power supply is required for a single card and 420Watts for SLI. Of course as a recent part the GS enjoys all the 6-series goodness such as PureVideo support for improved video playback and full SLI support.

The reference card itself looks very similar to the GT, though to combat the heat produced by the higher clocks the heatsink over the GPU looks to have been replaced with a slightly heavier copper version over the aluminium version on the GT. There’s a DVI and VGA port on the rear as well as a TV Out. nVidia has also made the plate covering the heatsink on the card much more shiny: which is nice.

The next great thing about the 6800 GS is that it’s available right away from your nearest online retailer. This is becoming something of a pleasant habit from nVidia putting certain other companies’ paper launches to shame. On that note it’s pertinent to mention that the card that we wanted to put this up against was the Radeon X1600, but as we’ve yet to have any kind of availability date or pricing confirmed so we weren’t able to do so.

While the X1600 was announced with much fanfare as part of the X1000 series of products, nVidia was very quiet with the GS, even taking care not to reveal its imminent launch by making sure that there was no mention of the part in its drivers until the last minute.

So onto the scores. Our current graphics test bed still consists of a venerable Athlon FX-55 running in an MSI SLI motherboard with 1GB of Crucial Ballistix RAM. The driver used was 81.87. We retested the GeForce 6800 GT to see if the GS matched nVidia claims of keeping up with its older but beefier sibling.

Starting with the starting to creak a bit DirectX 8.1 test 3DMark 03, the GS comes in slightly slower than the GT but there’s not much in it. Moving to the DirectX 9 3DMark05, the GS was actually slightly faster, though again there’s not much between them, though the 175 points its ahead at 1,600 x 1,200 with 4x FSAA and 8 x AF is worth noting.

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