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Thread: Question on comparative graphics card performance

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    Ex-MSFT Paul Adams's Avatar
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    Question on comparative graphics card performance

    Been a while since I bought a graphics card, and with the multitude of flavours available I'm getting more and more baffled

    Currently I am using an Asus GF4 Ti4200 128Mb in my Shuttle SS51G, and the onboard GF4 MX chipset on my Shuttle SN41G2.

    Assuming I'd want a DX9 board next, I guess I'm looking at a GeForce FX 5200 or Radeon 9500 or better, right?


    Where I get lost is when it comes to comparing the boards between nVidia and ATI, I think this is roughly correct in ascending order of "power":

    GeForce FX 5200
    GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
    GeForce FX 5600
    GeForce FX 5600 Ultra
    GeForce FX 5900
    GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
    GeForce FX 5950
    GeForce FX 5950 Ultra

    and for ATI:

    9500
    9500 SE
    9500 Pro
    9600
    9600 SE
    9600 Pro
    9600 XT
    9800
    9800 SE
    9800 Pro
    9800 XT

    Are there any major ones I've missed, or gotten the order wrong?
    I've not bothered confusing the issue further with 128Mb vs 256Mb, and I think the AIW cards are just extra features rather than power?

    Can someone mix the 2 lists together (along with any insertions/corrections) to give me an idea of comparative power without overclocking or "soft-modding" please?
    (I've had my fill of attempting to overclock for a 0.0005% increase in performance and getting tearing and such-like )

    The other thing I'm not sure about is to what degree one model is "better" than another - i.e. is the difference between a 9600 XT and a 9600 Pro less than that between a 9600 and a 9600 SE?

    Thanks for any info!
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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  2. #2
    "You're my wife now!" Ravens Nest's Avatar
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    If you are going to list the 9500, then you have to list the 9700 np and pro

    I'd stick with the ti4200 till the new year at least, as the 5200 is DX9 but is extremely slow (GF4mx level or lower) and the 9500 is about the same speed as your ti4200 just have playbale frame rates with AA and AF turned on.

    Try overclocking your ti4200 you might be able to get ti4400 speeds out of it, just increase the speed in small increments.

    If you want the best price vs performance then get a 9600 pro, the 9600 XT is too much more money for a small increase..

    Or try to find somewhere that sell the 9700 pro cheap i.e.
    http://www.retekdirect.co.uk/acatalog/Video_Cards.html

    I've listed Austin's invaliable list of radeon cards here, hope he dont mind


    9800PRO (0.15) 380/340 256bitDDR 8pipes 21.8GB/s 3.2Gp/s
    9800 . . . (0.15) 325/310 256bitDDR 8pipes 19.8GB/s 2.6Gp/s

    9700PRO (0.15) 325/310 256bitDDR 8pipes 19.8GB/s 2.6Gp/s
    9700 . . . (0.15) 275/270 256bitDDR 8pipes 17.6GB/s 2.2Gp/s

    9500PRO (0.15) 275/270 128bitDDR 8pipes 8.6GB/s 2.2Gp/s
    9500 . . . (0.15) 275/270 128bitDDR 4pipes 8.6GB/s 1.1Gp/s

    9600PRO (0.13) 400/300 128bitDDR 4pipes 9.6GB/s 1.6Gp/s
    9600 . . . (0.13) 325/200 128bitDDR 4pipes 6.4GB/s 1.3Gp/s

    9800SE_1 (0.15) 325/250 128bitDDR 4pipes 8.0GB/s 1.3Gp/s
    9800SE_2 (0.15) 380/340 256bitDDR 4pipes 21.8GB/s 1.6Gp/s

    As you can tell im biased to ATI, so sue me
    Last edited by Ravens Nest; 20-11-2003 at 12:14 PM.

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    . bledd's Avatar
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    the fx5200 is kinda rubbish really (but the price does reflect that..)

    might be a downgrade in performance in some games from a 4200!

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    Ex-MSFT Paul Adams's Avatar
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    If you are going to list the 9500, then you have to list the 9700 np and pro
    Oh yeah DUH

    I seem to recall hearing bad things about the FX5200 a while ago, now I think about it...

