Superfast Notebook Graphics: NVidia's GeForce Go 6800
PC World's first tests of NVidia's just announced high-end mobile graphics chip, the GeForce Go 6800, show that it is one of the first notebook graphics components to support performance rivaling that of desktop boards.
The GeForce Go 6800 is based on NVidia's successful line of high-end desktop graphics chips. Scheduled to be available in notebooks from Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Voodoo PC, and other gaming notebook manufacturers starting this week, it promises to let gamers take desktop performance on the road.
The PC World Test Center put a ProStar 9095 notebook equipped with a 3-GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1GB of RAM, and NVidia's new chip through our graphics tests--and recorde some impressive results.
In Doom 3, for example, the notebook we tested posted scores similar to those achieved by a 3.66-GHz PCI Express desktop graphics test machine running a GeForce 6600 GT graphics board. At 1024 by 768 resolution, the notebook managed a frame rate of 46 frames per second, while the desktop clocked in at 55 fps. But with anti-aliasing turned on, the gap narrowed sharply: The notebook finished at 32 fps to the desktop's 33 fps. Anti-aliasing removes jagged edges from computer-generated graphics to make them appear smoother.
Performance was impressive in other current games, as well. Running at 1024 by 768 resolution with anti-aliasing turned on, the chip averaged 39 fps in our Far Cry test; and at the same resolution without anti-aliasing, it posted 60 fps in our Halo test.
The GeForce Go 6800 features much the same 3D graphics technology found in GeForce 6800 desktop chips. This includes full support for Shader Model 3.0 in Microsoft's DirectX 9.0. Shader Model 3.0 lets the GPU run more-complex programs for processing data in 3D scenes, and it allows developers to write more-efficient code to do a better job of rendering effects such as displacement mapping.
NVidia offers the GeForce Go 6800 in two configurations--one that runs both the chip and the video memory at 300 MHz, and another combines a 450-MHz graphics chip with 600-MHz memory. Our test system featured the 300/300 version. Laptops that use the faster configuration should perform better.
The new chip also contains a technology called PureVideo that NVidia claims will improve the quality of DVD and video playback. PureVideo handles several DVD decoding features and accelerates such advanced video codecs as MPEG4 and Microsoft's WMV HD.
ATI (NVidia's main competitor in the graphics chip market) plans to launch a new mobile graphics chip of its own in coming weeks.