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Only a month ago, NVIDIA rolled out its new flagship chip, the GeForceFX 5800 Ultra, to counter the threat posed by rival ATi's line-up. In pure performance terms, the jury is out on who won, or if there was an outright winner. While the FX was inches ahead of the Radeon 9700 PRO in most standard benchmarks, its efforts were frustrated when tested in very high resolutions with FSAA. Additionally, an inordinately loud and therefore impractical cooling solution overshadowed a product launch that was, on the whole, okay. Lastly, although widespread market availability was promised for mid-February, we have yet to see any FX products in more than homoeopathic doses.
Another factor that caused many of our readers' questions to remain unanswered was the hectic and perhaps even hasty launch. Our review sample reached us on a Friday (with NDA expiring the following Monday morning, read: midnight), forcing us to forego certain interesting, relevant, and important tests due to time constraints. The 3DMark 2003 issue, brought up by NVIDIA, as well as the absence of a certified WHQL driver also did their part to add to the overall confusion and the testing difficulties. You would think both ATi and NVIDIA would learn from this experience. Unfortunately, it seems they didn't, and it was with a sense of deja vu that we received our Radeon 9800 only days before the NDA was to be lifted.
Both ATi and NVIDIA are unveiling new products today. NVIDIA is adding two members to its FX-family, introducing the mainstream and entry-level cards formerly known as NV31 and NV34. We'll bring you more information on these two products in a second article in a few hours - albeit without any benchmarks. Only a day before the official launch, NVIDIA decided it was still too early for benchmarks, and that these were to follow later. So in this article we'll take a closer look at ATi's new products.