Grudgematch: ATI Radeon X1950 XTX vs. Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX

We run ATI's Radeon X1950 XTX and Nvidia's GeForce 7900 GTX through the gauntlet to figure out which single-GPU behemoth you should buy.

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ATI and Nvidia forever remain locked in a world of one-upmanship. If one company releases a 600MHz card, inevitably, a month down the road, the other will release a 650MHz card or start bundling 400MHz cards with a free game, more memory, or a tasty chicken dinner. ATI's new flagship part, the Radeon X1950 XTX is the latest salvo in the ongoing battle. The Radeon X1950 XTX is an improved version of the Radeon X1900--the new part has the same core speed as its predecessor, but now comes with 512MB of ridiculously fast 2000MHz GDDR4 memory. The new memory boosts overall memory bandwidth, which the speedy Radeon X1950 XTX GPU can put to good use.

GeForce 7900 GTX
Radeon X1950 XTX

The $449 Radeon X1950 XTX doesn't exactly qualify for budget status. Nvidia's nearest offering in terms of price turns out to be the GeForce 7900 GTX. Like the X1950, the GeForce 7900 GTX also sports large amounts of quick memory and an equally speedy core. You can purchase a Radeon X1950 XTX card and a matching CrossFire Edition card for a dual-card setup and you can also get two GeForce 7900 GTX cards for a dual-card SLI setup. However, we're focusing on single GPU performance in this story, but we plan on exploring dual-GPU performance in an upcoming video card round-up.

GeForce 7900 GTX
Radeon X1950 XTX
Core Clock
700/650MHz
650MHz
Memory Clock
1600MHz
2,000MHz
RAM Size
512MB
512MB
Pixel Shaders
24
48
ROPs
16
16
Vertex Shaders
8
8
Texture Units
24
16
Manufacturing Process
90nm
90nm
Transistor Count
278M
384M


We put together five tests to check out which card would buckle under the pixel-pushing pressure. We ran all of our tests at resolutions of 1600x1200 and higher, and we also took a few screenshots to see how well each card rendered our test games. Read on to see which card came out on top.

Quake 4

Image Quality

The images produced by the Radeon and the GeForce appeared virtually identical with both systems cranked to 1600x1200 with 4x antialiasing and 16x high anisotropic filtering. We found it difficult to make a judgment either way--Quake 4 looked great on both cards.

Performance

Quake 4, a Doom 3 based game, is usually an Nvidia benchmark stronghold, but, in a surprising turn of events, the Radeon X1950 pummeled the GeForce 7900 GTX in our Quake 4 grudge match. The game is normally an easy win for the GeForce cards, but ATI's recent drivers and hardware improvements have nullified Nvidia's lead. The Radeon X1950 outperformed the GeForce by up to 17 percent.

Verdict

With image quality so close, and the dominating performance of the Radeon X1950 XTX, we're going to have to hand this round to ATI.

System Setup:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU, Asus A8N32 SLI Deluxe, Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe Motherboard, 1GB (512MB x 2) Corsair XMS Memory, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2.
Graphics Cards: GeForce 7900 GTX, Radeon X1950 XTX.
Graphics Drivers: ATI Catalyst beta 8-282-060802a-035384E , Nvidia ForceWare 91.31.

Half-Life 2 Lost Coast

Image Quality

Half-Life 2 Lost Coast represents the performance of games based on Valve's Source engine, which powers the popular Counter-Strike: Source shooter. Valve's engine allows both video cards to enable high-dynamic range lighting and antialiasing at the same time. We cranked the resolution to 1600x1200 and enabled 4x antialiasing with 16x high-quality anisotropic filtering. The resulting images proved to be very similar. We noticed a few minor rendering differences, but we attributed those to the ever-shifting lighting.

Performance

Identical images, followed up by nearly identical performance. The GeForce 7900 GTX pulled in at a frame slower on the lower-resolution test, but then it was neck and neck with the Radeon X1950 XTX once we cranked the resolution to 1920x1440.

Verdict

We're going to have to call a tie here. Neither card pulled ahead of the other in performance or image quality.

