by May 5, 2003 0 comments



When it comes to extreme graphics and gaming performance on the desktop, two names come to mind, nVidia and ATI. Both companies have been competing in the market to bring out chipsets that give earth-shattering performance. Their latest offerings are the nVidia GeForce 4 and the ATI Radeon 9700. Here, we’ve compared two graphics cards based on these chipsets to understand what kind of performance they can deliver. 

We used the latest cards that were available in the market for our tests–an ATI Radeon 9700 card from ATI and an Asus V8460 Ultra card for the nVidia GeForce 4 Ti 4600 GPU. Both cards had 128 MB of DDR memory. 

The GeForce GPU runs at 300 MHz and 325 MHz memory frequency while the Radeon VPU (Visual Processing Unit, as ATI calls it) runs at 325 MHz with the memory frequency being 310 MHz.

There is a difference between the cards in the AGP interface. While the Radeon has an AGP 8x interface, the GeForce has a 4x interface. The Radeon also has complete support for DirectX 9.0 graphics API while the GeForce supports only DirecX 8.1. They both support a maximum resolution of 2048*1536. The two cards also have DVI out, digital CRTs and LCDs, and S-Video out, for TV/VCR, apart from the analog SVGA out. 

We tested the cards on an Intel 845PEBT2 motherboard with a Pentium 4 2.8 GHz processor, 256 MB DDR, and a 7200 rpm hard drive. This motherboard supports only 4x AGP, so both cards were tested with the same bandwidth. The resolution was kept at 1024*768*32.

The ATI Radeon emerged out as the clear winner in all the benchmarks. In Quake III Arena, an OpenGL graphics library test, the GeForce managed a frame rate of 246.8 fps, which is extremely good at a resolution of 1024*768*32. 

Snapshot

ATI Radeon 9700
Price Rs
28-30,000
Key specs : Very good performance
Contact : Ingram Micro,
Bangalore.
Tel : 2250073
E-mail : shrinivasmb@integramicro.com
GeForce 4 Ti 4600
Price Rs 25,500
Key specs : Good performance
Contact : Rashi Peripherals. Mumbai.
Tel : 28260256
E-mail : ho@rptechindia.com

But the Radeon defeated it with 294.1 fps, a 19% increase. Although for our eyes to see moving animation only 30 fps is required, a higher frame rate indicates better performance. In 3D Mark 2001, a Direct X test, again the Radeon maintained its supremacy with a score of 14060 3D Marks which is 15% more than the GeForce 4. In another gaming benchmark i.e.

Serious Sam, the Radeon still topped, though the difference here between the two was insignificant.

Quake
III Arena
Serious
Sam
3D
mark 2001
fps fps 3D
Marks
ATI
Radeon 9700
294.1 126.5 14060
GeForce
4 Ti 4600
246.8 119 12174
SiS
Xabre (reviewed October 2002)
184.3 82.2 7433
All
tests done at 1024*768*32 resolution

The Bottom Line Overall, the two cards performed very well with both of them beating all other cards, reviewed earlier, by a wide margin. The Radeon 9700 is the better performer of the two. But you have to provide the Radeon with external power supply with a four-pin power connector, similar to the one that’s used by a floppy drive. So you’ll probably have to hunt around for an extra connector because most cabinets have only one by default. 

While the Radeon has performed better than the GeForce 4 TI, the battle doesn’t end here. Recently, nVidia introduced the GeForce FX 5800 GPU, which supports AGP 8x, and also has support for DirectX 9 and OpenGL 1.4. So the battle for supremacy continues, and the user will be the ultimate winner with better technology at the desktop. 

Anoop Mangla

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