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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
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Appeared on: Thursday, June 16, 2005
AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultra SLI mode


1. Introduction

Recently, rumours about the release dates for the new nVidia G70 and new ATI R520 chipsets are widespread around the web, while the flagships of both nVidia and ATI, haven't changed. In response to ATI's X850XT, nVidia's 6800Ultra core has a lot to say. But now that everyone is waiting for the new chipsets to be released, why invest in the performance of the 6800Ultra? nVidia has an answer: If you don't want to wait for the new G70 to arrive, don't buy one graphics card, buy two and experience the equivalent performance of the new chipset now.

In this review, we will be testing two AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultras in SLI mode. These cards have 256MB each, and promise to outdo any other card we have ever tested. By using SLI mode, nVidia and AOpen offer increased performance, up to 80%. Of course, in case you are a hardcore gamer or a PC enthusiast and you want to get your hands on these beauties, you will have to own an SLI motherboard, like the ASUS A8N-SLI or the MSI K8N-SLI.

- Packaging/Bundle

The card ships in the nice looking package you can see in the picture above.

AOpen included in the package a 5 in 1 Game Collection, with the following games in "Lite versions":

  1. Vietcong
  2. Railroad Pioneer
  3. Neighbors from Hell
  4. Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
  5. Aquanox 2: Revelation

But AOpen couldn't do only with these "Lite" games and added two more, SpellForce: The Order of Dawn, and Arx Fatalis.

There are also some accessories included in the retail package :
- Cable : S-Video to Composite cable
- DVI-CRT converter
- User's Guide : AOpen User's Guide
- VGA driver disc : AOpen VGA driver disc


2. Features

These are the main features of the AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultra.

GPU

nVidia GeForce 6800-Ultra
Chip Technology : 256-bit
DirectX Generation : 9
Process : 0.13 Micron
16 Pixel Pipelines

Video Memory

DDR3
256 MB

Highest Resolution / Colors / Refresh Rate

2048x1536 / 32bit / 85Hz

RAMDAC speed 400 MHz
Absolutely Blazing 2D Performance

2048x1536 @ 85hz

Revolutionary 3D Accelerator Features Optimized DirectX and OpenGL acceleration
Connectors DVI connector x 2
TV-Out(S-Video) x 1
Driver Support

Microsoft Direct3D®, DirectDraw®, DirectVideo® and ActiveX® for Windows 95/98/ME®
OS : Windows 2000/XP
DirectX : 8 / 9
SGI OpenGL ICD : Windows 2000/XP

Software Package

Auto driver installation wizard
User-friendly interface to control VGA settings
Full version WinDVD

Accessory

Cable : S-Video to Composite cable x 1
DVI-CRT converter x 1
User's Guide : AOpen User's Guide x 1
VGA driver disc : AOpen VGA driver disc x 1

As expected, the AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultra is based on the NV40 architecture and as you can see above, the main specifications of the NV40 remain the same. The RAMDAC speed is clocked at 400MHz. Its card uses 256MB of RAM clocked at 1100MHz. In general, nothing has changed from nVidia's Ultra clock settings.

In SLI mode, the power consumption of these beasts is huge. Below you can see a table of the required wattage for every nVidia SLI-enabled graphics card. So, you 'd better be sure that your PSU can handle the load and leave the graphics load to the cards.

Configuration Heavy Load Normal Load Light Load
AMD K8 939 CPU Type FX-55 3800+ 3500+
PCIe x16 Video Cards 6800Ultra x2 6800GT x2 6600GT x2
DDR DIMM Modules 4 2 2
HDD(IDE or SATA) 4 2 2
CD/DVD (IDE or SATA) 2 2 1
PCIe x1 Cards 1 0 0
PCI Cards 3 2 1
1394 Devices 1 0 0
USB Devices 6 4 3
Required + 12V current >  (25A) >  (20A) > (17A)
Required wattage >= 500W >= 400W >= 350W

There are also several other features that are supported by the AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultras:

- CineFX 3.0

This is a groundbreaking new hardware technology that pushes 3D real-time graphics one step closer to film quality. It offers infinite length shader programs, dynamic flow control, displacement mapping, vertex frequency stream divider and Multiple Render Target (MRT) technology. Previously, highly complex effects were not possible without sacrificing performance and precision, because of long shader programs that required many computational passes. Now, with the CineFX 3.0 engine, groundbreaking effects can be created without compromising performance.

