NVIDIA Follow-up After Testing
Certainly our testing did not seem to back up what was being stated publicly by NVIDIA's Ujesh, so we pinged the Public Relations Department at NVIDIA with our results and asked for clarification. We quickly got this reply:
You have an engineering sample. It is not a production version of the board.
This is the entire email quoted above and seemingly a NVIDIA PR's rubber stamp answer to us simply trying to find out the truth about NVIDIA products. Of course this sat sour with me to some extent as it left me thinking that NVIDIA is sending us samples that in no way shape or form will represent retail products. Of course, if this is the case, then there are no reasons to preview their products. Then a voice of reason responded. That voice happened to belong to Ujesh Desai. (Going back through tons of email, I did find one from NVIDIA on the 7th of May that stated the same thing that was in this weeks Gamespot article, but there was no explanation beyond that.)
As (PR NV Department) states the board you have is an engineering sample. It requires a BIOS/driver update to work off a single power cable. We are providing this to our Add In Card partners and they will implement this on their final production boards that they ship. I'm happy to talk in person about this if you want more details.
Now this of course makes a little more sense than, "You have an engineering sample." We requested the BIOS, flasher, and driver needed to see this work and Ujesh replied that they will get that out to us next week as soon as we see QA accomplished.
Conclusion & Opinion
It would seem that NVIDIA's statements about power supply specification changes are certainly in the works. It would also seem that no reviewers currently have the needed software in hand to make their 6800U sample cards exhibit these qualities. Certainly we will be doing some testing with our NVIDIA engineering sample the moment we can get that moving.
NVIDIA launching the card with 480 watt PSU specs seems to be the same mentality that was present at the 5800 Dustbuster launch; bigger is better. This of course proved to be totally off the mark. Maybe NVIDIA will learn this time around that most enthusiasts are enthusiasts because they like to be the ones pushing the products forward themselves, not having it done for them. That said, there is certainly a market for "extreme" products, it would just seem that the world is better with the "stock" product being in place first. Come to think of it, I have never seen the Z06 model Corvette be introduced before the stock Corvette. And while my comparison is a bit crooked, it would seem that even the computer enthusiast wants a truly solid enthusiast part that is down to earth before they want to see one with all the tricked out performance features. Also, it is 100% our opinion that the retail video card partners of NVIDIA should be the ones pushing these extreme features as support and design will surely fall into the retail card builders lap and not NVIDIA’s.
It has always seemed to me that NVIDIA exercises a bit too much control over their product launches. We would much rather test retail sample video cards from the people that will be selling them to our readers rather than a NVIDIA engineering sample. Keep in mind, unlike ATI, NVIDIA does not sell video cards direct to the public.
Bottom Line: NVIDIA is revamping their 6800Ultra to be what it should have been at launch allowing the enthusiasts to be the ones doing the pushing of the technology if they see fit. The GeForce 6800Ultra is a good video card, without question. We hope NVIDIA's GeForce 6800Ultra finds its true place in the market given the extraordinary competition it is facing.