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Our testing methods
All cards were left at their driver default settings for image quality, with the exception that we turned off vertical refresh sync.

Our test system was configured like so:

ProcessorAthlon 64 3200+ 2.0GHz
Front-side busHT 16-bit/800MHz downstream
HT 16-bit/800MHz upstream
MotherboardAbit KV8-MAX3
North bridgeVIA K8T800
South bridge VIA VT8237
Chipset driverVIA Hyperion 4.51
Memory size1024MB (2 DIMMs)
Memory typeCorsair XMS3500 DDR SDRAM at 400MHz and 2-7-3-3 timings
GraphicsGeForce FX 5200 64MB
GeForce FX 5200 Ultra 128MB
GeForce FX 5600 Ultra 128MB
GeForce FX 5700 Ultra GDDR3 128MB
GeForce FX 5800 Ultra 128MB
GeForce FX 5900 XT 128MB
GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB
GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB
Radeon 8500LE 64MB
Radeon 8500 128MB
Radeon 9000 Pro 64MB
Radeon 9550 128MB
Radeon 9500 Pro 128MB
Radeon 9600 Pro 128MB
Radeon 9600XT 128MB
Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB
Parhelia-512 128MB
Graphics driverForceWare 61.77

Western Digital WD360GD 10,000RPM Serial ATA hard drive

Operating SystemWindows XP Professional
Service Pack 1 and DirectX 9.0b

We used NVIDIA's ForceWare 61.77 drivers for all of the GeForce cards, and we used ATI's CATALYST 4.9 beta drivers, intended for DOOM 3, with all the Radeon cards. Matrox's 107.00.089 drivers were used for Parhelia.

Because this is a graphics performance comparison, I went with an Athlon 64 system with plenty of RAM to make our testing as graphics-bound as possible.

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 75Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used a custom-recorded demo for testing. You can download it here. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.