System Setup:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU, Asus A8N32 SLI Deluxe, Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe Motherboard, 1GB (512MB x 2) Corsair XMS Memory, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2.
Graphics Cards: GeForce 7900 GTX, Radeon X1950 XTX.
Graphics Drivers: ATI Catalyst beta 8-282-060802a-035384E , Nvidia ForceWare 91.31.

Guild Wars: Factions

Image Quality

Guild Wars: Factions, regardless of whether it's called an MMORPG by some or an RPG by others, is a solid, popular, and beautiful game. Both cards output an excellent image here. We zoomed in on shots to try to find major differences, but didn't find anything noteworthy to report at our 1600x1200, 4xAA, 16xAF test setting.

Performance

Both cards output nearly identical results in Guild Wars. We can't call either card the victor here, as the test itself can vary by up to three frames per second in repeatable runs.

Verdict

With both image quality and performance nearly equal, the game resulted in a tie for both cards.

System Setup:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU, Asus A8N32 SLI Deluxe, Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe Motherboard, 1GB (512MB x 2) Corsair XMS Memory, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2.
Graphics Cards: GeForce 7900 GTX, Radeon X1950 XTX.
Graphics Drivers: ATI Catalyst beta 8-282-060802a-035384E , Nvidia ForceWare 91.31.

Oblivion

Image Quality

Oblivion is one of those games that ATI loves to brag about--high-dynamic range lighting and antialiasing! The game won't allow you to run antialiasing and HDR together by default, but ATI's soon-to-be WHQL-approved driver will allow you to do just that for amazing image fidelity. The jagged edges are very noticeable in the Nvidia image, while the ATI output is nice and smooth.

Performance

ATI wins by a hair if anisotropic filtering is enabled. The Nvidia card couldn't run the Oblivion test with HDR and antialiasing enabled at the same time.

Verdict

The Radeon X1950 XTX wins in both image quality and performance in Oblivion.

System Setup:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU, Asus A8N32 SLI Deluxe, Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe Motherboard, 1GB (512MB x 2) Corsair XMS Memory, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2.
Graphics Cards: GeForce 7900 GTX, Radeon X1950 XTX.
Graphics Drivers: ATI Catalyst beta 8-282-060802a-035384E , Nvidia ForceWare 91.31.

3DMark06

Image Quality

3DMark06 isn't a game, but it remains a valid benchmark by which to gauge theoretical game performance because it supports both Shader Model 3.0 and dual-core CPUs. 3DMark06 also makes use of high-dynamic range lighting, but Nvidia's cards cannot run the test with antialiasing enabled. As such, ATI easily won in the image-quality department.

Performance

The two cards ran neck and neck with antialiasing disabled, but the GeForce couldn't compete once we started running the test with antialiasing.

Verdict

As in Oblivion, ATI takes the 3DMark06 victory because of its ability to perform antialiasing with high-dynamic range lighting.

System Setup:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU, Asus A8N32 SLI Deluxe, Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe Motherboard, 1GB (512MB x 2) Corsair XMS Memory, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2.
Graphics Cards: GeForce 7900 GTX, Radeon X1950 XTX.
Graphics Drivers: ATI Catalyst beta 8-282-060802a-035384E , Nvidia ForceWare 91.31.

The Big Picture

Game Name
ATI Radeon X1950 XTX
Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX
Quake 4
Half-Life 2 Lost Coast
Guild Wars: Factions
Oblivion
3DMark06

The Winner: ATI Radeon X1950 XTX

The Radeon X1950 XTX and GeForce 7900 GTX cards are both juggernauts that can easily outperform any other cards on the market with the obvious exception of Nvidia's dual-GPU GeForce 7950 GX2. In terms of raw performance without antialiasing or anisotropic filtering, the cards actually perform quite similarly. Both cards will produce roughly the same frame rates in most games. Only in Quake 4 do we see the Radeon pull away by a significant amount.

The Radeon also scored two victories in Oblivion and 3DMark06, primarily because of the card's ability to render Shader Model 3.0 HDR and antialiasing at the same time (both of these victories would have been ties otherwise). It feels a little cheap to penalize the GeForce for technical failures, but we can't deny the fact that HDR is becoming an important graphical feature and anyone willing to spend $500 on a video card will likely want to play games with antialiasing and HDR enabled.

