The results of the first benchmark tests to hit the web mark a resounding victory for ATI since the company's products simply outgun equivalent nVidia boards across the performance range. As you would expect the flagship ATI board, the X800XT PE performs a remarkable 30 per cent better than nVidia's 6800 Ultra, a difference which increases to 55 per cent in the Canals level of the game.
The full X800 range (Pro, XT, XT PE) outperforms nVidia's 6800 Ultra, with the Pro falling behind nVidia's flagship only in the Town level.
The X700XT also thrashes nVidia's 6600GT, averaging at over 60 FPS during most of the game. The X600, both XT and Pro also outperforms nVidia's equivalent offering, the PCI-X 5750 while the X300SE outdid the PCI-X 5300.
AGP versions of the board show similar performance differences but under these conditions the 6800 Ultra caught-up with the X800Pro, even outperforming it in one test.
The 9600XT and Pro, cards which together with the 9800 where the boards the game was originally made for, outperform the FX 5700 by as much as 20 per cent.
While reading through these figures you have to bear in mind that ATI had full access to the game from Valve and had the chance to produce effective drivers, it is widely expected that nVidia will, sooner rather than later, produce a set of drivers which may reduce the differences documented above.
For the time being however, the Canadian firm has a firm grip on the lead and ATI owners are the ones wearing the smirk this time round.