- SLI enabled

The NVIDIA nForce4 Scalable Link Interface (SLI) technology allows two graphics processing units in a single computer. This technology takes advantage of the PCI Express bus architecture and features intelligent hardware and software solutions that allow multiple GPUs to work together and achieve exceptional performance.

- UltraShadow II

More photo realistic scenes and environments in your games, without compromising PC performance. Complicated lighting and shadow effects become practical and next-generation games rise to the next level in cinematic realism.

- E-Color 3Deep

E-Color 3Deep provides color and lighting correction to optimize your 3D gaming environment. 3Deep eliminates dark or washed out graphics for a key competitive edge in multi player games.

- Pixel Shader Model 3.0

Better performance and more realistic shades to produce high quality images within games.


3. A closer look

AOpen has used the nVidia reference design and added their brand name on the large heat-sink that sits on the board. The graphics card is not as heavy as it looks in the pictures below, but it does take up two slots since the cooler extends into the second, neighbouring slot.

click to enlarge!

The card also requires a dual Molex power feed from your power supply. Ideally, try and have the feeds coming from separate wiring loops, if that is possible.

Underneath the cooler and the metal plate, there is a set of 8 modules of 32MB GDD3 memory, resulting in a total 256MB capacity.

The choice of Samsung's K4J55323QF-GC20 GDDR3 promises good overclocking potential and maximum stability at high load. But we will discuss the highest memory clock frequency these cards can handle later, since we are not expecting as great an overclocking potential in SLI mode. But, on the other hand, who needs to overclock two 6800Ultras?

As already mentioned, the stock memory clock frequency is set to 1100MHz, while the core clock is set to 400MHz.

The picture below demonstrates the "heart" of the card, the nVidia chipset that lies on the board. It is manufactured with 0.13 micron technology and offers 16 Pixel Pipelines. Because of the 0.13 microns, it really heats up under heavy load, but the GPU cooler does a great job keeping the GPU temperatures at considerably low levels.

It should be noted that the GPU cooler reduces its rotation speed to reduce noise, when the GPU is cool enough and no extra cooling is required.

The metal fins enhance cooling performance by providing as large as possible a surface area where the heat can dissipate.

But let us see how SLI works and how it increases the overall performance of the system...


4. NVidia's Scalable Link Interface

With the appearance of the PCI Express x16 bus architecture, NVidia realized that the main idea of using DUAL GPUs to share the load of today's high demand graphical environments could be applied once again, with amazing results. As NVidia says: NVIDIA® SLI™ (Scalable Link Interface) technology is a revolutionary approach to scalability and increased performance. NVIDIA SLI takes advantage of the increased bandwidth of the PCI Express™ bus architecture, and features hardware and software innovations within NVIDIA GPUs (graphics processing units) and NVIDIA MCPs (media and communications processors). Together the NVIDIA SLI patent-pending technologies work seamlessly to deliver heart-pounding PC performance. And depending on the application, NVIDIA SLI can deliver as much as 2x the performance of a single GPU configuration for unparalleled gaming experiences.

First GPU

Second GPU

Final results of Scalable Link Interface (SLI™)

The proportion of GPU load that will be handled by each card is controlled by the nVidia driver. However, a drawback of this technology is that the performance of the system is driver dependent. nVidia provides several gaming profiles with each new driver release to improve the performance of any SLI system.

SLI is enabled through the device driver that is provided with the retail package or from nVidia's web site .

When SLI is enabled for the first time, you will see the following warning message:

At this point, you must use the primary graphics card for the monitor signal.

