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 - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    #41 "[...] who butters your bread???"

    Thats an interesting question, I suspect he does though my question is "who wants to know?" ; )

    In regard to your other question. "Why can't we have a true winner now?". As for myself, I'm going to give Dereck and Anand the benefit of the doubt.

    It seems to me that they realize that NVIDIA attempted to do somthing unique with it's 5000 series being that it does not exactly hold to the Direct X 9.1 spec. For instance it has a 16 bit and 32 bit rendering mode while DX 9.1 requires 24 bit - which ATI does (refer to Halflife 2 and DOOM III reviews). In the sharder area NVIDIA holds FAR more code (micro ops) than ATI - also if you check back to Anand's original post on the ATI and NVIDIA shootout(s) where there is a comparison between AA and AF NVIDIA was a CLEAR winner. I seem to recall a while ago that NVIDIA claimed ATI didn't do TRUE AF so they were therefore CHEATING. Boy did that one come back around with teeth, huh?

    What I'm saying is NVIDIA tried to one up ATI by tring to do more, unfortunately it seems they tried to do TOO much and ended up doing SHADY maneuvers like the whole Future Mark mess. They should of instead focused on the spec. DX 9.1 and the Microsoft shader/pixel code path and not tried to pull a GLIDE like 3DFX (excuse the parsed english).

    So, hopefully NVIDIA learns from it's mistakes modifies it's silicon to the spec. and gives us all BETTER cards to choose from come March/April.

    As far as the authors are concerned, Anand and Derick seem to be attempting JUSTICE (helping the party who needs the most help, and treating all parties equally) - which in this case seems to be NVIDIA. The authors are helping NVIDIA by dropping HEAVY hints like what you stated
    " Next year will be the year of DX9 titles, and it will be under the next generation of games that we will finally be able to crown a true DX9 winner. Until then, anyone's guess is fair game." and
    " If NVIDIA can continue to extract the kinds of performance gains from unoptimized DX9 code as they have done with the 52.14 drivers (without sacrificing image quality), they will be well on their way to taking the performance crown back from ATI by the time NV40 and R400 drop.".
    If NVIDIA takes head of these CONSTRUCTIVE statements then the entire gaming community could benifit - in better prices, higher quality to which the customer usually benifits (AMD vs INTEL sound familiar?).

    So, let us be easy and enjoy the night. Time will tell.

    aka #37

    PS: Dereck please excuse me for leaving out your name before. The article was well written.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Regarding my previous post #44, I wanted to write:

    ...the difference **between AA/AF and noAA/AF** is very noticeable in the game...
  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Can you say "highly programmable GPU?" I can =) Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Why didn't you guys wait for Catalyst 3.8? It's out tomorrow and is reported to fix many IQ problems in games like NWN. What would a couple of days have hurt, especially since this article is going to be irrelevant after the Cat drivers are released tomorrow? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Note: the AA/AF and noAA/AF images of Warcraft3 have been mixed up for the NV52.14.

    It tells a lot about the value of the screenshots that it takes careful inspection to find this error. I have played a lot of War3 recently and the difference is very noticeable in game, even with this GF4.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    #18 Its not a problem figuring out the graphs its just weird that he would choose that type of graph excluding FPS.

    BTW I own a 5900U and a 9700pro.

    I don't like people avoiding ps2.0 tests. My 5900 sucks at it. I paid too much for what I got in the 5900. I try to get a good bang for the buck. The 5900 is not.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    ... Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    First off... Thanks Pete ;-) ...

    Secondly, Anand and I both put a great deal of work into this article, and I am very glad to see the responses it has generated.

    Many of the image quality issues from part 1 were due to rendering problems that couldn't be captured in a screen shot (like jerkiness in X2 and F1), or a lack of AA. For some of the tests, we just didn't do AA performance benchmarks if one driver or the other didn't do what it was supposed to. There were no apples to anything other than apples tests in this review. The largest stretch was X2 where the screen was jerky and the AA was subpar. But we definitly noted that.

    TRAOD isn't a very high quality game, and certainly isn't the only DX9 (with PS2.0) test on the list. Yes, ATI beat NV in that bench. But its also true that ATI won most of the other benchmarks as well.

    Anyway, thanks again for the feedback, sorry BF1942 couldn't make it in, and we'll be bring back a flight sim game as soon as we tweak it out.

    J Derek Wilson
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Didn't Gabe Newell complain about screen capture "issues" with the Nvidia 50.xx drivers that show better image quality in screenshots than actually shows up in game?

    Anand spoke about image quality problems in almost every test in part 1, but i see almost nothing wrong with the screencaps in part 2.

    Can you verify this Anand?
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    No difference in IQ, huh? Am I the only person to notice an IQ difference between the AA+8xAF pics of Aquamark3?



    It's funny how Anand and Derek did not comment on this. Maybe they missed it because they based their comparison off of those tiny images. Ah, so that's what the need of full-sized images are for?!

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