The Radeon X1950 XTX has an MSRP of $449, and you can easily find the GeForce 7900 GTX anywhere between $430 and $500, depending on the model. With the prices so close together, we'd easily opt for the Radeon X1950 XTX to get HDR and antialiasing at the same time. However, with DirectX10 and Windows Vista just around the corner, a cash outlay this large might be too much, too late for either card.

Discussion

534 comments
Ateeb33
Ateeb33

I still think that Nvidia is best but I will try ATI

Jordanserg31
Jordanserg31

They are both Good, but ATI has never failed me. They should used more games such as Unreal Tournament or Prince of Persia

Titanicles
Titanicles

I prefer ATi, because they allow better antialiasing and HDR at the same time.

razzi_maniaz
razzi_maniaz

NVIDIA rocks, a single card doesnt change anythin

razzi_maniaz
razzi_maniaz

NVIDIA rocks, a single card doesnt change anythin

redrobodragon
redrobodragon

Yo! did u even read the whole thing? ATI WAS THE BETTER CARD, so why do you say "nvidia is the best" AT LEAST DONT SAY IT HERE , LMAO ... god, seriously dude, write it up somewhere where you wouldnt get contradicted by the professionals.

GuyWithTheMost
GuyWithTheMost

I know I'm a little late putting in my two cents on this one, but I find it entertaining that everyone keeps saying "WAIT FOR DX10! The DX10 cards are going to blow these away! You're going to wish you bought a DX10 card!". Truth is, DX10 won't be a requirement for ANYTHING for quite some time. By then, you'll most likely be building a whole new PC. Many people, myself included, won't touch Vista because the 32 bit version is garbage for people with x64 processors (90% of gamers), and the x64 version of Vista harasses you every time you try to install an "unsigned driver" (one from a developer who didn't pay $500 for a pat on the head from Bill Gates). I don't know about you people, but I don't like it when M$ tries to control what I can/can't install on my PC. I wish more game developers would support Linux, so I could use my copy of WinBlows as a frisbee and not have DX10 crammed down my throat.

Trazac
Trazac

Well for one, the 3dmark test is messured in marks, not frames. Also, the x1950 XTX got no where close to 7000 marks. it barly got over 6000

matt168
matt168

the 8800GTX pulled over 10k frames in mark06 and the 1950XTX gave only around 7000-8000 frames. and even the crossfire x1950pro beat the x1950XTX in some games

matt168
matt168

i've seen the 8800's test and even the 8800GTS supercloked was faster then 1950XTX

matt168
matt168

i've seen the 8800's test and even the 8800GTS supercloked was faster then 1950XTX

gameniko
gameniko

The upcoming 8800 is not that great. There is a new chip soon to be release by ati and it said its gonna be the best graphic chip ever made! EVEN THE ATI X1950 XTX is faster than the 8800 chipsets!!!! OMG NIVIDIA SUCKS BALLS go to www.tomshardware.com and look at the interactive VGA charts

serag2006
serag2006

I knew that ATI will win from the beginning cuz it has more pipelines... but I think that Nvidia is way too better than ATI and the upcoming 8800gtx will crush ATI

beckoflight
beckoflight

Ati will win the next round to !!! muahah :P

gameniko
gameniko

Well it doesnt really matter who wins in this comparison because the new Generation graphic cards are coming out soon, and whoever buys these ones are just wasting their money. Plus now with SLI and crossfire becoming more and more popular there is no need to buy such an expensive graphic card when you can buy 2 ati radeons X1650pro's or 2 7600GT's you will be better off and it will probably cost you less. By the way speaking of SLI and crossfire, Crossfire is faster. Check this site out: http://www.bjorn3d.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-6277.html

beckoflight
beckoflight

Ati may not be as old as Nvidia but is surpasses Nvidia a lot , for exemple when i'v had my ATI radeon 9800 pro & i'v played Far Cry i could set the renderer mode & my friends that had Nvidia 6600 GT couldn't so since then all my friends turned to ATI because now they understood that the generic when u enter the game "the way its meant to be played " isn't the way at all :D ! Ati rulsz u should try to make some tests with a friend that buys an Nvidia the same price as u'r ATI (viceversa) & compare them u will se then that in most of the games ATI will give u the greatest experience !