You can also choose to see the GPU load for each card. This overlays a green vertical bar on your screen that changes according to the load. The snapshot below is taken under heavy load, during 3DMark05 testing.


5. Test System



Benchmarking Software
3DMark05,03,01
Codecreatures Benchmark Pro
AquaMark3 v3.0
ATiTool 0.0.23
Farcry v1.3
CounterStrike Source
Doom 3
Thief 3
Ground Control II
Colin McRae '05

More end-users want to know if it is better to get a single high-end card, or combine the performance of two high-end cards. Furthermore, there are many users who want to know the difference in performance between the 6600GTs SLI cards and these small beasts. For these reasons, we will be comparing the two AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultras with two ASUS 6600GT-SLI and the Connect 3D X850XT PE.


6. 3DMark05

With 3DMark05, Futuremark continues the tradition in its benchmarking software by providing a state-of-the-art Microsoft ® DirectX ® 9 3D performance benchmark.
3DMark05 is an all new 3DMark version making the most of Microsoft's DirectX 9. The previous version 3DMark03, did a nice introduction into this level of technology. However 3DMark03 used DirectX 9 specific features in a limited manner, because fully supporting hardware was rare at the time of its launch. In contrast, 3DMark05 requires DirectX 9 hardware with full support for at least Shader Model 2, and takes shader usage to never before seen levels.
Just like its predecessors, 3DMark05's point system is set so that at the moment of release, the high-end VGA cards available in stores can only score around 5000 3DMarks, whereas the worst card that meets the programs requirements yields a score of 1000.

Game Test 1 -Return to Proxycon

Click to enlargeBeing the sequel to the "Battle of Proxycon" from 3DMark03, in "Return to Proxycon" we're once again set in space and the battle continues as space pirates invade a cargo ship in order to take control of its valuable cargo.

This test, tries to simulate a future first-person shooter game with all the high details that entails. The dynamic shadows, high-detailed environment and advanced lighting techniques ensure that under normal circumstances, no recent card can run it with decent frame rates.

Game Test 2 - Firefly Forest

Click to enlargeA forest gets filled with magic fireflies in the night. The moon is nearly full, illuminating the forest with a bluish faint light. The magic fireflies have flickering bright green lights that playfully move around the forest.

This scene is a nice example of a smaller scale outdoor scene with rich vegetation. Immediate visibility is not so far, and there is a skybox surrounding the whole scene.

A large number of trees with their branches swinging separately, and dense vegetation being dynamically distributed according to the camera movements, make this test the most demanding of the three.

Game Test 3 - Canyon Flight

Click to enlargeA Jules Verne type airship flies through a canyon guarded by a dangerous sea monster. The airmen defend their ship using heavy cannons, but these seem to have no effect on the huge sea monster. Finally the crew manages a narrow escape using the "last resort" afterburners of the airship.

This scene is fairly complex with large areas of water reflecting the high canyon walls. The water actually is one of the key points of interest in this scene. The water not only does realistic looking reflections and refractions, it has a depth fog, making the sea monster swimming under the airship actually look deep down in the water. The air in this scene also uses a volumetric fog, making distant cliffs of the canyon really look far away.

 

According to the results of the first game, dynamic shadows, high-detailed environment and advanced lighting techniques were no problem for the two AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultras when combined in SLI mode. The second game is the most demanding game of all three, and the two Aeolus cards did a great job, providing 28fps when no other card can give more than 20fps. The third game's results show that even with highly complex scenes, the two AOpen cards did a great job.

Final Score

 3DMarks on 3DMark05 are now calculated by the following formula:

(Game Test 1 * Game Test 2 * Game Test 3)^0.33 * 250

This is basically the geometric mean of the total frames in each game multiplied by 250. This means that all game tests are now equal.

