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 - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    "We were told by NVIDIA that these new drivers would not only improve performance, but that they would be made publicly available the very same week we tested with them. Obviously, that didn't happen, and it ended up taking another month before the drivers were released. The performance gains were tangible, but the drivers weren't fit for release when NVIDIA provided them to the press and honestly shouldn't have been used.

    Hindsight being 20/20, we made a promise to ourselves that we would *not allow any further performance enhancing drivers to be used in our video card reviews unless we could make the drivers publicly available to our readers immediately.*"

    -Anand Lal Shimpi
    October 17, 2001

    Ah how the world turns.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    "If you think that's wrong, then you have a problem."

    If anand had not stated that he would not do benchmarks with unreleased drivers then you might have a point.
    Especially if an in-depth examination of the filtering and antialiasing quality had been undertaken. Too bad that didnt happen, despite what was claimed in the introduction.

    Making oneself a hypocrite to appease the publics' whims by using unavailible software (for one manufacturer, but not another) is a direct shot to your own credibility.

    But credibility is no longer important to this site, and many of the other premiere hardware review sites.

    Page hits and advertisments pay the bills, do whatever it takes.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    This is the most interesting sentence I found in this review:
    "It just so happens that the default Microsoft compiler generates code that runs faster on ATI's hardware than on NVIDIA's."

    So it is M$'s fault that nVidia's card runs slower? How do you know? Plus the numerous problem mention by other people, I can't believe this is from a famous harware review site. I don't think this review will earn nVidia any credit, instead Anandtech lose credit for it.

    BTW, I don't think a driver update can improve performance by 50%, as the 52.* driver did, unless the old 45.* driver were written by a new graduate. There MUST be some trick in the 52.* driver.

  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    Hey Mr. NostraDUMASS (#93), you want some cheese to go with that whine?
    NV40 will be 3D king?! Only in a 4D world, dreamer.
    Looking at the graphs and the numbers pretty much sums it all up - a crushing defeat for you know who. Anand and his crew did a decent job. They even tried to candy-coat it to appease the big N.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    nvidia is coming back slowly due to stupid policy and strategy of nvidia ceo they have lost their supremacy and reputation in 3d graphics world but i'm sure next gen... nv 40 will be 3d king nvidia is smarter than ati . ati architecture is built on brute force of 8 pipelines and 256 bit memory nvidia cine fx is much more sophisticated. Reply
  • RoninCS - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    You know why he used them? Simple, actually. Because people wanted him to test them, and the public at large wanted to see how they perform. If you think that's wrong, then you have a problem. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    Im highly amused that anyone would flame someone for taking anand to task for using UNRELEASED DRIVERS WHICH ARE IN NO SENSE AVAILIBLE TO THE PUBLIC THROUGH THE MANUFACTURER.

    Anand has said on several different occassions in the past that he would NEVER BENCHMARK WITH UNRELEASED DRIVERS.

    He lied.

    He did not bother to investigate the veracity of the claims nvidia made about image quality, inluding the total lack of true trilinear filering.
    Why not? Nobody knows, and anand won't say.

    There are several very well established methods for determining the true quality of a cards' filtering and antialiasing scheme.
    Anand used none of them.
    Coincidentally, everyone who has actually bothered to check the quality of the nvidia AF on any driver in the 50/51 or 52 series has found trlinear filtering simply does not work as advertised.

    Indeed, far from predicting future DX9 title performance, the new test suite appears to be heavily biased toward legacy DX8/8.1 pixel shading, something the FX architecture is basically built for, and excels at.

    The game (TR:AOD) that probably uses the largest number of DX9-class shaders (PS2.0) was not even listed in terms of absolute numbers. Instead, we have a percent decrease!!!
    Why was this single game treated so differently when it would likely be the best predictor (along with Doom3 in ARB2 generic mode, and HL2) of future shader performance?

    Coincidentally, the R3XX architecture dominates this test - absolute frame rates would have been heavily embarassing for nvidia.
    Lucky anand didnt bother to list them! Instead, he spent several paragraphs discussing water that didnt render quite right.

    The GeForceFX family are decent cards, with very good performance indeed in DX8 class games. DX9 games with real DX9-class shaders is a different story altogether.

    But you won't be getting that story here, and anyone who bothers to bring it up will be labeled an "ATI fanboy".

    How sad.
    How childish.
    How utterly self-serving.

    This article proves quite handily just how much of anand's credibility has been lost. Anand has jumped on the Thomas Pabst bandwagon.
    Next stop, [H]ardOCP.
    Toot, Toot!
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    what happened 2 ur glasses anand ?? just by looking at it u can see clear differences in the way NV and ATI render aquamark. and what about the missing FPS in TRAOD ?? instead of writing summin like "NVIDIA really gets crushed by ATIs PS2 performance." ur saying " It is very clear that the way ATI handles rendering TRAOD's PS2.0 code is more efficient." and only show sum _absolute irrelevant_ ps2 ratios not correlating with each card in ANY WAY ?!? ooookay, so ur praccing 4 ur politician-career, arent ya ? honestly, that article feels so biased towards NV its just not decent anymore...anandtech was my favourite site when it comes 2 reviews but after that i rather stick 2 another one when it comes 2 gfx cards it seems.
    i really wondered how anand could be the first site benching a gfx5950 and here we got the answer it seems...gn8
  • RoninCS - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    To 90, perhaps you should be a writer for Anandtech instead, since you seem to be much more critical, although it would appear you don't run a world reknowned hardware site.

    Talk about critical...sheesh.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    I think Anandtech should consider that quantity doesn't equal quality.

    If it was only fps, then lots of games is perfect. But we were supposed to be talking IQ in this part. Well... I saw very little actually written about IQ in the article.

    On the very first page, I immediately notice big differences in IQ. On the tank I see lots of places were the NVidia drivers don't seem to do any AA. And the details around the explosion are far more blurry. Those things are obvious allthough I'm looking at a reduced size JPG! And I see no remark about IQ at all !?!?!?

    Going to F1 challenge to the 4xAA/8xAF. Or is it? I see absolutely no AA *anywhere* with the NVidia drivers. And it really really really obvious in these shots!! Again, no comment about IQ at all?

    Do I need to go on? Gunmetal also shows AA differences.

    Finally, with Homeworld Anandtech notices too that there's no AA with the NVidia drivers.
    Luckily, it's a know issue...

    Jedi Knight. Well, here the NVidia does do some AA. But it's really little compared to ATI's. No IQ difference???

    Neverwinter. Look at the pilar to the right, and the plants on the left. Do we again see clear AA differences, like NVidia seem to forget those objects?

    But it gets worse...

    How on earth can anyone place these utterly rediculous Tomb Raider and Wolfenstein screenshots??????
    Come on! I've seen beautifull screenshots of streets in Paris in Tomb Raider. Perfect for testing IQ. And all we get is a 90% black screen? Same goes for Wolfenstein...

    What where you guys thinking?????????

    This is so incredibly far below the high standards that I'm used from Anandtech...
    Please look again at this article, and do a proper job at assesing IQ.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now