NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra: It's Here, but is it Good?by Anand Lal Shimpi on January 27, 2003 3:50 AM EST
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We benchmarked the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra and the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro on every single 266MHz FSB Athlon XP to produce an interesting CPU scaling chart. The tests were conducted at 1024x768 with no anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering enabled in order to increase the dependency on the CPU and driver subsystems. The results were interesting to say the least:
The interesting thing is that the GeForce FX never overtakes the Radeon 9700 Pro, it consistently falls behind by 4 - 6%. With a higher core clock, the only explanation for the GeForce FX falling behind here would be that the Radeon 9700's raw memory bandwidth advantage helps it out. We debunked this theory by increasing the FX's memory bandwidth by 10% (read: overclocked it to 1100MHz memory) and noted no more than a 0.2% increase in performance, so this test was clearly not saturating the memory bus of the GeForce FX. In theory, the GeForce FX should be outperforming the Radeon 9700 Pro here, but in reality it was not at all.
All evidence points to the GeForce FX's drivers holding it back, but this seems rather atypical of NVIDIA, or does it? Historically, NVIDIA has always provided a driver release 3 - 6 months after the launch of a new GPU that has improved performance anywhere from 10 - 20% on average. With the GeForce FX being a relatively new core, we'd expect to see something very similar from them down the road. The difference this time around is that NVIDIA has a much more powerful competitor in ATI, the Radeon 9700 Pro is no sitting duck. With very mature drivers and solid performance across the board, the GeForce FX vs. ATI's Radeon 9700 is almost reminiscent of the Radeon 8500 vs. NVIDIA's GeForce3 Ti 500, but with the roles reversed.