    I've tended to spend around £120 whenever I get a graphics card in recent history, so it looks like I might wait til that 9700 Pro drops to around that figure and pick one up in the new year

    Of course I'll have to check for compatibility issues with the Shuttles in the other forum first

    Thanks for the feedback guys!
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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    No prob Ravens Nest but if they're wrong I'll pretend you wrote it!

    Yeah there's quite a lot in your list that's out of place. Firstly we should tackle nVidia's DX9 vs ATI's DX9. Basically nVidia made a few decisions which turned out to be poor and have been trying to fill the inefficiences and failings in the GF-FX design ever since. The FX5700ULTRA and FX5900 are really the only two cards worth considering and even then you are taking a slight risk long term. ATI make much more sense, much in the same way as GF4TI4200 made much more sense than GF3, Rad8500 or GF4MX when I'm sure you bought that.

    I'll make the list in a mo but to cut it short the best of the currently available cards is Rad9600PRO, 9600XT, FX5700ULTRA, FX5900, Rad9800 and Rad9800PRO. You really should consider o/c'ing as the days of small increases and big risks are firmly behind us (without getting into it too deep). Anyway sticking with stock perf ...

    FX5200 + Rad9600SE (woefully slow, near GF3TI200)
    FX5200ultra + FX5600 + Rad9500 + Rad9600 (easily better)
    FX5600ultra (2 discrete versions but both inferior to 9600PRO)
    Rad9600PRO (absolute least you should consider)
    Rad9600XT + Rad9500PRO (decently faster than 9600PRO)
    FX5700ultra (decently faster than the 9600XT but is an FX)
    Rad9700 (decently faster once again)
    FX5900 + Rad9700PRO + Rad9800 (close to the next cards up)
    FX5900ultra + Rad9800PRO
    FX5950ultra + Rad9800XT (stupidly priced for only the tiniest gain)

    A lot does depend on how you test them but that's pretty accurate. As said the FX are poorer architecturally so it makes more sense to go Rad which is usually cheaper anyway. If you factor in o/c'ing the 9500PRO, 9600PRO and Rad9700 are easily the best buys ... big gains to be had. Bottom line is that although these cards have moved on since the GF4TI it's only for DX9 and superb AA+AF, unless you buy near the top. I'd agree that you should hold on to your GF4TI until Feb/April next year when the true mid-level offerings come out (as in faster in raw 3D than a GF4TI) ... we really haven't moved on yet since the 9500 were introduced nearly 10 months ago.
    Last edited by Austin; 20-11-2003 at 02:08 PM.

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    "You're my wife now!" Ravens Nest's Avatar
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    No prob Ravens Nest but if they're wrong I'll pretend you wrote it!

    Typical austin stole all he knows from me and posts it as his

    No to be serious you've come up with the goods again, Paul Adams if you listen to austins advice you wont go far wrong..

    Just got to find a way of stealing it from him and alter it enough so it looks like my work hmmm!!

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    Ex-MSFT Paul Adams's Avatar
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    Ah, spot on Austin, exactly what I was after, you're a star, sir

    ATI make much more sense, much in the same way as GF4TI4200 made much more sense than GF3, Rad8500 or GF4MX when I'm sure you bought that.
    Yes indeedy - my path thus far has been:
    Matrox Mystique 2Mb + Diamond Monster3D -> Voodoo3 3000 -> GeForce2 MX 32Mb -> GeForce4 Ti4200 128Mb

    I heard VERY bad things about the GF3 range, and at the time ATI offerings were still poor, with horrendous driver stability.

    Very interesting that you put the 9500 Pro over the 9600 Pro, that wouldn't have been immediately obvious to me
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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    Thanks guys. Very similar to my path which was ... non-3D -> i740 -> Voodoo Banshee -> GF2MX400 -> GF4TI4200 -> Rad9500PRO.

    The GF3 were good cards, TI200 was esp nice if you o/c'ed a wee bit. However just like the GF2 they suffered outside of 3D and it was only the horrendous pricing and inconsitent clocks from ATI that kept the GF2/3 the firm favourites. GF4 solved that by seriously addressing all the non-3D stuff while giving the 3D speed a nice boost ... GF2 -> GF4MX and GF3 -> GF4TI of course.

