NVIDIA vs ATi Grahics Card Shoot-out

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NVIDIA vs ATi - Page 5

Graphic Card Roundup
A comparative look at what's out there now

By Robert Maloney
March 29th, 2004

Benchmarks With Unreal Tournament 2003
Whetting our appetite for Unreal TMNT 2004

Epic's Unreal Tournament has consistently been one of the most popular shooters, and by no coincidence is it also one of the most used benchmarks for video card testing.  There are many variants to testing the demo version, one of which is to use a "Flyby", which plays back a recorded tour of one of the levels.  Here in the labs, we use a custom INI file that maximizes the graphical settings, and then displays the average frame rate for three strenuous resolutions.  We chose the 1024x768x32 and 1600x1200x32 scores for our reports, with and without anti-aliasing enabled.  We kept Anisotropic filtering disabled here because NVIDIA and ATi aren't doing the same level of trilinear filtering when aniso and trilinear are enabled together.

The original set of scores at 1024x768 really didn't give us the kind of deltas that one would have hoped for.  Generally speaking, because we were CPU limited at the lower resolution, the GeForce FX cards beat out the Radeons.  Within each grouping, the scores were tight with only a frame or two separating the cards.  We began to see some differences when we enabled 4XAA, however.  The two Radeon 9800 cards and the 5950 Ultra were barely affected, but the other three all had some degree of performance loss, although the frame rates were still quite high.  Running UT2003 at 1600x1200 really separated the men from the boys, as it were.  The 5950 Ultra stood tall at 112.21 fps, roughly 5% better than the two Radeon 9800s.  These were followed more distantly by the 5900XT, the 5700 Ultra, and finally the 9600XT.  Typically, 4XAA knocked the GFFX cards for a loop.  For example, the 5950 Ultra lost just over 40 fps, more than one third of its original frame rate.  The Radeons took 4XAA more in stride except for the 9600XT, where running UT2003 at these settings was more of a chore than it could handle.

Head-to-Head Performance With Splinter Cell
Stealth Pixel Shading Redefined

Splinter Cell's version 1.2 patch includes three pre-recorded demos and incorporates a previously unavailable benchmarking tool.  The demos included with the patch are somewhat limited by CPU performance, however, so we used the custom Oil Rig demo created by the folks at Beyond 3D to test with this game.  Beyond 3D's demo removes two CPU intensive routines while increasing dependence on Pixel Shader performance.  Shaders are used to render the realistic looking ocean water surrounding the Oil Rig in the demo, as well as simulating a night vision effect.  As we've mentioned in the past, anti-aliasing doesn't work with Splinter cell (at least with the current version).  Due to this fact, we do not have any AA scores listed in the graphs below.

We've got some close races at both the top and the bottom of the charts at both resolutions once again.  The two heavy hitters faced off, and the 9800XT came out on top, each time leading the 5950 Ultra by almost two frames per second.  Coming it right behind the 5950 Ultra was the 9800 Pro, which nearly closed the gap at 1600x1200.  The 5900XT tried to keep up, although it ended up between 10-15% behind the 9800 Pro.  The last two cards in our roundup were well off the mark, tying each other for the most part, but usually 40% or more behind the leaders.

Final Fantasy & Gun Metal Tests    

Tags:  Nvidia, ATI, Car, shoot, card, SHO, ICS, RAH, id, AR

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