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The graphics quality settings are represented on the screenshots below:

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900/5900 Ultra

ATI RADEON 9800/9800 Pro

Please have a look at the anisotropic filtering quality settings. For both: graphics cards on NVIDIA’s chips as well as graphics cards on ATI’s chips we set “quality” anisotropic filtering modes. With a high-end graphics card at hand it would be illogical to compromise, don’t you think so?

Contemporary ATI chips are known for their ability to provide high texturing speed with enabled anisotropic filtering at the expense of slightly lower image clarity at “inconvenient” angles (please, see our ATI RADEON 9700 Pro Graphics Card Review and our NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra (NV35) Review). GeForce FX chips and NVIDIA drivers are also optimized for higher performance with enabled anisotropic filtering. However, all these optimizations inevitably cause texture quality worsening, that is why in this test session I decided not to use the modes where these optimizations are activated.

The graphics cards comparison in the Quality mode may seem unfair to you, and it is not for nothing that you get this impression. However, when I decide to test the graphic cards in Quality modes, I will not be able to activate the Performance mode on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900/5900 Ultra based graphics cards, because in this mode the driver automatically reduces the anisotropy level if possible. Besides, tri-linear filtering sometimes simply vanishes, and instead we can notice very clear texture ripples and borders between the MIP-levels. In other words, enabling the “Performance” mode on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900/5900 Ultra nearly puts the image quality of NVIDIA chips at the same level with the “Performance” mode of ATI chips. RADEON 9800/9800 Pro however, doesn’t use tri-linear filtering at all and anisotropic filtering is performed really fast: here NVIDIA chips are completely defeated.

As a result, we have to use “Quality” modes and put up with a huge performance drop by NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900/5900 Ultra. Although we should also always keep in mind that NVIDIA chips, unlike the solutions from ATI, provide excellent image quality in any conditions and at any view angles.

 
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