It is very obvious that texture filtering quality does affect performance even of the very advanced graphics cards. However, it is also clear that high-quality trilinear filtering, which does not produce “shimmering” effects, on Nvidia GeForce hardware is also very performance hungry. In fact, much more speed-demanding compared to ATI’s high-quality anisotropic filtering!
Using the new test methodologies we have determined that the gap between the GeForce 7950 GX2 and the Radeon X1950 XTX is not dramatic in the vast majority of cases provided that both use high-quality texture filtering. We were also very surprised with the fact that high-quality trilinear filtering radically lowered performance in such benchmarks as Serious Sam 2 , Tomb Raider: Legend , Titan Quest , 3DMark06 and some other.
To sum up, we have to conclude the following:
* Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 is faster than the Radeon X1950 XTX in the majority of cases;
* ATI Radeon X1950 XTX costs $449, whereas the GeForce 7950 GX2 is priced at $599 - $649;
* ATI Radeon X1950 XTX produces higher image quality under our settings due to high-quality anisotropic filtering;
* Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 could produce higher quality antialiasing modes than the Radeon X1950 XTX, but they are hardly useful for modern games;
* ATI Radeon X1950 XTX theoretically can enable FSAA with FP16 HDR, which is an advantage, however, it does not have the feature supported flawlessly at the moment and it may not provide sufficient performance;
* ATI Radeon X1950 XTX, unlike the GeForce 7950 GX2, works with every mainboard provided that the power supply is capable of feeding the board with 120W of power.
It is no doubt a luxury item and a luxury price but with NVIDIA expecting users to pay up to US$999 for a GeForce 8800 Ultra, there may be more of these consumers than we had thought possible. We just don't see ourselves as belonging to one of them though.
Bottom line: an interesting limited-run product based on sound engineering that offers decent DX9 performance. Much like the GeForce 7950 GX2, it's a performance/features stopgap until the Next Big Thing arrives.
* Best performance in its class;
* Outperforms Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS in most gaming tests;
* Supports simultaneous FSAA and FP HDR;
* Supports hardware HD-video decoding;
* VIVO support;
* Efficient and silent cooling system;
* Sufficient accessories bundle.
* No DirectX 10 support;
* Significant height may hinder installation in some system cases;
* Too brief user guide.
Picking between the two is very hard, but I think if it were me making this purchase the Radeon HD 2900XT would be my choice. The GeForce 8800 GTX is an exceptional performer, but Nvidia are simply asking too much for their high-end graphics cards and a $100 saving is significant, and it is money that could be pumped into more storage, memory or even processing power. In time we will know for sure which will have been the better pick, as drivers mature and more games get released.