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 in place of the aluminium one on the GT. There are DVI and VGA ports 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 and one that puts certain other companies' 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 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 3DMark 05, the GS was actually slightly faster, though again there's not much between them, though the 175 points its ahead at 1600 x 1200 with 4x FSAA and 8x AF is worth noting.