NVIDIA vs ATi Grahics Card Shoot-out

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NVIDIA vs ATi - Page 7

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

By Robert Maloney
March 29th, 2004

Performance Comparisons With Novalogic's Comanche 4
On this battlefield, there is no substitute for winning

We used Novalogic's combat helicopter simulator Comanche 4 for our next batch of DirectX tests.  This benchmark uses DX8 class pixel and vertex shaders to produce some of the realistic visuals used throughout the demo.  Unlike the previous tests, this benchmark is heavily influenced by CPU and system memory performance, especially at lower resolutions.  However, when the resolution is raised and AA and Anisotropic filtering are enabled, the current crop of video cards tend to slow down quite a bit.

At first glance, it's hard to make any determinations from the first Comanche 4 graph - all of the cards are performing at similar levels because we were CPU bound.  To set the story straight, we really needed to raise the resolution to 1600x1200 and apply anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering.  Originally, the breakdown of scores went down the Radeon line from the 9800XT to the 9600XT, then followed by the three GeForce FX cards.  When AA and AF were applied, however, we saw a shift in performance back to the 5950 Ultra.  The 9800XT took a decent hit, but managed to keep a second place showing, while the 5900XT leapfrogged the 9800 Pro into third.  In what seems to be par for the course, the 9600XT and 5700 Ultra battled it out for last, both running under 30 frames per second.

Making Comparisons With Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
New Game, Better Effects, Old Engine

We also ran through a batch of timedemos with the OpenGL game Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.  Wolfenstein: ET is a free, standalone multiplayer game that is based on the original Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which was released a few years back. It uses a modified Quake3 core yet exhibits plenty of CPU scaling and platform variation, which also makes it a good benchmarking tool.  We created a custom demo and used the built-in timedemo feature to check each card's frame rate.  The tests below were run at 1024x768 and 1600x1200 without anti-aliasing and again with 4X AA and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.

All of the GFFX cards finished in the top three, followed by the Radeons which were in a dead heat.  Tacking on some AA and anisotropic filtering broke up the pack somewhat.  The 5950 Ultra still maintained its lead, but the 5900XT fell behind each of the Radeon 9800s.  The 5700 Ultra managed to stay in the hunt at 60.1 fps sorely beating the 9600XT by over 50%.  At 1600x1200, we see some similarities to what happened ay 1024x768 with AA+AF; Wolfenstein: ET runs smoothly at first on the GeForce FX cards, but they begin to drop off somewhat when the settings are raised.  Although the 9800 tandem originally pushed ahead of the 5900XT in the latter test, we saw a reversal of fortune when anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering were applied.

What does it all mean?  

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

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