Nvidia's latest high-end graphics processor appears to have caught up to ATI's latest Radeon chip in performance, even allowing for alleged dirty tricks in the way Nvidia's drivers handle benchmarks, according to new tests from ZDNet Labs.
(See the full review: Nvidia GeForce FX 5900 Ultra: the first benchmarks.)
Nvidia and ATI are battling for the right to call their technology the fastest, a right which carries prestige with high-end gamers, even if it does not translate directly into sales in the more lucrative mass market.
The new set of benchmarks pitted the new Nvidia GeForce FX 5900 Ultra against ATI's latest, the Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB. Nvidia holds a substantial market share lead over ATI, but ATI has until now held a performance lead in the current generation of GPUs (graphics processing units).
ZDNet's tests found that Nvidia's improvements to its new chip have given it an edge over the Radeon in some areas, such as 3DMark03 benchmark tests. In other tests, such as parts of the Unreal Tournament 2003 test and the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell test, results were more mixed or the lead went to the Radeon.
The results are a big improvement over Nvidia's first iteration of the GeForce FX, the 5800 Ultra, which was delayed and then showed disappointing performance.
However, some uncertainty hangs over the benchmark tests, since Nvidia has been accused of tweaking the way its drivers handle benchmarks in order to give an artificially high score. Even so, ZDNet's testers concluded that Nvidia has at least caught up with ATI in terms of sheer 3D performance.
To find out more about the computers and hardware that these chips are being used in, see ZDNet UK's Hardware News Section.