VGA Charts V: PCI Express Graphics Cards

The Candidates

This time around, we tested 21 different PCI Express graphics cards and configurations. Unfortunately, some important cards were not available for the test, or didn't reach our lab in time. Thus, we are unable to present any results for NVIDIA's standard GeForce 6800 (with 12 pixel pipelines) as well as the ATi Radeon X800 Pro and X850 Pro. We will update our charts to include those results as soon as possible.

In the low-budget segment, you may also notice the absence of ATi's Radeon X300 SE (with a 64-bit memory interface) and NVIDIA's new GeForce 6300-TC cards with TurboCache. Although the latter card was available to us for testing, the driver supplied by NVIDIA supported only the GeForce 6200-TC cards, and no other models. Therefore, an apples-to-apples comparison without "driver hacks" is impossible at the moment.

This time around we are also including all currently possible SLI configurations. With SLI, two graphics cards of the same type divide the calculations required to render a 3D scene, working in parallel. While the obvious advantage is a tangible performance increase, it obviously comes at double the price of a conventional single-card solution. To be clear: SLI is expensive, and at the present time can only really deliver a noticeable performance improvement in very high resolutions or in games making extensive use of pixel shaders. In short, it is a configuration for the well-to-do enthusiast who can afford two graphics cards in a single system.

An Overview of the Test Candidates

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CardChipMemoryDX GenerationChipclockMemoryclockBuswidthP-Pipes
GeForce 6800 UltraNV45256 MBDX 9.0c4001100256-bit16
GeForce 6800 GTNV45256 MBDX 9.0c3501000256-bit16
GeForce 6600 GTNV43128 MBDX 9.0c5001000128-bit8
GeForce 6600NV43128 MBDX 9.0c300550128-bit8
GeForce 6200NV43128 MBDX 9.0c300550128-bit4
GeForce PCX 5900NV35128 MBDX 9375700256-bit8
GeForce PCX 5750NV36128 MBDX 9425550128-bit4
Row 7 - Cell 0
Radeon X850 XT PER480256 MBDX 9.0b5401180256-bit16
Radeon X850 XTR480256 MBDX 9.0b5201080256-bit16
Radeon X800 XT PER423256 MBDX 9.0b5201120256-bit16
Radeon X800 XTR423256 MBDX 9.0b5001000256-bit16
Radeon X800 XLR430256 MBDX 9.0b4001000256-bit16
Radeon X700 XTRV410128 MBDX 9.0b4751050128-bit8
Radeon X700 ProRV410128 MBDX 9.0b425860128-bit8
Radeon X600 XTRV380128 MBDX 9500740128-bit4
Radeon X600 Pro 256RV380256 MBDX 9400600128-bit4
Radeon X600 Pro 128RV380128 MBDX 9400600128-bit4
Radeon X300RV370128 MBDX 9.0b325400128-bit4