Our introduction to NV36 in the form of the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra has really been a different experience than we expected. We thought we would see similar gains on the 5600 that we saw the 5950 make over the 5900. We also didn't expect NVIDIA to drop the veil they've had on the technical aspects of their products.

From the first benchmark we ran, we knew this would turn out to be a very interesting turn of events. In going down to San Francisco for NVIDIA's Editor's Day event, we had planned on inquiring about just how they were able to extract the performance gains we will reveal in our benchmarks. We got more than we had bargained for when we arrived.

For the past few years, graphics companies haven't been very open about how they build their chips. The fast paced six month product cycle and highly competitive atmosphere (while good for consumers) hasn't been very conducive to in depth discussions of highly protected trade secrets. That's why we were very pleasantly surprised when we learned that NVIDIA would be dropping their guard and letting us in on the way NV35 (including NV36 and NV38) actually works. This also gives us insight into the entire NV3x line of GPUs, and, hopefully, gives us a glimpse into the near future of NVIDIA hardware as well.

Aside from divulging a good amount of technical information, NVIDIA had plenty of developers present (a response to ATI’s Shader Day, no doubt). For the purposes of this article, I would like to stick to the architectural aspects of the day rather than analyzing NVIDIA developer relations. It isn't a secret that NVIDIA spends a great deal of time, energy, and money on assisting game developers in achieving their graphical goals. But we believe that "the proof is in the pudding" so to speak. The important thing to us (and we hope to the general public) isn't which developers like and dislike working with an IHV, but the quality of the end product both parties produce. Truth be told, it is the developer's job to create software that works well on all popular platforms, and its the IHV's job to make sure there is sufficient technical support available for developers to get their job done.

We should note that NVIDIA is launching both the NV36 (GeForce FX 5700 Ultra) and the NV38 (GeForce FX 5950 Ultra) today, but since we have already covered the 5950 in our previous roundups we will focus on the 5700 Ultra exclusively today.

First let us look at the card itself.

The GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
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  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Ever hear of journalistic integrity? He has a responsibility to be objective. He replies "also, there were no glaringly unplayable image quality issues on either side of the line."

    What a political answer - glaringly unplayable image quality issues? A $499 card shouldn't have any unplayable issues, heck even a $99 card should be playable.

    He's dodging the issue about playable image quality issues - missing or lower quality lighting effects for example. The point is that Nvidia has been caught lowering imager quality - removing the eye candy you are paying for in dx9 cards, and they have continued to do so.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Once again "IQ to come in part 2"... mebbe they will ... mebbe they won't... but they don't have a very good track record so far... and what is up with that choice of games? Go read the [H]OCP review... I may have been vocal against [H] in the past but there review of teh 5700 and 5950 is spot on with worthwhile gaming results.....

    I really fail to see how you recommend 5700 over 9600pro in this.... and skip all the NV 'driver bugs' too.... ah well nm... another nail in the AT coffin....
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Hrmm, I see an NVida add on the top right of my screen. Ever see ATI adds ant anandtech? Know what complementary copy is? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Here's my conclusion: if you're gonna bitch and moan, read a different tech site. No one's forcing you to accept Derek's conclusions.

    I think some of you need to be a little more respectful with your comments and suggestions.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    How can any conclusions be made without an image quality comparison. The "final words" section is based purely on the framerate numbers? How can you even draw a conclusion? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    I'll just copy this from what I wrote at Beyond 3D:

    I was so confused by this comment from AT:

    AnandTech wrote: "In fact, NVIDIA has flipped the tables on ATI in the midrange segment and takes the performance crown with a late round TKO. It was a hard fought battle with many ties, but in the games where the NV36 based card took the performance lead, it lead with the style of a higher end card."


    That I tabulated my own results:

    NON AA
    ---------
    5700 wins 10 times
    9600 XT wins 6

    Where the 5700 won, it won on average by 15%
    Where the 9600 won, it won on average by 17%


    WITH AA / ANISO
    ---------
    5700 wins 6 times
    9600 wins 6 times

    Where the 5700 won, it won on average by 23%
    Where the 9600 won, it won on average by 54%

    There certainly is ZERO justification for saying something like: "but in the games where the NV36 based card took the performance lead, it lead with the style of a higher end card."

    That characteristic belongs to ATI, not nVidia.

    Another way to look at it: What percentage FPS difference is required to declare a "clear winner?"

    Let's say that less than 10% difference, the cards are tied. In this case:

    NO AA/ANISO
    ----------------

    5700 wins 6 tests
    9600 wins 4 tests

    When the 5700 wins, it's by an average of 22%
    When the 9600 wins, it's by an average of 22%

    With AA/Aniso
    ----------------
    5700 wins 4 tests
    9600 wins 6 tests

    When the 5700 wins, it's by an average of 33%
    When the 9600 wins, it's by an average of 54%


    I wish Anand's conclusions would actually agree with his data.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Hello? where are the hardware, software, and driver specs? Editorial review? What's that? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Separating Image Quality results from the review is completely misleading. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    It's not unplayable image quality errors - the pics in the hardocp review show missing graphical features to enhance your gaming - ie walls with computers on them with nvidia with no blinking lights, on the ati it had purple and green blinking lights - yes playable on both - but when you pay $499 you want to see the game the way it was intended by the programmers. Same goes for the flashlight pics on hardocp , nvidia the flashlight beam is a mess, ati the flashlight beam is perfectly round like a real flashlight.

    Just another case of nvidia removing graphical effects to speed up their cards to compete with ati.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    so, the cheapest 9800 Pro I see on new egg is a refurb for 280...

    also, there were no glaringly unplayable image quality issues on either side of the line.

    give us a chance to get everything we want to get done done wrt image quality. We've got a lot planned.
    Reply

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