Head to Head: ATI Radeon 9800 Pro vs. NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Before we get to the full set of benchmarks we wanted to look at a couple of important direct comparisons to the 6600GT. 

First we have ATI's Radeon 9800 Pro; using our RealTime Price Engine we see that the 128MB ATI Radeon 9800 Pro is currently selling for $214

Under Doom 3, the 6600GT performs at a minimum of 27% faster than the 9800 Pro at the lowest resolution we tested. Ramping up in resolution only widened the gap between the cards. The 6600GT remains playable all the way through our testing, while the 9800 Pro falls to less than half the 6600GT's frame rate at our highest resolution. Not only is this generation's midrange card outperforming a top of the line card from last year, but technologically and dollar for dollar this 6600GT is the very clear winner here as well.

Doom 3 Performance

 

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

82.9

105.9

27.7%

800 x 600

63.9

100.3

57.0%

1024 x 768

45.1

82

81.8%

1280 x 1024

30.5

58.7

92.5%

1600 x 1200

21

43.4

106.7%

Winner

-

-

6600GT

 

The CS: Source VST also shows an increasing performance advantage with resolution. In two of the most demanding apps, the 6600GT is able to scale much better than its competition at this price point. These numbers are not as dramatic as the Doom 3 scores, but at the same time, NVIDIA cards have traditionally been stronger under OpenGL titles while ATI cards tend to hold there own when put to the DirectX test. Of course, this fact just amplifies the victory for the 6600GT.

Counterstrike: Source Visual Stress Test Performance

 

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

185.3

191.8

3.5%

800 x 600

153.1

175.3

14.5%

1024 x 768

103.3

133.3

29.0%

1280 x 1024

65.8

83.3

26.6%

1600 x 1200

51.2

68

32.8%

Winner

-

-

6600GT

 

The two contenders traded blows in this DirectX 8.1 based game. The numbers are close across the board. The 6600GT leads at lower resolutions, while the 9800 Pro inks ahead above 1280. None of these numbers are hugely significant, and this game is a classic toss up. The engine is tried and true as it's based on the same technology used in UT2K3. It doesn't really push the hardware like other games we see on the list, but it is still a good test because many games licensed the Unreal Engine.

 

Unreal Tournament 2004

 

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

69.9

72.3

3.4%

800 x 600

69.3

71.4

3.0%

1024 x 768

68.4

70.5

3.1%

1280 x 1024

64.2

62.8

2.2%

1600 x 1200

51.1

50.2

1.8%

Winner

-

-

Tie

 

With the exception of UT2K4, Far Cry revives a trend: the 6600GT increases its lead in the benchmark as we increase the resolution. Far Cry didn't show as much favor toward the 6600GT as in Doom 3 or the Source VST, but the trend is still the same. While the 20% lead the 6600GT maintains at 1600x1200 is impressive, 37 fps may or may not be playable depending on how demanding of a gamer one may be. We like to see 40 to 45 fps in shooters at a minimum, but there is a subjective element to it, and we'll leave the final call to the reader.

 

Far Cry 1.3 Performance

 

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

88.8

86.3

2.8%

800 x 600

77.7

80.8

4.0%

1024 x 768

62.2

67.9

9.2%

1280 x 1024

44.3

48.7

9.9%

1600 x 1200

30.9

37.1

20.1%

Winner

-

-

6600GT

 

Another DirectX 9.0 game shows that the 6600GT card has a resolution scaling advantage over the 9800 Pro that gives it much more bang for the buck. Halo's performance advantage numbers fall somewhere between Doom 3's and the Source VST's. Between the 9800 Pro and the 6600GT, current and future games will definitely see more benefit from the NVIDIA card.

 

Halo 1.05 Performance

 

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

119.4

131.7

10.3%

800 x 600

88.9

111.7

25.6%

1024 x 768

60.9

82.4

35.3%

1280 x 1024

39.8

56.9

43.0%

1600 x 1200

27.7

41.3

49.1%

Winner

-

-

6600GT

 

In this older OpenGL title, we see the 9800 Pro scale better than the 6600GT, but the NVIDIA card still maintained a lead throughout the testing. Since the smallest advantage the 6600GT enjoyed was just under 3% at 1600x1200, this benchmark goes to in its favor. With OpenGL being NVIDIA's strong suit, and the 6600GT doing so well in al the other benchmarks, it is interesting that this would be the game in which the 9800 Pro would give some of its best competition. Of course, the fact that this game is based on a very fixed function type of engine could have something to do with that.

 

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory Performance

 

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

101.4

107.6

6.1%

800 x 600

100.8

107.5

6.6%

1024 x 768

99.6

104.2

4.6%

1280 x 1024

85.1

88

3.4%

1600 x 1200

66.2

68

2.7%

Winner

-

-

6600GT

 

ATI's 9800 Pro scales down better than the 6600GT here, but the NVIDIA card just outperforms the 9800 hands down.

