In '3DMark2001,' the new drivers can once again raise the performance bar a notch. The Radeon 8500 now has a firm lead over the Ti500 in this important benchmark.
The Radeon's new drivers are a step forward in every respect. The performance has improved, and the very controversial 'Quake3 optimization' has been removed from the driver. A very impressive aspect is the Radeon's performance when using anisotropic filtering. The R8500 simply leaves the competition by Nvidia in the dust.
SmoothVision, on the other hand, still doesn't seem completely convincing. Although the quality is spot-on, the performance is too low. Nvidia also has some work to do in regard to FSAA, since the highest attainable quality is only available after a registry hack. Judging from the latest Nvidia leaks, it looks as though settings for anisotropic filtering will make their way into one of the upcoming driver releases.
So, as before, the race remains exciting, and is still too close to call. The Radeon 8500 is definitely serious competition for Nvidia!