The New Test Suite

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, we are introducing a brand new test suite with this review and we are also kicking off the first installment of a multipart series covering multiple aspects of current (and somewhat next) generation gaming performance.

By no means should you take the limited (yet extensive) tests we have here as all you will see from us, but rather something to whet your appetite for what is yet to come. The focus of this review is plain and simple – comparing the basic performance of the latest offerings from ATI and NVIDIA. In the future installments we will cover image quality, CPU scaling and other aspects of performance in greater detail. We will be making notes of noticeable visual differences between ATI and NVIDIA in this article, but a comparison with supporting images will be done in Part II of the series.

As far as the new test suite is concerned, here are the benchmarks that made it in:

AquaMark 3
Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour
F1 Challenge ’99-‘02
Final Fantasy XI Benchmark 2
Homeworld 2
Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004
Neverwinter Nights: The Shadows of the Undrentide
Simcity 4
Splinter Cell
Unreal Tournament 2003
Warcraft III: Frozen Throne
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

We are working on expanding the suite even further, but for now this is what we have. If you’d like to see more games added please feel free to let us know either by sending an email or even better, leaving a comment through the system at the bottom of the page.

We used ATI’s publicly available Catalyst 3.7 drivers and in order to support the NV38 we used NVIDIA’s forthcoming 52.14 drivers. The 52.14 drivers apparently have issues in two games, neither of which are featured in our test suite (Half Life 2 & Gunmetal).

Our test bed was configured as follows:

2.8GHz Intel Processor Prescott
512MB DDR400
Intel 875P Motherboard

The Radeon 9600XT & NV38 Aquamark 3


View All Comments

  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 24, 2003 - link

    I believe a few of these benchmarks are misleading. The flight simulator 2004 results are a perfect example. It's obvious that the frame rates are limited to the refresh rate of the selected resolution, which is different for different cards (example: 125 Hz, 75 Hz, and 60 Hz). I would suggest fixing your method of benchmarking or removing the games with incorrect results from your benchmark suite, since it misrepresents the NVIDIA card's true performance. I would have thought the stepped frame rates on cards of WIDELY varying performance would have clued you guys in on the problem, but I guess not. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - link

    Anand have refused to give ATi the credit they deserve. In every bench where ATi prevailed they managed to find some fault with the benchmark rather than find fault with nVidia's cards\drivers. Those 5 "Marginal" benches belong to ATi ...but Anand can't very well award them or it looks too one sided. The summing up recommends ATi, but not because the cards are better, apparently it's because you can't predict what the future holds (???). It's time Anand got it's hand out of nVidia's pocket and told it like it really is ...The current crop of nVidia FX cards Suck as much as they Blow. They can't produce the goods without cheating and favourable reviewers. To those that would choose nVidia over any other manufacturer, no matter what they produce! You just got Screwed over. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, October 20, 2003 - link

    Thank God! At last a review that means something! Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 16, 2003 - link

    The 9800 XT is already on my upgrade list. Thanks you Anandtech once again for helping me make an imformed decision. One game I would like to see is Papy's Nascar Racing 2003 as it can be a real bear to run. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, October 12, 2003 - link

    OMG I predicted this a few months ago. That Nvidia would start messing with the filtering. Setting it to a lower value than what the end user thinks it is set at.

    An analogy: What if you set your graphics card to 1280 rez but in the game the driver forces the game to load at 1024 or even 800x600 rez.

    Well I know most of you would figure it out but I know lots of people that could be fooled.

    Take it a step further and use bilinear filtering when the person sets it at trilinear. This is not as obvious, it forces the card to do 1/2 the work it would be doing if tri filtering was invoked.

    So basically Nvidia drivers have fooled Anandtech into praises. It makes Anand either look like a fool or greedy.

    Either way this review is tainted.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, October 11, 2003 - link

    Everyone should read this article. It explains what Anandtech could not.

    Added on October 9, 2003:

    AnandTech made an extremely extensive article about the performance and image quality of the current high-end graphic cards like Radeon 9800XT and GeForceFX 5950 Ultra (NV38). Beside the game benchmarks with 18 games, the image quality tests made with each of those games are strongly worth to be mentioned. AnandTech uses the Catalyst 3.7 on ATi side and the Detonator 52.14 on the nVidia side to compare the image quality. In contrast to the statements of our youngest driver comparison, AnandTech didn’t notice any general differences of the image quality between the Detonator 52.14 and 45.23 and therefore AnandTech praises the new driver a little into the sky.

    This however not even absolutely contradicts itself with our realizations. The nVidia-"optimizations" of the anisotropic filter with texture stages 1 till 7 in Control panel mode (only a 2x anisotropic filter is uses, regardless if there were made higher settings) are only to find with proper searching for it, besides most image quality comparisons by AnandTech were concerned without the anisotropic filter and therefore it’s impossible to find any differences on those pictures. The generally forced "optimization" of the trilinear filter into a pseudo trilinear filter by the Detonator 52.14 is besides nearly not possible to see on fixed images of real games, because the trilinear filter was created in order to prevent nearly only the MIP-Banding which can be seen in motion.

    Thus it can be stated that the determined "optimizations" of the Detonator 52.14 won’t be recognized with the view of screenshots, if you do not look for them explicitly (why however AnandTech awards the driver 52.14 a finer filter quality than the driver 51.75 is a mystery for us, then the only difference between them is a correctly working Application mode of the Detonator 52.14). Thus the "optimizations" of nVidia are not to be really seen
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    Has any else noticed that the Nvidia 5600 ULTRA gets whooped by the ATI 9600 Pro in this article? This is sharp contrast to the AnandTech's last review on the two cards here==> What's going on here?? Reply
  • avijay - Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - link

    I have a problem the viewing the results of the tests they way they are now posted. Could it be possible to put the graphs the way it used to be, i.e., not use flash. Cos I access the site thru a public network and flash movies or similar things don't load and hence I haven't been able to view the graphs for the past few articles now. Thanks.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    I am only interested in 1600x1200 or higher, with AA & AF turned on. I could not imagine spending >$500 and using 1024x768, etc. Perhaps AnandTech could include benchmarks at the high end of resolutions, AA & AF, especially considering they are reviewing the "best" or "most expensive" graphics card available to the consumer. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind can be a great benchmark, with a little .ini file tweaking so that it shows the FPS in the corner. Reply

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