ATI 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro Vs GeForce Fx 5900 Ultra

ATI 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro Vs GeForce Fx 5900 Ultra - Page 2

Battle Of The 256MB Graphics Cards
Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB Vs. GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
ATi's Catalyst 3.4 Drivers and 256MB R9800 Pro Vs. The New NVIDIA Flagship

By - Dave Altavilla
May 20, 2003



** Section Updated 5/23/2003 - 3PM EST **

By now, most likely many of you have heard about the alleged driver cheat that NVIDIA has incorporated into their 44.03 Detonator FX driver release, the driver we're using for this article.  While NVIDIA will neither confirm or deny that they have intentionally taken steps to manipulate the scores in 3DMark 2003, there is definitely something completely unethical going on in our opinion and we're not sure exactly where to point the finger. 

Here's a snippet of FutureMark's perspective....  (Taken from FutureMark's recent 3DMark 03 Audit Report)

"In our testing, all identified detection mechanisms stopped working when we altered the benchmark code just trivially and without changing any of the actual benchmark workload. With this altered benchmark, NVIDIA?s certain products had a performance drop of as much as 24.1% while competition?s products performance drop stayed within the margin of error of 3%. To our knowledge, all drivers with these detection mechanisms were published only after the launch of 3DMark03. According to industry?s terminology, this type of driver design is defined as ?driver

Members of Futuremark?s BETA program first noticed how parts of the tests in 3DMark03 were rendered differently on different hardware. When testing NVIDIA hardware on 3DMark03 with socalled developer?s version?s free camera enabled, they noticed how some parts of tests were rendered strangely, and informed Futuremark of their findings. Futuremark investigated further and our findings show that certain NVIDIA drivers seem to detect when 3DMark03 is running and then replace the 3DMark03?s rendering requests with manually implemented alternative rendering operations. These alternative rendering operations reduce the amount of rendering work and thereby increase the obtained benchmark result."

And the NVIDIA perspective...

"Since NVIDIA is not part in the FutureMark beta program (a program which costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in) we do not get a chance to work with Futuremark on writing the shaders like we would with a real applications developer. We don't know what they did, but it looks like they have intentionally tried to create a scenario that makes our products look bad. This is obvious since our relative performance on games like Unreal Tournament 2003 and Doom 3 shows that the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra is by far the fastest graphics on the market today."

There you have it.  Frankly, we're growing tired of this little struggle and it's a damn shame that FutureMark and NVIDIA can't resolve their differences and get beyond this.  The REAL losers in this scenario are you folks, our readers.  There is definitely a place, as we've said before here at HH, for Synthetic Benchmarks.  Do we have any other DX9 capable benchmark to use right now, other than 3DMark 03?  The answer is no... and since we can't trust the scores with this benchmark now, sites and publications like HotHardware will have to run DX7 and 8 game titles for our tests.  You'll just have to go without a real understanding of how a product will perform in a DX9 gaming environment, at least until a true DX9 game engine ships.  Isn't that nice?  Don't tell us there isn't a place for Synthetic Benchmarks... There certainly is, if they are allowed to be engineered and validated properly.

So, we'll include scores from both 3DMark 03 before the 330 patch and after.

Before FutureMark's 330 Patch


After FutureMark's 330 Patch

And we're completely reserving comment here on these scores and this completely ridiculous situation....

Serious Sam SE Testing
OpenGL With Lots Of Texture

Serious Sam The Second Encounter, will provide a decent perspective of OpenGL gaming performance, with its bright and detailed textures and DX7 lighting effects.  Let's have a look...

At a medium resolution of 1024X768, Serious Sam's game engine is hardly stressing any of the cards in this round-up.  Even the GFFX 5800 Ultra keeps close pace with the GFFX 5900 UItra and the Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB.  However, at 1600X1200, the pack spreads out a bit with the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra stealing the show with 4X AA enabled.  Without AA, again all of the cards are within close proximity of each other.  However, we're reminded of NVIDIA's lesser quality AA output, that we showed you in our GeForce FX 5900 Ultra launch article. In our opinion, 4X AA image quality is not quite up to par with Radeon 9800 Pro 4X AA image quality, at this point in time.  We are hopeful that NVIDIA will release a driver update soon that will tighten up their AA fidelity.  At this point in time, users need to ask themselves if they want a few extra frames per second at the slight expense of image quality.  We feel that although the GFFX 5900 Ultra is faster than the Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB card, in certain AA modes, the card just isn't doing the work that a Radeon 9800 Pro is capable of.  Again, in the end it's up to you to decide for yourself on the IQ of each card and the associated performance levels you're getting.  In our opinion, NVIDIA has more homework to do on their drivers.


Next Up - Quake 3 Arena Time Demos

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