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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  • Pythias - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    >>The impact of the bridge, as I mentioned in the review, is negligible. The bridge + slower memory results in a 0 - 5% performance difference between the PCI Express and AGP versions of the 6600GT (the 5% figure being because of the additional memory bandwidth courtesy of the 500/1000 clock vs. 500/900).

    Just so you guys know, I went out and picked up a vanilla 6800 for inclusion in my upcoming Half Life 2 GPU comparison. Know that your voice has been heard :)

    Take care,
    Anand<<<

    Anand, you kick teh bootay.
    Reply
  • Poser - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    #42 He's not benching them with the fastest processor he can get his hands on just to show off what cool hardware he's got, you know. If you match up a fast video card with a slower processor, you can get benchmark scores that are CPU limited, instead of GPU limited like you want to see. You can see a little bit of what CPU limiting looks like when you look at the low resolution benchmarks with older games, and even with Unreal Tournament 2004 in this review. Every card ends up with essentially the same score, because it's no longer the video card that's the bottleneck -- it's the rest of the system, chiefly the CPU.

    If you knew all that already, my apologies for the mini-lecture =). I agree that it's nice to occassionally see benchmarks with a range of processors so that you can spot "yours" and see what sort of performance boost you'd get by upgrading, but it hardly seems practical to do that for every video card review and if you've got to pick ONE processor to test everything on, then the fastest available is a good choice.
    Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    #41,
    the PT894 Pro chipset should be sampling right now.

    Reply
  • bhtooefr - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    draazeejs: Anand compared it against other cards that are the same price. So, a 2 year old card that is now that same price IS a fair comparison. Reply
  • Niatross - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    I know you've heard this comment a million times before. I don't have a FX 55 I've got an Athlon 2500 mobile. These benchs mean absolutly nothing to me Reply
  • Tanclearas - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    "Most enthusiast users appear to be sticking with their AGP platforms and while they would consider a GPU upgrade, they are not willing to upgrade their motherboard (and sometimes CPU and memory) just to get a faster graphics card."

    Don't you think this has something to do with the fact that you still can't purchase AMD PCIe boards? Not to mention that it looks like the only (realistic) SLI solution that will be available in the next several months will be for Athlon 64.
    Reply
  • Pete - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    #28, as ATi won't be releasing the X700XT in AGP form for quite some time, and as they're actually going to (continue to) use the 9800P as competition at the $200 price point, your accusation is wholly without merit. If you want to see X700XT vs. 6600GT numbers, just read Anand's X700XT review. As it stands, the 6600GT is unchallenged in the field of new AGP cards at $200.

    But it's way overpriced for the $250 NewEgg is charging for it, dual DVI or not. For $250, you're better off with the BFG 6800OC at Outpost.com (which may even come with Far Cry, making it an even better deal).
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    The review at firingsquad also seems to paint the same pciture, the conclusion there is similar in wording to the conclusion here to me. It seems the 6600 GT AGP is most definitely a good video card for the mass market :P Reply
  • ChronoReverse - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    To #28

    A quote from HardOCP

    "One thing is for sure, the GeForce 6600GT and the Radeon X700XT are very competitive products when it comes to overall gaming performance. If we had to edge out a card that offers up the better value we would have to lean towards the GeForce 6600GT at this point in time. In our two days of X700XT experience we saw it get held out of the top spot in terms of both framerate and image quality by the GeForce 6600GT. Keep in mind that the GeForce 6600 series also packs the performance potential of Shader Model 3.0 once games start using it."

    Any nVidia bias you attribute to Anandtech is unfounded.
    Reply
  • vailr - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    Some AVSForum.com (/Home Theater Computers) postings had said that the 6600 video processor was fine; that only the 6800 (the AGP version specifically) had certain hardware problems, which "cannot be cured by a driver update". Or, that maybe some future Windows Media Player update would be needed, to enable hardware assisted .wmv files.
    So, general confusion, as to what the real facts are.
    "nVidia admits 6800 has faulty on chip decoder":
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&a...
    Reply

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