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Recap of ATI and NVIDIA graphic cards
by Marc Prieur
Published on November 26, 2004

We’ve written several articles on the latest ATI and NVIDIA graphic cards, but with the new names (and some aren’t the best choice), everyone is a little lost in both of these manufacturers’ products. To simplify things, we’ve decided put all technical aspects aside and test all graphic cards with one game. We chose Far Cry as it has always been indicative of graphic card performances up until now. Of course, for those who more interested in the technical aspects, our articles on card architecture are here to answer all your questions.

About the figures
With the number of games used to test graphic cards, it’s difficult to incorporate a large number in each test due to time constraints. This is the reason we decided to only use Far Cry in this test. ATI and NVIDIA’s graphic card performance is rather equivalent in this domain.

We chose our own demo scene with 2/3 outdoors and 1/3 indoors on the map search. 6 graphic settings were used in 32 bits (screenshots were made with the X700 and then the 6600GT in 1600*1200 AA 4x / Aniso 8x):

- 1024*768
- 1280*1024
- 1600*1200
- 1024*768 with anti aliasing 4x and anisotropic filtering 8x
- 1280*1024 with anti aliasing 4x and anisotropic filtering 8x
- 1600*1200 with anti aliasing 4x and anisotropic filtering 8x

We chose to only include graphic cards able to reach 30 fps on average in 1024*768 32 bits in Far Cry with a maximum level of detail. Of course, there are other graphic cards with lower performances, but we feel that it is necessary to set a minimum for game play. Tests were made with a mid-range processor, a Pentium 4 3.2 GHz.

- ASUSTeK P4C800-E Deluxe (i875P – AGP)
- ASUSTeK P5GD1 (i915P – PCI Express)
- Intel Pentium 4 3.2E GHz
- Intel Pentium 4 540 (3.2 GHz) GHz Socket 775
- 2x512 MB DDR PC3200 in 2-3-3-8
- ATI Catalyst 4.11 / NVIDIA ForceWare 66.93

It is important to remind you that depending on the game engine, performances can be mainly restricted either by the CPU (chipset and memory) or the graphic card itself. To find out if the graphic card or other computer components restrict performances, there is a simple test. Start your game in 640*480 32 bits without anti aliasing or anisotropic filtering. If you no longer have a problem with the framerate, it comes from the graphic card. If there are still problems, it’s often a combination of the processor / chipset / memory, or RAM memory may create a swap on the hard drive

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