By looking at the benchmark results it is obvious that ATi and Nvidia are both contenders to the performance crown, however it is hard to declare a winner. On paper the GeForce 6800 Ultra still is the king of the hill. But although the GeForce 6800 Ultra has the best papers in terms of features and raw performance, ATi has a card that is small, draws far less power, generates very little heat, is a single slot solution and packs a mighty punch. At the end of the day both cards are perfectly capable of playing the latest games such as Far Cry and Unreal Tournament 2004 at high resolutions which sufficiently high frame rates. As we already expressed in our first look at Nvidia’s new architecture two weeks ago, the 2nd quarter will be most interesting as we’ll again see ATi and Nvidia butting heads over who’s the reigning king of the hill.
Fig 5. A single molex power connector supplies sufficient power for the Radeon X800 XT.
At the end of the day we’d pick either one of these cards over the previous top of the line cards such as the GeForce FX5950 and the Radeon 9800XT, there simply is no comparison. Performance is up by at least 100% across the board in comparison to these older graphics cards and we’d suggest you wait for the Radeon X800 XT or GeForce 6800 Ultra to appear on the shelves if you’re looking to buy a new graphics card. In the next few weeks we’ll probably see the board partners of both companies releasing their graphics cards, which will initially only differ in terms of what heatsink is mounted and what color printed circuit board is used, and of course the bundled games and accessories.
We’ll also see the launch of new graphics cards based on these two new architectures, such as the Radeon X800 Pro and the GeForce 6800 GT, cards that’ll have a friendlier price tag yet deliver a significant performance advantage over older cards. But for those of you that positively need to have the fastest card available only the Radeon X800 XT or GeForce 6800 Ultra will do, provided you have the system to match. Certainly if you’re thinking of playing at 1600x1200 you need a fast processor too, as well as plenty of memory. Just to give you an impression, the Pentium 4 3.2GHz Extreme Edition processor used in our testing was often taxed to a 90% processor load when playing games such as Far Cry, keep that in mind when you make your next purchase.
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