– Video Card Round-up #2

ATi & Nvidia Video Card Roundup #2

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

Over a month ago we published a comparative video card article featuring the Radeon 9500, a soft-modded Radeon 9700, a GF4 Ti4800SE, a FX5200 and FX5600. Today we are updating that article with results from the latest NVIDIA high-end card: the FX5900 Ultra 256MB. Seeing that all other cards tested are $80-230 USD, one would think that an FX5900 Ultra priced at $430 would simply win every benchmark. But as we will see very shortly the results are mixed and there is certainly room for improvement on NVIDIA’s part.

FX5200Radeon 9500FX5600
Ti4800SERadeon 9700FX5900 Ultra 256

The Candidates

  Radeon 9700 Radeon 9500

FX5900 Ultra

FX5600 FX5200 Ti4800SE
Manufacturer Soft-modded R9500 Sapphire Tech. NVIDIA MSI MSI MSI
Memory (MB) 128 128 256 128 128 128
Memory Interface (bits) 256 128 256 128 128 128
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s) 17.6 8.8 27.2 11.2 6.4 8.8
Manufacturing Process (microns) 0.15 0.15 0.13 0.13 0.15 0.15
Core Clock (MHz) 275 275 450 270 250 275
Memory Clock (MHz)
270 270 425 275 200 275
Street Price (USD) ~$230


~$400 ~$140 ~$80 ~$150
Category Range Mid-High Mid Highest Mid Low/Budget Mid


Benchmark System

Motherboard MSI KT4 Ultra (VIA KT400 chipset)
Processor XP 1800+ @ 166×10 (1660 MHz)
RAM 512MB PC2700 (2-3-3-6T-Fast)
Hard drive Western Digital 120GB WD1200BB
Networking LinkSys LNE 530TX
Sound Turtle Beach Santa Cruz
Operating System Windows 2000 Pro + SP4
NVIDIA Driver Detonator v45.23
ATI Driver Catalyst 3.5

Performance Tests

Real-Time Strategy Age of Mythology
Space Simulator Freelancer
Role Playing Game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
First Person Shooter Unreal Tournament 2003. CTF-Face3 flyby
Space Simulator X2: The Threat. Rolling Demo.
Synthetic Benchmark 3DMark 2001 SE v330
Synthetic Benchmark 3DMark 03 v330
Anti-aliasing Quality The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Anisotropic Quality The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Changes from Previous Round-up Article

Video Cards Added results from FX5900 Ultra 256MB.
NVIDIA Driver Changed from v44.03 to v45.23 Detonator.
Freelancer Changed benchmark mission
Unreal Tournament 2003 Removed DM-Asbestos tests. Anisotropic filtering now controlled by LevelOfAnisotropy variable.
X2: The Threat New benchmark
Image Quality Changed from UT2K3 to Morrowind

(see previous article here)


  • AA, Anti-aliasing
    An algorithm that gives the illusion that an edge in 3D space is rendered with a finer grid than in reality (aka. “removes the jaggies”). AA is more important at lower resolutions since a rendered line has fewer pixels and therefore more jaggy. Higher the AA sampling level, the nicer and sharper edges appear, but usually at the cost of the hardware’s performance.
  • ##xAA
    Notation used to indicate an anti-aliasing sampling level. i.e. 2xAA means “Two times anti-aliasing sampling level”.
  • AF, Anisotropic Filtering
    The sharpening of textures as it recedes away from the viewer. Higher the AF sampling level, the nicer and sharper textures appear in the distance, but usually at the cost of the hardware’s performance.

  • ##xAF
    Notation used to indicate an anisotropic filtering sampling level. i.e. 2xAF means “Two times anisotropic filtering level”.
  • AAxAF
    Notation used to indicate an anti-aliasing/anisotropic filtering pair. Example, “2×4” means that anti-aliasing is set to 2x and anisotropic filtering set to 4x.
  • FPS, Frames per second
    The number of frames rendered by the video hardware per second. Higher the number, the smoother things appear. Ideally you want this number to be as high as possible, but in some cases consumers prefer to have higher details for a nicer image and sacrifice some performance.


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