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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  • Josh Venning - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    :-) Reply
  • GTMan - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    How long until we see lower end parts.

    My guesses:
    X1900XL replaces X1800XL
    X1700 replaces X1600
    Reply
  • Sledgehamer70 - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Has anyone else noticed that the X1900XTX only out performs over all in the 1920 x 1440 settings? It is a 50/ 50 split for the most part in 1280 x 960 and 1600 x 1200. So once again everyone and there mom wont be seeing the same numbers as these guys! So misleading!

    Yeah I know its looking ahead to the future, but looking on themarket only 5%-2% of gamers run games at these specs... I will give ATI credit that they made a good card "Finally" but lets compare apples to apples, they should take the combined scores and average them out and see what the overall outcome is... im sure ATI will still ead but by not as much as it portray's!
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    again, if you want a card to run at low resolutions, the 6800 GS or x800 gto are probably much better and more cost effective ways to go.

    why does everyone want to swat a fly with a baseball bat?
    Reply
  • Wellsoul2 - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Hmm..1280x1024 would seem to be a useful resolution since many use
    19 in and 17 in LCD's.

    Seriously, No way can I afford this card but I would like to see it
    compared to the 1800XL card at this resolution.
    (I'm hoping the 1800XL price drops so I can pick up an ATI shader3
    card for less than $250 which is my price point)

    Yay for ATI..but ATI still has no mid priced card with shader3.0 :-(
    Reply
  • beggerking - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    well, the definition of "resolution most people run" change constantly. I understand you are using 4x AA, but 8xAA is right around the corner, as well as higher resolution.

    I don't see this kind of performance advantage for x1900xtx on any other setting than the one you used for performance advantage, therefore that graphic is perhaps, a personal/biased view that will not stand against time.



    Reply
  • vladik007 - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Are they really out of their mind ? I've never bought console before but these PC components prices are gonna drive me out of the market.

    And i thought my 6800GT for $400 was absurd price to pay.... wow
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    I have an idea. Maybe you could buy something less expensive. For example, a $200 card should be able to play modern games albeit with lower image quality than the more expensive cards. But don't tell anyone! I want to keep this a secret. Reply
  • poohbear - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    rofl nullpointerus u crack me up. So true man, LETS keep it a secret.;) Reply
  • poohbear - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    rofl nullpointerus u crack me up. So true man, LETS keep it a secret.;) Reply

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