TjTCoCo
TjTCoCo

They will both run any game on the market next to perfect. So, basically they both kick ass, I'd be happy to have either one. The only difference i can tell is that Nvidia has a cooler name than ATI.

Dune571
Dune571

WTH, the 7900 is way older than that Ati thingy. Unfair comp. NVIDIA owns.

devilnevercry9
devilnevercry9

all i know is my graphic card is getting less value. and there are not many games out there to play. with powerfull graphic card series of x850 is good enough. if you really want to have series of x1000 and adove, you should wait until the damn crash price will occur. if these 2 competitors are trying to beat each other for the next year 2007. i wondered the above test results would be a different if dual graphic/ crossfire as they compare... would it be a great hit price drop if ps3 comes out at full lauch market demand in the next March 2007? but it will be a good deal at $170-215.

Fallen_One_28
Fallen_One_28

The GEforce 7950 GX2 completely annilates the strongest Radeon in the Battlefield 2142 performance guide with an 85(Nividea) / 57(ATI) frames per second and the new 8000 series is due soon.

Kholdstare_fire
Kholdstare_fire

YA Too late. ATI is still best though. R600 with it's unified shader archetecture is going to completly mow the new GeForce. nVidia's days of domination are over.

neowelchsevilsm
neowelchsevilsm

I got to agree with Zooz94, I'd rather wait until they are in the double digits.

zooz94
zooz94

trust me you do not want to buy any of thes cards YET becus after three years its going to be in 80dollers or you can wait for the dx10 cards to come then buy them!!

yamoon_tak
yamoon_tak

i read in a customer review at newegg.com on the x1950 xtx that -quoting : "Just wanted to clarify an apparent misconception here: Windows Vista does not require a DX10 card. Their WDDM driver works just fine with DX9 series cards. Also, be aware that the chief addition to the DX10 specification set is a new focus on using shader processors over pixel processors. These cards, though not DX10 compliant natively, are designed with heavy shader use in mind and will likely be software compatible with DX10." but who knows!!!!

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

well as dude said below...i'd wait to buy any new hardware myself till vista and dx10 come out.. personally..i prefer nvidia graphics..but im using ati right now.. and as some one else said..look at the first page...way more pixel shaders on the ati card... and btw u cant use hdr and anti aliasing simultaneously on the nvidia card... ahh who am i kiddin im at my girl's house usin her junker comp...lmao...my comp's at home... this thing got like dinosaurs in it on a running wheel..lmao.....

guitarfreak2005
guitarfreak2005

I've used my ATI card for years, but then again, NVidia usually comes out with something better, I personally like ATI, idk why, but, it always just turns out that ATI will just counter with another proccessing powerhouse. It's kind of dumb, but I'm always wondering when to buy a new gfx card, because a couple months later, BAM! A completely new card pops out, which just BLOWS AWAY the previous one. But if I'm gonna buy a new card, I might as well buy one AFTER I get a PS3.

saifiii
saifiii

stupid dufisses, Nvidia is going to release its new line on of these days and its gonna blow away ATi both performance wise and price wise

moawia22
moawia22

i will wait for geforce 8800gtx ..................

Lordkunta
Lordkunta

Well.. just look at them cards, I've never bought my cards based on performance but by desing, I mean, just look at that Nvida Card, It looks like a frikkin qucumber, and those 2x quad-sli cards, dammit, I don't want any frikking fridge in my pc, not to mention the electrcity bill. Then look at the Ati, it's frikkin beautiful, the design is fantastic, it gives the feel as being the heart of the computers power. No, I love my Ati Cards, I like havin control. But Nvida takes away that control, so I guess Nvida is for schtupid people. ;D One more thing, who drives a green wolkswagen when the option 2 drive a ferrari is availabel? Schtupid people. ^^

__SuryvoR__
__SuryvoR__

i can't believe it .... ati pwined nvidia

doitforthegals
doitforthegals

As stated, next gen vid cards are around the corner and will literally piss all over these ones, so why buy this?

hye_03
hye_03

I just love these type of comparisons! good job gamespot!

urdoomed11
urdoomed11

from the chart thing it looks like atl is better even though i like nvida more

urdoomed11
urdoomed11

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

urdoomed11
urdoomed11

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

urdoomed11
urdoomed11

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

sangoanuta
sangoanuta

Let us see. On the first page of this test it's obvious. ATI's 1950XT is a better card cuz it has more pipelines. Not because Nvidia sucks, not because ATI rules. Just because of that.

