Head to Head: NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT vs. NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

If we take a look at the price of the GeForce FX 5900XT in our RealTime Pricing Engine, we see a card that hovers somewhere around $185. The 5900XT is the lower rung of the high end graphics cards from NVIDIA at the end of the year in 2003.

Under Doom 3, the 5900XT just can't keep up with the 6600GT, especially at higher resolutions. We are seeing the same type of pattern we saw with the 9800 Pro head to head: as resolution increases, so does the 6600GT's lead.

Doom 3 Performance

 

NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

65.6

105.9

61.4%

800 x 600

50.2

100.3

99.8%

1024 x 768

36.3

82

125.9%

1280 x 1024

25.4

58.7

131.1%

1600 x 1200

18.9

43.4

129.6%

Winner

 

-

6600GT

 
This test isn't even a contest. The 6600GT makes short work of the 5900XT under valve's VST test. Though, with Half-Life two finally released, we'll have to see just how good a predictor of performance the VST is.

Counterstrike: Source Visual Stress Test Performance

 

NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

81.8

191.8

134.5%

800 x 600

60.6

175.3

189.3%

1024 x 768

40.2

133.3

231.6%

1280 x 1024

24.8

83.3

235.9%

1600 x 1200

18.9

68

259.8%

Winner

 

-

6800GT

 

This test shows virtually no difference in the framerates of Unreal Tournament 2004 until we started working beyond 1024x768. It is very likely that before 1280 graphics are not a limiting factor in performance here. Nevertheless, the 6600GT comes out on top, and when graphics power does start to matter the 5900XT starts to fall behind.

Unreal Tournament 2004

 

NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

72.7

72.3

0.6%

800 x 600

71.4

71.4

0.0%

1024 x 768

67.2

70.5

4.9%

1280 x 1024

51.9

62.8

21.0%

1600 x 1200

39.1

50.2

28.4%

Winner

 

-

6600GT


The 5900XT is not playable at anything above 1024x768 in FarCry, but the 6600GT holds on and manages over a 100% performance advantage at the higher resolutions.
 

Far Cry 1.3 Performance

 

NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

60.2

86.3

43.4%

800 x 600

45.7

80.8

76.8%

1024 x 768

33.3

67.9

103.9%

1280 x 10 24

23

48.7

111.7%

1600 x 1200

16.4

37.1

126.2%

Winner

 

-

6600GT

 
Halo continues the 6600GT reign with almost double the performance across the board.

Halo 1.05 Performance

 

NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

71.4

131.7

84.5%

800 x 600

55.1

111.7

102.7%

1024 x 768

39.7

82.4

107.6%

1280 x 1024

26.5

56.9

114.7%

1600 x 1200

19.2

41.3

115.1%

Winner

 

-

6600GT

 
This OpenGL benchmark shows a tie between the two boards, and at lower resolutions the 5900XT board is acutally leading the 6600GT here. This older quake III engine based game definitely shows a side we haven't seen, but so far the 5900XT has tied one benchmark while the 6600GT has won all the rest. Let's contine on and see what the rest stack up like.

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory Performance

 

NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

111.8

107.6

3.8%

800 x 600

110.3

107.5

2.5%

1024 x 768

103.7

104.2

0.5%

1280 x 1024

84

88

4.8%

1600 x 1200

64

68

6.3%

Winner

 

-

Tie

 
In Battlefield vietnam, the results are pretty steadily in favor of the 6600GT: it wins with over a 50% performance advantage every time.

Battlefield - Vietnam Performance

 

NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

640 x 480

139

217

56.1%

800 x 600

106

180

69.8%

1024 x 768

76

134

76.3%

1280 x 1024

53

97

83.0%

1600 x 1200

36

68

88.9%

Winner

 

-

6600GT

 
Running with 78% higher fps at 1600x1200, the 6600GT closes out its victory against the 5900XT.

The Sims 2 Performance

 

NVIDIA GeForce 5900XT

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT

Performance Advantage

800 x 600

33.4

50.3

50.6%

1024 x 768

29

42.1

45.2%

1280 x 1024

20.3

32.6

60.6%

1600 x 1200

15.6

27.8

78.2%

Winner

 

-

6600GT

In every test but one the 6600GT dominated the 5900XT in performance and value. In our head to head battles, price was a key factor. Now that the 6600GT has entered the AGP market, there is no reason to look at either of these other two AGP based products.