Look at that score. The ASUS N6600GT SLI and the Connect3D X850XT PE are struggling to reach 6000 3DMarks while the AOpen cards are shooting for 10000 3Dmarks. It is very interesting to see if the 10000 barrier can be broken by overclocking these cards! Of course, CDRinfo was curious enough to do some more tests after overclocking these SLI cards, but we will discuss their overclocking potential later on in this review. So, for now, fingers crossed and hope to get more than 10000.


7. 3DMark03

3D Mark is a widely used and accepted benchmark that stresses the DirectX performance of a VGA card. A very strong point of 3DMark is that it's VGA card measuring is does not require any CPU power. So the resulting fps are a good reference a VGA card's rendering performance. For testing the performance of each card we used the 4 game benchmarks 3DMark has.

3Dmark03 also includes sound and CPU tests as well as some other feature tests.

- Game Test 1 - Wings of Fury (DX7)

This test is a combat flight simulator written for older hardware (DirectX 7). Particles are used a lot in this test - smoke and vapor trails, flak and gunfire, and explosions are produced using point sprites and quads.

- Game Test 2 - Battle of Proxycon (DX8)

This test is a simulation of first person shooter game types. 1.1 and 1.4 Vertex shaders are widely used since all character models are skinned using vertex shaders.This makes this test a good vertex shader comparison for VGA cards.

- Game Test 3 - Trolls' Lair (DX8)

This test should be the favorite of all RPG lovers. It is a cut scene of a female warrior facing two malicious trolls. Again the same vertex and pixel processing is used as in game test 2.

This test also uses post-processing effects, such as Depth of Field and Bloom effects which are widely used in today's game cut scene sequences.

- Game Test 4 - Mother Nature (DX9)

Mother nature represents the level of effects and realism that are possible using 2.0 vertex and pixel shaders, plus some other features that DirectX 9 offers.

Obviously, the benefits of SLI can be seen with 3DMark03. In all games, the AOpen Aeolus cards reported the best performance without having any serious competitor.

- 3DMark Official score

If you test your machine with 3DMark, you can post the results at 3DMark's online result browser. For more information visit futuremark.com.

A single AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultra graphic card can get almost 13500 3DMarks. When using two of them, you will notice an increase of almost 80% in performance according to 3DMark03, with a total score of 21709 3DMarks.


8. Codecreatures

CodeCreatures is a synthetic 3D benchmark that is a good reference for VGA performance comparison. This is a high-end 3D benchmark that also requires DirectX 8 hardware, making a good tool for measuring the potential of DirectX 8 game performance.

The Codecreatures benchmark is written with Microsoft's DirectX 8.1 API and incorporates the use of Vertex and PixelShaders popular on next generation 3D accelerators.

The benchmark plays a photo-realistic nature scene and calculates the performance of the graphics adapter by measuring the fps that it can display at 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions.

-Codecreatures number

The codecreatures number is the resulting score of the total benchmarking process and is basically the geometric mean of the three frame rates multiplied by 100.

The use of nVidia's PixelShader Model 3.0 greatly improves the performance of these cards. This test uses Vertex and PixelShaders and the CineFX engine makes its appearance, producing more realistic scenes. The total Codecreatures score of 8851 is more than enough. Even with highly demanding games, the owners of these cards will laugh at others, playing at lower resolutions.


9. Aquamark3 / 3DMark 2001

Since the majority of today's applications and games are compatible with DirectX 9, the need of benchmark applications that use DX 9 has been brought up. The benchmark uses the 3D engine (Krass engine) of the Aquanox game.

Aquamark Triscore

The Aquamark Triscore comprises 3 values: the overall system performance, the performance of the graphics system and the CPU performance. Keep in mind that this is not the total result of the tests, but the result of the whole benchmark process including all 9 chapters.

3DMark 2001

3DMark 2001 is the predecessor to 3DMark03. It's mainly a directx8.1 benchmark and the score depends a lot on the CPU power of your computer. However for reference use only we decided it'd be best to just leave it in our benchmark list so you can compare the next generation cards with the possibly outdated you have at home.

