The game tests and overall scores
We ran all tests at 3DMark05's default resolution (1024x768) and settings, unless otherwise noted. The program automatically chose the most optimal compile target for each type of hardware, so everybody got to put his best foot forward.
Speaking of which, ATI and NVIDIA both managed to get new drivers certified by Futuremark by midday yesterday, and we've used those drivers in our testing. Futuremark prefers the use of certified drivers, so they can verify that the drivers don't include benchmark-specific optimizations.
ATI and NVIDIA should both be happy about these results to some degree. The most obvious result of all is the utter dominance of the Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition in these tests. ATI's $500 card beats NVIDIA's competing GeForce 6800 Ultra by a very healthy margin, probably thanks to its much higher clock speed. Among the $400 cards, we have a tie. At $299, though, the aging Radeon 9800 XT can't keep pace with the GeForce 6800.
The big prize is the under-$200 market, of course, and in this hotly contested space, we have another virtual tie. The Radeon X700 XT is technically ahead on points, but the difference between it and the GeForce 6600 GT is very slight.
Among the older cards, the Radeon 9800 Pro and 9600 XT both look very good. The same can't be said for the GeForce FX series, which suffers yet another ignominious humiliation at the hands of a new release of 3DMark. Obviously, 3DMark05 is very polygon and pixel shader intensive, and the GeForce FX architecture just isn't up to the task, despite the improvements NVIDIA has made to the runtime compiler in its graphics driver over time. Even the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, with over 30GB/s of memory bandwidth and 3.8 gigatexels/s of fill rate, can't match the humble Radeon 9600 XT.
As for image quality, we didn't spot any obvious differences between the cards' output, as we've come to expect in recent months. ATI and NVIDIA have been matching each other pretty closely in their latest hardware and drivers. We'll have to look further into image quality in 3DMark05 in future graphics reviews.
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