Summary and Impressions

This content was originally featured on and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

Test Summary

Radeon 9700 Radeon 9500 FX5600 FX5200 Ti4800SE
Age of Mythology
1024×768 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1
1280×1024 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1
1600×1200 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1
1024×768 12/12 12/12 6/10 4/6 5/6
1600×1200 12/12 6/12 2/10 1/6 1/6
1024×768 12/12 12/12 5/10 2/6 6/6
1600×1200 12/12 4/12 1/10 1/6 4/6
UT2K3 CTF-Face3
1024×768 10/12 7/12 /10 3/6 5/6
1600×1200 4/12 1/12 1/10 0/6 1/6
UT2K3 DM-Asbestos
1024×768 12/12 9/12 6/10 3/6 6/6
1600×1200 7/12 0/12 1/10 1/6 1/6
Tests playable @ 1024×768 47/49 (~96%) 41/49 (~84%) 23/41 (~53%) 13/25 (52%) 23/25 (92%)
Tests playable @ 1280×1024 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1
Tests playable @ 1600×1200 36/49 (~73%) 12/49 (~24%) 6/41 (~15%) 4/25 (16%) 9/25 (36%)
Total playable tests 84/99 (~85%) 44/99 (~44%) 33/83 (~40%) 18/51 (~35%) 33/51 (~65%)
Total (normalized**)
Tests playable @ 1024×768 (normalized) 25/25 25/25 22/25 13/25 23/25
Tests playable @ 1280×1024 (normalized) 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1
Tests playable @ 1600×1200 (normalized) 23/25 9/25 6/25 4/25 9/25
Total playable tests (normalized) 49/51 (~96%) 35/51 (~69%) 27/51 (~53%) 18/51 (~35%) 33/51 (~65%)
* All tests ran for that particular card.
** All tests ran for that particular card supported by all other cards. (i.e. excluding tests like 4XSx0, and 2×16)


Radeon 9700

  • 1024×768 Gaming
    The Radeon 9700 pretty much accomplishes all its 99 tests without much of a sweat. Both Freelancer and Morrowind are very smooth and gorgeous at 6xAA and 16xAF. In Unreal Tournament 2003, the game failed to break the 60FPS “playable” point at 6×8 and 6×16, but still managed to do over 50 FPS in both tests.

  • 1600×1200 Gaming
    At 1600×1200, the Radeon 9700 does a fairly good job up to and including 4×16 in Unreal Tournament 2003. At 6×0 and higher, we see that the card can use a bit of tweaking to get more playable rates. In Morrowind and Freelancer, we see that the Radeon 9700 is pretty much capable of running these games with all the features turned on. I must admit, at 6×16, Morrowind looks absolutely gorgeous and it’s the only card in this round-up capable of playing this game at that level.

  • Image Quality
    Image quality of the Radeon 9700 is excellent. When compared to the Ti4800SE and FX5600, you can see that the colors are a little bit richer and deeper. Anti-aliasing quality is also better than the NVIDIA based cards. At 2xAA, we can see that there are substantially less jagged edges than the same sample on the NVIDIA card.

    Anisotropic filtering is also a bit better when compared to the Ti4800SE (there’s no sense comparing it to the FX5600 because of it’s irregular implementation of AF in Unreal Tournament 2003). Because of the better colors on the Radeon 9700, the filtered textures have more definition and more color. I know this may mean little to you performance fanatics out there, but for those of us who like playing with all the visual tweaks turned on, every little bit of detail helps.

  • Buying Tips
    If you’re looking to play games at 1600×1200 or want to enable all the details at 1024×768 without any performance issues, then you will want this card. If you’re just looking to play at 1024×768 and/or don’t care much about anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, then this card may be overkill for what you need. You can find good performing cards at 1024×768 for a less price (like the other mid-range cards reviewed here today).

Radeon 9500

  • 1024×768 Gaming
    The Radeon 9500 does a great job at playing tests at this resolution. Looking at the benchmarks, we can see that it is possible to play games at 6xAA and 8xAF pretty easily which is better than the 4×0 on the Ti4800SE, and the 4×8 on the FX5600. You should be able to get the maximum 6×16 if a little time is spent tweaking the detail settings.

  • 1600×1200 Gaming
    Here is where the Radeon 9500 shows signs of stress. Unlike it’s showing at 1024×768, at 1600×1200 the Radeon 9500 barely musters enough to make Unreal Tournament 2003 playable at 0x0. However, it does play Morrowind and Freelancer fairly well at 2xAA and higher. So whether you buy this card for high-res gaming depends on the kind of game you want to play.

  • Image Quality
    The image quality of the Radeon 9500 is identical to the Radeon 9700. Please see those remarks.

  • Buying Tips
    The Radeon 9500 is your alternative to the Ti4800SE and the FX5600. When compared to the Ti4800SE, it offers more functionality at 1024×768 (6×8 easily) and supports DirectX 9. When compared to the FX5600, the Radeon 9500 has better performance and better image quality.

    The Radeon 9500 is slowly disappearing from the market as the Radeon 9600 takes its place. The Radeon 9600 offers higher clocks and updated shaders, but essentially functions the same way (but other websites seem to place the Radeon 9600 slower than the 9500). You should be able to find some really great bargains on the Radeon 9500 card right now on PriceGrabber. You may be able to find soft-moddable Radeon 9500s like the one we have here in the review, but most of those have been snatched up by enthusiasts in January – March 2003 (see our ATI forum for more details).

