Part One: Introduction
It's easy to forget, it hasn't always been this way. Unfortunately
the long term memory of the industry isn't that great. The
march of technology rests for no one but I'm sure more than
a handful of you can remember the days when ATi vs. nVidia
wasn't a hot topic, nVidia were not even around. But today
the various discussion boards are filled with the aforementioned
rivialry. This began for me back in the days of the Radeon's
release. nVidia had not only the fastest but also the most
'wallet busting' solution in the Geforce 2 Ultra, a card no
one could rivial in terms of raw speed. ATi's only high end
product was the highly rated all in wonder series, and while
it was seen as a multimedia enthusiasts dream product, it
was still based upon the Rage series of GPU's. These were
far behind nVidia's solutions in terms of speed and features
and thus ATi released the Radeon 64MB DDR. An excellent card
but still one that couldn't keep pace with nVidia's top card.
The image quality and performance of this card was amazing
considering the lower clock speeds offered by the Radeon but
one thing was for sure: nVidia had a huge lead in speed. Upon
the release of the excellent Geforce3 range of cards ATi were
still working on the R200
(Radeon 8500) the first DX8.1 compatible video card. Again
nVidia had beaten ATi to the punch and released a card to
make even the toughest benchmarks seem like a relative breeze.
But things changed drastically once the R200 hit the shelves.
Bettering the Geforce3 in many of our more familar benchies',
ATi seemed to have a card to finally call 'the fastest around'.
Or so we thought...
In a questionable but no doubt effective strategy nVidia chose
this time to release the highly hyped Detonator 4 series of
drivers. Allegedly boosting the Geforce GPU's by up to 50%
it seemed ATi would have to put some serious effort into the
Radeon 8500's drivers and marketing. The launch didn't go
as planned and compounded by nVidia's driver release was the
allegations of Quake 3 driver optimisations, exactly what
ATi didn't need at such a critical time. But ATi held on,
releasing more and more drivers and eventually public acceptance
of the R200 GPU increased. The Geforce 3 was getting beaten
badly in some games while retaining a small lead in real game
performance. ATi had one 'minor' feature that could bury the
Geforce 3 series. ( Inc. the speedy Ti500) PRICE! The ATi
cards were now even cheaper and nVidia had to think of something
to combat a great card at a great price. Enter the NV25,
a GPU that put nVidia firmly back in the performance lead.
While not fully supporting DX8.1, consumers seemed to care
little as the marketing started all over again for the fastest
consumer GPU. Now the Geforce 4 series is helping retain their
performance lead, it remains to be seem what features we can
expect from the R300. For now at least, nVidia are firmly
in the lead. The Radeon 8500 has now taken up the budget performance
mantle being, as it is, significantly cheaper than any of
the GF4 Ti's. nVidia's GF4 range left a huge gap in the market,
one that the R200 is filling right now: A high performance
card for under $200. It's this 'gap' that we will explore
on the next page...
Page Two: The Gap In
The Geforce 4 Range >>>