From 6800 Ultra via X850 XT-PE to GTX 295 and HD 4870 X2

Benchmark review with six graphics card generations

Almost every year a new graphics card generation is released. Compared to their predecessors they mainly offer new features and more power each time. We take a look at six generations of graphics cards and test who big the differences are.
Benchmark review with six graphics card generations
Benchmark review with six graphics card generations [Source: view picture gallery]
High-end products always attract a lot of customer and user attention - only the best is good enough after all. Furthermore it is interesting to see the technical limits and how can win the struggle between AMD/Ati and Nvidia. Therefore we test six generations of high-end graphics cards.

From 2004 until today
Our journey begins in 2004: Nvidia's NV40 also known as Geforce 6800 Ultra is released in spring and sweeps the competition until Ati counters with the X800 XT-PE. In December a refresh is delivered in from of the X850 XT-PE, which is regarded to be the fastest card of the X800 series. In 2005 we saw the Geforce 7 series and Ati's Radeon X1800 XT-PE, which again resulted in the fastest model of the series; theX1950 XTX. For some time Nvidia is able to keep the pace with the 7900 GTX and in 2006 the dual GPU card 7950 GX2 is able to conquer the performance crown. Later that year the G80 chip is causing a stir and the 8800 Ultra is the new spearhead of the offensive. Ati's answer, the R600, takes a long time - the HD 2900 XT isn't released until early summer 2007, but doesn't pose a threat to Nvidia.

AMD overhauls the R600 and combines two RV670s: The result is the HD 3870 X2, which beats the 8800 Ultra in January 2008. Meanwhile Nvidia is developing a new dual GPU card: The 9800 GX 2 is based on the G92 and strikes back in March - the performance crown goes back to Nvidia. In June Nvidia already delivers the GTX 280 which reaches the performance of the 9800 GX 2 with only one GPU and often is even faster in higher settings. Almost at the same time AMD's Radeon HD 4870 is released and performs better than expected - with 8x MSAA even the GTX 280 feels the pressure. In August 2008 AMD takes the lead again with the HD 4870 X2 - and keeps it until January 2009. After many delays Nvidia's 55 nanometer cards are released: Up to now the GTX 285 dominates the single GPU cards while GTX 295 and Radeon HD 4870 X2 are battling for leadership among multi GPU products.

Author: Marc Sauter (Feb 04, 2009)

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