nVidia or ATI? [1]

Posted by Pvt_John on Aug 14, 2004 - 01:02 AM

With the release of Doom 3 and the imminent release of Half-Life 2, many of us are strongly considering upgrades to our computers. Recently, we noted some interesting test results comparing AMD versus Intel CPUs. The other major component many of you may be considering upgrading is your video card.

Tom's Hardware Guide [2] has come out with a good analysis of the performance differences under Doom 3 between the latest from nVidia and ATI. The results for Half-Life 2 are likely to be similar. The chart below, from Tom's Hardware, sums it up nicely.

The complete article can be found here: Matching Doom III with the best Video Card [3]. The bottom line seems to be that the top of the line cards from each company are close to even at lower resolutions, but the nVidia GF 6800 Ultra [4] series begins to pull away decisively from the ATI x800 XT [5] at higher resolutions.

The GF6800 series supports something called "Smart Shader 3.0" for DirectX. This will allow the rendering of certain parts of scenes to be done in one pass rather than multiple passes. It may offer an even greater advantage in HL2. On the other hand, the nVidia card uses more power and takes up two slots compared to the ATI's one slot.

Something else worth noting is that the newer generations of cards from both companies are often nearly twice as fast as their predecessors. In the chart above, for instance, the previous top-of-the-line model from ATI was the 9800XT and it yields about 32 fps, whereas the new top of the line x800 XT yields 63 fps holding all other things equal. That tells me there's no use buying any expensive video card at this point in time unless you're going to get either a x800 or 6800 series card.

Everyone will make up their own minds on what's most important. Tom's Hardware does a good job of laying out the differences.
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  1. http://sunlitgames.net/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=25
  2. http://www.tomshardware.com
  3. http://graphics.tomshardware.com/graphic/20040809/index.html
  4. http://www.nvidia.com/page/geforce_6800.html
  5. http://www.ati.com/products/radeonx800/index.html
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