Well, the performance difference between NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900, ATI RADEON 9800 and their faster analogues appeared not very high: 10-15% in the heaviest work modes. The pricing on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra and ATI RADEON 9800 Pro exceeds that on the non-Ultra and non-Pro versions much more than by these 10-15%.
Therefore, if you are looking not for the “world’s very best” graphics card, but just for a good High-End product with a nice potential to last it for a while, then why don’t you take a closer look at NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 and ATI RADEON 9800? These solutions become the most interesting today, because if overclocked, they are mostly faster than their more expensive fellows.
The upcoming launch of NVIDIA NV38 and ATI R360, the “overclocked versions” of the NV35 and R350, which is scheduled for this September-October, will not tell on the attractiveness of NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 and ATI RADEON 9800. On the contrary, the new chips announcement will make the cards based on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 and ATI RADEON 9800 less expensive, while the overclocking potential will remain the same :)
It seems to be a more difficult question, which graphics card of the two is better: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 or ATI RADEON 9800?
On the one hand, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 with a better anisotropic filtering algorithm on the whole performs almost as fast as RADEON 9800 or maybe even a little faster in some cases.
On the other hand, DirectX8 shaders were the maximum our today's benchmarks could really involve, while in case of DirectX9 shaders RADEON 9800 will definitely be much faster. As a result, it will do really great in modern games using DirectX9 shaders. Finally, the price of graphics cards based on ATI chips is considerably lower, than that of NVIDIA based solutions. So, from the pricing point of view, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 is more likely to compete not with ATI RADEON 9800, but with a more powerful ATI RADEON 9800 Pro…
Well, undoubtedly you will make the right choice!
P.S.: You can download non-standard record demos, which we used during this test session here (616KB).