Nvidia GeForce 6800 GS reference card
Real overclocking potential
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 £165, while a GT will cost you £188.
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 1.2GHz memory. At this setting 3DMark 05 at default settings went up considerably and there were decent increases in the game tests. Far Cry at 1600 x 1200 went up from 70.1 to 76.3 and at the same resolution Doom 3 gained a healthy 10.5fps. 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.
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.