DirectX 10 Shootout: Geforce 8x00 vs. Radeon 2x00

It’s truth time. Now that the first games using DirectX 10 have appeared, Nvidia and ATI have to face the real world and answer the question – which card offers the most performance under Vista?

DX10 Vergleich

In DirectX 9 under XP, the comparison between the Geforce 8 series and the Radeon 2 family always tended to favour Nvidia’s cards. Currently, Nvidia has the strongest performers in the shape of the Geforce 8800 Ultra and GTX – and that hasn’t changed in over half a year. ATI positions its Radeon 2900 XT against the Geforce 8800 GTS. When the Canadian company introduced this chip, it insisted that its graphics processors used the better and faster DX10 design. Its cards were looking so slow because they simply weren’t being challenged enough under Windows XP and were being tested in the wrong manner anyway.

ATI fans rallied around this statement, waiting for real DX 10 titles and always holding out hope for faster Windows XP drivers. At the time, we at Tom’s Hardware predicted the performance difference between the chip families would not change much between DirectX 9 and DirectX 10, even when native DX 10 titles appeared. At the same time, message boards all over the Internet were rife with speculation. The common thread, if you will, was that ATI surely had some untapped potential in its cards that just needed to be teased out. ATI simply needed more time – after all, Nvidia had six months to tweak its graphics drivers. Given enough time, ATI’s drivers would be bound to improve, giving the Radeon 2900 XT the much-anticipated performance boost.

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Well, ATI has now had a few months to tweak, tinker and optimize, and the Catalyst driver suite has moved from version 7.3 to 7.9. Testing with demo benchmarks that are optimized for the chips of only one of the chip makers (Call of Juarez for ATI, Lost Planet for Nvidia) is now a thing of the past. Real games such as Bioshock, Lost Planet and World in Conflict have since appeared in stores in their final state and can be used as real-world benchmarks. Meanwhile, Company of Heroes has also gained DirectX 10 support through patch 1.70, making a nice addition to our benchmark suite. If one of the graphics chip makers has failed to optimize its drivers for these games, that is their own fault – the games are out in stores and are being sold in a final version.

Several results are very interesting. They finally allow us to answer the following questions:

  • What game do you really need a Geforce 8800 Ultra for?
  • Is the Radeon HD 2900 XT faster than the Geforce 8800 GTS?
  • Does the current generation of cards have enough power for the next wave of games?
  • How stable are the current graphics drivers and are there any compatibility problems?

All of our results were determined under Windows Vista with DirectX 10. They are therefore not comparable to Windows XP / DirectX 9 results.

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  • dobby
    totally surpised witht the 2400 & 2600 results, seems as if the only real gaming GPU from ATI is the 2900 which is not wroth getting
  • dev1se
    Gutted about these results really. My HD2900 Pro's arriving tomorrow and I really wish I'd of seen this before making that order. As I'd of gone with the 320MB 8800GTS.

    But.... in ATi's favour, Ive just gone from a HD2600XT DDR4 rig in Crossfire... and that BLEW GAMES AWAY at max settings at 1680x1050 resolution... OK a few games didnt perform over 25fps... but if that crossfire setup was anything to go by, 2 X HD2900 Pros in Crossfire might be a very good and cheap alternative to the 8800GTX. Just a thought anyway
    3DMARK06 Scores with 2 X HD2600XT 256MB DDR4 on 5000+ X2 CPU = 9742... My friends 8800GTX on 2.13ghz C2D Scored 10700.
  • leexgx
    if your going to get sli crossfire better going for fast single card (8800gts 640mb or even GTX before considering SLI)
  • dev1se
    Well luckily I managed to make back £220 on the sale of both of my HD2600XT's (some people pay anything!), which has paid for my HD2900 PRO and left me with £45 left over. I need to hurry up and buy my next HD2900 PRO before stocks run out. I think for £350 in total they'll do a good job. Two GPU's surely has the edge over one!
  • tstebbens
    Soooo glad I got an 8800GTS 320MB. It overclocks superbly: 500MHz core to 719MHz and 1600MHz DDR memory up to 1850MHz. Gives a standard 8800GTX a good run for it's money.
  • tstebbens
    Just had a closer look at some of the screenshots. No FSAA sucks. Damn that PS3!
  • tstebbens
    Just had a closer look at some of the screenshots. No FSAA sucks. Damn that PS3!
  • GodClassy
    I think it would be worth while re-doing the test wit the new Catalyst Driver 7.10. They made a big difference with Battlefield 2142 and now I can play Bioshock as it just crashed my system before. I am using an HD2600 Pro AGP and finally feel I got what I paid for (cheap)!!