ATI's Radeon 9600 Pro - Another Win for ATIby Anand Lal Shimpi on April 16, 2003 11:40 AM EST
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NVIDIA: Hard at work on new drivers
In our last article we criticized NVIDIA for truly falling behind in the driver and image quality department; we don't even remember the last time we've been able to say about the graphics giant, which was cause for alarm.
Thankfully NVIDIA has been listening to our complaints as well as the complaints of other reviewers and is hard at work at a new driver build for the entire FX line. The forthcoming Detonator driver release is planned for the near future and will most likely accompany a new GPU release from NVIDIA, but in addition to the originally planned performance improvements the driver will supposedly address the anisotropic filtering image quality issues we've brought up in the past.
Because of the close proximity to the new driver drop we've refrained from turning this article into an extensive image quality comparison, but with AA and anisotropic filtering both very important features we'd like to leave you with our opinions on the differences between ATI and NVIDIA.
With the latest driver build from ATI and NVIDIA, the two offer very similar antialiasing quality levels, with ATI arguably having a slight quality advantage.
The biggest differences exist in the two manufacturers' anisotropic filtering settings; in order to clear up confusion and push for a more apples-to-apples comparison, NVIDIA has renamed their anisotropic filtering settings to "Performance" and "Quality" modes just like ATI (instead of the unnecessarily long "Performance-Aggressive" and "Performance-Quality").
Despite the name change, the quality issues still remain; NVIDIA's "Performance" mode is clearly inferior to ATI's "Performance" mode and while NVIDIA's "Quality" mode is much closer to ATI's "Quality" mode, there is still a noticeable difference between the two.
With the image quality offered by NVIDIA's cards potentially changing significantly over the coming weeks thanks to the new drivers, we haven't focused too much on the image quality offered by each of NVIDIA's settings. For our AA/Aniso tests we looked at the performance of each setting individually, as well as benchmarked two combination settings - a high performance and a high image quality setting (2X AA + 8X Performance aniso & 4X AA + 8X Quality aniso, respectively).
With that said, let's get onto the tests.