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Windows Vista isn't out yet, either is DirectX 10, or any DirectX 10 games. So although we can test this is current environments, it's really missing the point and will have to be revisited next year, with an obvious update to our testing routine.
For testing this card, I used our reference Intel 975XBX “Bad Axe” motherboard, with an X6800 Core 2 Duo. Coupled with 2GBs of Corsair CMX1024-6400C4 running at 800MHz 4-4-4-12. My X1950 XT-X and GeForce 7950 GX2 benchmarks where taken straight from my X1950 XT-X review, in which I used WHQL 6.8 Catalyst drivers, and WHQL 91.31 drivers.
For the 7900 GTX and the 8800 GTX, I used the newer 96.94 drivers. The Counter-Strike portion of the testing has changed slightly, so these results can't be compared to the older cards and have therefore been removed from the graphs.
I ran Call of Duty 2, Counter Strike: Source, Quake 4, Battlefield 2, Prey and 3DMark06. Bar 3DMark06, these all run using our in-house pre-recorded timedemos in the most intense sections of each game I could find. Each setting is run three times and the average is taken, for reproducible and accurate results. I ran each game test at 1,280 x 1,024, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,920 x 1,200 and 2,048 x 1,536 each at 0x FSAA with trilinear filtering, 2x FSAA with 4x AF and 4x FSAA with 8x AF.
Performance is quite simply superb and in most cases it is 50-100 per cent faster. At 1,280 x 1,024 the difference wasn't quite as obvious as in most cases it was CPU limited. As per usual, it was in the upper resolutions, or when AA was switched on that the differences were apparent. Quite frankly, the 21 graphs at the end of this review speak for themselves.
Without a doubt, this is the fastest graphics card currently available, with the best image quality we've ever seen.
At this stage, we can only predict what DirectX 10 performance would be like. So I would only recommend buying this card if you really want or need the best possible DirectX 9 performance and image quality, say of you're running a 24in display or Dell's 30in monster. If you are aiming for DirectX 10, wait until next year, when we will be able to test on Windows Vista and compare to ATI's rival card.
For such a radically new architecture, I can only be impressed with how problem free the move to a unified shader architecture seems to have been. When SLI is combined with DirectX 10, I can even see scaling getting closer to a 100 per cent performance increase than ever before.
This is an amazing leap forward for nVidia and for the graphics industry as a whole.