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nVidia GeForce 6800 GS Reference Card

Moving on a real game, Far Cry, we see the GS again falling behind the GT, though it’s very close, indeed being less than a single frame in most cases. Doom 3 is behind by the same narrow margin while Half Life 2 is up from the GT, though again the difference is minor.

In the Day of Defeat: Source test the GS was significantly ahead at 1,024 x 768 and slightly ahead in the other tests.

At the sweet spot of 1,280 x 1,024 with 4x FSAA and 8xAF you’ll get around 45 and 55fps depending on the game, which is playable, though you’ll probably have to turn it down for online shooters where frame rate is king.
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Overall then, nVidia has indeed produced a card that matches the GT but the good news is that it's available at a lower cost. Overclockers has a standard card from Leadtek on sale for £164.44, while a GT will cost you £187.94.

The benefit of the 110nm process should mean more headroom for overclocking so we put that to the test and managed to push it up quite dramatically to 500MHz core and 1,200MHz memory. At this setting 3DMark 05 at default settings went up considerably and there were decent increases in the game tests. Far Cry at 1,600 x 1,200 went up from 70.1 to 76.3 and at the same resolution Doom 3 gained a healthy 10.5fps while Doom 3 went up 9.9fps. However, this overclock is fairly aggressive and we saw evidence of clock throttling with the scores in Far Cry actually dropping. Such is the unpredictable nature of overclocking.



Verdict

The GS does what it says on the tin, offering GT class performance but at reduced cost and with real overclocking potential. At around £165 on the street it’s looking like nVidia might be able to claim back that middle-tier performance ground, especially with Shader Model 3 support helping it to outdo ATI on the feature count. With a retail GS board on its way, we’ll soon revisit the retail GS against the competion, so be sure to check back in a few days for that.

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