Will the real XT please stand up?
Jakub: So I'm sitting here looking at the benchmarks in the X800 Pro and X800 XT Platinum Edition preview and recalling a conversation I had with Brandon when he arrived in Toronto and attended ATI's press event. He came away with the highly erroneous impression that the X800 would be faster. Unfortunately for him, his own article proves me correct. The X800 XT isn't faster than the 6800 Ultra. In fact, ATI didn't even have the minerals to bring the real XT to the party, instead they come to the table with a Platinum Edition card. Why would you bring a ringer, unless you're scared that your regular product can't measure up to the competition?
Whatever, I'll let Brandon have his cheat card. It still gets beaten in half the benchmarks, despite having the more mature drivers in Brandon's own words. Mature drivers are all great and wonderful, on release, but this is still the pre-season, time for testing and tuning, and I don't remember anybody winning the Super Bowl in August. Plus, if we look back on NV3X, we know damn well just how much NVIDIA can squeeze out of its cards with every driver release. They went from gimp when the NV30 launched, to being neck-and-neck with ATI now with the 5950 Ultra. NV40 is a wildly different architecture, and I'm willing to bet a Tommyburger and Tommy's chili cheese fries that that NVIDIA will improve the performance of its card a lot more over the coming year than ATI can. I mean seriously, what is R420? ATI abandoned the forward-looking R400 in favor of a card meant for "today" performance, an overglorified R300 with double the pipes, one new feature (3Dc) and not even *half* as many shader instructions as the 5950 Ultra has. The cards are so similar, ATI could just stick a new name into the driver file and be as optimized as they'll ever be. So Brandon, if you want to defend technology ATI dug up in archaeological excavations from 2002, you're more than welcome. At best you'll just have another Alamo on your hands, Texan.
Brandon: Jakub, looks like you got a whiff of something hallucinogenic up there in CanadaÖI know itís a green country but wow!
Why donít you take a moment to put down the pipe for a second and take a closer look at the benchmarks I posted. The RADEON X800 XT Platinum may not win all of the benchmarks, but it won the benches that matter: the games that deal with next-generation titles like Half-Life 2. The X800 XT Platinum Edition even won the half-baked next-gen benches like Far Cry, which uses 1.1 shaders for most everything. In my testing even the $400 X800 PRO gives NVIDIAís flagship GeForce 6800 Ultra a run for its money at high-res with AA and AF. And did you happen to catch the Tomb Raider benches in the GeForce 6800 Ultra/GT preview? At 1600x1200 itís a clean sweep for ATI with AA enabled!
Finally, donít forget to check out the 3DMark 03 game test results. The test to really pay attention to is Mother Nature, the only game test in 3DMark 03 that uses 2.0 shaders. ATI wins there too. To borrow a term you can understand, ATI scores a hat trick in all of the next-gen benches.
And speaking of bringing in a ringer, whatís up with the overclocked GeForce 6800 Ultra showing up on my doorstep at the last minute? You were at NVIDIAís Editorís Day last month, do you remember any of NVIDIAís employees mentioning adding an overclocked 6800 Ultra part to their lineup? Clearly NVIDIA saw the writing on the wall with X800 and tried to crash ATIís party. Only problem is, even the overclocked 6800 Ultra isnít able to outpace ATIís RADEON X800 XT Platinum. Like the old saying goes, ďnever bring a knife to a gunfightĒ (especially if itís a SIG).
Looks to me like NVIDIAís best needs to go back to the drawing board. And besides, the Platinum Edition isnít a ringer. Itís going into full production as we speak, and will be available directly from ATI and all of its board partners. Last time I checked, you canít say that for NVIDIAís overclocked 6800 Ultra part. I wish I could tell you the background story on how the Platinum Edition board came to be, it had nothing to do with the 6800 Ultra or NVIDIA, but trust me, this isnít a special edition, for a limited time only type of part. Donít worry, the truth will be revealed once the PCI Express boards hit retail.