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Graphics showdown comes to Vista on Intel Core 2 duo system

Fourth INQpression ATI v Nvidia on EVGA Nforce 680i
Thu Nov 30 2006, 14:56
WE SIMPLY cannot get enough of Vista. We are spending a lot of time with this still-unfinished operating system in order to give you as many impressions about it as possible. We are heading for a dead end as the Vole still doesn't want to give us a key to further unlock its mysteries but our copy will work for a week or so before it shuts itself down.

This time we wanted to give roughly equal Nvidia and ATI cards a try on Vista. We changed our test machine to an Intel Core 2 duo 6700, the only dual core we have in lab. EVGA was kind enough to give us the Nforce 680i motherboard and we decided to use the Radeon X1950 XTX and the fastest single-core Nvidia 7900 GTX card. We simply cannot get the drivers for Geforce 8800 GTX or GTS. There is definitely something fishy going on with that card on the Vole's latest OS. The drivers are still far away, it seems. Nvidia overshadowed its great hardware launch with lack of either DirectX 10 demos or basic Vista drivers.

alt='vista680i'
EVGA Nforce 680i test machine

Benchmarketing
We used:
EVGA nForce 680i SLI board
Intel Core 2 Duo E6700, 2x 2.67GHz, 266MHz FSB, 4MB Cache

Sapphire Radeon X1950XTX - Catalyst Vista RTM
EVGA Geforce 7900 GTX 690 - 1960 MHz - Forceware WHQL Vista driver
2x1024 MB DDR2 Corsair CM2X1024-6400C3 memory
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 400GB SATA NCQ hard drive
Akasa EVO AK 922 Blue Athlon 64/X2/FX cooler and Intel CPU's
OCZ 700W GameXstream power supply

Composite Figures 3Dmark 03
3DMark 03
Game2
Game3
Game3
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
19137
160.4
116.5
123.6
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
21940
189.8
155.8
123.4
? ? ? ? ?
CPU Test
CPU Score ?
CPU Test 1 ?
CPU Test 2
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
1156
124.6
21.2
30.8
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
1282
119.9
26.6
?
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 03
Single Texturinng
Multi Textur.
Vertex Shader
Pixel Shader 2.0
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
4366.2
10021.4
65.4
185.9
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
5612.0
15710.4
66.3
283.7
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 05
3DMark 05
Game1
Game2
Game3
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
10724
41.7
30.1
62.8
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
10284
42.0
30.6
54.1
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 05
Single Texturinng
Multi Textur.
Pixel Shader
VS/VS
complex
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
5209.7
10232.3
436.9
138.1/62.1
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
6246.9
15997.5
447.4
91.5/71.0
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 06
3DMark 06
? ?
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
5845
? ? ?
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
5694
? ? ?
? ? ? ? ?
SM2.0 Test
Score
GT1
GT2


EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
2456
19.381
21.547
?
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
2645
21.673
22.403
?
? ? ? ? ?
HDR/SM3.0 Test
Score
HDR1
HDR2


EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
2665
25.658
27.639
?
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
2301
21.433
24.586
?
? ? ? ? ?
CPU Test
Score
CPU1
CPU2


EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
1567
0.494
0.795
?
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
1574
0.495
0.800
?
? ? ? ? ?
Sandra 2007
CPU
Multi-Core
Multimedia
Memory
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
17081/11834
5009MBs/140ns
102981/55810
5521/5531
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
17007/11840
5072 MBs/ 134ns
102756/55698
5676/5665
? ? ? ? ?
FEAR
1024x768
1280x960
1600x1200
2048x1536
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
126
101
79
55
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
127
104
82
57
? ? ? ? ?
FEAR High Quality FSAA 4X + Aniso 16X
1024x768
1280x960
1600x1200
2048x1536
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium X1950XTX
97
76
56
37
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Premium 7900GTX
93
70
48
26

We used a few tests including all 3Dmarks, Sandra XI, and FEAR as the only game with and without effects. We decided to drop the Quake 4 out of the equation simply as both Open GL drivers are far from ready. ATI really sucks in Open GL and Nvidia is bit better but both are still far away from the Windows XP numbers.

3Dmark03 shows affection for Nvidia's Geforce 7900 GTX is 2800 marks or fifteen percent faster than Radeon X1950 XTX. It is much faster in games two and three but it is tight in the more advanced one.

ATI is equal in Vertex Shader test but it loses every other theoretical one with a pixel Shader 2.0 difference as much as 100 FPS.

3Dmark05 is faster on the fastest ATI and X1950 XTX wins by some 500 points or five per cent. The first two games are tight but ATI wins in the third one. In theoretical numbers Nvidia still wins by a lot on single and multi texturing, slightly on pixel Shader test and Nvidia loses by a lot at Vertex Shader and complex vertex Shader test.

3Dmark06 runs a bit faster on ATI's card. We are talking about 150 points only. Nvidia wins the Shader model 2.0 test but it loses in Shader model 3.0 by as much as 300 points but the CPU runs a few points faster with Nvidia's card inside.

We tested Sandra XI for Vista and figured out the CPU runs slightly faster with ATI. On the multi-core test, the EVGA 7900 GTX wins by a few points but then again multimedia benchmark favours the Radeon X1950XTX. The memory works faster with the Nvidia/EVGA card.

FEAR without effects shows affinity for EVGA's card. It runs from one to three frames faster than the Radeon X1950XTX. However, when you turn the 4X FSAA and 16X Anisotropic on, ATI renders four to nine frames faster or up to forty two percent faster. That is a lot and we should test a few more games to give you a better picture. In this one, ATI dominates.

Despite the fact that Nvidia's card is overclocked, ATI managed to be super competitive or faster. We need to test more games, to see what happens.

In short
We have to admit that ATI's driver just feels more mature. We didn't include it in this benchmark but even the games such as Half Life 2, the original one, Counter strike, Battlefield 2142 and some other games work without any problems. It just runs them smoothly. FEAR with the effects on is a good example where ATI outruns Nvidia by as much as 42 percent. That is a really big difference but that is the driver situation for now.

Nvidia did a good job on the 79x0 driver but we still haven't seen a G80, 8800 GTX / GTS driver not even to mention the SLI mode. It is still to be seen, but we know that the green ants will make it work by the 30th of January 2007 if not before today. Neither Nvidia nor ATI cares that much about the gaming performances for Vista business edition but they will be ready for end of January 2007 for the real gamers' editions.

We expect to get the new driver from the DAAMIT boys shortly and hope that we will even be able to experience the Crossfire with it in house. ?

Reviewed and tested by Sanjin Rados and Fuad Abazovic

 

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