The GeForce FX is fast, it clocks in the fastest 3Dmark2001SE scores weíve seen for any card running at stock speeds, it runs UT2003 and any other game at the highest possible frame rates, provided you donít touch that anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering dial. However, once we turn on all the features to improve the image quality the GeForce FX quickly loses ground to ATiís Radeon 9700 Pro. Frankly we feel that from a $400 3D graphics card you should expect more than blazing fast frame rates, it should still be competitive with all of the image quality features turned on. From our perspective the battle for highest fps has long since been fought and today we not only want the highest fps, but also playable framerates with all image quality features at maximum, in that department the GeForce FX fails to deliver.
But not all is lost, as Nvidia has proven time after time; it executes best under pressure, and weíre guessing it probably is a hectic frenzy at their offices right now as their engineers work overtime to wring every last bit of performance from the GeForce FXí drivers. Whether thatíll make the GeForce FX the king of the hill again remains to be seen as ATi is equally hard at work with a driver development team thatís just as skilled and eager to secure the performance crown. And theyíve also got another card up their sleeve, as whilst Nvidia took a gamble with their 0.13-micron process and suffered long delays, ATi has been diligently working on their next part, dubbed the R350, which should be introduced within the next month or so.
If the Radeon 9700 Pro did not deliver a convincing victory on all fronts the R350 most certainly will, putting Nvidia in the back seat again. This doesnít mean all hope is lost for Nvidia, we've come to expect nothing but the fastest from Nvidia over the past few years and many were in awe with their commitment and flawless execution of their 6-month product cycle, now that they have met their match in ATi itíll be interesting to see what Nvidia has in store for us, they might still be able to secure a decisive win over the Radeon 9700 Pro and maybe even best the upcoming R350 with a revision of the current GeForce FX. If not, they'll be riding the backseat until their next part comes out. I think it is safe to say that the Canadians pulled off what seemed impossible only a year ago and managed to keep the performance lead with their Radeon 9700 Pro, kudos to ATi for a job well done, the ball is in Nvidia's court now, and we're eager to see what they come up with.
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