(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Although Nvidia's GeForce cards include support for advanced graphics features such as antialiasing and high-dynamic-range (HDR) lighting, ATI's Radeon X1000 series has an advantage in that it can perform these modern features simultaneously. In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, for example, you can enable both antialiasing and HDR lighting at the same time for better-looking gameplay than with Nvidia cards that can enable only one feature or the other. But with lower-end cards, this is less of an issue, since you're more likely struggling just to get the game to play smoothly, let alone with all of the high-end effects turned on. Still, if you're hoping for the best in speed and image quality, the GeForce 7600 GT is not the card for you.
If you're interested in a 3D card to aid your digital video needs, the 7600 GT supports the full suite of Nvidia's PureVideo features, such as hardware-assisted decoding of MPEG2, WMV9, and H.264 video; and inverse telecine, to improve the quality of DVD movies originally filmed at 24 frames per second. Both DVD and HD video on a PC running Windows Media Center Edition at 720P on a Samsung DLP HDTV looked great and played back smoothly. Note that current 7600 GT models don't support the HDCP digital rights management technology that will be needed to play back some HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies at full resolution. You'll need to wait for separate models from Nvidia's board partners that have the enabling extra chip added to the card.
ATI test bed:
Asus A8R32-SLI Deluxe motherboard; ATI Xpress 3200 chipset; Crucial 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Western Digital 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; Windows XP Professional SP2; PC Power & Cooling TurboCool 1KW power supply; Catalyst 6.223 beta driver
Nvidia test bed:
Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard; Nvidia Nforce4 SLI chipset; Crucial 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe); Western Digital 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; Windows XP Professional SP2; PC Power and Cooling TurboCool 1KW PSU; Nvidia Forceware 84.21 WHQL driver
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