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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.13.04]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte

Est. Street Price: $180

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The NVIDIA Factor

The folks at NVIDIA recently told me that the nForce3 drivers feature optimizations that will give a performance increase when using GeForceFX based cards on NF3 motherboards. This may have some ramifications on your purchase decisions, as for the most parts the NF3 and K8T800 boards performed nearly identical, as you just saw. What if you have an GFFX video card, or plan to on your next upgrade? Does that mean that you should get an NF3 based motherboard? Is this the one thing that can put the NF3 over the top?

Let's find out!

We tested the exact games with the exact settings using a GeForceFX 5900. If NVIDIA's claims are true, then we should see a higher differential between the Via and NF3 based motherboards with the GFFX card. In other words, we may only see a 2 FPS difference in Aquamark 3 when using the Radeon 9800 Pro 256, but what happens when both boards have a GFFX plugged in?

What you have to look for here is a wider gap between the two green bars than between the two red bars (the bottom bar on each pair is the K8VNXP).

As you can see, in AQ3, there is a 0.26 FPS difference with the GFFX, and a 0.97 FPS difference with the Radeon. So far NVIDIA's claims aren't holding up.

In Wolfenstein: ET, we see a 1.8 FPS difference on the NVIDIA card, and a 1.7 on the Radeon. Again, no optimizations here at all.

Finally, in UT2K3, we have a difference of 3.79 for the GFFX, and 2.86 for the Radeon. While the GFFX optimizations may finally be showing up, it's less than a single lousy frame per second, a whopping 0.04% increase!

So it looks like NVIDIA's claims are completely unfounded, at least with the chipsets and drivers we are using.

Let's wrap things up.

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