GeForce FX5600

  • 1024×768 Gaming
    The FX5600 is a pretty decent card for playing at 1024×768. It managed to play up to 4×8 AAxAF without much problem. Performance in general is substantially slower than the GeForce 4 Ti4800SE on 0x0 tests, but nearly equalizes on other tests. In Unreal Tournament 2003, it has much more significant gains when compared to other games tested.

  • 1600×1200 Gaming
    Like at 1024×768, the FX5600’s performance is similar to the Ti4800SE with the exception of 0x AA tests where the Ti4800SE is much faster. The only exception is Freelancer where the Ti4800SE was able to gain more playable tests over the FX5600. Again, despite matching performance with the Ti4800SE for all other tests, the FX5600 seems to perform significantly better than Ti4800SE in Unreal Tournament 2003.

  • Image Quality
    Image quality of the FX5600 is inconsistent. It appears that in Unreal Tournament 2003, the videocard only samples a fraction of the total number of textures in the scene when anisotropic filtering is turned on. Another curious point is that when 4XS anti-aliasing is turned on, some textures look better than with AF filtering.

    As a result of this irregular application of texture filtering, some textures remain blurry and muddy, when other textures get sharpened.

    This could very well be a problem with the v44.03 drivers. As we speak, there are updated drivers being unofficially distributed. It may be worth trying if you encounter the same problem as I.

  • Buying Tips
    There are some really nice FX5600 packages on the market currently (like the MSI FX5600-VTDR128) that offer some really nice features. The only problem I have with the FX5600 is with the issue surrounding the current v44.03 driver with respect to anisotropic filtering and other texturing issues raised in forums like at Beyond3D (see here). I suggest either using the v43.45 driver (see our article here) or hold off on your purchase decision until newer drivers are released.

    If Half-Life 2 is a game you’re interested in, you should probably be aware of some issues surrounding the FX and this game. It’s reported that the FX can not anti-alias Half-Life 2 properly. The developer states that the FX won’t be able to anti-alias the game, while NVIDIA is stating that they are working with the devloper. If anti-aliasing and Half-Life 2 are very important to you, I would suggest holding off buying any FX card until there is a resolution on this issue.

GeForce FX5200

  • 1024×768 Gaming The FX5200 is a card that performs well at low resolutions with very little anisotropic filtering. At 0x0 to 0x8, it manages to play Unreal Tournament 2003 without much problems. However, if you are looking to go higher than that, expect to adjust your settings.

  • 1600×1200 Gaming 1600×1200 gaming is out of the question for this card. Though it worked okay for games like Freelancer and Age of Mythology, it did not have much success with Morrowind or Unreal Tournament 2003. But given the price of this card, you wouldn’t expect good performance at this resolution.

  • Image Quality Image quality of the FX5200 is identical to the FX5600. Please see those remarks.

  • Buying Tips It is obvious that this is not targetted towards the serious gamer since it does not offer much at the 1024×768 resolution. I suspect those of you who are looking to buy this card is not looking to game much and will look at other features such as price, and VIVO. If you’re looking for something that’s “good enough” at 1024×768 with 0x0 AAxAF, then this card would be a good choice.

    Don’t base your FX5200 buying decision on the DirectX 9 support. I’m suspecting that this card is probably too under-powered to run DirectX 9 games properly. However, we won’t know for sure until we start seeing more DX9 games released this Fall.

    The issues surrounding Half-Life 2 also apply to the FX5200 (the FX is reported not being able to anti-aliasing the game properly). I would suggest waiting until this issue is resolved before buying this card to play Half-Life 2 (if that’s a game you’re concerned about).

    It’s also worth looking into the Radeon 9000-9200, and the GeForce Ti4200 if you’re in the market for something under $100.

GeForce 4 Ti4800SE

  • 1024×768 Gaming
    Even though it is now 1 generation old, it still beats out the comparably priced FX5600 on most of the game benchmarks. At 1024×768, it can run 4xAA with no anisotropic filtering very comfortably in Freelancer, Morrowind, and Unreal Tournament 2003. If you want 4xAA and 8xAF, you will have to do some tweaking.

  • 1600×1200 Gaming
    When you get to higher resolutions (1600×1200), you will see that the Ti4800SE is only capable of running 0x0 comfortably. You can probably stretch it to 0x8 with some tweaking, but it appears the Ti4800SE just isn’t built to run high-res games. The Ti4800SE really came out strong in Freelancer at this resolution, beating the FX5600 by a significant margin. It’s clear to see that the Ti4800SE is not intended for high-resolution gaming.

  • Image Quality
    The image quality of the Ti4800SE is very good but like all other NVIDIA cards tested here, you have to get up to 4xAA to get the same level of anti-aliasing seen at 2xAA on the Radeon.

    The Ti4800SE does not seem to be affected by the same driver problems as seen on the FX series cards (see here).

  • Buying Tips
    The Ti4800SE is in an awkward position currently. It’s price similar to the FX5600, and performs better at 1024×768. Another good incentive to buy this card is that the Ti4800SE does not seem to suffer from the same driver problems as the FX5600. While all that sounds good, it does not have the DirectX 9 support seen on the FX5600 and is 1 generation older.

    You would only buy this card if you don’t care much about gaming or looking for a card that’s “good enough” for current games. But if you’re looking for a card to keep for 2-3 years, this is not a good choice.

« PreviousNext »