Introduction

Today, ATI has finally launched their X1000 series. The long awaited answer to NVIDIA's 7800 series now brings Shader Model 3.0 (among other things) to ATI's platform. The expanded feature set and improved performance of the new X1000 products promise to bring ATI back in contention with NVIDIA's high end parts. For the past few months, NVIDIA has enjoyed their performance lead and will finally face some competition. Will the X1000 series be enough to win out over the 7800 series?

There are plenty of new features available, which take away the exclusive availability of high end SM3.0 features in games like Splinter Cell 3 from NVIDIA. With a top to bottom release, ATI is making sure that their parts are competitive on every level. From a performance standpoint, we can expect the high end to surpass the X850 XT by a large margin. However, the most important aspect of this launch will be whether or not ATI is competitive with performance per dollar versus NVIDIA hardware.

There are a lot of products launching today that we don't yet have in our labs. The cheapest X1300s are of interest, but we only have the more expensive version. All of the cards are the highest performing of their type. We will be very interested in testing the rest of the product line as soon as it becomes available to us.

Speaking of availability, we had strongly hoped to bring out a review of products that could be purchased at retail today. Unfortunately, no one we know of has the card on their shelves or in their web pages for sale today. Some merchants are saying that they may ship in a week or so, but this is certainly not a launch on the level of the 7800 GTX or 7800 GT. We published an insider article on this very subject last night:
Will we add October 5 to the list of memorable dates of 2005 - at least with regard to products launching and shipping on the same day? All vendors we've interviewed tell us that there will be no new ATI SKUs on their warehouse floors on the morning of October 5. Some report that they expect shipments within a few days, and others don't really expect shipments for at least a week; and all report that their initial SKUs will be "built by ATI" branded cards. This is not reminiscent of the GeForce 7xxx nor the Intel 6xx launch earlier this year, where the product was literally waiting to be shipped a week before the launch date. On the other hand, those waiting to buy some of ATI's new SKUs won't have to wait long, according to these vendors. Several vendors will happily accept pre orders, although vendors also tell us that the initial shipments of ATI's SKUs are of relatively low volume; at least when compared to the GeForce 7xxx launches of earlier this year.
We had certainly wanted to see something different today on the availability side, but there are plenty of other things to be excited about today. Let's take a look at the new face of ATI: The X1000 series.

Feature Overview
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  • HamburgerBoy - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    Seems kind of odd that you'd include nVidia's best but not ATi's. Reply
  • cryptonomicon - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    I was expecting ATI to make a comback here, but the performance is absolutely abysmal in most games. I dont know what else to say except this product is just gonna be sitting in shelves unless the price is cut severely. Reply
  • bob661 - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    LOL! I wouldn't say abysmal. Abysmal would be the X1800XT performing like a 6600GT. The card that doesn't do well is the X1600. X1800's are fantastic performers and certainly much better than my 6600GT at displaying all of a games glory. It just wasn't the ass kicker most everyone hyped it up to be. But technically speaking, it IS an ass kicker. Reply
  • flexy - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    i am a bit disappointed - while at work i overflew the other reviews and then, as the crowning end of my day i read the AT review.

    I (and probably many others) were waiting for this card like it's the best think since sliced bread - and now, WAY too late we do *indeed* have a good card - but a card which is a contender to NV's offerings and nothing groundbreaking.

    Don't get me wrong - better AF/AA is something i always have a big eye on, but then ATI always had this slight edge when it came to AF/AA.

    The pure performance in FPS itself is rather sobering - just what we're used to the last few years...usually we have TWO high-end cards out which are PRETT MUCH comparable - and no card is really the "sliced bread" thing which shadows all others.

    This is kind of sad.

    The price also plays a HUGE factor - and amongst the nice AA/AF features i have a hard time to legitimate say spending $500 for "this edge"...especially as someone who already owns a X850XT .

    Not as long i am still playable in HL2/DOD/Lost Coats etc....i dont think i will see FPS fall *that quick* - in other words: I can "afford" to wait longer (R580 ?) and wait for appropriate Game engines (UT2K4 ??) which would make it necessary for me to ditch my X850XT because the X850 got "slow".

    D3/OpenGL performance is still disappointing - but then i dont know what NV-specific code D3 uses - but still sad to see this card getting it in the face even if it now has SM3.0 and everything.

    Availability:

    Well..here we go again....

    Bottomline: If i were rich and the card would be orderable RIGHT NOW i would get the XT - no question.
    But since i am not rich and the card is *a bit* a disappointment and obviously NOT EVEN AVAILABLE - i will NOT get this card.

    It's time to sit back, relax, enjoy my current hardware, watch the prices fall, watch the drivers get better...and then, maybe, one day get one of those or A R580 :)

    I WISHED it would NOT have been a day making one "sit and relax" but instead burst out in joy and enthusiasm....but well, then this is real life :)
    Reply
  • Wesleyrpg - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    summarised very well mate!

    Reply
  • Regs - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    They were likely better off trying to market that we didn't need new video cards this year and save their capital for next year. These performance charts, especially the "mid range" parts are awfully embarrassing to their company. Reply
  • photoguy99 - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    I assume it was not one of the cards that come overclocked stock to 490Mhz?

    It seems like it would be fair to use a 490Mhz NVidia part since manufacturers are selling them at that speed out of the box with full warrenty intact.

    Reply
  • Evan Lieb - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    "Unless you want image quality."

    There is no image quality difference, and I doubt you've used either card. Fact of the matter is that you'll never notice IQ differences in the vast majority of the games today. Hell, it's even hard to notice differences in slower paced games like Splinter Cell. The reality is that speed is and always will be the number one priority, because eye candy doesn't matter if you're bogged down by choppy frame rate.

    Right now, there is zero reason to want to purchase these cards, if you can even find them. That's fact. Accept it and move on until something else is released.
    Reply
  • Madellga - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    Quality includes also playing a game without shimmering. I can't get that on my 7800GTX.
    Before anyone replies, the 78.03 drivers improve a lot the problem but does not fix it.

    The explanation is inside Derek's article:

    "Starting with Area Anisotropic (or high quality AF as it is called in the driver), ATI has finally brought viewing angle independent anisotropic filtering to their hardware. NVIDIA introduced this feature back in the GeForce FX days, but everyone was so caught up in the FX series' abysmal performance that not many paid attention to the fact that the FX series had better quality anisotropic filtering than anything from ATI. Yes, the performance impact was larger, but NVIDIA hardware was differentiating the Euclidean distance calculation sqrt(x^2 + y^2 + z^2) in its anisotropic filtering algorithm. Current methods (NVIDIA stopped doing the quality way) simply differentiate an approximated distance in the form of (ax + by + cz). Math buffs will realize that the differential for this approximated distance simply involves constants while the partials for Euclidean distance are less trivial. Calculating a square root is a complex task, even in hardware, which explains the lower performance of the "quality AF" equation.

    Angle dependant anisotropic methods produce fine results in games with flat floors and walls, as these textures are aligned on axes that are correctly filtered. Games that allow a broader freedom of motion (such as flying/space games or top down view games like the sims) don't benefit any more from anisotropic filtering than trilinear filtering. Rotating a surface with angle dependant anisotropic filtering applied can cause noticeable and distracting flicker or texture aliasing. Thus, angle independent techniques (such as ATI's area aniso) are welcome additions to the playing field. As NVIDIA previously employed a high quality anisotropic algorithm, we hope that the introduction of this anisotropic algorithm from ATI will prompt NVIDIA to include such a feature in future hardware as well. "
    Reply
  • Phantronius - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    Unless you a fanboy Reply

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