I never knew working an average of 18 hours a day and sleeping every other night could be so incredibly enjoyable. These past two weeks have been so full of benchmarking and analysis that I hardly have time to breathe. Of course, when people come up to me and tell me "man, I wish I could play games for a living too," I can't help but laugh out loud. I tell them: its not about games, it's about trying to understand the hardware. Of course, that is my kind of fun. The only problem is that I don't get to see what the picture looks like until I benchmark games for 50 hours.

When we sat down to start working on this series, I was very excited. I know that it's taken a long time to try to get the whole picture out in the open, but we wanted to be very thorough. Some of the motivation behind Part 1 was to give everyone an idea how these two cards perform vs. mid/high end cards that are already out. We wanted to give a basis for comparison so that numbers between 9800XT and NV38 had some way to relate back to what we already know. So now we can get on with trying to push these to their limits and beyond. The only other card we will be testing in Part 2 is the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra with both 52.14 and publicly available 45.23 WHQL drivers. We will also be doing a separate article on ATI's Catalyst 3.8 drivers when they are released.

This time around we tested at 1280x1024 (or 960 in some cases), and 1600x1200. At each of these resolutions we tested with AA and AF off and on when possible. Some games brought both cards to their knees, while others provided little more than a bump in the road. There is an incredible amount of information in this article so you may want to set aside some time to digest it all. We've done one unconventional test that will at least be a very good point of discussion, and there are plenty of surprises within.

The series is far from over and the next thing on the plate is a value/mid-range roundup to show you some cards that are actually feasible to purchase.

We hope you will enjoy reading this as much as we did putting it together.

An even more updated Test Suite


View All Comments

  • Anonymous User - Saturday, October 11, 2003 - link

    Great job with the review. I'm so happy to finally see benchmarks in more than just FPS's. I'm always curious to see what kind of benefits can be had by upping my video card in RTS games for example. Take a rest, your brain must be fried from all that benching.

    One question. I have an LCD monitor and I can't get Generals:Zero Hour to run at 1280x1024. How did you manage to get that resolution for your benches since it is not offered in the game menu?
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 10, 2003 - link

    Anadtech is a total liar. The 52.14 quality of picture sucks and so does my 5900 card sucks. Its garbage like it was before and the 52.14 drivers for sure are not helping it become better. As for the pictures i dont know how he dares even to say there is no difference in quality it for sure is a big problem the quality with all the games and programs i tried out.

  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 10, 2003 - link

    The TRYTH about the det. 52.14 driver:

    A) OpenGL filtering appears to be just fine.

    B) D3D filtering suffers from the following "optimizations"

    Application Mode:
    1) True trilinear is never utilized at all...on any texture stages. It's now all "pseudotrilinear"

    Control Panel Mode
    1) Same pseudotrilear as above
    2) Proper Aniso level selection is only applied to texture stage 0. No matter what the aniso level selected (2x-8x), only 2x is applied to stages 1-7.
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    I'd like to know what happened to all the CPU scaling analysis? I hope there's a part 3 which includes these same cards. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    Good to see you are reworking the Flight Sim 9 BM. Your achieved FR in part 1 were so much higher than what real simmers are getting. Many people would be happy to get a reliable 25 FPS out of the game. Once there we can worry about IQ. So you need to push the texture sliders etc to put a real load on the system in this game. A continuing argument with this game is the importance of CPU/memory relative to graphics card in achieving acceptable frame rates. Anything in your testing that could shed light on this would be invaluable.

    scott s.
  • Pete - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    As long as I'm bothering you, I'd like to request Halo numbers with AF for your next review/roundup. AF really spruces up IQ, IMO, and it's a shame (almost pointless) to buy $500 cards and not run at the highest IQ possible. I'd also appreciate comparison pics with AF, as well. Thanks! Reply
  • Pete - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    Whoops, that was the URL of the inline pic, which works. This is the (broken) link to the large pic: http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/video/roundups... Reply
  • Pete - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    Derek, the Halo Det45.23 large pic link doesn't work: http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/video/roundups... Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    Might I suggest you remove the Tech part of your
    Sitename ? there's not much tech anymore
    Anyway this is not about Nv vs Ati, it is Nv vs DX9, It still states on NVidia's site, the FX series are DX9 card which they are not!!
    Inform the people as it should & not as your Nv-Paymaster is telling you!!
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    "We still urge our readers not to buy a card until the game they want to play shows up on the street."

    What if we want to play DNF? Should I just wait till it's done?

    Sounds like you're in nVidia's pocket more like it. Most people like games, not just one... so upgrading has immediate effects for most.


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