Several months ago, we showed the first SLI system with two 6600GT cards, getting 70948 Aquamarks and 17674 3DMarks respectively, and we asked ourselves: can it go any higher? The X850XT card managed to perform even better, with 21770 3DMarks. Now, the winner is nVidia again. 88127 Aquamarks and 29950 3DMarks are setting new gaming standards. The Aeolus cards are well beyond the competition and maybe they should be better compared against a single R520 or G70 based card.


10. Half life 2

Half life 2 is no doubt the most anticipated pc game of all times. Gamers keeping the excellence of Half Life 1 in their mind as well as the remarkable E3 demo preview, have been anxiously waiting for the much delayed release of HL2.

Characters - Advanced facial animation system delivers the most sophisticated in-game characters ever seen. With 40 distinct facial "muscles," human characters convey the full array of human emotion, and respond to the player with fluidity and intelligence.

Physics - From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy.

Graphics - Source's shader-based renderer, like the one used at Pixar to create movies such as Toy Story® and Monster's, Inc.®, creates the most beautiful and realistic environments ever seen in a video game.

AI - Neither friends nor enemies charge blindly into the fray. They can assess threats, navigate tricky terrain, and fashion weapons from whatever is at hand.

To measure performance we used the Video Stress Test(VST) that is available in the CounterStrike:Source beta available through Steam. We set all the details to the highest level and each time changed the resolution from 800x600 up to 1600x1200.

At 800x600 resolution, the AOpen cards are only 1fps away from 200fps. There is a big difference between the 6800Ultras SLI and the 6600GTs SLI and this difference remains even at higher gaming resolutions. It should also be noted, that even the CPU load is greatly reduced when HL2 is loaded, because the GPU now takes most of the graphics load.

At low resolutions, fps values are similar to before, but as we move to higher resolutions and especially above 1280x1024, the fps values are greatly reduced. On the other hand, 118fps is the lowest value that we got at 1600x1200, which is more than we expected to see. Excellent performance with Half Life 2.


11. Doom 3

A massive demonic invasion has overwhelmed the Union Aerospace Corporations? (UAC) Mars Research Facility leaving only chaos and horror in its wake. As one of the few survivors, you struggle with shock and fear as you fight your way to Hell and back, in an epic clash against pure evil.

Activision made it's miracle again with Doom 3 which is said to be the best-looking game ever, thanks to the brand-new OpenGL graphics engine used to generate its convincingly lifelike, densely atmospheric, and surprisingly expansive environments. If you are a fan of the previous Doom games then you will get many flashbacks with this revision, since you will find re-imagined versions of almost every monster from both Doom and Doom II.

To measure performance on the game we used the timedemo demo1 command from the console (Alt+Ctrl+~).
Enabling the high quality setting and executing the timedemo demo1 command twice for each resolution, we witnessed the following:

First, without the Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering settings enabled, we got the following results:

nVidia 's cards are known to have better performance than ATI based cards with Doom3. Double the cards, double the performance... as simple as that. In SLI mode, fps values just couldn't drop below 100!

Anisotropic filtering and Anti-Aliasing give the ATI card a chance to show its worth. But again, the two nVidia flagships are far higher than the competition. I personally think that ATI's engineers decided to release CrossFire after looking at similar figures.


12. Far Cry

You are Jack Carver running your own boat charter business in beautiful Micronesia. With a past best left behind you, you'll be focusing on your present assignment: escorting an ambitious journalist named Valerie Cortez to the Island of Cabatu. It seems like a piece of cake, but you'll soon learn: paradise can be hell.

Farcry is an awesome First Person Shooter (FPS) based on a last generation 3D engine named as CryEngine. Real-time editing, bump-mapping, static lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features that the CryEngine offers.

A great advantage and strong point of the CryEngine is its physics system which supports character inverse kinematics, vehicles, rigid bodies, liquid, rag doll, cloth and body effects. All physics seem to be very realistic and you never get bored when facing enemies, since character models have multiple animations that blend in believable ways.

