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On October 23, 2003 NVIDIA announced a new generation of DirectX9 compatible graphics processors. New NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra (NV38) and GeForce FX 5700 Ultra (NV36) chips should strengthen the company’s positions in the competition with ATI, and are certainly aimed at competing with the recently announced RADEON 9800 XT and RADEON 9600 XT.

The new graphics processors from NVIDIA, just like the newcomers from ATI, are based on the previous chips modifications, that is why you shouldn’t expect anything revolutionary from them.

For example, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra (NV38) is none other but an “overclocked” version of the previous generation NVIDIA graphics chips leader aka GeForce FX 5900 Ultra (NV35).

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra (NV36) is a more interesting chip, actually. The bigger part of it is similar to what we see in GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (NV31), but the vertex shader performance of the newcomer is considerably higher. Unlike the predecessor aka NV31, Nv36 features three vertex processors instead of two. It also supports DDR as well as DDR II graphics memory.

There are three graphics cards modifications, which will be based on the new NVIDIA NV36 and NV38 chips:

  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra (NV38): 475MHz core clock frequency, 950MHz (475MHz DDR) memory working frequency, 256bit DDR memory bus, 256MB of graphics memory onboard.
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra (NV36): 475MHz core clock frequency, 900MHz (450MHz DDR) memory working frequency, 128bit DDR II memory bus, 128MB of graphics memory onboard.
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 (NV36): 425MHz core clock frequency, 550MHz (275MHz DDR) memory working frequency, 128bit DDR memory bus, 128/256MB of graphics memory onboard.

On ATI’s side there are two solutions announced this month, which should compete with NVIDIA in the graphics market:

  • ATI RADEON 9800 XT (R360): 412MHz core clock frequency, 730MHz (365MHz DDR) memory working frequency, 256bit DDR memory bus, 256MB of graphics memory onboard.
  • ATI RADEON 9600 XT (RV360): 500MHz core clock frequency, 600MHz (300MHz DDR) memory working frequency, 128bit DDR memory bus, 128MB of graphics memory onboard.

In this review we are going to take a look at the fastest graphics cards models from ATI and NVIDIA, namely GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and RADEON 9800 XT. Better value and more mainstream solutions, such as GeForce FX 5700/5700 Ultra as well as RADEON 9600 XT are to come in the next articles. So, stay tuned!

In order to make the comparison of our today’s rivals more interesting I had to almost completely revise the set of gaming benchmarks. There finally appeared really worthy games capable of using the power of the newest graphics processors. All new games and synthetic benchmarks involved in our today’s test session use Pixel Shaders 1.x or 2.0.

In this case it is especially interesting to take a closer look at the top models of the today’s newest gaming graphics card families and estimate the efficiency of the new optimizing shader compiler, aka Unified Compiler, which was first officially included into NVIDIA drivers.

However, let’s better get started from the very beginning…

 
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