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 - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    I'm impressed. I've never seen a review that actually has the games I play most frequently in it. I've been un-interested in FPS games since Quake II.

    In particular, I like Neverwinter Nights, C&C Generals, SimCity 4, and to some extent WarCraft III (and by extention, their expansions). I was under the impression that SimCity 4 was CPU bound under almost all circumstances, it's useful to have that shot down.

    I also like AA and AF. You can imagine the slideshows I play with my Athlon 2100+, 1GB DDR, and Radeon 64MB DDR (a.k.a. 7200)

    Now I just need to see the ATI AIW 9600 Pro reach general availability.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Thank you so much for this review... the detail is spectacular. After reading and lookig at all 60 pages... I am really tired. Thanks again for your dedication! Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Um why are there no comparisons using two monitors with diffrent cards running . Gabe of valve said there is a set of drivers that detect when an screen shot is being taken. Or did anand just get duped by nvidia Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    I would like to know:

    1. Why fps was left out of TRAOD
    2. Why the weirdo never seen before TRAOD PS2.0 percent loss graph? How about giving us good ole fps which is what we have been seeing for years and what we are use to, at least have both if you are going to introduce new graphs.

    3. How the reveiwer seems to know "Nvidia is aware of it" and never seems to know if ATI is aware of problems? I mean he would have had to talk to Nvidia to know this. Did Nvidia pre read the review and then tell him they are aware of a problem and will fix it??

    4. What motiviation does the reviewers have for helping Nvidia or at least seem optimistic. What has Nvidia done to earn this tip toeing around type of review? If anyting they have dug themselves a well deserved hole. I'm talking about Nvidias horrid behaviour as a company in the past 6 months. Why would they reward a company that pulls the stunts they have lately? Do they feel sorry for them?

    All I can say is the tone of this review leads me to think there is more to this than meets the eye.

  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    #52 yeah im sure people play games in window mode.
    How can u see the differences from such a small screen shots. Its well known that Nvidia hacks or shall I say "optimises" for benchmarks giving no thought to IQ. This article displays Blatant nvidia @ss kissing. There was good reason Gabe didn't want his game to be benched with det.50xx, take a guess, more hackery from nVidia. Also Anand mentions certain anomalties with the geforce fx on certain games but does not try to exlpore what those errors are and assumes nothings wrong. In homeworl the Fx isn't even doing FSSA. Geez wish the nvidia fanboys would get a clue and crawl out from under that rock the've been hiding under.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    This is the most interesting article I have ever read for sometime.. First of all, I agree with #41.. I think including this many games into benchmark prohibits Anand/Derek to make detailed analysis of the games.. But there is something more interesting..

    It seems that Anand and Derek tried to put an article that hides the problems with both cards.
    They also deliberately try to avoid giving one company favor. In one sentence, they claim ATI is best, in the next line, they state otherwise.
    As for the IQ comparison, many of screen captures are either dark or can not reflect what AF+AA intended to do.. If I just check the small pictures, I would say that the IQ are really similar. However, more detailed analysis reveals other problems. Besides, the review of the TROAD is the wrost I have ever seen.. If they post the frame rates, I am pretty sure that everybody will be shocked to see the results.. How won't they.. Think about it, the performance percentage loss of FX5950 is 77.5% for 1024x768 noAA/AF. Even if the game runs at 50 fps with PS1.1, the frame rate would drop to 10 fps when you switch to ps2.0 in this case.. However, refering to Beyond3d is interesting, because that site has a very detailed benchmarks of both 5900 and 9800 with this game ( I strongly recommend to anyone to see these articles who really wants to learn the actual performance of NV5900 and R9800 in the PS2.0 scenarios)

    But I totally disagree with Anand in one thing.. TROAD performance is a real indicator for the future games that will uses PS2.0 by default. The games v49 patch also uses HLSL to compile directly to ps2_0_x which is actually the Nvidia's NV30 architecture, and the compiled code runs faster than Cg compiled code. Even in this case, 9800Pro still runs much faster that 5900 ( I am talking about 70 fps vs. 35 fps.).

    I guess nobody want to see that his/her 500$ graphics card would crawl in the new games which uses ps2.0 by default just one year after he puchased the card.. And no! I am not a ATI fanboy.. Just a tech fan who does not tolerate to see how some sites really misdirects the readers because of their connections to the IHVs.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Oh, come on, fanboys, stop yelling at Anand for not making nVidia look bad enough. His job is to benchmark, not to rant. Jesus Christ, you people annoy me. Try printing out the three images from any given test WITHOUT looking at which one's the Radeon.

    And no, I'm no nVidia fanboy, nor am I defending nVidia. I use a softmodded Radeon 9500 and I absolutely love it. I have never, ever put a GeForce FX in my system, and I'm happy to say this. But can't you people just let go?
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    FIFA 2004 !!! That alone make this worth while !!! Reply
  • Rogodin2 - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    You should use IL-2 Forgotten Battles with "perfect" detail settings (pixel shaded water and a system knee-bringer) for a simulation benchmark.

  • Dasterdly - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    I could see IQ differences on the dune buggy left side top. The ATI pic has better detail.

    Please add 3dmark benchmark.

    Good review so far almost 1/2 way thru :)

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