 

Battlefield - Vietnam Performance

 

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

134

217

61.9%

800 x 600

115

180

56.5%

1024 x 768

93

134

44.1%

1280 x 1024

73

97

32.9%

1600 x 1200

53

68

28.3%

Winner

-

-

6600GT

 

Once again, we see the 6600GT out performing and out scaling the 98000 Pro. This game isn't built for sheer frame rate, but, at the same time, the graphics can be intensive.

 

The Sims 2 Performance

 

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

800 x 600

48.7

50.3

3.3%

1024 x 768

38.7

42.1

8.8%

1280 x 1024

30.5

32.6

6.9%

1600 x 1200

22.8

27.8

21.9%

Winner

-

-

6600GT

 

Across the board, the 6600GT is a better buy than the 9800 Pro. There is no question that the performance is better across the board, and only gets better at higher resolutions. Add to that the fact that the feature set is a year newer, and there really isn't a debate.

The Cards Head to Head: NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT vs. NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT
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66 Comments

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  • Visual - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    i think it's important to compare the 6600GT with the normal 6800 and even the OEM 6800LEs that can be found around... also, any non-GT 6600s? because all these cards are around the best performance/value ratio... you should try to find/show which one is the best buy. you should also consider the 6800's chance of modding... Reply
  • nserra - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    #54
    But if the nvidia AGP numbers are equal to PCIe, wouldn’t ati numbers too? Is it because the card doesn’t exist?

    Why do you keep talking so much about the nvidia VP, when Ati has this feature since 2002, is it because it doesn’t work?

    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    #53

    There will be no x700 agp before years end. If we had one to test we would love to have included numbers for it.

    -- Derek Wilson
    Reply
  • nserra - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    #7 Decoder
    They can be solved, the funny thing is that Ati as decoding features since 07/18/02 and didn’t need of lots of transistors or processors to do that, and no one says that! Its like is a nv only feature. http://www.ati.com/vortal/videoinnovations/flash/i...

    #28 draazeejs
    There is no X700 AGP, but even so the 9800 does a great job for a 2 years old card.
    But there should be an X700 PCIe in the test to see how fast it is over the 6600.

    #29 Regs
    You are absolutely right; some one should pay for having recommended nvidia cards over Ati in some “past” reviews.

    #31 Cybercat
    9700 cards aren’t that bad...

    #32 vailr
    See my #7 reply.

    #34 Anand Lal Shimpi
    Yeah, Ati as encoding and decoding since 07/18/02 and I didn’t remember anyone talking about it. The new Ati driver as WMV acceleration option also, why I didn’t get tested yet!!! Just because of the nvidia fancy name “Video processor” yeah right, they are playing catch up with Ati they were 2 years late!

    #38 ChronoReverse
    You are so relying in the SM3.0, is a new shading language, which delivers new shading code. Are you sure it will be that BIG. Remember that Microsoft from PS1.1->1.4 calls DirectX8.1 and from SM2.0->SM3.0 Microsoft call it DirectX9.0c, if it is that important don’t you think the right name would be DirectX9.1 or 9.5?

    #39 Read the conclusion of own Anandtech on 04/11/04:
    "If all of the cards in this review actually stick to their MSRPs, then the clear suggestion would be the $149 ATI Radeon X700. In every single game outside of Doom 3, the X700 does extremely well, putting even the GeForce 6600 to shame" I don’t think that putting the X700 out of this test was a good idea! Since 6600AGP and PCIe is at the same level, so the X700 AGP should too?

    #40 Pete
    See the up post! And it’s also an Anandtech conclusion!
    Reply
  • R3MF - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    good article, cheers.

    i'll look forward to the vanilla 6800 benchies, as i'm building two PC's in short order, and i need the info. :)
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    Edit to #49: Radeon 9800 Pro should be at a tie with the 6600GT in Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory, as the speed difference is at best very hard to see (the biggest difference of performance is in the 6% range, just like the difference between the 5900XT and the 6600GT)

    Calin
    Reply
  • danyel - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    Does anyone know if there a plan for an AGP version of the plain geforce 6600 as I don’t see it mentioned anywhere? Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    Wolfenstein - Enemy territory is a tie, with the speed difference at most 6%. This is hardly a difference (however, the minimum frame rate have a bigger influence on game play than maximum frame rate)

    Calin
    Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    im ganna buy one asap, its exactly what i've been waiting for... my radeon 9600 pro chugs in doom3, and i can't even run it at my lcd's native res of 1280x1024...

    i've been holding off playing doom3 until a card like this came out.
    Reply
  • jay75 - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    the ATI 9800pro beats the 6600gt when anti-aliasing(AA) is implemented in far cry. it doesn't in counter strike but the frame rate is above 75 at 1280*1024(4x AA) anyway. this is something to be noted. Reply

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