With an integrated shader system and a massive terrain which maximizes the view distance to 2km, these features make Farcry a perfect action game and also a referable benchmark to speak of.

- Benchmark Settings

For this game we recorded a custom demo from the start of the Rebellion stage. We chose an indoor scene in order to avoid getting the CPU-bound effect. This will result in slightly higher results since it is also less GPU intensive, but we can't afford being stuck at 40-50 fps because of our CPU.

The latest patch (1.3) was used for our tests which updates the game's graphics engine to use the 3.0 Shader model. This option is only supported for the 6800 series.

The resolutions we ran the demo under are the following: 800x600,1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200.

Same story here. No card could compete with the Aeolus cards. It should be noted than in SLI mode, there is only a small decrease in fps as we move to the higher resolutions, unlike the ATI card that reported a 60fps drop. Even with two 6600GTs, there is still a drop of only 30fps.

With AA and AF enabled, the ATI card has a chance for "revenge". Considering the cost of two 6800Ultras and the cost of a single X850XT, 12fps difference at 1600x1200 is really not enough. But again, first place belongs to AOpen's Aeolus.


13. Thief 3

Instead of Deus Ex from now on we'll be testing our cards using Thief 3. It's based on the same engine but it's much less GPU intensive and playable by more VGA cards than Deus.

The game makes severe use of Pixel Shader 1.1 instructions, the bloom effect and stencil shadows to achieve a wonderful result in your screen.

In the game you play the part of Master Thief Garrett who is back to rule out any evil forces using his unique stealth abilities. Deadly Shadows shows what stealth gameplay is all about. This game really gives you the feel of sneaking around and holding your breath when stuck in a sticky situation.

Since there is no official benchmark for the game, we'll do our tests using a GPU intensive scene from the tutorial-level which we believe that represents the average fps you'll get when playing the game.

Thief 3 is a torture test for graphics cards. All lower class cards fail to provide stable performance in this benchmark when selecting full details from the settings menu.

Normally, any value above 25~30fps can produce moving scenes without observing any freezing. At the highest tested resolution, the AOpen 6800Ultra cards managed to produce 39fps, only 8fps difference from the X850XT. Although the number seems rather small, considering the gaming engine of Thief3 and the graphic demands it has, 39fps is more than enough.

Outstanding performance. Finally, a system that Thief3 can be played on without having to sacrifice image quality and video performance. 27fps at 1600x1200 is the highest value that we have ever seen, with both AA and AF enabled.


14. Colin McRae 05

For all you racing fans out there, this test is for you and will represent the Racing game category in our benchmarks.

From the graphics point of view the first thing you'll notice in the game is the excellent amount detail of your racing car. High resolution textures on the car and lighting make it quite impressive. All the eye candy such as the sun reflection in the virtual camera are still the same as the older CM versions but motion blur has been added when your card hits something hard which will happen most often if you're new to the racing simulation world.

To measure performance on the game we used fraps to get the average fps of the whole 8th stage of UK which is actually the only stage you get to play on the demo.

ATI cards tend to report good results with Colin McRae. At low resolutions, the ATI card and the 6600GT-SLI reported similar results, but at higher resolutions, the X850XT was better. On the other hand, the 6800Ultra-SLI system was again above 100fps at all resolutions we tested.

By enabling AA and AF to increase image quality, the difference between the ATI card and the 6800Ultra-SLI is not that significant at high resolutions.


15. Ground Control II

Ground Control 2 is an action-oriented game of tactics and warfare. As Captain Jacob Angelus of the Northern Star Alliance, you will command squads of infantry, artillery, and air power against the might of the Empire of Terra. Base building and resource-collecting are replaced with unit control and combat tactics where your knowledge of the battlefield maneuvers will make the difference in your fight against a ruthless enemy. Position your troops on hilltops for better aim or inside buildings and forests for protection as you'll need to use every inch of terrain to your advantage.

