Naturally we did not have all four cards at our disposal so we used PowerStrip to clock the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra down to GeForce FX 5800 clockspeeds, which meant lowering both the core and memory frequency to 400MHz. The Radeon 9700 Pro was given the same treatment and operated at Radeon 9700 speeds, so we could also measure the Radeon 9700' performance. From the 3Dmark2001SE graph we can clearly see that the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra takes the performance crown and is nearly 5% faster than the Radeon 9700 Pro. The gap between the GeForce FX 5800 and the Radeon 9700 is smaller though and measures just 3.3% with the GeForce FX having the advantage.
Naturally both cards had some reserves left in terms of performance by increasing the clockspeed of both the core and the memory. The Radeon 9700 Pro could easily be clocked up to 380MHz core and 345MHz memory which yielded scores higher than those of the GeForce FX running at default clockspeeds. But naturally the GeForce FX could also be coached into running a little faster and we managed about 535MHz core and 545MHz memory clockspeed reliably, which yielded the highest scores overall. But since we’re comparing cards running at stock speeds here, and not cards running overclocked, this was just an exercise on our part.
We did discover however that if the GeForce FX’s core was kept at stock speeds and the memory was clocked up, it performed better in comparison to the Radeon 9700 Pro with the same increase in memory clockspeed. This does indicate that the GeForce FX’ core is hungry for more bandwidth, whereas the Radeon 9700 Pro’ isn’t so much. The theoretical bandwidth of the Radeon 9700 Pro is larger per definition as it uses a 256-bit memory bus, whereas the GeForce FX uses a 128-bit one, although running at a higher clockspeed. We’ll see in the other benchmarks if this indeed becomes an issue at higher resolutions where bandwidth starts to play an important role.
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