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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  • Harkonnen - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Almost $900 CDN for the XTX and it only has a 1 year warranty?

    Main reason I would never buy an expensive ATi card is that right there.
    Reply
  • smitty3268 - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    The people who buy a card this expensive the first day it comes out won't keep it for a whole year, so the warranty doesn't matter. In 6 months another card will be out that makes this one look slow and they'll be spending even more money. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Due to popular demand, we have added more percent increase performance comparison graphs to the performance breakdown that shows the performance relatoinships at lower resolutions.

    Let us know if there is anything else you'd like to see. Thanks!
    Reply
  • Live - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    The performance breakdown looks very good now! I would go so far as to say that this should be standard in future reviews. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Using a lossy image format (JPEG) for image quality comparison screenshots seems kind of... pointless.

    But I guess you have to worry about bandwidth.
    Reply
  • Josh Venning - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the input all. Just to let you know we are dealing with some problems regarding our power numbers, but they should be up shortly. Thanks for being patient. Reply
  • Josh Venning - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    One more thing.. We also caught a mistype on the graphs that we are in the process of correcting. The two crossfire systems we tested are the X1900 XTX Crossfire and the X1800 XT Crossfire. (we miss-labeled the latter "X1900 XT Crossfire") Sorry for any confusion this may have caused. Reply
  • smitty3268 - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Ah... That makes much more sense now. I was wondering why the XTX crossfire was doing so much better than the XT crossfire when the specs were so similar. Reply
  • SpaceRanger - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Just to let you know we are dealing with some problems regarding our power numbers


    Problems with the publishing of them, or problems in the sense that it requires a direct link into a nuclear reactor to power properly??
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    our local nuclear plant ran us an extention cord just for this event :-) Reply

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