I've been a lurker for over a year, and there have been many times when I felt compelled to state my opinion, but I always figured it wasn't worth it. Now I'm pushed over the edge.
I can't believe people are actually justifying the kind of "optimization" done by Nvidia in 3dmark03.
Arguments stating that benchmark optimizations are valid if they don't affect what's seen on-screen are absolutely bogus because under this belief, a card could just prerender everything and play back a video that looks identical!
The simple facts about this optimization are that:
1. It completely circumvents rendering work that is put forth by the benchmark, which represents what goes on in an actual game.
2. It can't be carried over to real games. Nvidia lied when they recently said they wouldn't waste time optimizing for 3dmark03.
Benchmarks like 3dmark03 ARE useful if the card is rendering everything the engine tells it to in realtime and produces a result that won't be affected by any anomalies that the reference image isn't affected by. HOW it's rendered is up to the GPU, and any optimizations that don't alter the "reference" result when it's manipulated under scrutiny are legal.
Nvidia's optimization clearly alters the final output artificially, and that's cheating.