Without a doubt, ATI will introduce a new standard to the mainstream market with its R9000 series. Thanks to Microsoft's Xbox, there are some new games to be expected this Christmas that make use of or support pixel shaders (v1.3) and vertex shaders (v1.0). ATI is the first to offer a reasonably priced graphics card that is able to render these effects with respectable performance. In fact, the GF4 MX series is still based on GeForce2 technology with DirectX 7.1, which has nothing to offer in the way of pixel shaders and vertex shaders.
Despite the positive performance of the R9000 relative to the price, there are still many questions that need to be answered. Some tests give you the impression that ATI has made more changes to the 3D core than you might be willing to admit. Above all, very little can be seen of the the vertex shader, which is supposed to have been optimized in a positive manner. In practice, the R9000 PRO also suffers from its castrated pixel pipelines. The faster bus speed is hardly noticeable in the latest games.
With the Radeon 9000 series, ATI offers a very solid 3D performance to a reasonable price, and it also takes the technological lead in the mainstream segment ($100 - $150). It remains to be seen whether NVIDIA will soon be able to hold its own with its GF4 MX (NV17) successor NV18, which stands ready at the starting line. The solution from SiS, whose pixel shader support is supposed to allow it to keep up with the competition, at least on paper, disqualifies itself in practice through the poor performance of the pixel shader unit.
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