Head to Head: ATI Radeon 9800 Pro vs. NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT Doom 3 Performance
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  • ShadowVlican - Thursday, November 18, 2004 - link

    seems like #28 got pwned... think AGP ^_-

    very nice review Anand, it's quite astonishing how fast technology can grow isn't it? with the "top" cards of the last generation being eaten by this generation's top mid card... i'm looking forward to your next review when you have your vanilla 6800!
    Reply
  • Speedo - Thursday, November 18, 2004 - link

    Hmm... I also agree with you people, which wonder if an upgrade to a faster graphics card would help and if you perhaps already are CPU limited.

    One way of checking the "status" of your current system is to play around with resolutions for a given game. For example, lets say you normally play UT2004 at 1024x768. Try setting the resolution to 512x384 and see where your framerates go. You will not probably go much above that, no matter how fast video card you upgrade to.

    You can also try upping the resolution one step from what you are usually using. If the framerate drops a lot, you would probably benefit from an upgrade.

    I know this doesn't tell *which* new card you should get. But if your low-res test shows that your CPU can deliver double the framerate, then a good balance could be to upgrade to a card that is at least double as fast as your current one.

    In my own system I seem to have a pretty good balance right now, with a 9800pro(xt mod) & barton@2.3Ghz.
    Reply
  • bigpow - Thursday, November 18, 2004 - link

    I agree with the previous commentators.

    Most of us are stuck with our older generation platform, say P4 2.4c or AthlonXP 1700+ or 2500+

    Where's the result for these platforms, AT?

    Most of us (see above) will decide whether it is worth it to upgrade to 6600GT if we see these numbers.

    AT, step up and beat the competition.
    Don't be lazy and just compare with the expensive and uncommon FX CPU.
    Reply
  • Ender17 - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    Those charts with the precentages are awesome!! and the head to stuff was great as well. Keep up the good work and try to get us that head to head with the 6800nu. Reply
  • Niatross - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    Even when he's cpu limited he's limited by an FX-55 not an XP Barton. Yea I wonder how many 1000 dollar cpu systems have a 200 dollar card?

    Yea he's showing the cards abilities off well by using an FX-55 but it TELLS me nothing about what my experiance might be. I would just like to see what it would run like on the average machine. I said before that I've seen this hashed out many times on various sites and I see the value of the way it's usually done, just wishing I had my way (STOMP,STOMP BOO HOO,(LOL) I guess ;-) J
    Reply
  • ciwell - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    Maybe an article/chart that lists the CPUs from the past couple of years and the theoretical GPU to go along with it that would MAX out, given a CPU bottleneck or what-not. Reply
  • navsimpson - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    While I get why the fastest CPU must be used to prevent CPU bottlenecking, what I don't understand is why someone who can afford a $1000 processor would buy a $200 video card and not shell out the extra 100 or so bucks to move up a notch. These reviews end up being technically sound - we do our best to see what the cards are actually capable of - but of much less consequence to those of us looking to figure out what cards to buy. Will it be worth it to get a 6600gt or would a 9600xt max out the performance of my Athlon 2600? That's what I - and a heck of a lot of other people - want to know. Reply
  • Pete - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    Derek emerged from his underground bunker! Now that you've recovered enough to type ;), can you verify and maybe explain those 9700P Far Cry numbers? Reply
  • nserra - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    #57 ciwell

    What is really funny is that nvidia almost didn’t beat a 2 year old card!
    And that a similar hardware 5900 (to some people) at that time some even say it was better is in the ground.
    Where are the 5900 PS2.0+ and VS2.0+?

    This is the anandtech 5900 test conclusion:

    “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.”

    Where is the 5900 in all the benches? Who have bought an nvidia 5900 based on those comments?
    Reply
  • ciwell - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    I find it funny how nVidia has beaten ATI to the punch and the fanbois are coming out of the woodwork. :D Reply

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