    The deal with the 9500PRO was that it was released at a time when ATI were cacking themselves about the overdue GF-FX (which turned out to be dire at first). For a good while all nVidia had out were the DX8 GF4TI (enhanced GF3) and the Rad9700 & 9700PRO easily beat them in all depts (for a pretty price though). ATI needed something out to market in the popular low and mid-range sectors so basically released a 9700 with 128bitDDR which was the 9500PRO & 9500. The 9500 had half the pipelines cut off (much like ALL current mid-range DX9 cards) but the 9500PRO had the full processing power of the 9700. Not having 256bitDDR only knocked it by around 20% overall and once people worked out how to o/c that was easily made up. Since then there hasn't been even remotely significant improvement from ATI. The 9600 was released as the 9500 were not profitable (and o/c'ed PRO seriously endangered the 9700 cards). The 9800 was little more than 9700PRO and even the 9800PRO was only slightly faster clocked. Having a 9500PRO o/c'ed gets you close to 9800 perf while having a 9700 o/c'ed often surpasses the 9800.

    So that's why really. The 9600 were not designed to be better than the 9500, but simply cheaper to produce and hence more profitable (even with a lower selling price). They also tested 0.13mu for ATI, it allows for faster clocks, potentially cheaper production and cooler running and is what we should be seeing for the new ATI top end early 2004. Going 0.13mu too early is one of the mistakes nVidia made with the first GF-FX cards (the FX5800). Before spring next year we should be seeing £150 mid-range cards offering 9700/9800 perf levels ... and about time too!

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    for the love of god please dont get a fx5200 unless you just want to surf the net or use word. they are complete CRAP!! And for a Shuttle i would consider a AIW card the 9600 aiw pro is faster then the 9600pro plus you get some cool features.

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    You've got a ti4200 stand pat unless you're going to get a 5900 or better or 9800 Pro or better.

    My upgrade path:

    Commodore 64

    Pentium1 -- 2Mb S3 ViRGE3D Onboard -->
    Pentium3 -- 32MB GeForce256 SDR --> 32MB GF2GTS -->
    Pentium4 -- 128Mb GF4ti4600 --> 128Mb GF FX5900

    Can you tell I'm an intel/nvidia whore.

    P.S. Have you played the new MaxPayne2 demo? The mirror effects are so cool. First game I can think of where you can look in the mirror and see yourself like that.
    Last edited by chrisf6969; 20-11-2003 at 06:09 PM.

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    Originally posted by chrisf6969


    P.S. Have you played the new MaxPayne2 demo? The mirror effects are so cool. First game I can think of where you can look in the mirror and see yourself like that.
    Duke Nukem!

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    Duke Nukem 3D rocked. Way ahead of its time. Quake was pants and required a PC at least 5 times more powerful than the top of the range back then. I rem I could run Duke3D over 60FPS at 1024x768 while Quake was still an ugly slideshow at 512x384. Go Duke!

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    . bledd's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Paul Adams

    I heard VERY bad things about the GF3 range, and at the time ATI offerings were still poor, with horrendous driver stability.
    nowt wrong with GF3's my friend, they always held their own when they were around -on par with the 8500's

    -now however they're old news

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    . bledd's Avatar
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    time to kick ass and chew bubble gum.

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    ... and you're all out of gum? (LOL)

    The GF3 were great for along time (and their price reflected this). With it being the only (AFAIK) DX8 card for a LONG time developers were designing with GF3 rather than DX8 in mind, hence much of the trouble ATI had with the Rad8500 when it finally appeared. As the 8500 matured it was clearly better than the GF3 but ATI's pricing outside of US+C was dire. Here's how I'd sum it up...

    GF3:
    * Great AA and decent AF.
    * Great compatibility and solid drivers.
    * Poor '2D' image quality.
    * Lower end part (TI200) quite a way back in perf but o/c's well.

    Rad8500:
    * Great AF (but poor AA).
    * Great '2D' image quality.
    * Hw DVD playback.
    * Great TVout.
    * Great dual display (odd manu skimped though).
    * Quirky with poor drivers (in the earlier days).
    * Big discrepences in clock speed and hence perf.
    * Lower end part (8500LE) very close in perf.

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    LUSE Galant's Avatar
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    9500pro vs 9600xt?
    No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. However, many electrons were displaced and terribly inconvenienced.

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