Next PC to Buy
I'm also going to put a new graphic card into Grace's machine. Want to get an nVidia, but this piece shows, the new NV30 is the one to wait for in November. Otherwise, it's a midrange Radeon. The couple of clipped articles here should give you an view for what I'm thinking.
ATI Increases Graphics lead over nVidia. With the launch of the 9700 and the 9500 PRO, ATI is going to make life a bit more difficult for the market leader NVIDIA, whose GeForce 4 Ti series is clearly behind, technologically. Because DirectX 9 still has no meaning as of yet, this lag in technology doesn't make any difference in practice for the moment. Thanks to its higher bandwidth and the four vertex shaders, the 9700 is clearly better than the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 in all areas. The biggest weakness of the GeForce 4 Ti chip is the big loss in performance when using anisotropic filtering and FSAA. Here, the 9500 PRO clearly beats the GeForce 4 Ti 4600. For example: a GF4 Ti 4600 achieves 53.6 fps in Unreal Tournament 2003 at 1024x768 with 4xFSAA; at the same time the Radeon 9700, at 4xFSAA, reaches an impressive 99.5 fps without anisotropic filtering, and still manages 69.2 fps with anisotropic filtering.
If you observe the standard performance, the 9500 PRO makes the swing up to the level of a GeForce 4 Ti 4400. However, it remains a question whether the 9500 (non-PRO) will be able to beat its direct competitor, the GeForce 4 Ti 4200 series, because the latter has a much better fill rate in the multitexturing context. With regard to price, both of these will be sure to put up a hard fight.
And that's the decisive aspect for the consumer in the end - the price. If you look at the market, GeForce 4 Ti 4400 cards are to be had for a street price of around $190-$230. Ti 4600 cards cost around $220-$300. ATI's official price for the 9500 PRO is $199, and the 9700 should cost $299. However, expect the street prices to be significantly less. A Radeon 9700 PRO, for example, which is sold in the ATI shop for $399 is offered elsewhere for $315-$350.
The air is getting thinner for NVIDIA. Compared to R300, NV25 has begun to show its age. In standard performance, as well as with the use of FSAA and anisotropic filtering, ATI has made a significant lead for itself, and the gap will only widen when DirectX 9 is launched. Now, all hopes are placed on the much-awaited successor NV30, which should be launched in November. So the times remain exciting, and NVIDIA is sure to have a few surprises in store for us.
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Next PC to Buy