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InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter No. 6 - NVidia Reclaims Graphics Crown                     May 23, 2003
 
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Welcome to our sixth InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter - NVidia Reclaims Graphics Card Kingship. In this newsletter we discuss how NVidia came from behind and took back "the fastest graphics card title" from usurper ATI.

How NVidia Lost the Throne

Basically, while NVidia was trying to come up with its new GPU, code named NV 30 (now called the GeForce FX 5800), ATI flooded the market with Radeon 9000 series cards which were much faster than NVidia's fastest Ti series GPU. Consequently, for the last 18 months or so ATI has been manufacturing the fastest graphics cards.
Most of us thought that NVidia blew its attempt at a comeback in February when reviews were published on the GeForce FX 5800. Most reviews described the card as inferior to ATI's Radeon 9700 and they also complained about its extremely loud fan.

Out of Nowhere NVidia Releases the FX 5900

On May 13th something amazing happened. A bunch of reviews from all the major tech houses were released on the GeForce FX 5900 (AnandTech's FX 5900 Review, Tom's Hardware FX 5900 Review, and Puget Custom Computers' New Video Cards announcement to name a few).
This card was a very well kept secret, and I know many people must have been surprised like I was to see NVidia coming out with a new card in a little over 3 months since the release of the FX 5800.

Not only did NVidia announce the new FX 5900, they also announced new Dentonator FX drivers which promised increased speed for all current NVidia graphics cards. (Editor's note: Many of the FX 5800's reviewers blamed some of its short comings on out-of-date video drivers.)

Is the FX 5900 faster than the ATI Radeon 9800?

Most reviewers do give the FX 5900 a 5-10% performance edge over the Radeon 9800. However, in today's games, the average person would never see the difference. And since you can actually buy a Radeon 9800, and you can't buy a FX 5900 graphics board until June-ish, "Why would anyone claim that NVidia has regained its video card lead?"

NVidia Crowned King By Game and Computer Manufacturers

While it is nice that hardware reviewers have demonstrated that NVidia's FX 5900 has a small speed lead over the Radeon 9800, NVidia's 5900 was voted the "best" or "faster" card by hardware and game manufacturers long before most hardware reviewers ever heard of the card.
It seems that NVidia was able to "convince" most major game houses and computer manufactures to use their reference FX 5900 boards at the recently concluded Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). To prove this, one merely has to read both companies' press releases to see which company was crowing the most about their new graphics card being used at E3.

On May 13th NVidia announced, "more than 600 desktop and notebook PCs in 32 booths throughout the exhibition halls will be powered by NVidia GeForce FX GPUs and NFS-7 nForce2 motherboards provided by ABIT Computer Corporation, demonstrating next-generation games such as Tron 2.0, Pirates of the Caribbean, Homeworld 2, Enter the Matrix, Deus Ex: The Invisible War, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Oblivion Lost."

The previous day, NVidia announced,"Over 60 Add-In Card and OEM Partners for GeForce FX 5900 GPUs". Clearly NVidia pulled some strings to get their FX 5900 boards endorsed by such a large number of manufacturers and game houses in such a short period of time.

OK, so NVidia had some good support at E3 and computer manufacturers have agreed to use their boards, "What did ATI do?" While ATI announced it was shipping its Radeon 9600 and 9800, its web site makes no mention of its success at E3. It appears ATI has been quietly pushed back into second place based on the "will" of the industry.

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