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NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS (PCIe)
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Tuesday, 8th November, 2005

The Counter Strike

So ATI managed to launch their RADEON X1000 series, but out of the barrage of cards slated to be in retail, only the Radeon X1800 XL model seems to be available in good quantity from reputable stores. The Radeon X1300 series however is barely obtainable while the rest of the cards will only be out next month. Of the various cards tested in our recent Radeon X1000 series coverage, we have established that the highest performing mid-range Radeon X1600 XT had some very skewed (but interesting) performance numbers, favoring games that make heavy use of shader programs and routines. As we head forth to 2006, more and more games will be tuned towards supporting the very programmable nature that the new cards support to render convincing graphical environments and in ways that were never possible previously.

Mid-range and low-end graphics cards are very important pawns for both ATI and NVIDIA, but it's unfortunate that ATI could only commit to the availability of the Radeon X1600 series on 30th November and availability of the Radeon X1300 series is still poor. The mid-range series in particular, are often sought after by those building new gaming systems of decent budget or upgrading their old graphics cards. Despite the strengths of the Radeon X1600 XT, we have expressed that the US$249 suggested retail price does not look too favorable in light of its existing competition, no doubt they don't go head-on with it. To make matters worse, NVIDIA just made a surprise launch on 7th November of another GeForce 6 part to face-off the yet-to-be available Radeon X1600 XT. This new contender is the GeForce 6800 GS.

The GeForce 6800 GS looks very much like existing GeForce 6800 graphics cards (save for the new cooler faceplate). That's to be expected since both versions have a lot in common.

Apart from the power regulatory IC components, the rear of the card is quite bare. All the memory parts are fitted on the front face

The same single slot cooler is reused in this design and It more than suffices in our tests. Take note that the base aluminum heatsink from existing models has now been changed to a copper version to facilitate faster heat transfer off the GPU.

The GeForce 6800 GS requires a PCIe Molex connector and that's perhaps the most notable physical change from the standard GeForce 6800 models.

Standard rear I/O faceplate for an upper-class mid-range graphics card is to be expected.

While we haven't an inkling of what the "GS" suffix stands for, the GeForce 6800 GS is basically a much speedier version of the standard GeForce 6800. Maintaining the same GPU core (NV42), the GeForce 6800 GS has 12 pixel rendering pipelines and 5 vertex shader engines at its core along with the 256-bit wide memory controller. Clock speeds are what has changed and the reference clocks are pegged at 425MHz for the core and 1GHz DDR for the memory. Physically, the card looks similar to the standard GeForce 6800 (PCIe), but its increased clock speeds demand more power and hence necessitating the use of a PCI Express Molex power connector at the rear.

Considering its specifications, the "GS" seems to be far more than just an overclocked GeForce 6800 as its processing throughput now encroaches the GeForce 6800 GT in certain ways. For ATI, this is all the more alarming as the GeForce 6800 GS 256MB has an SRP of US$249, which is on par with the Radeon X1600 XT 256MB version as well. Read on as we reveal the performance numbers of NVIDIA's newest and most interesting candidate to the GeForce 6 family. But first, we give you a rundown of the most immediate competitors of the Radeon X1600 XT and where the GeForce 6800 GS fits within NVIDIA's growing GeForce 6 family:-

The NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS Compared
GPU/VPU NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT (PCIe) NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS (PCIe) NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (PCIe) NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT (PCIe) ATI Radeon X1600 XT
Core Code NV40 NV42 NV42 NV43 RV530
Transistor Count 222 million ~190 million ~190 million ~145 million 157 million
Manufacturing Process (microns) 0.13 0.11 0.11 0.11 0.11
Core Clock 350 MHz 425MHz 325MHz 500MHz 590MHz
Vertex Shader Pipelines 6 5 5 3 5
Pixel Shader (Rendering) Pipelines 16 12 12 8 12
Peak Texture Fill Rate (Mtexels/s) 5,600 5,100 3,900 4,000 7,080
Texture Units 16 12 12 8 4
Render Back-Ends 16 12 12 8 4
Z Compare Units 16 12 12 8 8
Memory Clock 500MHz (1000MHz DDR3) 500MHz (1000MHz DDR3) 300MHz (600MHz DDR3) 500MHz (1000MHz DDR3) 690MHz (1380MHz DDR3)
DDR Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 32.0GB/s 32.0GB/s 19.2GB/s 16.0GB/s 22.1GB/s
Ring Bus Memory Controller - - - - 256-bit (for memory reads only)
PCIe Interface x16 x16 x16 x16 x16
Molex Power Connectors 1 1 NIL NIL NIL
Multi GPU Technology Yes (SLI) Yes (SLI) Yes (SLI) Yes (SLI) Yes (CrossFire)

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