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Chaintech GeForce AA6800 Review


GeForce 6800 Overclocked

by Josh Walrath


     Chaintech is not a company widely recognized on retail shelves in North America, but it is one that is very well known among OEMís and system integrators in the US. While companies like Best Buy or CompUSA may not have Chaintech products on their shelves, most online retailers do have quite a selection of their products. Taking a look at a couple of wholesale distributors, the majority of them also stock a large amount of Chaintech products.

I really just don't know what to think about the progression of box sizes that Chaintech has gone through.  At the far left is the GeForce FX 5800, and it is in an average sized box.  The FX 5900 XT is now in a motherboard sized box.  The GeForce 6800 is in a box the size of a small briefcase!  Not to mention the unhappy men on the front of the box!

     The reason why Chaintech has such a great popularity with OEMís and SIís is that their parts are usually well made, inexpensive, and feature much of the latest technology. This combination allows them to sell significant quantities of product in the US, but still keep under the radar in the brick and mortar retail sector. With the Apogee series of products, Chaintech is trying to break into the retail sector and have a much larger presence in the average userís mind. These products typically come in a very flashy package, and their bundles are typically second to none. This higher visibility, as well as providing more value added features, has made an impact in the United States. We are now seeing a greater visibility of Chaintech products on the open market.

Upon opening the box you are greeted to the sight of the user manual, a cardboard Nalu, and the green fuzzball.  The card is located safely under the foam cutout on the bottom left.

     Chaintech has been one of the few manufacturers that havenít adopted chips from ATI, instead they have stayed with NVIDIA based products. While this may have affected the bottom line during the time where ATI had the dominant product, it is certainly paying off now. The introduction of the NV40 by NVIDIA allowed products from their partners to successfully compete with the high end ATI based cards. While BFG Tech and EVGA have been hitting the retail stores pretty hard, Chaintech has slipped in a significant amount of cards into the US for OEMís and SIís, as well as countless online retailers.

     The first product to hit in large quantities is the GeForce 6800 SKU. This product is a NV40 chip with one pixel pipeline quad disabled, so it has 12 active pixel pipelines. It does feature a full 6 vertex shaders though, so in vertex operations it should match the more expensive GeForce 6800 GT. Since it is based on the NV40, it also features the improved anti-aliasing, as well as the high performance anisotropic filtering. The video encoder/shader is also a major part of the design, but as of yet NVIDIA has not implemented this feature in their drivers (there are rumors that the functionality may be broken, but there is no confirmation on that). Shader Model 3.0 is also one of the major features of this card, and it promises to optimize performance in applications that support SM 3.0. The chip supports FP16 and FP32 rendering, and is also the first card to feature a FP16 frame buffer, which allows floating point blending.

Upon removing the other objects, we can now see the rest of the contents.  The board is very well protected in this box, and nothing short of a shipping container falling on it will hurt this card.

     NVIDIA pulled out a lot of stops for this design, and its 225 million transistor count certainly backs that up. While it would have been nice if NVIDIA had implemented a programmable sample point antialiasing scheme, like ATI did, it would have really pushed the design limits in terms of transistors added. This product has again made NVIDIA competitive with ATI at the high end.

Next: Board Impressions


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