TonyG
TonyG

dang... these guys are such ATI fanboys...

Theplayboy0
Theplayboy0

I switched from Nvidia to ATI a long time ago and I have been a fan for life. Nvidia just doesn't do the job as well. It seems that Nvidia card users are always have issues and for what? To save $40.00? I'm an ATI man all the way because the graphics are simply smoother and better looking.

msngoop
msngoop

in my point the view the nVidea geforce 7900 gtx is the best!!!!!!!!

scottyd2003
scottyd2003

What ever, a card is a card as long as your able to play video games. I think it is best to go one generation down in video cards to save yourself a bundle of money. My personal opinion is to wait for Directx10 GPUs becuase you will be wishing you did when they are released and your unable to play Directx10 games. It's all cool in the pool though, play games and have fun, peace!

devilnevercry9
devilnevercry9

obviously radeon has more advantages than geforce,excepted for texture which is nvidia has more than. But if you play game from 8/10 to 9/10 rated it really hard to find the game that has made with high texture graphic. ( COD is one of them). i recommended to buy radeon as my opinion.

jingwa
jingwa

Switched from nvidia to Ati a while back, so im not surprised by these results and ive yet to see any reason to buy nvidia card. I also only run 1gig of memory, i havent seen a reason to increase this value since i dont get lag in any games i play, FEAR, Oblivion, halflife2 etc all run smooth for me, why should i pay extra for something i obviously dont need. I also prefer Amd, cant say i ever liked intel, i build my own custom pc's...so after trying both here and there ive always found Amd easier to work with, better price for performance and overall seem to simply preform better for playing games. So for the the next generation of gaming rigs i make, i have no doubt it will be a Amd + Ati combo...unless something drastic happens in the mean time.

glitch303
glitch303

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

glitch303
glitch303

There's alot of gamers with 1 gig of ram, i'm still one of em. Plus i do Music production so i need lots of memory. But i so far dont see the need for gamin for more. Games like Fear may benefit off more but i haven't gotten Fear yet. WOW, COD2, BF2, Oblivion, NFSU Most Wanted, all run great and all at Max except for Oblivion. Load times are quick enough for me, especially with DDR2 AM2 socket. I think 2 gigs is just steppin in, and yeah honestly i do feel kinda behind thinking gamers are startin to use that amount when i should have more than most because of makin music, lol. @ Intel Dua Core, guess it's all bout the new cool fast thing in town. I'm by AMD side through thick and thin though. They always give the best performance/price ratio. Most of the people from what i can tell who spend way up there in the $1000 price range for there rigs complete with expensive graphics card are the ones who buy Intel rigs, plus they dont build.

Sonjador
Sonjador

ok, I have read a ton of reviews on VC lately. I ended up getting the Nvidia 7950 GTX. Why, why not? I agree with most of you- in 5 minutes it will be so past tense that who the heck cares any more? What kills me about this review is they are testing with an AMD proc- what? Why does everyone else use Intel Dual Core's? And why only 1 GIG of memory- what gamer these days doesn't have 2 gigs of RAM? I mean, memory is so cheap these days that how can you not? I am nto saying that one will win over the other with the other changes, but let's at least test the way our systems are set up. Thanks - and keep on gaming!!!!

daumex
daumex

Yeah, Halo 3, playing a FPS on a gamepad is bullsh*t !!! DirectX 10 GPUs are comming, and no game on x360 will look better than any PC game.....

jattpunjabdaa
jattpunjabdaa

halo 3 for xbox 360 lol.. no offense but xbox 360 is way better price ways than buyin a 500 dollar graphics card. if u ask me that is just bull****