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 - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    How very balanced of you #30.

    Let us be patient; Anand is asking questions on OUR behalf in order to REVEAL truth.

    I'm focused on the questions and the answers. Where is your focus?
  • AgaBooga - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    #33, that's what came to my mind as soon as I read this article. I think that Anand may have just provided some input, done testing, or just edited it slightly... Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    The IQ shots are not the best I could imagine.

    Some of them are cropped out so that you can't see a lot of details: UT2003, Aquamark3, Wolfenstein.

    Some of them are set up so that you wouldn't get any possible artifacts with texture filtering, because of the high camera angle: Warcraft3, C&C Generals.

    The Tomb Raider, Aquamark and Wolf screenshots are also too dark to notice anything. And I don't see any sign of a DX9 shader in either the Halo or the TR shots, so we have no idea of DX9 image quality.

    But kudos for all the testing you've done, must have been a lot of hard work.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    #30 ATI has not released performance drivers for a long time now and they already said don't hold your breath on those performance increases coming in the 3.8s either. The main focus since the 3.1s have mainly it seems been bug fixes with slight performance improvements in various games. 3.8 = more features and bug fixes with probably slight performance improvements here and there in specific games. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Derek probably wrote the whole article while Anand was behind him cracking his whip. So I dunno about this "supposed" two authors! Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Would all the fanboys please take a deep breath or troll elsewhere? I swear to god some of you people will go out of your way to look for bias where there isn't any.

    I own a 9800 Pro and I for one am glad that it seems like Nvidia has closed the gap considerably, their customers deserve it.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    Great review, I love the IQ shots. I too am waiting to see the 9600xt review though. Reply
  • AgaBooga - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    To those of you mentioned Anand a few times, you should also note this was written by two authors. Or atleast worked on together by two authors, so you should try and understand that you may different "types" of responses and analyses (sp?) of similar results if they're done by different people. I think we should wait for the 3.8 Cat. article before we jump to too many conclusions. Reply
  • PKIte - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    This is the way I take screen shots in final fantasy XI benchmark 2.

    - Use Hypersnap-dx
    - Enable directx capture in Hypersnap
    - Change Hypersnap “Quick Save” settings to repeat capture every 5 seconds
    - Launch Final Fantasy XI benchmark 2 menu
    - When you click the “START” button press “Print Screen” once resolution changes.

    Wow this is the biggest video card review I have ever read: Awesome!!
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    >Right now NVIDIA is at a disadvantage; ATI's >hardware is much easier to code for and the >performance on Microsoft's HLSL compiler clearly >favors the R3x0 over the NV3x
    ever heard from the ps2_a compiler target?

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