Well .. this product is a little bit weird isn't it ? It is really hard to place it in the right spot. Performance wise it places itself right between the 6600 GT and the vanilla (standard) 6800. In several scenarios the 6800 XT is slightly faster with settings like AA and AF enabled over that vanilla 6800 model (which have 128MB). And when you forget about these specific settings the 6800 wins here and there. So that's a very close call.
The fruits of the labor for this product are however threefold. It wins from both the 6600 GT and 6600 vanilla when you take into consideration that this Galaxy product overclocks extremely well. The memory can manage 1200-1250 MHz without a doubt, that's a 20% increase in framebuffer bandwidth at no additional cost. The core also could be pushed another 10-15% faster so in retrospect when you decide to overclock this product a little it offers you extremely good value for money. This product, in this version with the nifty Zalman cooler, dual-bios function, blue PCB, buzzer alert when overheating, ramsinks and yet it will cost you only 175 EUR/USD including VAT. That's good value for your money for real.
Galaxy Technology offers two XT models though, the more regular version has a regular fan, regular clocks and regular memory. Yet for an additional 15-20 bucks you can own the card as tested today.
So specifically on this Galaxy model I can say, the Zalman cooler looks and works fantastic, its noise level is low in both idle, though the temperature already is ~45 Degrees C, yet at high-performance the card will not become noisy at all, temperature remains at 70 Degrees C, which is a little high but definitely tolerable and not at all an concern.
The vibe I got from this card is really good, it behaved extremely stable and it is capable of playing all modern games up-to 1280x1024 with a good selection of Image Quality settings without a doubt. I just finished playing Age of Empires 3 which simply is a joy to look at with this card. Need For Speed - Most Wanted was another title that I played along with the help of this card. Again a good feeling, IQ AF wise was enabled to high, AA was turned off (you know I'm really not a fan of AA, weird huh?) and in 1280x1024 the game played beautifully. Serious Sam 2 at 10x7 with HDR and 16 levels of anisotropic filtering enabled pooped out an average framerate of 65.
Other then that the card is highly tweakable and overclockable, it's recommended for the real geeks among us. If you can't afford a high-end product or simply do not have the ambition to own one, then this card is a great product to buy. Do not forget to look into the 6800 GS though, as for 50 bucks more that card will offer you a great deal of better performance.
Oh hey .. and it's SLI compatible also. The swift 256 MB memory, overall performance, dual-bios and excellent cooling solution makes me want to give this product an editor's choice award. For the money this product simply makes a lot of sense to me, it's good bang for your bucks. As stated, if you throw in another 50 bucks you can pick up the 6800 GS though .. even better stuff.
So as you can see there really is no reason not to buy this card, I think it's a lovely little gadget to own and perhaps something to consider on that Christmas wish-list of yours.
So there you have it ... yet "another" NVIDIA product has penetrated the market.
GeForce 6800 XT with Dual BIOS Smart Flash Company Galaxy Price: 175 USD/EUR Info: galaxytech.com
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