Phew. So, with performance tests, image quality tests and overclocking evaluations under out belt, what can we say about which chipsets are the best for mid-range and high-end gamers?
In terms of sheer performance, the 9800XT is the best card out there. It didn't consistently pump out the best frame rates due to the close competition from the 9800Pro, but in terms of overall playability it was, for me, the nicest card to play on and had the best image quality of any card on the market. Combined with OverDrive, it's simply unstoppable. The 5950 was a good card, but not fast enough to justify the money.
For the not-quite-bleeding-edge gamer, the FX5900XT looks like being a good buy. Whilst we don't have final pricing on boards yet, they are looking like coming in at less than most 9800Pro cards are available for. Whilst the 9800Pro turns in better performance, the 5900XT is a great product that maximises price/performance, and is exceptionally overclockable.
For the mid-range gamer, we had high hopes for the 5700 - Nvidia touted it to us as the 'next Ti4200'. These claims appear to be, to a degree, substantiated - it's pretty overclockable (although not as much as the 5900XT) and performs very well. The DDR2 memory allows it to be hellish fast, and it is toe-to-toe with the 9600XT all the way. In terms of deciding which chipset to go for in the mid-range, it really is too close to call across the board, so we're leaving this one as a hung Parliament! Kudos to Nvidia and ATI for making such high-performance cards for the mid-range.
Join us later for the second part of our graphics card round-up, where we look at the individual products available from add-in card vendors, examining their relative performance, bundle and value.
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