For our benchmarks, we used the highest possible settings on the first mission of the single player game and moved around the camera to get an average frame rate using fraps.

Ground Control II offers really impressive graphics without requiring much GPU power. Click on the picture above to view a screenshot from the game. Check out these excellent water effects!

 

Same picture as before. At low resolutions, the 6800Ultra performance is far higher than any other card, even with AA and AF enabled. However, at 1600x1200, there is only 4fps difference (AA and AF enabled), and the difference in price cannot be justified with only 4fps difference in performance.


16. GPU Overclocking

No matter your graphics card, there comes a time in your computer's life when it can no longer cope with the latest technological demands the ever so popular games impose. This is one of the main reasons for overclocking your graphics card. Gamers are always looking forward to a little extra boost in terms of framerate. Even though most of the times the boost is far from noticeable, overclocking remains the last resort when you can't afford to buy a brand new VGA card.

The default speeds for the AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultra are 400MHz for the core and 1100MHz for the memory clock. In order to overclock the card, we used NVidia's NTune utility and the latest Rivatuner.

Our target found the maximum values for the two clocks where the cards would still be able to handle the graphics and overheating while still maintaining stable performance. Through trial and error for each clock, the final stable settings we derived are 450MHz for the core clock and 1161MHz for the memory clock.

It should be noted that we did not have great expectations, since SLI systems are known to be bad overclockers. So, let's see the performance boost we got:

FINALLY!!! The two cards managed to break the 10000 3DMark barrier, reporting 10059 marks. Excellent performance.

Although the 3DMark05 barrier was broken, overclocking performance is not that great. And consider that the temperature of these cards rises to dangerous levels when overclocked. There is an average 3~5fps boost in performance in all the games we tested. On the other hand, the advantage of any SLI system is that overclocking performance might increase with a future driver release, since the dynamic algorithm used to simulate graphics load can be further improved under overclocked conditions.


17. Conclusion

The AOpen 6800Ultra is a great card, using nVidia's powerful chipset. Having two of them combined is more than anyone could ask for, to enjoy any game without limits.

The AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultra-SLI system dominates in all tests, and no other card can compete with its outstanding performance. In some cases, the results we got from the two AOpen cards surpassed the results of the new G70 and the R520/R600 chipsets. As expected, overclocking these cards did not boost performance that much. However, the 3DMark05 score was something to focus on, since they received more than 10000 3DMarks.

The retail package includes everything users will need to get started and that includes the DVI adapter and power cables. There is also a total of 7 games included in the package, 5 in Lite versions and 2 in full, but nothing worth writing home about. The drivers offered by AOpen are not the latest nVidia drivers and we strongly advise you to use the latest drivers available from nVidia's website, since performance is increased greatly with new gaming profiles.

Most users may be wondering if the noise from these cards is too great. However, when the GPU load is not high and the chipsets remain at low temperatures, the GPU cooling system decreases fan speed also reducing noise levels. In general, noise levels were kept considerably low.

You should always keep in mind that these cards are targeted at PC enthusiasts and hardcore gamers, as with any SLI system. Taking this into consideration, the high price is not an issue, since these kinds of users are willing to pay anything to get the best. And AOpen can certainly offer the best. Unfortunately, there is no CrossFire system available for now, but in the following weeks we hope to get our hands on an engineering sample, offered by ATI. This will fire up the competition.

In any case, although the official price of the new G70 chipset has not been released yet, we think that this is a good alternative. Of course, if you want to buy these cards and combine them in SLI mode, you will need to have rather deep pockets, with a single AOpen Aeolus 6800Ultra costing almost $549.95. But you will be rewarded by the performance. These cards received CDRinfo's "Best Performance" award.

Pros:
- Excellent performance in all tests
- Excellent cooling system
- Considerably low noise levels
- Great nVidia features to improve image quality

Cons:
- Low overclocking potential in SLI mode
- High priced, aimed at PC enthusiasts

Performance:
Overclocking:
Bundle:
Value for money:


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