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


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

    #41, maybe you and your wife should start a website, you could benchmark ATI cards exclusively. That way ATI would always wind up on top. Admittedly, I'm an ATI junkie (I own a Radeon 8500 and plan to buy a 9600XT ASAP), but enough is enough. (By the way, what's up with the bread/butter analogy? You seem very fond of it.) Seriously, though, either of these cards are really fast and aside from IQ differences, you couldn't tell a difference. A little question for anyone who would know, though: How much does IQ drop going from PS2.0 to PS1.4? I have Halo and I'm wondering how much better it would look on a DX9 card instead of DX8.1. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    if you look at the gunmetal screenshots, that is my only beef with ATI, the scenes are not rendering completely or properly it has happened to me in a lot of games, black areas. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    The article does seem somewhat comprehensive that is true, but: a)other sites reviewing the software did not come to the same conclusions, mainly problems with trilinear and AF again.... b)I have yet to see a review that claims to be unbiased have this much opinion sprinkled all over, mainly pro nVidia which relies on IQ comparison which i refer to in a c)the drivers are beta and not whql so who knows what we'll get as consumers d)the hardware is not yet anounced formally by nVidia e)it seems the choice of what to show on graphs is very subjective,TRAOD shows percentage drops with PS 2.0 but what are the framerates?
    I do hope this review is correct because it means nvidia are back but due to the above stated qualms I have I can't trust this review.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    The article is extremely comprehensive, as one would expect from Anandtech. Some issues of note:

    1. It was pointed out that the 5900 and the 5950, in many areas, performed almost identically. This doesn't pose well for nVidia.
    2. I'm bothered by the tremendous frame rate difference between ATi and nVidia in some of the titles. It leads me to believe there's something underlying going on, and it's not just a simple card/driver issue.
    3. It's nice to see the IQ back to where it should be, as visual quality should never be compromised for performance, unless the user makes the adjustments to do so.
    4. I will admit it sort of seems that there is some bias towards ATi, but it's not flamingly apparent. Again, it is just my perception, and doesn't necessarily mean that there is.
    5. The most accurate remark made in this review is simply that we are not in the world of DX9 games...yet. To that end, DX9 performance is not nearly as important as it will be. When it is, I think things will step up a few notches.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    Nicely detailed article, and I appreciate the additional games for benchmarking. Any chance we could seee the use of a flight/combat sim program like IL-2 or Mechwarrior? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    I don't know why everyone is believing the IQ results (or even trying to use Photoshop to check the differences). These pics are JPG's! They're already manipulated by the compression logic, and who's to say these pics are true? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    Loooooong time reader, new poster.

    Excellent work Anand and Co. I found the article very informative, and although certain folks don't enjoy reading your "opinions" on some of the benchmarks, I thought they were very appropriate. It will be interesting to see how the official driver releases function under the latest and greatest DX9 and OpenGL games...

    Thanks for all your hard work and effort!

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


    The shots has not been taken in the same frame.

    Gunmetal, contrary to Aquamark don't have such option....that's why so many screenshots are taken at the beginning of a scene or a dead spot.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link


    I seriously suggest that you upgrade everything else in your machine, reinstal drivers, game and defrag.

    Mine runs perfectly at 1280*1024 with the max AF and displays between 40-60fps all the way using the cg_draw command and that's GAMEPLAY framerates .... with sound, AI and all the whistles. I see no need for AA at that resolution thou (not a nice IQ/performance trade there)....at 1024 it does wonders thou.
  • capodeloscapos - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    Why nobody said anything about IQ in GUN METAL???
    Only NvIdia 52.14 shows the fire in Mech's Gun.
    What happened there???

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