Final Words

What stood out the most about NVIDIA was how some of their best people could look us in the eye and say "we made a mistake" (in reference to NV30). When we first saw NV35 running last year we already had a much better taste in our mouths than what had been left after NV30; now after putting it through its paces, we can honestly say that NV35 is everything that was right about NV30 plus everything that was lacking in NVIDIA's first FX GPU.

The combination of a 256-bit memory bus, a more efficient architecture and more mature drivers has made this second round a lot stronger for NVIDIA. The balance of power has been shifted back towards NVIDIA, and with their driver problems solved the potential for NVIDIA to make a comeback across all market segments is quite high.

The Doom3 performance of the NV35 is definitely promising, especially considering that we benchmarked with an un-optimized driver. However a lot can change between now and the release of the game, it will be interesting to see how quickly ATI will incorporate Doom3 optimizations into their current drivers in the event that we get another such opportunity to benchmark Doom3 in the near future.

At a $499 price tag, the GeForceFX 5900 Ultra is extremely hard to justify, but the $299 and $399 parts may be interesting depending on the final clock speeds that NVIDIA decides upon. Quite possibly the most exciting part of today's launch is the release of NVIDIA's Detonator FX drivers that have finally solved the anisotropic filtering issues we were shocked to have with NVIDIA's hardware in the past. Later this week we will bring you a comparative review detailing the performance of all of the anisotropic filtering modes as well as a better idea of exactly how much performance the new Detonator FX drivers will bring you.

The new shipping GeForceFX 5600 Ultra with a flip chip package is also an intriguing possibility, as we expect it to be able to give the Radeon 9600 Pro much more competition than the original 5600 Ultra. This situation where the shipping product is much improved over the originally reviewed product is all too reminiscent of the Radeon 9500 Pro, whose performance changed dramatically after our initial performance preview. We will see in the coming weeks how the final 5600 Ultra stacks up across the board.

From the ATI camp the $499 Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB, just like the NV35, is a difficult purchase to justify; even more difficult in this case because the GeForceFX 5900 Ultra does outperform it in a number of tests. The benefit of 256MB of memory is quite small right now, and the price premium is definitely not worth it. We'd also honestly hope that the issues we encountered with our Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB board were limited to our board alone, and aren't representative of ATI running their memory out of spec.

There are rumors of an answer to NVIDIA's NV35 in the works for an introduction in the relatively near future based on the R3xx architecture. We'd assume this NV35 competitor to remain a 0.15-micron part, but with higher core clock speeds and maybe a few micro-architectural tweaks/enhancements to gain the performance edge on NVIDIA.

The next-generation of games are finally on their way, and it looks like we'll have an extremely powerful set of cards to choose from when titles like Doom3, Half-Life 2 and Deus Ex2 hit later this year.

Comanche 4


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  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 16, 2003 - link

    After reading this article, how can I determine which GeForceFX 5600 card has the NV30 core or the NV35 core. I'm currently interested in purchasing one, but on any of the retail boxes or manuals from the manufacturer's web site say nothing about the type of core used. Did NVidia corrected themselves using the NV35 core before releasing their 5600 cards to the market? Or are there 5600's NV30 cards on the retail shelves too. Help is appreciated. Thanks. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    You should be ashamed. The linking of words to completely unrelated MARKETING ADS is absolutely if you don’t have ENOUGH ads already.

  • Shagga - Saturday, August 09, 2003 - link

    I certainly found the article informative. I read the article with a view to making a decision on which card to purchase over the next week or so and to be honest the article said enough to convince me to sit tight. I also felt there is more to come from both ATI and nVidia and the results which are presented are perhaps not entirely complete. This is pointed out by Anand and at $499 I need to be making the right choice, however, Anand did succeed in convincing me to wait a tad longer.

    Good article I thought.
  • Anonymous User - Friday, August 01, 2003 - link

    Please stop using Flash graphics! Reply
  • Pete - Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - link

    It's only fair that I praise the article, as well. As I said above, in the initial article comment thread, I congratulated Anand on what I thought was a well-written article. I appreciate his lengthy graphics pipeline summary, his extensive image quality investigation, and his usual even-handed commentary (though I had problems with the latter two). Reply
  • Pete - Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - link

    I think this is a great article with a few significant flaws in its benchmarking.

    Firstly, the Doom 3 numbers. Anand acknowledged that he could not get the 9800P 256MB to run the tech demo properly, yet he includes the numbers anyway. This strikes me as not only incorrect but irresponsible. People will see 9800P 256MB numbers and note that its extra memory makes no difference over its 128MB sibling, yet only if they read the article carefully would they know that the driver Anand used limits the 9800P 256MB to only 128MB, essentially crippling the card.

