The Test

We used the exact same test bed and settings as our Catalyst 3.8 review, the only difference here was that we benchmarked at 1024x768 given the power and target market of the Radeon 9600 XT. We also used the "almost final" version of the 52 series Detonators from NVIDIA (52.16) which have been submitted for WHQL certification.

As a refresher, here are the games we benchmarked with:

C&C Generals: Zero Hour
EVE: The Second Genesis
F1 Challenge '99-'02
Final Fantasy XI
Homeworld 2
Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Neverwinter Nights: Shadow of Undrendtide
SimCity 4
Splinter Cell
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
Tron 2.0
Unreal Tournament 2003
Warcraft III: Frozen Throne
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
X2: The Threat

Our testbed remained the same:

AMD Athlon64 FX51
1GB DDR400 (2x512MB)
ASUS nForce3 motherboard

The only issues we encountered were as follows:

1) Homeworld 2 would not run on either the Radeon 9600 Pro or the Radeon 9600 XT. This is the same issue we ran into the first time we tried to run this benchmark on ATI hardware. Interestingly enough, it works on all of ATI’s high end cards – just not their midrange hardware.

2) Tomb Raider would not run on the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra with the latest 52.16 drivers at 1024x768. The game kept on returning an out of memory error at any resolution higher than 1024x768. Given that we tested with a 128MB card and none of the other cards had a problem, this seems like more of a driver issue or a game issue than anything else.

3) Since the GeForce4 Ti 4200 only supports PS1.1, we could not include this card in the Tomb Raider tests either. Performance under PS1.1 is much higher than performance under PS2.0, so the comparison would not be fair to ATI if we ran all of their hardware using PS2.0 and ran the Ti 4200 in PS1.1 mode.

We have not had time to go back and figure out a benchmark for BF1942 yet nor work out the issues with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004. We haven’t received much feedback in terms of any ideas for benchmarking under these two games, but we’re still open to suggestions.

For image quality comparisons refer back to our Fall 2003 Video Card Roundup - Part 2.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the games.

The definitive Fall Refresh Aquamark3 Performance
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  • BerSerK0 - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    I have a 9600XT, and real life FPS on these games are much better :)
  • xxZoDxx - Sunday, December 28, 2003 - link

    My $.02... Constantly listening to the bickering of ATI vs nvidia, it's like Ford vs Chevy, & Pepsi vs Coke. My feelings on this? nvidia has superior hardware. Now before you get your ATI underoos in a bunch, ATI has the superior Drivers/architecture. Look at most openGL benches. Don't they follow the clock, RAM, and bandwidth speeds more closely? nvidia mostly holds all these cards. If they could only get their drivers to work as well with D3D, there wouldn't be a question. Congrats on the latest 50 series but they still have a way to go to get D3D up to snuff. Personally? I have a 5900 that o/c's like mad (well beyond 5950) and I only paid 2 bills for it. ATI... get the pricing down and you could OWN nvidia. Now I wait for the flamers..........
  • TurtleMan - Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - link

    Hmm FFXi is a main factor for me , and now i have an unopen 9600 xt sitting right here, i began to wonder if i should open it up or buy a 9800 se..
  • Rustjive - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link

    The FFXI benchmark is heavily CPU bound in addition to being GPU bound. Case in point: I ran it on my duallie PIII-733 with the TI4200, and I barely got over 1200 rendered (compared with the 3000+ of Anandtech's results.) Then contrast this to Aquamark 3, in which I got 13.03 FPS as opposed to the ~15FPS of Anand's. (Comparatively, the performance differences are quite drastic.) All I have to say is...blah to FFXI and the world of MMORPGs. Blah.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - link

    Scores are bullshit, why bench the top of the line ATI 9800 XT against the middle of the road 5600? Thats just retarded.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - link

    When we will see a test with ATI,s 9800 made by different manufacturers?
    Thank u!
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, October 18, 2003 - link

    How come they used diff. settings for every benchmark? Sometimes they used 1024X768 with no AA/AF enabled while other times they used 1024X768 w/ 4XAA/8XAF. Where did the 6XAA settings go? Can't stay consistant thorough out the review so people won't have to worry about the settings for each game benchamarks. Can anyone expalain this?
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 17, 2003 - link

    Unfortunately this review has missed an important issue: noise levels. Simply put many of the people reading this site will have serious hearing loss by their mid 40s because these systems are too loud for the long daily exposure times people experience with them. Old programmers who were around the old line printers frequently have hearing loss from the high pitched buzzing of the printers. Ditto any other industrial noise exposures. Silent computing is a worthwhile goal! I was very disappointed to discover that the last nVidia-based graphic card I placed in my main system was so noisy. Now I need to find a quieter one that delivers similar performance. These reviews are not much help on that dimension. Sorry.
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 17, 2003 - link

    Can you PLEASE get rid of the flash ! :(
    Whats wrong with the classic Anandtech graphs
    that everybody loved ?
    It doesnt even look better ..
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 17, 2003 - link

    Hey #8, maybe it's because NVIDIA sucks. Even when they do match the performance of ATI, the image quality is lower anyway.

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