There is no more appropriate time than to say "the benchmarks speak for themselves". Massive's AquaMark 3 does not paint a particularly good picture for nVidia, at all, in the DX9 department.
It would be convenient to say the Radeon 9800 Pro we tested had 256MB of RAM onboard but it only had 128MB and that is the scary part. Minus only a few benchmarks, the Radeon was able to knock down the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra with 256MB of RAM onboard, with either driver, time after time in both low and high detail tests, sometimes by very high margins. The new Detonator 50 drivers increase AA performance under 3DMark03 by a fair margin but when it comes to AquaMark 3, something horrible is happening and we aren't 100% what - and nVidia cannot blame it on increased image quality, because as we saw - it has only improved a little and not enough to account for the drop in frame rate. Maybe nVidia has not yet optimized their drivers for AquaMark 3 but the benchmark, albeit unreleased to the public, isn't exactly new to developers and manufacturers, and I would be very surprised if nVidia has not been working in conjunction with Massive to improve their driver support for their card owners.
Non-AA performance of the Detonator 50 drivers has increased performance fairly well across the board which nVidia should be congratulated on but it is nowhere near enough to compete with ATI and the raw power and DX9 efficiency the Radeon 9800 Pro is generating. nVidia had it their way for quite some time with DX7 and DX8, but as more DX9 related games and benchmarks start emerging, ATI are going to be able to produce a better name for themselves with the R350, as it is clearly better optimized for DX9 compared to nVidia's flagship which seemingly just can't stand the heat at the present time.
I very much doubt nVidia are not aware of this situation, in fact I'd say right now it would be at the top of their list of stuff needing fixing ASAP before it starts affecting their bottom line too much. Until nVidia come out with their next-gen GPU, ATI will lead the graphics card performance market with a GPU which has proven itself here today as being designed much better for DX9 games and applications than nVidia did with their NV35.
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