    Also, note the difference between Medium Quality and High Quality modes in Doom 3 is only anisotropic filtering (AF), which is enabled in HQ mode. Note that forcing AF in the video card's drivers, rather than via the application, will result in higher performance and potentially lower image quality! This was shown to be the case both in a TechReport article on 3DM03 ("3DMurk"), in forum discussions at B3D, and in an editorial at THG. Hopefully this will be explored fully once a Doom3 demo is released to the public, and we have more open benchmarking of this anticipated game.

    Secondly, Anand's initial Quake 3 5900U numbers seemed way off compared to other sites that tested the same card in similar systems at the same settings. At 1600x1200 with 4xAA 8xAF, Anand was scoring over 200fps, well higher than any other review. And yet, after weeks of protest in the forum thread on this article, all that happened was the benchmark results for 12x10 and 16x12 were removed. The text, which notes:

    "The GeForceFX 5900 Ultra does extremely well in Quake III Arena, to the point where it is CPU/platform bound at 1600x1200 with 4X AA/8X Anisotropic filtering enabled."

    was left unchanged, even though it was based on what many assumed were erroneous benchmark data. I can only conclude that the data were indeed erroneous, as they have been removed from the article. Sadly, the accompanying text has not been edited to reflect that.

    Thirdly, the article initially tested Splinter Cell with AA, though the game does not perform correctly with it. The problem was that NVIDIA's drivers automatically disable AA if it's selected, yielding non-AA scores for what an unsupsecting reviewer believes is an AA mode. ATi's driver allow AA, warts and all, and thus produce appropriately dimished benchmark numbers, along with corresponding AA errors. The first step at correcting this mistake was to remove all Splinter Cell graphs and place a blurb in the driver section of the review blaming ATi for not disabling AA. Apparently a second step has been taking, expunging Splinter Cell from the article text altogether. Strangely, Splinter Cell is still listed in the article's drop-down menu as p. 25; clicking will bring you to the one last Quake 3 graph with the incorrect analysis, noted above.

    Finally, a note on the conclusion:

    "What stood out the most about NVIDIA was how some of their best people could look us in the eye and say "we made a mistake" (in reference to NV30)."

    What stands out most to me is that NVIDIA still can't look people in the eye and say they made a mistake by cheating in 3DMark03. Recent articles have shown NVIDIA to be making questionable optimizations (that may be considered cheats in the context of a benchmark) in many games and benchmarks, yet I see only a handful of sites attempt to investigate these issues. ExtremeTech and B3D noted the 3DMark03 "optimizations." Digit-Life has noted CodeCreatures and UT2K3 benchmark "optimizations," and Beyond3D and AMDMB have presented pictorial evidence of what appears to be the reason for the benchmark gains. NVIDIA appears to currently foster a culture of cutting corners without the customer's (and, hopefully, reviewer's) knowledge, and they appear reticent to admit it at all.

    I realize this post comes off as harsh against both Anand and NVIDIA. In the initial comment thread on this article, I was gentler in my (IMO, constructive) criticism. As the thread wore on for weeks without a single change in the multiple errors perceived in the original article, I gradually became more curt in my requests for corrections. Anand elicits possibly the greatest benefit of the doubt of any online hardware reviewer I know, as I've read his site and enjoyed the mature and thoughtful personality he imbued it with for years. I'm sorry to say his response--rather, his lack of response, as it was only Evan and Kristopher, not Anand, that replied to the original article thread--was wholly unsatisfactory, and the much belated editing of the article into what you read today was unsatisfactory as well. I would have much preferred Anand(tech) left the original article intact and appended a cautionary note or corrected benchmarks and commentary, rather than simply cutting out some of the questionable figures and text.

    Consider this post a summation of the criticism posted in the original article thread. I thought they would be useful to put this article in context, and I hope they are taken as constructive, not destructive, criticism. The 5900 is no doubt a superior card to its predecessor. I also believe this article, in its current form, presents an incomplete picture of both the 5900U and its direct competition, ATi's 9800P 256MB. Hopefully the long chain of revelations and commentary sparked by and after this article will result not in hard feelings, but more educated, thorough, and informative reviews.

    I look forward to Anandtech's next review, which I believe has been too long in coming. :)
  • jazz23 - Friday, August 10, 2018 - link

    This can be so useful for us. Reply
  • jazz23 - Friday, August 10, 2018 - link

    So we can see here for soemthing important. Reply
  • Alka95 - Wednesday, December 05, 2018 - link

  • ritaeora - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    I like your review about the GeForce.

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