iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Battle of
ATI RADEON X800 XT and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra
- Fragment Two:
450 MHz NV40 and New Tests of Both Cards


  1. Introduction
  2. Features of the videocards
  3. Configurations of testbeds, test tools
  4. Synthetic tests in D3D RightMark
  5. Test results: Quake3 ARENA
  6. Test results: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
  7. Test results: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
  8. Test results: Code Creatures DEMO
  9. Test results: Unreal Tournament 2003
  10. Test results: Unreal II: The Awakening
  11. Test results: RightMark 3D
  12. Test results: TRAOD
  13. Test results: FarCry (performance and quality)
  14. Test results: Call Of Duty
  15. Test results: HALO: Combat Evolved
  16. Test results: Half-Life2(beta)
  17. Test results: Splinter Cell
  18. Test results: Colin Mcrae Rally04 (performance and quality)
  19. Test results: Max Payne-2 (performance and quality)
  20. Test results: Painkiller (performance and quality)
  21. Test results: Need For Speed: Underground (performance and quality)
  22. Test results: Pirates of the Carribean (quality)
  23. Test results: Vietcong (quality)
  24. Test results: 3DMark03-Game1
  25. Test results: 3DMark03-Game2
  26. Test results: 3DMark03-Game3
  27. Test results: 3DMark03-Game4
  28. Test results: 3DMark03-MARKS
  29. Test results: AquaMark3
  30. Driver NVIDIA version 61.11
  31. Conclusions

FarCry, demo01

The lightest mode (no AA or anisotropy): R420 defeats 400 MHz NV40. 450 MHz help GeForce 6800 Ultra get closer to its rival, but the gap is still visible.

The heaviest mode (both AA and anisotropy): X800 XT wins, although 450 MHz almost enabled NV40to catch up with its rival.


  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 450MHz vs. ATI RADEON X800 XT: the latter is stronger.
  • NVIDIA 61.11 vs. 60.72: a good (up to 15 percent) performance gain in the pure mode and a very good one (up to 40 percent) in AA+AF.

But what was the cause of such increase? Let us look at the quality.

GeForce 6800 Ultra

As we see, the NVIDIA family certainly has problems with quality. It seems like NV4x/3x have shader execution precision lowered to 16 bits, while ATI R4xx/3xx still uses a 24-bit precision. But is driver 61.11 to blame? Well, it was no accident that I combined NV3x and 4x. Yes, the picture is the same in NV3x, and moreover, in both 56.56 and 60.72 versions. It is patch 1.1 to the game that is responsible for all this. But why? Who is to blame in the first place? I won't assert anything, although the fact that the game belongs to program "The way It's Meant To Be Played" is quite indicative. I wouldn't like to think that NVIDIA forced the developers to lower shader execution precision for NV3x in order to raise the speed (when patch 1.1 appeared, NVIDIA was happy about a speed increase in NV35/38, but nothing was said about the decrease in quality). So, I'll leave the conclusions to the readers and comanies' officials, but the fact is that NV3x/NV4x has a worse quality than R3xx/4xx in this game, and besides, the NVIDIA product even loses to its rival. NVIDIA claims it's all because of the developers' mistake. So, we'll be waiting for patch 1.2 which has been declared to fix it.

Concerning 61.11 in this game, we've got to hand it to NVIDIA programmers. They managed to raise the speed by means of really useful inner optimisations, and it caused no quality decrease.

Call of Duty, ixbt04

The lightest mode (no AA or anisotropy): NV40 wins everywhere and look at the speed increase in 61.11.

The heaviest mode (both AA and anisotropy): the same thing.


  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 450MHz vs. ATI RADEON X800 XT: the former wins.
  • NVIDIA 61.11 vs. 60.72: a very good (22 percent) increase with no quality falls.

Of course, you can say that the situation is rather unstable and the gains may be followed by falls (as was before). You can also ask if it's better to make the card and the drivers with everything preset at the maximum. Well, in my opinion, if the card costs about USD 600, the producers might have done everything before its release. Especially if we're talking about an experienced company with good programmers, such as NVIDIA.

HALO: Combat Evolved

The lightest mode (no AA or anisotropy): roughly, a parity, although 450 MHz helped NV40 to win a slight victory.


  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 450MHz vs. ATI RADEON X800 XT: a slight victory, though an approximate parity.
  • NVIDIA 61.11 vs. 60.72: for some reason, performance has fallen.

[ Previous part (3) ]

[ Next part (5) ]

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)
Alexander Medvedev (unclesam@ixbt.com)


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