Introduction

Take all the clichés used to describe a long overdue event or the unexpected fulfillment of a promise (hot places freezing, heavy animals soaring through the air, etc...) and you still couldn't say enough to fully proclaim the news that ATI has finally properly hard launched a product. That's right, looking around the internet this morning has provided us with the joyous realization that the Radeon X1900XT, XTX, and CrossFire parts are available for purchase. We've tried to keep an eye on the situation and it's been quite easy to see that ATI would be able to pull it off this time. Some sites started taking preorders earlier in the week saying their X1900 parts would ship in one to two days, putting the timeframe right on the mark. There were no missing dongles, no problems with customs, and ATI told us last week that thousands of parts had already been delivered to manufacturers.

And if that isn't enough to dance about, ATI has delivered a hugely powerful part with this launch. The Radeon X1900 series is no joke, and every card featuring the name is a behemoth. With triple the pixel shader units of the X1800 XT, and a general increase in supporting hardware throughout the pixel processing engine, ATI's hugely clocked 384 Million transistor GPU is capable of crunching enormous volumes of data very quickly. Fill rate isn't increased very much because the X1900 series still only allows 16 pixels to be drawn to the screen per clock cycle, but power is delivered where it is needed most. With longer and more complex shader programs, pixels need to stay in the shader engine longer which further shifts the performance burden from the theoretical maximum fill rate.

NVIDIA would like us to compare the X1900's increase in ALU (arithmetic logic unit) power to what they did with the FX 5900 after NV30 tanked. Certainly, increasing the math power (and increasing memory bandwidth) helped NVIDIA, but fortunately for ATI the X1900 is not derived from a fundamentally flawed GPU design. The X1800 series are certainly not bad parts, even if they are being completely replaced by the X1900 in ATI's lineup.



I'll spoil the results and make it clear that the X1900XT and XTX are hands down the best cards out there right now. But all positives aside, ATI needed this card to hard launch with good availability, perform better than anything else, and look good doing it. There have been too many speed bumps in ATI's way for there to be any room for a slip up on this launch, and it looks like they've pulled it off. The launch of the X1900 series not only puts ATI back on top, but (much more importantly) it puts them back in the game. Let's hope that both ATI and NVIDIA can keep up the good fight.

But let's not forget why we're here. The first thing we are going to do is talk about what makes the R580 GPU that powers the X1900 series so incredibly good at what it does.

R580 Architecture
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  • Midreian - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    This test kind of seems biased to me. The cards were tried in CrossFire for the ATI cards, but when it came to the Nvidia 7800 GTX's, 512mb and 256mb, neither were tested in SLI and compared to CrossFire.

    Anyone have a comparison of SLI vs. CrossFire for the same tests?
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    For all the games but Battlefield 2 we ran both CrossFire and SLI numbers

    We only ran SLI for the GTX 512 because we only looked at the highest end multigpu solution for each series (7800, 1800, 1900).

    We would have included SLI in the BF2 portion, but our benchmark doesn't correctly represent gameplay for SLI. We are working on this.

    Thanks,
    Derek Wilson
    Reply
  • Zebo - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Seems weird not to have Sli GT's in there. I still think thats the best deal in highend -around the $550 price point. Should clean up on both the 1900Xt and 1900XTX pretty handily for the same price or less. Is AT still in the business of recommending "bang for the buck"? or moving away from that? Because only .05% of your readers are going go up into the realm of $1000 video cards ( GTX's and XTX's in dual config) Reply
  • danidentity - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Are the figures in the "Load Power" chart the power consumption of just the video card, or the entire system? If those numbers are just the video card, that's flat out insane. Reply
  • Josh Venning - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    The numbers in the Load Power chart represent the power draw for the entire system under stress testing. Even so, the 7800 GTX 512 SLI and X1900 XTX Xfire setups are ridiculously power-hungry. Reply
  • flexy - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    its nice to see ATI come up with something GOOD after so many disappointments, paper-launches etc.

    $500 is an "attractive" price (relatively spoken), looking at the card's specs...i am still having a X850XT and (sadly ???) dont really have an "urge" to get this card since i MAINLY play HL2 (full details, even AAx6) and its fast and great even on my old X850XT. Al;most makes me wish i had more game-engines which demand/justify upgrading to this card.

    As said..very hapy for ATI and this card is all the way UP on my wishlist (since i am a graphicscard-ho ;).....but then i also know G71 will come and this card will be a killer-card too (from the theoretical speaks). If i had a very slow system and barely could play any games i PROBABLY would get the R580 now... ;)
    Reply
  • Fenixgoon - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    great job by ATI for bringing out some killer cards. note that a crossfire x1900 system is CHEAPER than 7800 512's. but hey, regardless of who's on top we win :)

    as far as the parts being expensive - of course they will be, they're top of the line and released today.

    i bought a radeon x800pro for $170 and run COD2 at 1280x1024 maxed out (no FSAA/AF) with very few framedrops (worst is scoping in on smoke from grenades). i also have stuttering issues with HDR. minus HDR, i run HL2 @ 1280x1024 6xFSAA and 16xAF. this is coming from a budget system! putting all my components together, my setup costs about 700.
    Reply
  • Xenoterranos - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    Wow, for that kind of money, you could have almos bought an Xbox 360 bundle...or half a ps3 (har har har). Reply
  • lamestlamer - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Did anyone else notice how the x1800xt trounced the 7800gtx in almost all tests? A look at the 7800gtx 512 release benchmarks shows the exact opposite. Perhaps the quality settings were on for the 7800gtx while the x1800xt had performance settings. Even the 7800gtx 512 which cannot possibly have a larger than 40% lead over the 7800gtx has a 100% lead in some cases. Reply
  • ocyl - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    It's been mentioned above but I will say it again. While it's okay to say that R580 has 48 pixel shaders, it only really has 16 pixel pipelines.
    Reply

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