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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  • ChronoReverse - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Indeed. My 6800LE cost $129 and unlocked, gets pretty close to 6800GT speeds.

    Obviously not as good, but still pretty damn good and I paid a lot less too.

    It's been like this since the TNT2 M64 came out.
    Reply
  • mi1stormilst - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    I am taking issue with ATI and Anandtech on this one:

    1.) The bloody X1800 series is pretty dang new, they are taking about phasing it out when I have not even had a chance to use the AVIO video tool yet WTF!?

    2.) The section of the article "Performance Breakdown" http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2679&...">http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2679&... is very misleading to say the least. I think you owe the readers an explination at how you arrived at those numbers? Did you test at one resolution? Only testing for a resolution that allows the ATI card the advantadge is hardly fair. I know a lot of gamers including myself that still generally game at 1024x768 how do the cards fair at that resolution? What are the real differences overall? I think you should either pull this out of the article all together or test at least 3 common resolutions (1024x768) (1280x1024) & (1600x1200).

    Just my two cents.
    Reply
  • GTMan - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Yes, your card is now out of date. You should stop using it. I'll give you $5 for it if that would make you feel better. Reply
  • mi1stormilst - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    HAHA! My kid 8 year old kid will inherit the X1800XL in a few months after I order the X1900XT. I bet that bothers you ... no? (-; Reply
  • beggerking - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    I 2nd that!!
    b/w, this is a repost. lol.. see my comments above..
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    I appreciate your comments.

    The point about the X1800 is well taken. It would be hard for us to expect them to push back their "refresh" part because they dropped the ball on the R520. And it also doesn't make economic sense to totally scrap the R520 before it gets out the door.

    It was a tough sitation. At lesat ATI didn't take as much of a bath on the R520 as NVIDIA did on NV30 ...

    But again, I certainly understand your sentiment.

    Second, I did explain where the numbers came from. 2048x1536 with 4xAA in each game. The graph mentions that we calculated percent increase to x1900 performance -- which means our equation looks like this --

    ((x1900 score) - (competing score)) / competing score * 100

    if you game at 1024x768, you have absolutely no business buying a $600 video card.

    again ... ^^

    we did test 12x10 and 16x12 and people who want those results can easily see them on each game test page.

    This is a high end card and it seems like the best fit to describe performance is a high end test. If we did a 1024x768 test it would just be an exercise in observing the cpu overhead of the driver and how well the fx57 was able to handle it.

    Our intention is not to mislead. But people often want a quick overview, and detail and acuracy are fundamentally at odds with the idea of a quick and easy demonstration. Our understanding is that people interested in this card are intereted in high quality, high res performance, so this cross section of performance seemed the most logical.
    Reply
  • mi1stormilst - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    Thanks for responding (-:

    I do think benchmarking at 1024x768 is perfectly valid. I for one game at 1024x768 with all the candy turned on so not only can I enjoy my looks of the game but I can still render high frames while playing online. When I want to enjoy the single player option I am willing to let the frames dive down to the bare minimums so I can enjoy all that the game has to offer without getting lag killed. So I think that justifys my reasons to want a $600.00 video card (-;

    Although I was slightly incorrect about how you benchmarked I stand by my feeling that is is not a TRUE representation of the cards performance across the board. It is a snapshot which leaves a lot of holes unfilled. I would feel cheated as a customer to find that it did not perform as well as I had been lead to believe if the way I wanted to use it was not optimized as well as another way. Understood?

    Thanks for the time you have spent evaluating it...it does give us an overall feeling and of course when I am looking at spending that kind of money you can bet I will be doing a lot more then reading one review (-:

    Garrett

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

    It is kind of misleading since Nvidia leads in max quality test in a few games, but the advantage is still given to ATI.

    x1900xtx is a better performing card overall, but it is not THAT much better. quite an exaggeration.
    Reply
  • blahoink01 - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    It would be nice to see World of Warcraft included in the benchmark set. Considering it is probably the most popular game in the world, I'm sure many readers would find the benchmarks useful.
    Reply
  • fishbits - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Why, was the WoW engine changed recently? It's easy to max out WoW display settings on far less capable cards, so what useful information would come from benchmarking it with bleeding edge gear? Unless maybe you're running it on some massive $3000 monitor, in which case upgrading to a 300-500 dollar video card should be a no-brainer. The only useful benchmark would be "How would my older video card handle WoW?" and that's already been done. Must be missing something here. Reply

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